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I am not going to like, I am a technology person. I took notes with a Palm Pilot in high school. I had the first iPod ever. I now live in Evernote. I live daily by the calendar on my iPhone. Like I said, I am technology person. This seems to translate across many aspects of what I do, except one area: planning things.
No matter the gadget, I still have not quite found anything that substitutes paper when it comes to really making a plan. I still use notebooks for projects and goals. I tend to have one notebook per subject, whether it be work, blogging, or house renovations…I guess it is sort of like school all over again.
Now, I want to talk about some of the planners I have used and absolutely love over the years.
The Passion Planner
Layout: Weekly and Monthly Planner with Goal Setting
Several years ago, I stumbled across something called Passion Planner on Kickstarter, which has become one of my greatest tools. It’s more than just a simple planner. Passion Planner encourages you to set goals at the beginning of your journey, and check in on them every month. The monthly self-reflection is huge for anyone looking to learn a new skill, or to just make their daily life better for some reason on another.
One of the best parts about this planner is the weekly layout. You can see a sample of a week of mine below:
I just created this one for illustrative purposes – I picked a week I was bad planner, and filled it in to look like a typical of one of my weeks. If I showed you a real week’s layout, I would have to redact a good deal of it, because I use my planner for just about everything whether it be personal or professional.
First, I set my focus of the week. It could be a project at work, or something like a blog post. It may even be something more personal, like scheduling time with a friend.
I fill in the Good Things That Happened as they come…remember, there’s good in every single day. I think in the future, I may try to write one good thing for every day of the week in this space.
Then come the to do lists – this is already divided between personal and professional which is extremely helpful. You can also easily make more sports for to do items if you need to easily as I gave.
Now, for the daily layouts. The weekend (Sunday and Saturday) spots I use for several different things. Sundays are usually blogging and brainstorming, and Saturday usually turns into some other random thing I need to do. I just write down things everywhere.
The rest of the days depend on what is going on. I’ll sprinkle reminders throughout the pages for doing things like following up on e-mails or calls. I’ll also physically write out the space for important meetings and appointments, even if they are already on my electronic calendar. Sometimes, I list out specific items I want to accomplish of the week, like I did for Wednesday.
There are so many spots for information, that you can make this planner do exactly what it needs to for you. You can write out what you want to have for dinner every night of the week. You can also block out study time for yourself like I did every night at 9PM.
I like to color code things to make them stand out, and make boxes around important things. My Space of Infinite Possibility is just that – writing out things and ideas to put them to paper and see what I can make of them. Some really good ideas for blogs posts and other activities have come from this space.
You can buy a Passion Planner on Amazon. They come in both dated and undated formats, making it easy to start planning whenever you would like.
Hobonichi Techo Planner
Hobonichi Techo Planner
I have always also used a Hobonichi Techo planner in conjunction with my Passion Planner. The Hobonichi Techo planner comes format with a Monthly layout and a page a day layout. I really like it for keeping track of goals and progress. It comes in an English and a Japanese version.
Hobonichi Techo Cousin Planner
This year I actually decided to dump all of my planners for something new, the Hobonichi Techo Cousin. While it comes in Japanese only, there is enough English to get by. The big loss is in the motivational quotes on each daily page. The format of this planner is Monthly, Weekly, Daily all in one, so it does everything I need it to do and more.
Hobonichi Techo Weeks Planner
Hobonichi also makes a Techo Weeks planner for those who don not want a page for every day. This planner has a monthly layout, with multiple weekly layouts. One weekly layout is broken down with time slots, while the other has a spot for each day of the week on one page, and a space for notes on the other.
I love everything about Hobonichi planners, even if they are in mostly Japanese!
Roll Your Own Planner
Format: You decide!
Sometimes, choosing the right planner for you takes a bit of trial and effort. That is why one of my favorite planning tools is not necessarily a planner. Stalogy page a day notebooks are great to create your own planner layout, and give you the ability to play with multiple formats. Plus, they are not dated, so you can start with them at any time. These notebooks have a gridded paper, and are also great candidates for dedicating to specific products.
The Importance of a Planner
For me, taking pen to paper has always been a big part of setting goals for myself. These planners have worked great for me over the last couple of years, so I wanted to share them with everyone.
One of the things I talk about about in my book, IT Architect Series: The Journey is how a planner can be a vital tool to any IT architect. For me, it was a big part of my VCDX journey, and my journey to becoming a published author. While a blank notebook is a great starting point, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Passion Planner since it has been such a big help to me.
Melissa is an Independent Technology Analyst & Content Creator, focused on IT infrastructure and information security. She is a VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX-236) and has spent her career focused on the full IT infrastructure stack.