Using a day planner builds time into your life |

Using a day planner builds time into your life

Evan Zislis
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

I’m self-employed with no employees and no help. I do my own marketing, promotions, bookkeeping and program development, and work with multiple clients on a daily basis.

I have a feisty wife who enjoys my company and a precocious 2-year-old who keeps me on my toes. I make time to exercise, get out and enjoy nature, cook good food, goof off with friends, and sleep at least six to eight hours most nights. Our lives are full-time jobs.

How to keep track of it all without losing our minds is key. I simply could not do it without my day planner. How or why people try to live without a planner is beyond me.

Time management starts with creating an intention. Decide how you want to spend your time, schedule your priorities and commit to doing what you say you will do. That’s integrity.

Tracking your intentions in a day planner commits you to the priorities you have identified for yourself. Whether work, exercise, volunteer, or fun – when it’s recorded in a day planner, somehow the universe clears the way for your success. Leave it to chance, and there’s no limit to what we will never do.

I increasingly work with clients on time management, both personal and professional. Virtually all of those with chronic challenges either don’t have a day planner or don’t use one well.

So, let’s talk about tools and systems.

The calendar industry is huge, bigger than huge – absurdly huge. Choosing a calendar is like choosing an over-the-counter allergy medication or granola bars. Half the time, people give up, close their eyes and hope for the best.

Throw in nine and a half billion options for personal hand-held electronic devices, and it’s enough to make people give up all together. They’ve got apps forecasting everything from premenstrual cycles and caloric intake to e-calendars that chart everything from sexual performance to toddler potty schedules. It’s turned into staying on top of everything, all the time.

So, let’s simplify. The planner I use and recommend spans the academic year. It runs July through June, with weekly and monthly at-a-glance calendars, at the full-size (8.5 by 11 inches), spiral bound with a flexible plastic cover. They do make three smaller sizes, two of which are useless.

The full-size is about a half inch thick and works nicely on its own or fits into the sleeve of any leather bound folder cover. Every reputable office supply store carries them.

Every June, I buy a new one and get comfortable breaking it in. On July first, I’m good to go with the new one and file the old for future reference. Yes, I understand the rationale for syncing cellphones with electronic apps and online systems. But when things go awry (fussy cell towers, power outages, cellphone submersions and solar flares), nothing beats pencil and paper.

Now let’s talk systems.

Every day, I schedule appointments into my monthly at-a-glance calendar with a pencil. Every Sunday night, I fill in the following week’s appointments along with my prioritized to-do list into the week-at-a-glance.

My wife and I sit down every Sunday night for about seven minutes to review the week, discuss logistics and schedule our coveted date night. While there are minor tweaks periodically throughout the week, it’s an effective touch point for us, promotes good communication and keeps our expectations realistic.

I have exceptional relationships with my family because “getting on the same page” is as easy as reviewing our planners and scheduling the fun stuff around our priorities.

Time management doesn’t have to be some nebulous mystery.

Buy a planner. Use it every day. Talk to the people in your life. Schedule your priorities and then commit.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’ll save time, make time and improve your time with the little time you’ve got left.

– “Life. Simplified.” appears on the second Saturday of the month. Evan Zislis is founder and principal consultant for, offering hands-on organizational solutions for households, businesses, nonprofit organizations and students. Contact Evan Z. at 366-2532 or .

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