Thursday, March 26, 2009

Daily Planner Round-Up

Below is a breakdown of the planner systems I think are worth noting; I focused on availability, cost, user-friendly-nature, and relevance to my own life. I encourage you to consider one of these if you're forgetting details, feeling harried and stressed because you're trying to remember too many things, or just need a simple calendar system. Before you look/commit, sit down and make a
list of what you'd really need in a dayplanner. How are you going to use it? Will it need to be portable enough for you to carry it around all day? Do you have a bag that can hold it? Do you need a cover/case for it? How much time are you willing to invest in creating this perfect planner? How much money do you have to spend on it? Etc. You might even "test drive" a spiral bound notebook, keeping notes for a few days on items you wish you had access to. The following are worth considering, my favorite being first:
  • Busy Woman Planner (This is a Christian company, run by a woman who's taking care of a disabled daughter and diabetic grandson). PROS: Affordable, especially now--she's running some FABULOUS deals; fits into FranklinCovey planners/covers/binders; available in 3 sizes; daily page includes priorities, appointments (small hourly section), "to be called" section, chores, notes, prayer requests, and menu; devotional pages available that let you track your prayer requests, Scripture read, etc. (these look very helpful); month-at-a-glance pages;week-at-a-glance pages; budget pages; goal pages; menu pages WITH PERFORATED SHOPPING LIST SECTION!!!; lesson planning pages; Bible study pages; etc. etc. etc. Busy Woman also has software you can download that will let you simply print planner pages for a full-size or classic-size notebook/binder. CONS: you must date everything. The "notes" pages are lined and have columns--I prefer notes pages as blank as possible. The budget pages are pages only, no envelopes. The tabs for major divisions (planning, contacts, notes, etc.) aren't any bigger than the month and ABC tabs which makes them a bit hard to find. There aren't any zippered binders for sale through this company.
  • FranklinCovey: PROS: widely available, even in cheaper versions (like 365 at Target); many options to customize your planner; multiple sizes available; spiral or ring-bound options; budget pages include envelopes if you're saving receipts; health/fitness tracker page which is neat; daily pages have a myriad options/formats/colors/themes available (I liked the Simplicity series personally); there's a handy calculator that fits my planner; larger section tabs are easy to find. They even have blank notes pages--not even lined! CONS: They didn't have a daily page exactly like what I wanted (believe it or not). This can be an expensive planner to create from scratch. The menu/grocery list page was a little too scripted for my tastes.
  • MomAgenda: Looks like a good possibility for moms juggling several schedules at once (kids going different places and the like). It didn't look as infinitely customizable as the first two listed here, but it might be worth checking out (it didn't immediately grab me, so I moved on to other sites).
  • The Uncalendar: This is an interesting system involving blank charts, lists, and graphs that you can entirely customize. It didn't have a daily page, but the rest of it looks very interesting--particularly if you just aren't finding what you want elsewhere, but don't want to create something to print out from your own computer. There are multiple sizes and binding options.
  • LifeTime Organizer by Weber Associates: My friend Bridgette uses this system and have really enjoyed it. There are several sizes available and the pages give you several options for filling them in (kind of like Uncalendar--lots of boxes that aren't all labeled). The main reason I didn't pursue this further is because it was more expensive than I wanted for start-up costs (I already had my FC binder from Target and would have had to get another one from LifeTime). One particularly nice feature, in addition to the customization available, is the "floating to do list" which moves with you from day to day.
  • Cheap: For years, the following worked for me: a basic wall calendar and a mini spiral bound notebook (I put grocery lists, event notes, random notes, contact info, etc. in it while I was out and about...).
  • and Cheaper (Free): If you're on the computer a lot, you might consider taking full advantage of Gmail/Google calendar. It's a terrific, free, internet-based system that you can have access to anywhere you have internet access (home, work, etc.). You can create different calendars, assign them all a color, and view them all at once or individually. My friend Bridgette has a calendar for her son, her husband, and herself (and her weekly menu). She can view them all at once and tell what's what because they're all in different colors. Google Calendar can email you reminders and the like.
What's working for me now: a combination of FranklinCovey and Busy Woman: mostly Busy Woman stuff, but kept the FranklinCovey section dividers since they are bigger and more easily accessible. Next time I have to order "stuff," I'll try to get their unlined notes pages and perhaps their budget pages. I got the "Master Filler" set (Today's Busy Woman) for compact sizes and it includes the following: weekly planning pages, monthly planning pages, daily planning pages with above categories, address section, menu/grocery section, emergency info section, vehicle maintenance section, goal/planning pages, notes section, budget pages,.... there are some pages in cardstock and some in rainbow colors. A zippered pouch comes with it and each monthly planning page comes with a monthly goals page. It's a terrific bargain at only $11. Sure, I won't be using January or February, but the rest of year is still good! Since the pages aren't dated, I can use those next year and maybe there will be a sale next March. I also ordered the devotional pages. You should note that the master filler set includes 6 months' worth of daily pages, but a year's worth of monthly planning pages. I ordered two sets. I'll keep some in my desk and just keep a month's worth of everything at a time in my planner. I put the FC items I'm keeping and the BW new items in my inexpensive FranklinCovey leather binder from Target.

Next year, I may update my full size Control Journal that stays at home and put menu pages, devotional pages, and such in there--that will keep my traveling planner needs simpler. It's a work in progress, and as my own needs and those of my family change, that will no doubt necessitate a system upgrade at some point.

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