Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Free Planner Printable: Day Map Time Blocking / Bullet Journal Hybrid

In this lull between Christmas and the New Year my thoughts always turn to planners. For 2016, I created my own daily planner based around a page-per-day template I first started tinkering with in 2014. While I wasn't perfect at using it each day, I did always return to it. For 2017 I made only minor tweaks to the day layout. I call it a Day Map. It is a cross between time blocking and bullet journaling. I use it to -- wait for it -- map out my day. Hence the catchy name.

I am ready to share my creation with you all via a free pdf file of a single blank undated page. You may print it and use it at will. Please do not use it in anything you sell. You are free to use my ideas, such as they are, to build your own perfect day planner. I have combed hundreds of layouts and read dozens of blog posts over the years. No other planner on earth is exactly right for me. I have tried to make do with fancy and expensive planners but they never feel right. I have been tinkering with my own planner design since at least 2008. This finally feels right.

In the image below you can see my layout in action. At the top I write in the date, circle the day of the week and note the weather forecast. Then I have a line for Notable Today. That's where significant things like birthdays, holidays and other important stuff goes. 

The middle section is an 18-hour grid with marks for 15-minute intervals. Yes, I do plan my days to the quarter hour. I don't execute my plan with that much exactness, but I have found that showing myself that I have time to complete my tasks makes me less susceptible to overload paralysis. I use this technique at work as well, and it has made a great difference in my productivity and goal-reaching. I hope to be more intentional with this in 2017.
A page from Holy Thursday 2016
Following that, on the left, I list my menu plan for the day. I do my planning on a weekly grid. This section forces me to actually refer to that plan and execute it. There is nothing worse than making a meal plan that is ignored, other than not having a plan at all.

To the right of the food stuff, there is the section I call Endeavors. This I use like a bullet journal. The one tweak I made here for 2017 was to add boxes so I don't have to draw them, and to add a line at the top of the box for what housekeeping zone I am supposed to be on.

I have found that investing some time each evening or morning with the planner pays dividends in increasing my actual stuff done. For most of 2016, as you can see above, I set aside an hour with my planner each morning. That also included working my budget and actual finances, which are in another section of my planner. Due to a schedule shift I now work earlier in the day so I have begun to work in planner time in the evening for the following day. As with any new habit, it has been a challenge to make the shift, but I'm getting used to it.

When I sit down with my planner, I first date the page then check the weather forecast on my iPhone. The weather has such an impact on decisions like wardrobe, activities, travel safety. I am much more on top of things since I started doing this weather check. Next I open my Google calendar. I have used Google exclusively to manage all of my appointments for at least 10 years. I am lost without it. On my iPhone, it is always there when I am at the doctor or in a meeting and scheduling a follow-up. I have a calendar for me, one for the boys (so their events show up in a different color) and one for annual recurring things like birthdays, death anniversaries, holy days, etc. I also sub to my husband's calendar although I never edit it. I note appointments for myself and the boys first, then schedule commuting time around those. After those hard commitments are given their space, I turn to my routines. I have seven daily recurring routines that are the next priority to get on paper. That sounds like a lot, but three of them are prayer and the others are personal and homemaking tasks: Morning, Afternoon, Kitchen and Bedtime, plus Lauds, Vespers and Compline. (in the sample above I skip Afternoon and Vespers, maybe because we were going to evening Mass). Next is time with Boy12 for lessons. Then anything else I need to get done, especially anything I've written under Endeavors. It would be perfectly fine to leave open spaces, but I prefer to give all of my time a task.

My layout is very plain, black on white. I really dislike planners with color. They are jarring to me. I do use color, as you can see. I color-code my appointments and tasks by the seven areas of responsibility I have in life. I came up with these years ago, as a riff on something I read in a long-forgotten blog post. I have used this color system for at least eight years. My areas are:

  1. Faith
  2. Home
  3. Boys
  4. Husband's home business
  5. My outside employment
  6. Freelancing
  7. Self
I could not imagine not using color. It is that important to me and to the way I process and organize information. I have a color code system for my responsibilities at my main outside job. I used to color code subjects when I did lesson plans for the boys, but I am much more relaxed in homeschooling than I used to be. So having a plain minimal design for my planner gives me the freedom I need to use color the way I need to and love.

Without further adieu, here it is for your enjoyment:

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