Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Just a Hint (or a Splatter) of Color

Finding a planner is the first step to creating your perfect planning system. However, this discovery of your “perfect planner”  is not the end. Now, you must create a method of planning that is both effective and easy for you to use. A planner is no help if you do not use it.  Every person is different and has a unique approach on organizing their planner but one thing that many use is color coding.  
Some may avoid color coding because it is “too much” and others (such as myself) have every color of the rainbow in pen form. Whether you are highlighter crazy or feel better when everything is in black, here are a few different methods and styles of color coding.

Styles of Color Coding:

Color by Class
   This is a very popular method of color coding for any type of student, but can be also applied to different work commitments or different types of anything going on in your life. The jist of it is that you pick a color for every class and use that color to write down any events, assignments, tests, quizzes, and everything else that pertains to that color.
This method is a good visual when just glancing at your planner and applying some time management skills. Now you know that you need to set a lot of time aside to do math or perhaps only need a half hour for an English reading. It may require many different colors but it is a method that many swear by.
Another version of this method if you are not a student or perhaps don’t need more than one color for school, is to color code each area of your life. For example, one color for everything that is personal, another for everything related to school, and/or another for work,etc.  

Color by Person
Perhaps you aren’t a student, maybe you are the planner person of a busy family and you need to keep everybodys’ work schedules, dance lessons, and soccer practices straight. Having a different color for every single type of event isn’t very plausible but having a color for each family member is a bit more manageable.
This is a great option if you are using a non-planner planning method, such as a white board, or if children are using this planning method as well. Every family member gets their own color and can reference said color when making plans.

Color by Priority
Color coding by priority can be good for people who don’t want a different color for every class or person but they need to know what to work on first. This method requires maybe three colors and can be applied very easily whether using pens or highlighters.  
For this method, we would three different colors. Red for urgent, blue for important (needs to be done soon), and black for non-urgent tasks that need to be done but are not of high priority. If you rather everything be written in one color, you can pick different color highlighters and use the same concept.

There are probably other methods of color coding as well, and we encourage you to leave your suggestions in the comments for other readers! So, now that we’ve covered different styles, all that is left is the few methods of color coding that we have compiled just for our lovely audience. We’ve tried to cover the masses, from people who don’t like a lot of color or too many pens all the way to the people who love when their planner looks like a rainbow threw up on it.

Methods of Color Coding

Writing Each Task in Different Colors
Obviously for color coding, multiple colors are necessary. The first method of color coding being one of the more obvious, is writing or highlighting each task in the color that pertains to said class/area of life.
Many people (such as myself) use this method and swear by it, The colorful to-do list is much less daunting to look at compared to a plain black list in my opinion. There are a few downfalls of this method however:
  • You do need many colors and sometimes, there just aren’t enough for what you need (Especially with highlighters).
  • One must find a way to carry all the highlighters or pens needed on a daily basis. Along with white-out or an eraser or whatever else you may need.

Using Post-It Notes
This method can be great for people who may not have a traditional planning method or perhaps just have too many post-it notes (if that’s even possible). This method is basically assigning each colored post-it notes for each category of your life and writing everything within that category on the assigned post-it.
This method can get a bit pricey and bulky but is one of the only methods that can be moved to basically anywhere. This can be great if you want to remember to grab a book, you can simply move the note from your planner to your bathroom mirror or your front door!  

Using Stickers or Mark-It Dots
For those who want to color code but do not want five million pens floating around in their bag, this method requires only ONE writing utensil and just a few extra sheets within your planner! Colored stickers or Mark-It Dots are nearly limitless in colors and take up much less space than other methods.
Mark-It dots come in many different sizes, even as small as ⅛ inch and in many different colors. You can simply use these to mark your different categories and write all of your tasks in your preferred color. Now, where to find such an amazing thing? I believe many office supplies stores carry them, or perhaps your local Target, Walmart, or simular type of store.  If you cannot find them in your location, there is always the lovely option of Amazon or other online sellers. However, with this method, you can basically use any stickers so long as they come in enough colors to fit to your needs.

I bet you never thought that you would read such a long post on color coding huh? This is probably only scratching the surface and we would love to hear about how you color code your planning system! Your methods, no matter how crazy or unorthodox they may be,  could be just as perfect for somebody else and they don’t know it yet. We always love to hear about other’s ideas when it comes to planning and organizing of all kinds or requests for future posts. So until next time, keep planning PlannerPeople!

P.S Remember that we are just giving suggestions. If you try something and it isn't working, fret not and try something new. Don't settle for a planner system. You deserve to be a less stressed version of yourself and a planner can do that for you. :)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Set Up

Designing a planner is like designing a room in your house; it works to your needs. If your planner is a DIY type, this is very simple. But if you have a templated planner, designing what works for you can be challenging.

Different Layouts/styles of organization:
1)To-Do lists
2)Appointment style
3)Color coding
....and the list goes on!

1) To-Do Lists- If you're a straight forward thinker who doesn't care for colors and prefers a more simplistic style, to-do lists provide what you need.  A to-do list provide a cut and clear list of priorities. (Be careful not to write them too long as this will become overwhelming- defeating the purpose of making a list in the first place).

2)Appointment Style- This style isn't for everyone. I personally don't have enough appointments/meetings during the day for this method to be of use to me. If you are a person who is schedule orientated, and busy with appointments, meetings, or other scheduled events, this method would be an easy way to lay it all out clearly. 

3)Color coding- coding your priorities, events, or subjects into different colors, works for visual planners. If you find it enjoyable to see color in your events, this method is very effective. Color coding allows you to mix tasks together while still categorizing them by color.

4) Chronodex- a circular appointment method, while slightly unusual, could still be a potential method to utilize. If you like to see exactly where your time is going, while also incorporating a little bit of color, this method is your sweet spot. Basically, you divide your day (a circle) into appointments by time and if you want, color code that event, or write brief notes on the side.

The styles used to organize tasks ranges from simple and plain to wild and creative, it's just a matter of finding what works for how you think. Many people prefer their planners to be plain, others loud, and others in between. If you are having trouble finding what works best for you, try out a different method each day or week until you find that organizational sweet spot. Good luck! 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Picking Your Perfect Planner

So you want to start using a planner. From the iPhone apps to the binder style, or from the huge thick planners to the monthly pages, it is easy to get confused and overwhelmed by all of the choices and prices available. But don’t lose sight of what’s important. Ultimately, a planner should serve as a tool and work for your life. It doesn’t have to look pretty or super organized or decorated; it’s purpose is to help organize your priorities, with whichever method that works best for you.

When picking a planner there are a few questions you must answer in order to find a planning system that works well for you.
  • What are you using a planner for? (School, work, home,etc)
  • What type of format do you need? (time slots for appointments, check boxes for todo lists, etc)
  • How much space and customization do you need? (Consider what you are using the planner for as well as how big your handwriting is.)
  • What is your planner budget? (You would be surprised as to how pricey some systems can get.)
These are the main things that you want to think about when you are picking your planner. There are so many different systems out there, how are you to know which one to use? Fret not, here is a giant list (with lots of pictures) of different sorts of planners out there.  

Academic Planners
Academic planners typically run from August to July (there are also 18 month planners which run from August to December of the next year) and are perfect for the studious (or any other) student. They typically will have a monthly view for “big picture planning” (test dates, vacations, etc.) and weekly views to track all of those assignments and readings.
The price of these sorts of planners can range from free to $40 if you want a fancy one. If you are looking for just an average planner, check and see if your school offers one for free. If you don’t want your school mascot plastered onto the front of your planner, check out your local Walmart, Target, or even your local dollar store!
If you want a planner that is very cute or colorful, there are plenty out there. Lilly Pulitzer, Victoria’s Secret, and Vera Bradley are just a few who offer very adorable and a bit pricey planners. Is the price worth it? That is up to you but keep in mind that you should LIKE your planner, and if a cute floral print is what you need to get organized, then get it!

Plannerpeople Rating:
Price: $ - $$  
Pros: Very easy to use, runs for the school year, low priced, easy to find, great first planner.
Cons: Typically spiral bound = no adding or removing pages (unless you get REALLY creative)
Overall: If you aren’t looking for anything more than a place to write down homework and test dates, this is perfect for you!

 Binder Planners
Binder planners are exactly what they sound like. They are typically 6-ringed binders which you buy inserts for. These are good because you can decide what sort of format you want and you can add different things such as meal plans, exercise trackers, quotes, photos, printables, and endless other sections. There are plenty of ideas on Pinterest, Youtube, and countless blogs about how people utilize their binder systems.  
Price wise, this system can be expensive. There are name brands such as Coach, LV, Michael Kors, and all of them have their own binder planner. There are also leather agendas and others that are made of very nice material. These have a wide range of about $20 - $600 dollars.
Brands such as Filofax, Kikki K, and Kate Spade can be found online (unless you are lucky enough to have stores in your area) but if you go to office supplies store or even your local Target or Walmart, brands such as Dayrunner and Daytimer can be found for cheaper prices. Also, check out your local bookstore! Barnes and Nobles has their own brand of planner (Punctuate) which can be very well priced as well as cute.

Plannerpeople Rating
Price: $$ - $$$$$
Pros: Very customizable! Professional, can be as plain or decorated as you want, multiple uses.
Cons: Can be expensive, have to purchase inserts, perhaps too customizable?
Overall: This is a great planner if you know what you want and need in a planner but it isn’t found in a typical spiral bound agenda. For some, too much freedom is a bad thing, and they may dislike the lack of structure and amount of options there are for this system in particular. If this is a system you would like to try but are unsure if you will like it, we recommend buying a cheap version before splurging on a leather agenda.  

DIY Planners
DIY planners are exactly what they sound like. Anything from using a spiral notebook or buying a binder and making your own planning system to making your own printables for your binder system. These are the highest on the customizable level. You can add anything you need and make it completely your own.
There is no exact pricing on this type of planning system. It could be the price of a notebook and post it notes, or perhaps printing a planner and having it bound. There are endless possibilities for this system. And perhaps you want to use a system that somebody else has DIY’ed? Etsy.com is full of different types of printables and bound agendas to choose from.

Plannerpeople Rating
Price: $-$$$$$
Pros: Completely customizable, can be as simple or complex as you wish
Cons:  Making a planner can be time consuming and overwhelming if you don’t know exactly what you want.
Overall: Simular to the binder method, this can be great for somebody who needs something that isn’t offered in other planners. If you have tried other systems and they haven’t been the right fit for you, then maybe you should try to make your own.

Electronic Planners
Maybe paper and pencil just don’t do it for you? Well, if you are more of a technological kind of person, then there are plenty of planners found online or even included on nearly all smart phones. We won’t get into too much detail about this until a future post but there are many calendar applications and websites that are easily found online or on your application store.
Price wise, these are usually very cheap. If you are hesitant on spending $10 or more on an app, we suggest that you look for a “lite” version or perhaps a similar app for a cheaper price before committing to the app. There are plenty of free resources to take advantage of online though.
Some apps we can mention now? All Apple products come with a calendar app installed which can be used and color coded as much as you want. Google also has a calendar system which will email you to remind you about upcoming events. For the student, iStudiez is a great app which syncs with all of your devices. There are endless amounts of online planners to use, what’s your favorite?

PlannerPeople Rating
Price: $- $$
Pros: Most people nowadays always have their phone with them. With electronic apps, there is no hassle of finding the right pen or lugging around a heavy book around. Electronic planners allow for syncing between people which is probably the easiest way to share your plans.
Cons: Phones die! Also, sometimes writing something down is just the simplest way to do things.
Overall: This method works for some and not for others, we personally prefer the old pen and paper but sometimes, it is easier to just rely on your phone. A word of advice, always back up your planner!

Non Planner Planners
Well, we have touched base on almost every type of planner out there but maybe none of them suit you. Perhaps there is more than one person is using the planning system or you just don’t need a full blown binder. There are many “non-planner” planning methods such as white boards, wall calendars, or even loose sticky notes and to-do lists. These are easy to apply to your home and can be used with children as well.

PlannerPeople Rating
Price: $-$$$
Pros: Can be very simple! Sticky notes left on the fridge or a white board with lots of colors! The possibilities are endless!
Cons: Can be difficult to organize when everything is all over the place. If a system works for you, then make sure you stick to it and keep it up to date.
Overall: This is great for those people who don't have an ideal planner or just need a few reminders here and there.

If you are confused as to what kind of planning style you prefer, we encourage you to test out different ones for each month, week, or day. Every so often, you can switch up to a different style until you find one that best fits your personality and lifestyle. Perhaps you need a hybrid method that is a mixture of the planners listed above, or maybe you use something completely different. What is your perfect planner and how do you plan?