Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Get your schedule in order!

Getting your schedule in order helps you in your quest to get and stay frugal. At the center of this is the perfect planner. It will boil down all your scheduling chaos into two forms of information: appointments and to-dos - all in one handy place. The trick is actually using your planner. But how do you find a system and a planner you'll use and love?

If you're a paper person you'll need to choose a planner with a durable binder or cover, something simple and affordable. Make sure it's lightweight and fits in your purse, and that you love it enough to use it several times a day. You may want to opt for the two-pages-per-week view, which gives you plenty of space to write in a week's worth of activities.

If you find that you are an electronic person, you'll want to make sure to sync your electronic planner to another electronic device so that you always have full backup. If you want an electronic calendar without a lot of bells and whistles, you can use Google Calendar, a free online organizer. When using an electronic scheduling system, print out your seven-day schedule and stuff it in your purse, just in case you forget your PDA or other electronic scheduling system.

Do you need a calendar, planner or organizer? Most planners are overbuilt to make them look as if they are going to get you organized. They have too many features that no one ever uses. Ask yourself, "What's my planner going to be used for?":
  • A - Just appointments. My daily routines are pretty obvious, and a basic calendar should get the job done.
  • B - Appointments and to-dos. I have far too many things to do, and like to break down projects, such as parties and family meals, into a lot of small steps.
  • C - Everything. I like the idea of having a space to keep track of addresses, doctor's contact information, family medication information and shopping lists, as well as appointments and to-dos.
If you answered A then choose a basic calendar. Whether paper or electronic, you just need enough space to keep track of your daily appointments.

If you answered B then choose a planner. Shop for something that says "task management" on it, with a clear system for prioritizing to-dos

If you answered C then choose an organizer that includes calendars, task management systems and space for storing all sorts of information and lists.

Remember, looks matter. Whether you choose a paper or electronic scheduling system, you'll use it a lot more if you like it. Make sure you enjoy looking at it and holding it, and that it fits your personality.

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