A New Plan (ner)

It’s been awhile since I wrote about planners…

A few years ago I bought what is known as an academic planner- It went from August of one year to July at the next: obviously it left me mid year without a planner. So I did what every organizing nut does: I went on the hunt for the perfect planner. And I found it.

Last year I introduced you to my Plum Paper customizable planner. It was perfect. I got to add note pages where I actually needed them. It gave me weekly grids that made it easy for me to right out what needed to be done, what was due, what everyone’s schedule were. It gave me a central location to keep all my lists. It was a little expensive but worth it because it really kept me somewhat organized.

Recently I realized that I was in need of a new planner.  I went to the Plum page. I began designing my planner for the upcoming year. And then I realized something: without my daughter at home, my planner needs have totally changed. I no longer need the Mercedes of planners.

Cue silent weeping.

My daughter is leaving and my planner needs are changing.

Oh the inhumanity.

Could life be any worse?

Ok- after I calmed down, I started to look for a new planner. The first issue I faced was of my own making. When I created my Plum planner, I somehow had it end in May. Why did I do this? I don’t know- I’m an idiot. I didn’t plan properly. OMG- could it get any worse? Now I failed at planning?

Cue banging head against wall.

When I calmed down, I wrote a list. (really- what did you think I would do first?) I need something that would enable me to write blog ideas and novel notes. I need to be able to track future to do’s. I still need a weekly view, but I realized I no longer needed the grid system that I have used in the past- my lifestyle is about to change.


Ok. Back on track. Weekly, but I can switch to a day block.

Whew. That was a tough thought process.

I still need to look at the month as a whole. I’m not an animal. I need to long range plan.

Good. Now I’m on track. I need a weekly look with blocks, and I need a monthly view.

I need a notes page per month. I have monthly “fun” bucket lists.

This is where I sensed a fail. Without creating an expensive planner, there was no way I was going to find a planner with monthly note pages. Not at mid year any way.

I then remembered that I needed to find a planner that starts in June.


Huge Fail.

While there are undated planners, I know from experience that these don’t work for me. I don’t like writing in the days, creating the month. I like it done for me. (yes- I’m a Princess)

When you’re about to go off the deep end, you have no option but to regroup. Which I did. I went on Amazon and found a reasonably efficient planner that started this past January and ends in December, when all planners should end. Calendar year. It had the weekly and monthly views that I desired, and I figured I’d wing it with a notes page. And the planner was about 75% off because you know, half of it is useless.

In October, expect a week of blogs regarding my search for the new perfect planner. As always, we need to constantly adapt, because life is always in flux. I know. We don’t always like change. We would often prefer things never change. But that’s not realistic. Change is inevitable. It’s all in how we handle the change. And, it’s all about the plan…



Do You Have the Time

I’ve been way too philosophical of late: too much thinking- too much in my head. So today, we’re going to go all logic: Time Management.

What is time management?  Well, we’re going to go with my unsophisticated definition and say that it is how you manage your time- how you get the things you need to get done in a timely fashion (I know- I should write for Webster’s…)

Why is time management important?  Because we’re all busy.  We all have a billion things to get done, and about a half hour to get them done.  Plus- we want to have a little down time.  So we need to learn how to manage our time in order to get the necessities out of the way and leave time for the good stuff.

Someone recently wrote about the benefits of teens having part time jobs because it teaches them time management.  This is a totally true statement.  Except when its not.  How many of you with jobs are really good with time management?  I don’t see all your hands up.  Half of you are running away in terror.  The other half are proudly holding up their planners. Because we all know that time management is just another term for planning.

My teen daughter is a master of time management.  In fact, if a college application question were to ask what her superpower is, it would clearly be how to manage time and get things done.  She not only participates in clubs, she is also a leader in almost everything she does.  During the tennis season she does not get home from school until about 730 and them has to do hours of homework, on top of eating and showering.  During law competitions, she often spends about 20 hours a week just prepping for her role.  Add on top of this community service and tutoring job and practicing guitar and writing poetry and essays (which she does for relaxation) and friends….

As I’m telling you how wonderful my daughter is, I am aware that karma will probably wield its ugly head and she will go off the rails- but I am also pretty confident that that will not happen until January 5, 2019 after all college applications are in…

What are her secrets?

  1. She knows her limitations.  She knows exactly how much she is capable of doing.
  2. She knows how to say no.
  3. She knows that you can not do everything, so you must prioritize- take care of the must do first, then go in order of importance
  4. She breaks tasks down into manageable chunks- if she has a paper due in 10 days she set daily goals so that she is not rushing, and she makes the goal appropriate to the day (eg, if she has a match at a far court and knows she will not walk in the door till 830, she will not attempt to write 8 pages of something)
  5. When she has a project due in the future, she makes sure that it is completed a full day before it is due- she uses the night before to make sure there are no glaring errors- let me repeat- she does not wait till the night before to complete a project because she is a firm believer of Murphy’s Law
  6. If she’s running low on supplies (paper, ink, etc) she buys it – all it takes is one trip to the 24 hour staples at 1am to make sure you always have ink in the house
  7. She keeps a calendar.  She writes down what steps she needs to do on what days
  8. Every night before she goes to sleep she writes a new to do list for items due the next day, and adds things to it as the day progresses- she highlights the things that must be done
  9. Every night she checks her to do list to make sure that everything is completed, and what wasn’t done gets added to the next days list
  10. She packs all her things the night before (the one exception is her computer which must charge overnight- but as it’s the only thing she has to add to her bag so it’s rote by now)
  11. She has google drive folders for all her clubs and classes.  She makes sure everything goes into the correct folder.
  12. She also has separate paper folders for all clubs and classes to keep track of all the paper that she still seems to have in a paperless society
  13. Her motto is “everything in moderation.”  She knows that if she goes out with friends on a Friday night, she needs to stay in Saturday night (usually- there are exceptions)
  14. She knows how long it will take to get certain tasks done.  If she’s not sure, she adds extra time. She also adds in commuting time- how long it will take to get somewhere.
  15. The first thing she does in the morning is check the weather and how mass transit is running- she needs to factor in delays that are beyond her control
  16. When she comes home from school she puts her phone on “Do Not Disturb” for two hours- she does not text, email or look at social media for at least two hours Monday through Thursday.  And- when she is at end of marking period, when everything is due, she takes Instagram and facebook off her phone entirely. Not snapchat- I mean really- let’s not get too crazy. Can I add that this is the absolute most important thing she does in order to have good time management?

I think I hit on the big things, the things that really help get her going.  Is she perfect? No.  Not even close.  Does she screw up?  Of course- she’s human.  But, by having a plan in place, her screw ups are not monumental- she is able to recover.

Does this work for everyone?  Probably not.  But if you never seem to have enough time, maybe you should at least consider setting up a plan.

How Do I Put This?

There are about a thousand ways I can approach todays blog topic, because it brings up some observations about me, my personality and my relationships.  When I figure out how to discuss it, you guys will be the first to know.

I am a fairly organized, type A sort of person.  I know- I just revealed a fact you did not know.  The majority of my friends are like me:  we plan things months in advance, we deal with lists and our planners are never far from us.  I have one friend who is not a planner, but she understands my not so laissez faire attitude, so she adjusts a little for me (the very definition of good friend).  I surround myself with like minded people.  And lets face it- I live in a city not really known for its laid back attitude.  There’s a whole bunch of people here just like me, and actually, much more organized than I am.  Ok- so here’s point 1.

My Husband is somewhat type A like me- he likes things organized and planned out.  However, he is not actually a planner.  He hates the actual task of organizing.  He continually double books himself  because he makes plans and either doesn’t write them down, or doesn’t check his calendar before he makes new plans. ( I have many fun and interesting stories about having to play plan Jenga after he’s successfully booked us/him at four different things on the same night)  Now, since my Husband is technically type A-, his friends are a little more varied:  he has friends that are total planners, and friends that just go were the mood takes them, who live life with a devil may care attitude.

This past month, this cause some problems.  We made plans with a couple, S and R, a month ago.  They wanted to do something fun, I suggested a Motown Revue at a club, they agreed.  I bought tickets.  A month ago.

Two days before the event, S calls my Husband and says, “Wouldn’t it be fun to go to a comedy show at X?” Which would be great if A) I hadn’t already bought tickets for the music revue, and B) the comedy show wasn’t sold out already, cause everything in this city sells out in advance. (side note- if a New Yorker is walking down the street and sees a long line, the New Yorker will often just join the line because they assume whatever it is is worth waiting for.  That’s how we found the absolute best cream puffs ten years ago).

I was irrationally angry that S wanted to change plans right before game day.  My feeling is, if you want to go to comedy, just say that in the beginning.  A type like me sees that behavior as passive aggressive, whether or not it actually is.

We had a similar situation with R.  R was throwing a surprise birthday party for his girlfriend.  He gave us the date a month in advance.  No problem.  I blocked it out in my calendar.  Problem was, until two days before the party, we didn’t know where, or what time the party was.  This was after my Husband texted the guy at least six times.  When he finally got back to us, we realized the party was not in Manhattan- we would need to take a railroad.  Which runs on a schedule.  Meaning to be there for the “Surprise” we would have to be on a certain time train.  Which conflicted with afternoon plans that I had.

Now I figured out how to make all the plans work- I did the whole arrange the puzzle pieces thing.  And on Saturday morning, the day of the party, we get a Facebook invitation.  R is having a SECOND party for his girlfriend, and it’s DOWN THE BLOCK from our apartment.

I was not happy.

Of course, it took 30 seconds for me to realize I have something else to do the night of the 2nd party.  It took my Husband 20 minutes to figure out he had something the same night as well.

But, we figure it out, you know, putting all of our brain power into it- cancel Saturday, figure out how to work in 2nd party, etc.

So tonight is the night of the second party.  I also have a meeting tonight that I need to go to.  When I told two of my friends that I was going to race out of the meeting as soon as it’s adjourned, one of my friends said

“You shouldn’t go to the party.  Tell your husband there’s no need to go cause it’s not your friend.  Why should you go to the party anyway?  You already have plans.  You knew about this meeting.”

I told her that this was something I had to fit in, etc, and she argued why I didn’t need to go, etc., and though she made valid points, I knew I had to fit in both.

And this brings me to the next conundrum:

What’s the line for what events you should attend with your spouse?

I am really independent, and I give my husband a really long leash.  He goes on ski weekends without me, yearly guys trips, and attends many parties without me. (for the record, I hate large gatherings.  i hate introducing myself.  I hate small talk)  I am most definitely not the tag along spouse.


I think there are some events I must attend.  This not so great planning guy is actually one of my Husband’s closest friends.  I often see him socially.  This is a party I would feel bad about not attending because the friend is a good guy.  I had to figure out how to make this work.

So, in my longest and most convoluted post ever, here’s the questions:

  1. Can planners and non planners be friends?
  2. Do you need to attend every event as a couple?
  3. Do you need to book things a month in advance?

Thanks for listening to this weeks dilemma!!


I’m so Excited!!

And I can’t hide it…I’m about to show you my new planner…….

I think I have found the perfect planner.


Don’t you get excited and jump up and down about the thoughts of a new planner?

Did you think I actually had something different to be excited about?

Seriously- I’m boring.

Some people have fitness goals, some have relationship goals, there are all sorts of goals.  Me- I have planner goals.

I have always toyed around with spending a gazillion dollars on a certain “name” planner system (those of you in the planner world  know to whom I speak of), but then, lo and behold, on a recent trip to Target with my daughter (Mom- they have the best cheap, graphic tee’s)  I spotted it- the planner of my dreams- and it was 20$.  (to the non-planner people out there, this is a bargain)

Now, you know I don’t often wax poetic about purchases- I’m always on the declutter path.  But this was my best purchase of the year.

What is so good about this planner?

  1. it has a month view, with enough space to actually write something
  2. it has a page for every week day, and a combined page for Saturday/Sunday
  3. the daily pages feature hourly time slots, a to do list, a tonight section, notes and gratitude
  4. It has about 10 pages in the back for notes
  5. It has tabs separating the months

cons of planner

  1. It spans July to July.  My only problem with this is that I didn’t discover it until September.  I thought about asking for money off, to compensate for the months I had lost, but I didn’t want to offend the employees of target and risk them deciding I wasn’t worthy of this sacred object
  2. I would like individual pages for Saturday and Sunday.  I have a life on those two days that require at least a page each (No- not really, but I like to think that I do)
  3. I would like a blank page in each month section- sort of formalize goals and such
  4. would love a pocket to put papers in- I oddly end up with paper that has to be dealt with

Here’s the topic you’ve all been waiting for:  How I use my planner!!  Trust me, I feel your excitement as you’re reading this!!

Full disclosure- I use Google calendar.  Every appointment I make is visible on my computer, phone and ipad.  I find this indispensable, because I often run around with just my phone and very small wallet.  I like being able to add an event at any time, and know that I have not double booked.

But- back to the planner…..

Month View

  1. I mark in pen the events that I am definitely attending
  2. in pencil I mark down things that I may want to do
  3. birthdays and holidays
  4. vacations and off days of school

Day view

  1. As I am a volunteer, free lancer and aspiring author, my days can be arranged differently than most.  I mark down hourly how much time I am assigning to each activity.  I include time to run errands and exercise.
  2. Whenever I have something “to do” I determine how important the thing is, and write it on the date that seems logical.
  3. If something must be done on that day, I highlight it
  4. I plan meals in advance and write them in- and I clip the recipe on the cover of the book (love magnetic book marks)
  5. I schedule what I’m going to blog about  ( obviously this is done in pencil as I change my topic a lot)
  6. I list out steps to my eventual goal- eg- I am working on a book- I write down each day what I plan on accomplishing-  write chapter 3, edit 2, rewrite section that doesn’t make sense, etc…..
  7. Keep track of water intake
  8. I write down something I am grateful for .  Sometimes I take my life for granted- this is a reminder
  9. I write down anything that I may want to do.  If I put something on paper, I can begin to visualize it.  If I can visualize it, I can decide if it’s worth doing.  if it’s worth doing, I can plan it.  If I plan it- I can do it……
  10. I also use it to plan for future things- if I know people are coming to my house on the 23rd, I jot down appetizer ideas, music that I might want to play, etc- it’s a great way for me to logically put down my thoughts
  11. on the notes pages I jot down activities that seem interesting- movies, restaurants, outings.  When I am planning leisure time, I go to this section and I pick out something.

Now wasn’t that fun?


Now you just think I’m a wee bit crazy?

Well, you aren’t the only one……

FYI- My dream planner is Day Designer for Blue Sky- I have received no compensation from them, or Target- I just love this planner and wanted to share.