As you can tell, today I will be explaining how I pre-plan and how effective it has been for me!
For those of you who don’t know, pre-planning is pretty self-explanatory. You basically come up with some sort of system to keep track of dates and reminders so that when you go to do your weekly spread, you have some sort of reference point. For me, pre-planning is essential; I feel overwhelmed without some sort of guide. So hopefully I can provide you with some insight and inspiration to help improve your planning!
What do I use?
When I first started out, I would just take a small notepad and list out each individual day and the events and reminders that went along with it. It was really messy and unorganized, and I would always lose the sheets of paper. I also had to pull from multiple sources to find what I wanted to list. I needed ot check my notebook for my study schedule, my school planner for assignements and tests, and various text messages and emails for meetings and important reminders. As you can imagine, this was very ineffective, and I ended up missing out on a lot of important things.
I ditched the notepad after about a month and a half and focused my attention on my school planner. It was just a basic glittery, horizontal planner from Target that I used to mark club meeings, assignments, and exams. I would list out my homework in the weekly view and my daily reminders and events in the monthly. There were 2 problems to this system, and only one of them surfaced initially. I didn’t have enough room in the little 1″ by 1″ boxes, and my handwriting is already ridiculously large. The 2nd problem emerged when school ended, and I realized that my school-year planner was going to end, and I had already completely filled it out, so I couldn’t just re-date it.
My pre-planning is very messy, so I didn’t want to go and buy a new planner for something that was exclusively for my scribbles and nonsense. I found an old planner that I got from school one year and never used. It’s a small, A5 sized planner, so I thought it would be great for carrying around. It had weekly horizontal pages, very similar to the Erin Condren in that it had the lines and then the adjacent blank box, so it was very notes-friendly. It also had a monthly view and a full length notes page before each month started. So I grabbed my white-out and black pen and redated the whole thing to last me until September when I would be receiving a new school planner anyway.
So I’ve been using that for about a month now, and I’ve really been enjoying it so far. I haven’t come across any major issues with it, and hopefully I won’t in the future!
My pre-planning system
When I first started using the planner, I immediately went through and marked big dates like holidays, birthdays, premieres, etc. This really helped, especially for one-time events. Every Sunday/Monday, I start marking my reminders for each day. I categorize my reminders into 5 different categories: blog posts, TV shows, to-do’s, other weekly activities like doing my nails, and generic life events like appointments and deadlines. I’ll go through and mark each one for the upcoming week. I have an excel sheet that I use for blog posts, so I’ll go through that and set those for the month.
For TV shows, I’ll search the airing schedules for the four most popular TV stations, and I’ll mark those in. Most of the time they’ll also have them up an extra week in advance, so I can fill in the next week too. I don’t like to rely on day of the week type schedules (for example knowing that MasterChef is every Wednesday) because TV stations change things up. Often there are TV specials that occupy shows’ spots, so they move or cut certain shows. And especially since I watch about 15 episodes a week, it can get really crazy and jumbled in my head.
After I have my week planned, I’ll go through with my highlighters and color code the information. As I mentioned, my planning is crazy disorganized at first, so without the color coding, I just see a bunch of scribbles and get too overwhelmed. I usually use pink for blog posts, yellow for random littles, green for to do’s, blue for half box worthy events, and orange for TV shows. That way I can easily see how much I need of each sticker before I start laying them down.
Another method could be to just make separate lists for each category, but I’m really bad about keeping things together, so if it’s not in a binder or spiral, I’ll probably lose it. I like the horizontal planner because it keeps everything in one place so I don’t need to pull from various sources to get my info.
I’ve also seen a lot of people do the sticky notes method where you place a sticky note with the event over the day of the week it occurs. I wasn’t a fan of this because I would have to have about 4-5 different notes for each day of the week, and I also couldn’t carry them around with me for quick reference. In addition, my planning space tends to be cluttered with papers, books, scissors, etc. so I don’t have a lot of room to lay out the notes in a way that I can tell which note belongs to which day.
I’ve also seen a lot of people do the style of planning where you plan and decorate each day as it occurs, and I find that very interesting and fun. However, I’m the type of person who uses up more energy and time trying to get up and start something than finish it up, so to force myself to decorate everyday would be more difficult than just setting aside an hour or two on a Sunday or Monday.
So that’s it for my pre-planning! Let me know how you pre-plan and what you use! I’m always looking for different techniques and methods to make the process quicker and easier!