T he first planner that I used was Lotus Organizer® for Windows 3.1. It used an intuitive “tabbed” metaphor (pretty innovative for its time) and could produce wonderful paper calendars and phone directories and contact histories and more. In fact, I spent so much time putting in data and then printing it out that, well, I never actually got anything done other than using the Organizer. So, despite it’s name I never became organized.
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In graduate school I went on to use a Dayrunner®. I spent a lot of time arranging the contents and filling out the different sections. And I had all of the Dayrunner “accessories”: fancy pads, rulers, special note paper, etc. I used it for about three months.
Image Source: http://www.dayrunner.com
Next came the Palm PilotÂ®. It was a pretty expensive toy at the time (about $500). It had a cradle for synchronizing the contents with its companion desktop software and you could purchase useful utilities, like Quicken for Palm, for keeping track of expenses. I loved it! And I still have it! It sits in a place of honor. It’s in a drawer where I dump old power transformers, a.k.a., wall warts.
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Well, after the Palm Pilot there had to be at least several dozen types of planners from electronic hand held to desktop software to paper based. And then one day she walked into my life: the Moleskine® Large Weekly Planner, a.k.a., “[T]he Legendary Notebook of Hemingway, Picasso, and Chatwin.” When we first met I softly touched her dark cover. Then I slowly removed the elastic band that held her shut, revealing the planner of my dreams: the week on the left side and a blank ruled page on the right.
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I’ve been using this planner pretty consistently for over one year. [note 1] Since I must write everything down, it forces me to slow down and think things through. I can see what’s coming up in the next couple of days and can record random notes – to-do items, etc. – on the opposite page.
I have recently enhanced the usefulness of the planner by using the following notation for each entry. As the author notes, this notation – he calls it “metadata” – is based on the “dash.” The dash represents something that needs to be done. Each variation of the dash denotes what exactly has been done, or rescheduled or delegated. (See below.)
Metadata for your Notes (Original image & description of concept can be found here)
Below is a snippet of my planner with the notation. As an A.D.D.er [note 2] I find the visual indicators to be quite helpful. I do not have to write down whether something has been rescheduled because a dash with a circle around it tells me that in a split second. The dash notation says succinctly what would take a sentence or two to record.
If you would like to incorporate the “dash” notation in your daily planner, use this link – Metadata Word Doc – to download a printable MS Word version of the dash notation.