Time Management Basics – Schedule Your Time

I’m the first to admit I’ve murdered time a lot, particularly over the last few years. (I suppose I should feel grateful he’s still talking to me and I’ve not been punished with an endless tea party.)

Recently I’ve been wasting a lot of time reading books, watching videos and generally immersing myself in all things to do with productivity and time management. I’ve always been a great believer in working smarter not harder, which is born from my innate laziness but luckily translated to efficiency in the work place. I used to get overwhelmed purely because I chose to juggle too many balls, but I was fairly realistic about the time I had available; just unrealistic about I wanted to use that time for.

Anyway I decided to put all my ‘research’ to some use and I’ve started a time management/productivity series on my YouTube channel My Kind of Organised.

I start with a video about scheduling time. It’s really an exercise in being realistic about how we spend our time. People seem to think being busy is a sign of their worth. As if being busy is the same as being productive or efficient or even happy. The reality is, for a lot of people we have a choice over how we spend our time. We may have activities or tasks to fill up every waking moment but that doesn’t mean we don’t have time for other activities – it just means we choose to prioritise our time differently.

Here’s my favourite example, and it comes from the planner community I love. I often see Facebook comments or even YouTube videos where the person says they wish they had time to decorate their planners, they’re just too busy. Frankly, if they have time to log on Facebook and make a comment about decorating, they have time to slap some washi and a couple of stickers on a piece of paper. However they choose to do something else with that time e.g. spend it on social media instead. And that’s a perfectly acceptable use of their time.

We tend to think time is in short supply because we value all our activities with the same level of importance, whether it’s going to work, spending time with family, taking a bath or being a content creator. In this video I suggest we look at the activities that form our week and prioritise them. I talk about ‘tiers’ as a way of framing priorities. I use outsourcing as a way of thinking about discretionary time even though I completely appreciate there are many reasons why someone wouldn’t want to outsource an activitiy such as caring for children. You could simply ask “could I realistically being doing something else with my time at this moment” but that doesn’t necessarily create levels of priority.

Here’s the weekly layout I use, in case you’re too busy to make your own

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Inkwell Press Unboxing

Inkwell Press don’t usually ship internationally, but a couple of weeks ago they were running a trial to gauge interest. Shipping was $50 (although they are hoping to reduce this if they do offer international shipping in the future) but they had discounted the planner to $20 and you could order a couple of other products for the same shipping fee.

In this video I give you my initial thoughts as I unbox the planner and other purchases.

 

Once I’ve had a chance to use the planner and do some pen tests, I will give a full review on my blog Ru Undiluted (because that’s where I’ve moved all my planner reviews).

Planners I’m using in 2015

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Sometimes I wonder whether I have the most complicated planning system with my Erin Condren Life Planner, Day Designer, home projects Filofax, general Filofax & blog planner (another ECLP), and this doesn’t include planners I don’t use as actual planners.

This may be the refrain of the obsessed planner nerd but it really does work for me.

Anyway, you decide

THIS IS A COPY OF A POST WHICH WAS FIRST PUBLISHED ON STATIONERYBYDEFAULT.COM

Planner Review – A Look at the Erin Condren Life Planner 2015

Possibly another redundant review. What true planner nerd hasn’t heard of the Erin Condren Life Planner and seen countless unboxing videos? I can spend hours on YouTube watching how people use their Life Planner.
I’m not sure whether Erin Condren does any advertising outside social media but I think her following in the UK is definitely built on YouTube and blogs.

International shipping is now available at a flat rate of $19.95. It used to be $39.95 so that’s a great change. However tinyprints also sell some Erin Condren products and their shipping to the EU is $15.

Life Planner covers are customisable. The insides are not. So all planners start with some pages of “frou frou”

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Then there is an 18 month overview from July 2014, which is when the 2014/2015 planners started. There isn’t much space to write notes on these pages but I’ve seen them used as trackers.

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The monthly spread is on 2 pages and has a Sunday start. There is a notes section on the right hand sideIMG_0079

I think there’s plenty of writing space in these boxes but in August the last Sunday and Monday are halved because the month straddles more than 5 weeks.

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Each month is tabbed and the weekly pages follow the relevant month

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but you tend to get the last few days of the month after the following month’s tab

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The weekly layout starts on a Monday which I prefer, although it was slightly confusing at first to have a month with the Sunday start as well. The weekly layout has a goals and notes column on the left hand side and a lined section headed “meal plans, exercise, daily dos, thoughts, inspiration” at the bottom. Each day is divided into a morning, day and night section.

At the end of the planner are some lined and blank note pages, a flimsy folder and a clear plastic pouch.

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Erin Condren also supplies event stickers and 2 sheets of blank stickers with the Life Planner. It also comes with a booklet for the perpetual calendar and contacts, although I’m not quite sure how this will work in future years. The perpetual nature suggests it should be used every year so will they have it as part of the planner next year or only as an accessory?

This year the covers are interchangeable (if you have something to interchange it with – otherwise they’re just removable).

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The covers are laminated and the lamination on my cover from last year has lasted well despite me uncoiling and putting it in a Filofax. Although my experience with the covers has been fine I know a few have experienced bubbling quite early on.

There are issues with quality control and some people have had problems with customer service. My own experience is that the mistakes they make are frustrating and avoidable but they always put it right or offer credit so I wouldn’t let that aspect put me off.

Each month has a dual colour scheme which is used throughout the month. This is what originally attracted me to the Life Planner. After many years of using plain black and white paper I wanted more colour on the page and I’m not someone who is naturally artistic enough to decorate my planner.

So what about functionality?

Life Planners are 7in x 9in so they’re larger than an A5 Filofax. They are very light though so I would consider them to be portable.

I’ve a seen a myriad of ways people use their Life Planner but stripping it all back, and watching Erin Condren’s early promotional videos, this seems to be designed simply as an agenda. It’s primary purpose seems to be a place to record appointments and events. For this reason the morning, day and night sections make sense. There is also ample space in the boxes to write appointments and events. The space around the Monday – Sunday spread seems to be where to write notes and tasks.

If this is the case then it’s a very expensive planner.

It’s no wonder people have taken to using it for different purposes. But then it seems unfair to complain about not liking the sections to be called ‘morning, day, night’ or not having enough space to fit everything in, because you’re using it for an unintended purpose. I personally think they could maximise the space on the weekly spread better – the date and day doesn’t need to be so big and there really isn’t any need for the gaps between the columns. Since the meal plan, exercise etc heading doesn’t add anything to the lined section they could just remove it.

On a side note, I am curious to know why people who use the Erin Condren Life Planner with different heading names or for journalling and who also cover up all aspects of colour on the page actually buy the planner. Why is the planner worth the $50 cost if so much has to be changed? Obviously people can use their planner how they want, that’s not the point I’m making, the question I’m asking is what is it about the Life Planner that still makes it their planner of choice?

Would I buy another Life Planner – who knows? There are so many alternatives available now they would have to offer something more to tempt me again.

If you’d like to see how I used my Life Planner in 2014, I’ve done a video

From the website

– an INTERCHANGEABLE, laminated, heavy duty 10mil cover for protection from daily wear and tear 
– inspirational quotes throughout 
– LAMINATED tabs for extra durability 
– TWO-page monthly spreads w/ reinforced coil-side binding 
– goals and to-do lists for every week and month 
– weekly spreads divided into morning, day & night 
– meal/exercise/lists/etc. section for highlighted daily notes & activities 
– clear, snap-in page holder/ruler 
– over 25 lined and designer blank pages for notes and sketches 
– DOUBLE-sided “keep it together” folder to wrangle receipts, stamps, and other papers 
– 240 colorful stickers to highlight birthdays, special events and reminders 
– bound-in zip lock pocket with 12 gift labels and “let’s get together” cards 
– perpetual calendar booklet for birthdays and anniversaries 
– sturdy aluminum coil that will not bend & allows your planner to lay flat 
– add photo stickers, custom event stickers, matching notepads, a pen holder, marker set, designer sticker sheets, coil clips or even elastic bands to further customize your planner to be as YOU*nique as you are!

My Favourite Filofax Organisers

I did a ‘show and tell’ kind of video showing my favourite Filofax organisers, which are Finchley, the Original, Finsbury and Malden.

In my video I didn’t cover affordability or availability because that’s quite complicated. I’m mainly going to cover the A5 size because, to be honest, I haven’t looked into the other sizes/models in much depth.

The simplest is the Finchley range. This is a completely discontinued range although you may find some stock lurking on shelves somewhere. They do appear on ebay quite a lot if you keep your eyes peeled. Obviously because they’re discontinued the market determines the price you pay. I, however, have only paid retail price for 2 of my Finchleys. The rest have been considerably under retail so bargains are still to be had. Having said that, I’ve seen the Vintage Rose and Teal (personal-size) Finchleys sell for quite a high amount.

Most of the Original range is still available, although it looks like the Yellow and Green may be discontinued. As I understand it, the navy Original was not available in the UK and the monochrome was not available in the US. The metallics were released this summer but seem hard to find. But ebay could be your friend again here. A lot of stores do sell Originals online for a lot less than Filofax.co.uk’s retail price (£80 for the A5).

It seems like only the Purple and Ochre Maldens are still being made (in A5 at least). The Maldens seem to be very popular so the market prices are usually quite high – well above retail, even second hand. If you want to buy a brand new Aqua or Vintage Pink – good luck!

Finally the Finsbury range. The Black, Raspberry, Electric Blue and Cherry colours are still readily available and can be found online for less than Filofax.co.uk’s retail price (£80 for the A5). The others can be found on ebay occasionally and the market for these depends on the price. I’ve bought the grey and tangerine/orange in EUC for much less than RRP.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

 

Inside my Erin Condren Life Planner

At $50 for a basic planner, Erin Condren Life Planners are not cheap, particularly when you’re paying $40 on top just to ship it to the UK. But they’re beautiful and an absolute joy to use.

I keep hearing they’re fully customisable, but that’s not really true. You can customise the front and back covers (but only in the classic versions) but as far as I can tell everything else within the planner comes in a standard format. Yes, you can buy extras like pens and stickers but if add-ons make something “fully customisable” then pretty much every bog standard notebook I’ve bought fits into that description.

Anyway onto how I use my planner. I use it for blog/social media, writing, LLM, voluntary work, exercise and menu planning rather than my daily to do planner. I originally bought it for these activities but I thought I’d be supplementing with a daily docket so there are some holidays etc recorded in. (I now use my Filofax for daily tasks.)

I use the monthly pages as a blog/Youtube scheduler. The stickers come with the planner and each colour represents one of my blogs with brown stickers being my Youtube channel. I currently have set days for each blog.

IMG_0503Once I’ve posted, I write the name of the post on the sticker and if I’m late publishing I add the date I published as well.  I also include appointments relating to the other activities so orange is for voluntary work and red is for writing.

Yes, I do colour code in this planner.

IMG_0505I use the top section for LLM, exercise and voluntary work. I use the middle section for blogs and Youtube and I use the bottom section for writing. I did try using washi tape to cover the “morning”, “day” and “night” lines but I don’t find it necessary since I know what the sections are for and I don’t think I’m likely to get confused and think I have to study in the morning, blog in the afternoon and write in the evening. I currently use the bottom of the page for menu planning but I’m thinking about moving that to my Filofax.

At the front of the planner is a perpetual calendar which is meant to be used for birthdays and anniversaries. I use these pages to note down post ideas. I got the idea from someone on Youtube. I’ve got ideas for posts until the end of April and in March I’ll start planning for the next few months. I then use these ideas to plan in more detail on the weekly pages.

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Even though I blog for fun, I wanted to make sure I had enough posts to offer them on a regular schedule. I’m not going to post daily on any blog but I know I have enough content for a weekly post. I’m not great at getting the reviews up for my book blog so I may move that to an every-other-week or twice a month schedule.

Near the back of the planner is a Keep It Together folder and I use this to keep two notebooks, one for writing and one for blogs where I flesh out ideas more fully. I got these notebooks for half price from Paperchase.IMG_0513

So do I love my planner? Absolutely. Do I think it’s worth the money? Even with shipping costs I really think it is. But it’s only February so who knows…

ETA – Apparently erincondren.com gives customers referral links so if you place your first order using my link you get $10 off your purchase and I get a referral credit. Simples

THIS IS A COPY OF A POST WHICH WAS FIRST PUBLISHED ON STATIONERYBYDEFAULT.COM