Many people decorate their binders with stickers, washi, clips and drawings. I don’t and I never have, though I love looking at decorated binders. I think the ones with themes and colour schemes are really pretty and inspirational but to me they are more like a scrapbook or journal than a planner. I am glad other people like decorating though, because it gives me something pretty to look at and always makes me smile. Many people decorating have real talent, particularly the ones who themes and drawings every day.
Other people want to write as neatly as possible, using the same special pen or pens all the time. This is not for me either.
Other people use their planner to record social time, chores, television programmes. And once again, not for me (which shows how an organizer can be many things to different people, none of them less or more valuable to those who use them). Prettiness makes some people more productive and motivated, though for me scribbles are better.
Mainly because my planner is a tool. That is all. I scribble things with whatever writing instrument I can find and don’t care what my writing looks like. I throw my pages away when I am done with them. I need my organizer as a second brain. I literally do not know where I have to be without it. If I lost it I would, quite literally, not know where I was going.
I work as a translator, interpreter, speechwriter, mentor, coach, teacher, social media manager and language consultant. I am in up to eight different places a day and I go by foot.
I do not work in an office. I work out in the field all day most days. When I do work in one place it is because I am translating. Every time I book something it is booked in my calendar and my client’s calendar. Then for me I have to book it in two room booking systems, client record system, invoicing system and the client’s system.
Above you can see my planner (a custom-designed personal-sized undyed leather binder from Van Der Spek, which I have been in for 8 months solid) and my inserts – Burde Interplano and Interplano Regent week on two page vertical in personal size. I like these because they have the time on each day, which is vital for my scheduling (the Filofax equivalent only has the time on Mondays), and the little blocks of time are perfect for me. I have been using Burde for about ten years now.
Having a look at these two weeks you can see that the 16th and 20th have no bookings and they have lines drawn through them. These are days I translate. I then write down how many hours I translate (as can be seen on the 26th January when I did both teaching and translations) for invoicing purposes. On one of the days there I was sick so I had to record that to double check against my payslip (in Sweden you are not paid for the first day you are sick)
The other days you can see I am out in the field all day. I have changes of times, cancellations and new bookings which are all written in on the fly as I move from place to place.
If we take Wednesday 18th you can see that I started at 8am and finished at 6pm. So my day went thus
- 6am – 6.30: wake up, check mails and bookings, have breakfast and tea
- 6.30am – 7.15am: shower, wash hair, makeup, dress, feed cats and clean sandbox. Garbage out
- 7.15am: catch bus and underground
- 7.45: arrive at first appointment. Get through reception, to meeting room, do photocopying
- 8am: start teaching
- 8.50: start winding down, book next lesson
- 9am: leave
- 9.05: start walking to next appointment
- 9.25: arrive. Get through reception, to meeting room, do photocopying
- 11.15: start winding down, book next lesson (this one takes longer because it is a group and not an individual and there are five calendars to work with)
- 11.30 – 12: Quick lunch at a nearby cafe – I usually don’t have time to stop for lunch so I eat on the fly. During lunch I catch up on emails, check Facebook and update my bookings on the electronic calendar my company uses – I do this on my iPad. I also check off completed items from my lists and add any new items. If I have time I make notes of what I did with the client and what they want to do next time. If it is confidential I use TeeLine shorthand.
- 12.15: Walk to the nearest underground station and catch the train to my next meeting. There is a 20 minute walk from the station and it is icy so I have to plan accordingly.
- 13 – 14.55: Teach
- 14.55: book next lesson
- 15.05: walk to the station and catch underground back into town
- 15.35: do some quick shopping in town
- 16.15: Walk to next meeting. Get through reception, to meeting room.
- 16.30 – 18: Teach
- 18.05: Home via supermarket where I shop from a list in my Filofax
- 19.30: Home
- 19.30: Play with cats, unpack shopping, do emails, printing and preparation for tomorrow, get outfit ready, work on lists.
- 11pm: bed
Thursday 19th was similar but less stressful as the lessons are longer so I am not running from place to place so often.
- 9 – 10: teaching
- half an hour to get to next lesson
- 10.30 to 12: teaching
- 12: lunch on site
- 13 – 15: teaching
- enough time for a pee break today oh joy
- 15.15 to 17.15: teaching
- 17.30: home via supermarket
- 18.30 get home, play with cats, do administration and preparation, supper
and in between I do the same running from place to place, listening to voicemails and updating bookings on the fly.
If you look at Tuesday 27th you can see that I had a few changes and cancellations. In this case I often have to strike through the booking and move things around a bit. I grab whatever pen is near and don’t worry about neat handwriting.
I use Burde week on two page vertical layout for my bookings as it gives me an overview of the week. These weeks I had early starts so I did not teach after 6pm. If I am teaching until 9 or 10pm I make sure that that is not followed by a 7am start the next morning. I like Burde as the times are written on each day. Filofax week on two pages vertical inserts only have the times on Monday which means you continually have to scan back to Monday to make sure you have the time right. If I get a time wrong it is disastrous because I have busy people who pay huge sums for my services waiting for me.
At the end of each month I invoice for the hours so it is important that my calendar is correct because I am so busy with so many different things that I cannot remember everything.
I don’t use last names or any other detail in my calendar as I work in high security environments with high profile clients.
Once things are invoiced and there are no questions I throw away the pages. I don’t keep any of my pages unless they have information I am going to need again. As I throw away pages at the beginning, I add pages at the end.
Sometimes I use the tiny Moleskine, Filofax or Etsy stickers to denote pay days, due days for bills/forms/travel cards. When I am on holiday I sometimes put washi over the pages to show I am not taking any appointments. I do not schedule any ‘me’ time over weekends, holidays and evenings because I work so strictly with scheduling during working hours.
I walk about 10km a day so I carry no supplies with me apart from spare pens. I usually work for 2 to 2.5 hours when I get home, doing administration and preparation. This I do not schedule as I can choose how I want to do it – relax a bit first and then work or vice versa.
My days can, indeed, look a little like the ones below…