Sort It ~ Professional Organizing for the Toronto Area

It’s Planner Time!

I’m just over the 6 month mark of using my first Quo Vadis planner, and I thought I would give you all an update from my earlier post Keeping The Calendar.

I have always been a planner-aholic. All throughout junior and high school, as well as university, I would be the first one with my planner out, making sure all of my life events were scheduled out. First, let me confess that I used two other planners last year. My first was a small, very thin, planner that cost quite close to $1. If you’ve been an avid reader of mine, than you’ll know that this is not uncommon for me, as I tend to be on the thrifty side. I used this planner (which I got for Christmas 2010) for about 7 months, but I really wasn’t fully satisfied with it. The style had 3 days on the left page, 2 days (plus a small weekend section) on the right. Also, the times slots that it gave were sparse, at best (7 & 10 a.m., 1, 4 & 7 p.m.). I guess those “in between” hours didn’t really matter to them. But, I made due, thinking that all planners are created equal. Then, I moved up a step. Someone gave me their daily Brownline planner, because they didn’t like the style (that should have been a flag, no?). I wasn’t a huge fan either, as each day had its own page, and it was very bulky and heavy. Although, I could include a lot of detail, which was nice. I will admit that I am probably busier than most, but I was never busy enough to have to put in 10 back to back appointments. I used that planner until November 30th.

Why November 30th, you ask? Well, let me tell you. I attended a Professional Organizers in Canada conference at the beginning of November, last year. We had about 5 different sessions, and they were all, for the most part, fabulous. I was incredibly fortunate to also take part in a LinkedIn session, conducted by Margarita Ibbott. Much to my excitement (perhaps over excitement to some), there awaiting me, like a beacon in the night, was a green, medium sized, Minister 2012 Quo Vadis planner. (Actually, I think that it may have been black, and a size up, but I stealthily swapped for one in my company colour 😀 ). Did my eyes deceive me? An actual, quality planner? Just for me? Sweet!

This particular model, so to speak, is fantastic and perfect for me for three reasons:

  1. It has a whole week on 2 pages. When I get into a daily situation, I lose sight of the big picture, plus it would probably triple the thickness of it. Remember: Less is more.
  2. It has a notes section – for each week! Five medium sized boxes to jot down to-dos, or in my situation, driving instructions (no, I don’t have a GPS – I have a love affair with Google Maps, because I’m a visual person). Looking back, there has only been one week when I haven’t used that handy section.
  3. It fits in my purse. Granted I’m not carrying around a clutch, but it is a great size to fit into any medium sized purse.
  4. BONUS: It’s green! Did I mention that I love green? And next year, I only have to order the refill. I don’t have to purchase a new exterior 🙂 Less waste is always a good thing.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m a busy gal. To recap from my previous post, I have a colour coded system that I use to keep myself straight:

Blue ~ Toronto Willowdale Aquarium Society (Blue = water 🙂 )

Brown ~ Tutoring

Orange ~ Brownies (Their uniform colour is now orange, not brown)

Green ~ Sort It appointments  (My business colour)

Pink ~ Personal

Purple ~ Church events

To do this, I utilize my Pilot Frixion Pens, which are erasable. Yes folks, erasable colour pens. And not like the ones we had back in high school, that would only take a layer off, but you could still read it. No, these erase fully, which is incredibly useful when a client cancels or changes the time to get together. I have too much going on in my mind to occupy it with trying to remember dates and times. I also hate double booking myself, as I try to be a woman of my word.

So, in short, would I recommend a Quo Vadis planner? Absolutely. It’s cute, and it’s easy to maintain. I will certainly be purchasing a refill for next year, if I don’t happen to “come across” one in the meantime 😉

What quality do you look for most in a planner/agenda?


Keeping The Calendar

I love my physical, paper planner. I think it’s fantastic. I received this one courtesy of Quo Vadis through a LinkedIn seminar held by Margarita Ibbott. I love that it’s a week at a glance, and that it breaks up my day into half hour segments (although, you could consider it to be 1/4 hour segments, if you’re picky). I, personally, need a physical agenda. I know of plenty of people who use an online calendar (my husband, for one). I also know plenty of people who utilize the calendar on their cell phones (some of which may also be linked up to an online calendar, I know). However, I must have my paper planner! I love the creativity you can add to it using different writing techniques and doodles. I love the accessibility of it (you don’t have to wait for it to load). I love the fact that I don’t have to worry about charging it every night to ensure I’ll be able to use it the next day. Here is my planner:

Okay, I’m not really that lame. I do have plenty of activities during the week. I’ve posted a week for April, so that’s why it isn’t too busy yet. However, you will note that I have colour coded my entries. I find it much easier to figure out how/where I’m spending my time when I’ve associated a colour with it. So, here’s my colour coded breakdown:

Blue ~ Toronto Willowdale Aquarium Society (Blue = water 🙂 )

Brown ~ Tutoring

Orange ~ Brownies (Their uniform colour is now orange, not brown)

Green ~ My business (My business colour)

Pink ~ Personal

Purple ~ Church events

One of the reasons I chose these colours was because the pens that I use (Pilot Frixon) came in those colours. These pens are fantastic because they write smoothly, and they’re erasable! (No, I’m not getting paid to promote these products, I just love them that much). Now, I’ve also been able to transfer this system onto my wall 4-month at a time calendar:


I know that this image is a little difficult to see, so here’s a close up of March:

As you can see, I’ve been able to transfer the same colour coded system to my wall calendar as well.

I am a firm believer that every household needs to have a calendar that everyone has access to. If I’m trying to make plans, I can easily check our calendar and have a sense of what might be happening that day and vice versa for my husband.

But what happens when two worlds collide? My husband primarily uses his Google calendar to schedule things, and I’m an avid paper user. Our compromise? I have access to his Google calendar, so I can keep him up to date as to my plans, and he will put his commitments on our wall calendar. The other essential key? Communication. We regularly discuss what we’re doing, and how it might impact the other. This was particularly important when we were sharing one car, however we continue to do so today.

It is a matter of respect to the other people who share your life to inform them of your commitments. Writing everything out is also a great opportunity to visualize how you’re spending your time, and where your time may be used more wisely. Time is precious, we can never get it back.

Are you an electronic or paper calendar person?

Stick To Your Commitment

I had the opportunity to donate blood today. I made an appointment earlier on in the week, because I had made a note that I was eligible to donate again today (every 56 days, in case you’re curious). During the process, I was speaking to one of the nurses who was conducting my prescreening, and she said that 50% of the people who had made appointments showed up today. Half? Really? That’s pretty sad. So, I got to thinking about the possible reasons that people hadn’t shown up – or at least canceled their appointment if they were no longer available.

It was a beautiful day, so perhaps some people opted to stay outside instead. However, I would like to believe that when people commit to something, then they will make an earnest effort to see it through. Especially in this situation, where one would presumably go out of their way in order to make the appointment, and it is something that could potentially save lives. So, I have to assume the obvious – they forgot.

I have a planner, my husband and I have a 4-month wall calendar, and we also use an online calendar for good measure. I use my planner for everything. Every appointment and commitment that I have gets written down. I also use it to keep me on task for projects and to do lists. My husband and I use our online calendar to ensure that we’re both on the same page, just in case he doesn’t hear me when I tell him I’m spending the evening with a friend. Anytime something goes into my planner, it goes into the online calendar. Our wall calendar is used more often for big events, whereas the online calendar is more for day to day activities.

However, personally, I need to have a paper, hard copy planner. I know that with iPhones and Blackberries (sp?) a lot of people are moving to an electronic format, and I completely appreciate that. I just know that personally, I enjoy writing and scribbling and adding personality to my plans that only paper can offer me.

Learn for yourself and experiment to see if you’re an electronic or paper person, and then use it! Consistency is key. Once you’ve set up a system, use it for a few weeks, then tweak it according to your preference. Doing so will make it much easier to stick to your commitments.

Where Did The Time Go?

Do you ever feel like you’ve lost all track of time? You have a list of items you want to get done, but then you start putting them off? I have a dirty little secret. Even though I got married nearly 3 years ago (our anniversary is in June), we still haven’t submitted our photo selection, so we have yet to order our professional wedding photos. Horrible, right? Yes! My husband and I just kept on putting it off, and now, here we are, 3 years later, sans wedding photos.

But why do we do this? When someone asks of us, “Hey, did you forward me that email?” we often, inevitably, say “Sorry, I just haven’t had the time.” But really, when we finally get around to doing most of these tasks, it takes us far less time than we anticipated (can anyone say “Dishes”?), and we feel better for having been able to check it off our list. Not only that, but we often waste a lot of our time. We get sucked in to social media websites (yes, I’m a sucker for Facebook, and updating myself on what’s on everyone’s mind), and TV, where we can easily spend 2-3 hours and not even realize it.

So, what are we to do? I suggest that we start off by setting realistic goals. If you make a list of 100 things to accomplish on a Saturday, you probably won’t finish it. And those items that you don’t get around to will simply be put off to another (unspecified) time. Next, delegate a little extra time to each “to do”, so that you don’t find yourself running behind, and if you do, you’ll be able to make it up in other areas.

Also, don’t expect someone else to do it. If you’re creating a lengthy “Honey Do” list, yet your significant other has other plans, you’ll be disappointed. So, make your list, but work together. Explain that you can’t do everything yourself, and that you need help to get things done. When they take on the responsibility themselves (rather than being told to do something), they’ll be much more willing to participate.

Lastly, reward yourself. Perhaps when you’re halfway through your list, watch one program on TV, or update your status (to announce to the world your accomplishments). But keep an eye on the clock! Make sure you limit yourself, and get right back to your “to dos” before you lose track of time. You’ll feel much better when you’re finished, and will be able to relish in the fact that you’ve done all that you set out to do that day.

Now, I’m off to clean the kitchen, the bathroom, order wedding photos, fold laundry…