Alternative uses for planners

Anyone who knows me knows I love planners. I’m always thinking of ways to use planners beyond simple appointment scheduling.  Here are some ideas I’ve come up with for using planners in unconventional ways. How many more ways can you come up with?

Your planner can help you get there.  Something that I like to incorporate into my planner is goal-setting. I find it very useful to track my goals in my planner because I look at my planner several times per day, and seeing my goals often keeps them at the forefront of my mind. And beyond just writing my goals, my planner helps me see where I’m going to fit those goal tasks into my day. Whether it’s working out to achieve my fitness goals, writing a blog post to reach my personal goals, or cleaning out the storage room to fulfill my household goals, my planner gets me where I’m going.

Your planner can tell you where you’ve been.  Rather than strictly for planning, planners can also be used to record your day as a logbook, or for tracking specific aspects of your life such as a food journal, exercise diary or expenditures record. Parents enjoy writing milestones and cute things their kids said and did in their planner as a wonderful record of their kids growing up. Many people use a planner as a gratitude journal to help them appreciate each day.

Your planner can help you make money. Freelancers and contractors have to keep track of billable hours on multiple projects at once. Writing this information into a planner provides a chronological, permanent record of billable time.  I have a friend who is a professional dog walker and she uses a planner to keep track of which dogs she walks each day. At the end of each week she easily totals up billable hours for each client. This type of record can be very useful for budgeting time, and should be kept as a record of hours billed for tax purposes.

Scientific records in planners.  Many scientists use planners to record information as field notes. Separate from the detailed notes written in their field journals, planners can record chronological events in the field. Anthropologists use daily planners to record events in their study villages, which becomes very valuable later to see cause and effect. Ornithologists (professional and amateur) can note in their planners the species of birds observed each day, which helps them notice when birds migrate for the winter and return in the spring. Comparing these dates over a period of years shows patterns such as whether birds are migrating earlier or later than usual. Using a planner for field notes creates a permanent record that is portable in any field bag and never needs batteries when you’re out in the field.

Uses for past-year planners. I had a fascinating conversation with Jeroen of Love Notebooks about some of his customers who buy past-year planners. Love Notebooks has past-year planners available for purchase (click here to see) and it was fascinating to hear what people use these for. He said he often gets authors of books and screenplays who want a planner of the year their story takes place, to write the timeline and to have accurate dates of when things take place within the story.  People also use them as movie and stage props for the year the story takes place. (And you know with HD TV now, you don’t want anyone zooming in on the picture to find the planner prop is of the wrong year!)  Also, lawyers working on a case could find it useful to use a planner from the year the events took place to recreate the chronological sequence of events. It’s so interesting to think of ways to use past-year planners! Of course one option is to keep it and use it later–dates recycle every 7 years so you can keep unused planners until the year when the dates match up with the days again!

As a notebook. I know some people who like to use planners as notebooks, ignoring the dates. Some people do this with past-year planners they didn’t use and don’t want to waste, or they particularly enjoy writing on the paper. Something else to consider is that planners typically have a different number of pages than notebooks. Day-per-page planners usually have more pages than notebooks, which is good for people who write a lot and go through notebooks quickly. A 12-month weekly planner usually has fewer pages than a typical notebook, which often results in a slimmer book than can easily slip into a pocket or bag.

Do you use your planner in an unconventional way? Can you think of more uses for a planner?

Post by guest blogger, and one of the Internets foremost experts on everything planners,   Laurie,  from


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Monday, October 17th, 2011 eco-friendly-recycling, Journaling, organization and time management, Products, Thoughts Comments Off on Alternative uses for planners

A Finite Resource

Rhodia CEO meeting book

Rhodia CEO meeting book

What we cannot make more of we need to use wisely. We cannot make more time and yet we waste a lot of it. At work we waste a lot of it in meetings. According to a study by the Wharton Center for Applied Research, Executives, senior and middle management spend about 30%-60% of their time in meetings, but felt just 56% of this time was time well spent.

An important reason we use notebooks is to keep ourselves organized and hopefully by being organized save ourselves time. Any notebook can be used as an organizational tool, but in some cases a specialized notebook can help. Lovenotebooks has added the Rhodia CEO meeting book to our notebook selection, because we believe it will save you time and make your meetings more productive.

A lot of companies and state and local governments are cutting cost left and right, without ever noticing the enormous cost of unnecessary or badly run meetings. Poorly managed meetings cost not just time and money, but also have a negative impact on workplace enjoyment and motivation.

Like most things, a proper meeting has three steps to it and skipping a step is sure to result in a waste of time.

Preparation i.e. What is your agenda, your goal, Do you need a meeting to achieve your objective (very important) and if you do who really needs to be present? When will we have the meeting, what time of day or day of the week. Where will we have the meeting. Always ask yourself do we really need to sit down. If you can do the meeting standing up, it is more likely to be brief. Share the agenda and specific expectations you have for each attendee (If you do not have a reason for them being there why are they invited?) before the meeting to increase the quality of the input you will receive.

The meeting: Who is running the meeting? Someone has to be in charge follow the agenda and keep an eye on the clock. A free for all is not productive, because you are sure to get the loudest but not the most valuable opinion and will almost certainly end up discussing issues not relevant to your goal. How long is the meeting? Set a time and keep to it. Stay on point and conclude each point with an action, that is required to achieve your meeting’s goal. At the end of the meeting summarize what has been discussed; connect required actions to specific persons or teams and connect a deadline.

Follow up. Recap the meeting; reiterate goal and actions required and deadlines connected to each action via email or a paper hand out and make sure each party confirms back to you.

Write a brief review for yourself, while the meeting is fresh. Focus on what parts of the meeting were unproductive and why. This will allow you to save even more time the next time around, because there are sure to be more meetings.

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Saturday, October 23rd, 2010 organization and time management, Products, Thoughts Comments Off on A Finite Resource



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