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Time-saving Thursday: Planners

Last week's Time-saving Thursday was all genealogy. Usually, it won't be. Instead, I want to provide a variety of different ways to save time. You can then spend your "savings" on genealogy. The idea is to give you ideas and inspiration, not a to-do list. If you have time to try every Time-saving Thursday, you probably already have some time for genealogy!

This week I want to mention keeping a planner. Call it an organizer, a Filofax, a Day Timer, or whatever you want. When I was younger this was always presented as a schedule you filled in and that was about it. That sounds great for a professional who spends all day running from one appointment to another but for most of us, a timed schedule doesn't make our day go 'round.


Not Just for Executives

I didn't realize a whole "planner" phenomenon had been going on. After I had my second child, I realized I spent a lot more time away from the computer and had to find a different way to stay as organized. I had been doing everything digitially. It was most likely through Pinterest that I came across "planner decorating" and a whole world of planner fans with lots of customizable ideas. Many of these ideas are "home management" centric so if you don't work full-time, you may find the perfect organization tool for your life. If your work and personal life are just not meshing because of a lack of organization, borrowing some ideas may help you get everything together.

I don't have anything unique to tell you if you already know about the planner phenomenon that has been going on. If that's you, just read the genealogy-specific sections below. If you haven't kept a planner in a long time, you may find some ways to organize that will save you time. Spend that time on genealogy.

How Today's Planners Are Different from an 80's Day-Timer

Most of the systems or methods you'll see people using now use little to no "schedule" as part of their planner. Instead, there is either a small section for those things that are tied to a time or you just put them down in a section. I like the weekly or daily planners that show "Morning" "Afternoon" and "Evening." This is much more how my days go. This allows for you to plan to do something within a time frame but if something happens, you don't have to adjust your schedule. It also doesn't require you to get everything in an exact order; you can write things down as you think of them.
This is also a reasonable option if you have set office hours. Your work tasks will go in the sections when you are at work but right next to something like a doctor's appointment -- which obviously impacts your productive time that day. There are lots of other options out there if you don't like the "Morning," "Afternoon," "Evening" approach.

RELATED: Not looking for a planner, just a an offline way to track your week? I love this suggestion from Suzi at Start a Mom Blog. She has a post and quick video about her "Super Simple Weekly Schedule to Get Stuff Done." I love Trello for the things I can track online and this is a similar concept (FYI, if you want it online, just create a Trello board for your week and use labels to stand for the colors).

Genealogy Bonus

I'm looking forward to using this approach on my next long-term research trip. In the past, I've tried setting a schedule to keep from getting bogged down in something that isn't what I really want to do (or to make sure I work on all the client work I've brought). I actually schedule everything with a time. I know I won't stick to the schedule exactly, that's ok. But it's too time-consuming to try and recalculate the rest of the day's schedule when I make a change. Inevitably I barely use the schedule. Making the schedule has some advantages itself but I'd like to stay on a schedule a little better. I think the sections of the day will work much better and I'm less likely to over schedule myself this way.

If you're making a "big" research trip, consider creating a schedule for your research. It will help you think about realistic goals and hopefully encourage you to create some more specific research plans to maximize your research time. If you honestly can't find time to create a full research plan ahead of time (you really should but I know life sometimes gets in the way), scheduling your research can break your research into specifics closer to a plan.

Add Some Genealogy to Your Planner

Here's a little genealogy thrown in. If you are keeping or decide to keep a single planner with everything in it, consider a genealogy section. For most Occasional Genealogists (OGs), this isn't going to be a to-do list or a spur of the moment research log. You do too little genealogy to give up the planner real estate for that (it is an option, though). However, I suggest considering a genealogy journal/diary. I've written an article for my J.P. Dondero Genealogy blog about how to appropriately use a genealogy journal if you want to consider this.

Learn More

There is plenty to say about planners. I could provide as many links to learn more as the text I've already written. Instead, I'll point you to The Occasional Genealogist Pinterest Board where you can find a pin about free planner printables. That will take you to a website with links to various free printables. You can learn more from those.

If you have a scheduling or planner related tip or question, leave a comment. You can also leave a link to you favorite planner printable(s). If you have another suggestion for a way to include genealogy in your planner, please share!

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