As the fall season approaches, it’s time to start setting your 2021 goals. With goal setting comes
planning, and a frequent question I have been receiving this month is what tools do I use to plan
The very exciting answer…I mainly use a paper planner. Now grant it my planner/calendar
needs to change depending on my work assignments, but at the end of the day I love a paper
planner and use it to supplement an electronic calendar option.
How Do I Use My Planner and Calendars?
I prefer to keep both my work and home life in one system. My paper planner allows me to write
big events in the monthly view and detailed events on the weekly pages. As I do still use an
electronic calendar for my standard workdays, I only note large meetings or meetings outside of
my normal work hours on paper planners to really highlight the events. I also keep notes of
important calls or things I am waiting for in my paper planner as I find I can flip back through the
pages faster than I can search on the computer. As an HR professional, I also do not like to
clearly label my appointments. Yes, on most calendars you can block the view, but do you really
want to write “Terminate James at 4 pm Friday” and risk someone seeing it on your calendar or
on a screen share or having that pesky reminder box pop-up? I think not! To work around this,
my electronic calendar would say “Meeting!” the “!” signifies to me to check for details in my
planner or HR system.
- PRO TIP: If you have an item you are tracking such as your work time or callbacks, use a
standard code so you can see them. For example, all my calls are written with an asterisk first
and all my time tracking has a star in front of it.
Depending on my work or client needs, I may purchase a second planner to be
used as a work journal. I like this because it does not become cluttered with to-dos and events.
It just has notes that are related to the work I am doing and I can pass this on to another team
member in my absence. I also like to have a back-up just in case the system goes down or
changes in a window of time where I may be legally liable to provide dates.
Here’s the type of items I journal as an HR manager in a plant:
- Employee hiring and terminations
- Employee discipline or coaching conversations that do not require a formal write-up yet and are
a verbal warning; when someone first gives me notice of needing paperwork (especially
medical insurance documentation which has to be responded to in a certain number of days)
- Temporary changes of an employee’s department and note when the temporary period ends
- Important filing dates such as when I submitted tax documentation, worker’s compensation
reconciliations, filed 401k audit data, etc.
- PRO TIP: If you have a role where you are waiting for items or information and it is not sensitive
like HR data you may want to create a separate calendar page in your system so you can see
what is due when but not clutter up your main calendar with reminders.
Which Planner or System?
I enjoy the Happy Planner because the binding is a disk system, which allows me to easily
move sheets around, add in extra sheets (like if I want more note pages or a to-do list on the
week) and it can accommodate the added thickness whereas bound planners seem to bulge
after a few months making them hard to write in. I do have the Happy Planner hole punch and I
love it because I can also use my older planners to hold print-outs and training guides.
The Happy Planner line also has a variety of fun inserts, note sheets, and stickers to customize
the calendar to your goals. This line is also sold in most stores including Hobby Lobby and
Michaels so you can use a high-value coupon to lower the costs.
What About Electronic Calendars?
I have used several electronic calendars and I do prefer these when I need to map out my time
or when I am working with a team that utilizes the same system. They are great because you
can easily see availability, create repeating events, and see how your time is being divided out.
- PRO TIP: Double check your calendar privacy settings and be sure to restrict the view or use
codes for meetings that you would prefer to keep private like a doctor’s appointment.
Your choice of a planner or calendar system is 100% unique to you and your needs. If you are
not happy with your current system, check online. Most of the pricey planner systems ($50+) will allow you to download their weekly layout to see if it works for you. You can also find free or
inexpensive printables online and try these out or go all the way and create your own unique
Finally, don’t be afraid to add labels or a dry erase bookmark to your planner or printed electronic
calendars to capture routines or intentional goals. These can be made up in advance and easily
adhered to add extra functionality to a system you already love.