Picking a Planner

Make sure you commit to one that's right for you

I always seem to make my resolutions in the fall. Maybe it's the age-old cycle of starting school after a summer of leisure that always made me feel the possibilities of a new beginning. I loved the new pencils, peechees and the reams of crisp, freshly lined paper.

This year is no exception. With my part time writing career blossoming on top of my other hats as wife, homeschool mom, gardener and community activist, I knew that my lackadaisical lifestyle needed to come to an end. It was time to get organized, especially if I was going to get my children to football, ballet, art, Spanish, science, etc. on time!

Organizationally challenged
So this was the year. For my own sanity I was going to have get and stay organized. I won't bore you with the horror stories of my chronic messiness; suffice it to say that I am, like many of you, rather dependent on my microwave because of poor dinner planning. Here's a little test to see if you too are organizationally challenged.

Answer Yes or No to the following questions

  1. When you're looking for something do you ever hope that you didn't put it away because you know it would be easier to find if you hadn't?
  2. Are a pair of scissors more valuable in your house than gold?
  3. Do you have more junk drawers then regular ones?
  4. Have you ever found yourself explaining to the dentist why you forgot about your appointment...for the fourth time?
  5. Have you ever got somewhere and realized that you've taken the wrong child to the wrong class--on the wrong day?

If you answered yes to any of the previous questions, you just might be ready for a shot of orderliness and tidiness. I know I am.

So where to start?
With the planner, of course! I've always been attracted to planners and envious of those women who used them with such ease. I had one once, but my life was easier, without children and I just didn't see the point. Now I was ready to have my day's activities marching in front of me with military precision. I wasn't prepared for a blow-by-blow schedule, but rather a framework by which to live our days.

Turns out shopping for a planner is as confusing and tempting as a trip to Baskin Robbins. There are planners of every shape and size and for every possible need. Standing in that daunting aisle, I realized that there was more to choosing a planner then previously thought. First, I was going to have to take a good look at my planner needs and find the planner that most closely matched those needs.

Be realistic
I am never going to be the type of person who kept to a strict schedule and trying to do so would set myself up for organizational failure. It's important to be realistic. I needed a plan that would stick.

I wanted a planner that would have a monthly calendar, a week at a glance with space for both to do and appointments. A menu planner and grocery list area would be good, as well as a personal phone directory. A place for the all of insurance information that moms have to keep track of would be helpful too. I'd really like one that made me use it, but no such luck.

Once you have decided what your planning needs are you need to decide if you want your personal planner to be your purse. Yes, they can do that. Day Runner puts out an excellent organizer/purse with room for a cell phone as well. If you're not looking for one that doubles as a purse, consider one that can be slipped easily inside your own purse.

After you've found one that will fit in your purse, you might want to look into getting one that will fit your pocket book. I was astonished to see planners running as high as a hundred dollars or more, depending on the type. Pretty risky business for someone who wasn't even sure that she would be able to keep one up!

A friend of mine who has used a planner for years gave me two pieces of advice when she heard that I had been converted.

  1. Buy a name brand planner. You don't want to invest in a planner that you won't be able to find replacement papers for.
  2. The planner will only work if you work the planner.

I noticed that many of the Day Timers seem to be geared towards those who work outside the home. The Day Runners I looked at have an excellent selection for those of us who lead busy lives outside of the (so-called) work force.

After drooling over planners for about a half an hour, I made my choice. The Fat Little Planner by Mead didn't quite have everything I wanted, but I was most impressed by the price, a little less than eight dollars. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Teri Brown is a freelance writer and the homeschooling mother of two. Her book, Christian Unschooling: growing your child in the freedom of Christ, is now available.

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