In your journey to become a more productive and organized individual you have probably purchased a Day Runner personal organizer. These Day Runners can be pretty convenient for keeping track of appointments, contacts, and to-do lists. However, in order to get the most from owning a personal organizer you need to know a few simple things.
1. Make it Your Own
First of all, a personal organizer is not a personal organizer until you personalize it. The first step in making your Day Runner work for you is customizing it to fit your needs. There are several ways to do this. You can choose your favorite colors, fill it with personal photographs, or buy custom pens and other awesome writing utensils for use with it. Remember, there are many styles of Day Runners to choose from. So pick one you won’t mind looking at or carrying around with you.
Another thing to consider when purchasing a Day Runner personal organizer is what you plan on using it for. Do you need a small calendar and contact list or do you need a larger portfolio organizer with a calculator and multiple slots to store your credit cards and such? Once you know your planners purpose you will be able ensure you have a product that fulfills your needs. You will also be able to use it more efficiently.
2. Create Custom Calendar Pages
Everybody’s calendaring needs are different. This is why it is sometimes not the best idea to use standard organizer refills. Sure they come pre-punched and cut to fit your Day Runner. However, the calendars and lists within these packages may not fit your needs.
You may want to monitor your progress in a way that is not available in standard calendars. You may just wish to add custom graphics and designs. Whatever, the reason making your calendar work for you is a huge step in successfully utilizing a Day Runner personal organizer and printing and punching your own calendar pages is the ways and means to this utilization.
Fortunately, this is a simple task due to the numerous websites that exist to help you with this very purpose in mind. Once you find a site with a template you would like to use, simply customize it and print it out. Then punch some holes with an inexpensive hole punch found at any office supply store and insert the customized calendar pages in your Day Runner.
3. Use a Standard Format for Your Calendar
One of the largest productivity blunders performed by Day Runner users is entering information into the calendar in an unstandardized format. Trust me when I say you want to use a standard format when adding appointments to your calendar. The last thing a productive person should have to do is waste time sorting out the meaning of a calendar entry. Here are a couple of things to remember when creating your appointment format:
- The first word to should specify the type of appointment.
- Then enter a meaningful description of the appointment
- Then enter the location of the given appointment.
Your calendar should end up looking something like this:
Meeting-Sales Strategies- 6th Floor Conference Room
You should also include a reference to any documents or items you need to have with you for the given appointment. This will ensure you show up prepared and ready.
Another cool way to rock your calendar is to use several different colored pens to maintain a category system of appointments. For example, red appointments may be phone calls while blue appointments are business meetings.
4. Keep Your To-Do List With You in Your Day Runner
You are going to want to include your to-do list in your Day Runner. That way you can note what tasks need to be accomplished and when they are due. This allows you to work on them when you have a few free minutes instead of daydreaming. Also, store your task list with your calendar in order to arrange appointments with yourself to get things done. Then you will know you have enough time in your busy schedules to accomplish the things you need to do.
5. Keep All Your Information Up to Date
The biggest mistake most people make with task lists and calendars is failing to keep them up to date. It is imperative that the information in your Day Runner is accurate or else it won’t be useful to you. You will be carrying around the dust of past accomplishments and tasks. A few ways to help ensure your organizers up to date are:
- Add tasks to your task list as soon as you learn of them. When someone sends you an email asking you to do something add the new task to your Day Runner immediately. When someone tells you of an appointment in passing, add it to your calendar as soon as possible. By getting in the habit of doing this right away, you will never miss an event or lose track of a task again.
- Schedule time each day to go over your Day Runner’s listed activities and tasks for the day. This will help you know what you have planned and allow you to make any corrections that may need to be made.
- Keep your Day Runner in sync with your other productivity enhancing tools. If you use outlook to schedule appointments and maintain a list of tasks you will need to keep that information synced with your Day Runner organizer. A good way to do this is by adding the relevant information to your custom created and printed pages spoken of earlier.
6. Keep a List of Goals in Your Day Runner
By making a written list of the goals and having them with you at all time you are able to encourage yourself through the tougher spots within your schedule. It also allows you to evaluate whether your tasks and appointments are relevant to the direction of your life. Your personal goals are what make your personal organizer personal. If your Day Runner does not help you move forward to accomplishing your goals then how much use is it?
It is a good idea to assign a due date or an accomplish by date to each of your goals. Then determine what small steps you will need to take in order to reach them. Begin incorporating these goals and tasks into your calendar. This will inform you of any conflicting appointments and demands. That way adjustments can be made whenever necessary.
By taking the time to optimize your Day Runner, you will lessen your stress and increase your productivity. You will be able to calmly attend to everything in your life in an organized fashion. This will leave you feeling free and personally incorporated into your own life.
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One more tip Feedback Loop.
Logging: Write down what actually happened during your day. The logging does not need to be more then chicken scratch such as a line from the scheduled appointment to the actual time it happened but the feed back is what you want.
Review: Review your last week’s schedule once a week to see what your logging of your days reveal. If you keep scheduling lunch at 12 but tend to take it at 1. You will see this and can better schedule your time.
The Logging is a good idea. Once I worked at a corporation before, we used to jot down common and unexpected incidents daily, whenever the head department asked for an explanation why we had low sales on a particular day / week, we go over the Log Book. So, our explanations were sort of backed up.
@ Joshua: You’re right about one of the biggest mistakes about not keeping daily runners up to date. What I usually do is making it (to-do list) weekly instead of daily, since I do daily routine works using the hour-block style. As for my personal projects, I do it few hours during weekends.
I’m a big fan of #6, keeping your goals highly accessible in your Day Timer is a great way to stay on track. The visibility is vital because it better engrains a daily reminder of what you’re working for.
Similarly, I think it’s a matter of keeping this “big picture.”
I wrote about it here: http://daytimer.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/the-one-valentines-day-gift-you-should-be-giving/
Heckuva good job. I sure arpepciate it.