Professional Organizers’ Favorite Planners

professional organizers' favorite planners


My clients and my colleagues are often searching for the perfect planner.  There’s a range of options for all of us, from digital to paper.   I polled my colleagues to help you determine what planners are most popular and why!


Planner requirements

What helps you determine the planner you choose?

  • Ability to quickly assess and add appointments
  • Agility in adding information to your planner
  • Size and portability
  • Attractive cover and interior pages


Here’s the responses

MaryJo: I’m a 100% digital calendar. I can color code and set reminders. I don’t leave home without my phone so I always have my calendar.


Melony: I’m old school. Franklin Covey Classic, ring bound 5.5×8.5, leather zip planner with lots of pockets.


Michelle: I have Erin Condren, Life Planner vertical layout this year. I like the format but it is so bulky.


Judy: The planner I love is the discbound planner with inserts (happy planner). I use the Louis Vuitton Monogram cover to hold everything together. I love this style of planner because you can customize it to your liking.


Me: I love the planner pad and love Outlook reminders. I have a hybrid system that works for me. I am visual so a paper planner lets me see it all and easily write in appointments. I have a few pockets for papers and use a binder clip to keep a pad of paper in the front.


Whatever your system, remember to have a weekly planning time with your planner and task list. It’s time to schedule your tasks and check on appointments.


More on planners and time management here!

How to make Time work for You

Be on time and be productive


Staying aware of time is one of the foundations of time management. It may be that you have a bit of “time blindness,” where you don’t see or feel time passing. Without this time awareness, you may be losing time and being less productive. Let’s admit it, when time passes we feel less effective and caught off guard.


Here are timely tips to help you track time and use it as you plan. You can rely on clocks, routines, and work flow to help you be your most productive.


  • Place a clock in all the important spots in your home or office. Time awareness begins with an analog clock.
  • Have a work flow, not necessarily a set schedule. Rather than a packed time table, set up work times that naturally flow in the context and content of your work.
  • Routines are the automation of time management. Establish routines that build success and structure for you. These routines begin and end your work day, and begin and end your daily life.
  • Use the Maximum and Minimum strategy to help you know how long a task or project can take. Assess what is the most and least amount of time for these and schedule your work accordingly.
  • Check out apps that can help you with time management. These include RescueTime, Toggl, and StayOnTask.
  • Use multiple alarms to keep you on track. These include one day out, one hour out, and 15 minutes out from a deadline.
  • Bedtime is the remedy for all time management challenges. Getting a great night’s rest solves many time management issues.
  • Schedule in free time, fun time and family time. Intentional time to disconnect and reconnect makes you more productive.

Choose a simple start for yourself with just one tip from this list to make you more aware of time and more effective in how you use your minutes and hours.


time flies and you're the pilot

Choosing Time Management Tools

Time management tools


Say the words time management and we say how can be manage time?  We can’t really. What we can do is track how we use time, understand how long a tasks takes, and prioritize what we spend out time on.   Time management tools help us track and record how we spent our time.   By tracking and recording our tasks and how much time each takes, we can be more productive about how we use our time.  These basic, elementary tools also empower us to be more productive.


Capture tools: planner and task list

A planner is where you place dates and appointments. It’s also where you can create a plan for your work by breaking tasks and projects into smaller units. Planners come in a variety of formats so choose what works for you.


A task list is where you record all the details. It’s the spot for all ideas, whether actionable or not.  The task list evolves into the 3 Most Important Tasks (MITs). Those the tasks that are assigned by date and recorded on your panner. These capture tools can include a simple notebook to the online tool Trello.


Both capture tools are essential for productivity. Knowing the high priority tasks, choosing which to schedule when, then you can use your planner.  Your planner is your every day map for getting stuff done.

Focus tools

These tools help you stay on track with your plan and ensure productivity.


A timer can help you start, finish and stay on task. Setting a timer helps make the shift into action.  It’s set to help you with the duration of the task. Using the Pomodoro technique, you can break up your work into chunks too.


An analog clock can help you gauge the beginning of a task.  Placing an analog clock where you can see time elapsing is beneficial in that you can assess how much time has passed and when to move onto the next step.


There are many apps that create more awareness about your own productivity.  RescueTime is a a digital tool to assess where you have spent your time.  This time management software helps you stay on track knowing that your time is being assessed. TimeDoctor give you tools for analysis for you and your team.  Trello helps you set up an online tracking tool.  Check out of one these on one of your devices.  Use these focus tools together to help you keep to your plan.


Time management concepts

Time management concepts provide the perspective of how to use your tools.


The Power of One highlights how important a single capture tool can be for you.  Capture your tasks and assigments in one place. It’s easier to know what you have to do and when you are doing this tasks.


Chunk your  work into segments that work for you. If you are someone who likes long time periods to work, create theme days to do this work. If you work for an hour at a time, break your work into these units.  Chunking is a powerful way to be sure you are accomplishing and not procrastinating.



Now you have the tools. It’s time to put them to use!  Be sure to have your planner, task list, clock and timer at your side at all times.  Put them to work today as you start your work day.


More time management tips here! Join my newsletter!




4 Surprising Ways to Use a Planner

4 ways to use a planner

“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”  ― Allen Saunders

A goal without a plan is just a wish.”   ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”   ― Benjamin Franklin


It’s all just a wish until you make a plan! Whether it’s home, work, meals or exercise, a planner helps you accomplish your goals. It sets the road map for your work and helps you track your metrics. Here’s some planner love for you!


Work planner

work planner


A week at a glance planner, where you can easily write on it and see it, makes it easier to accomplish your goals.  What special about this planner page is that you write in your priorities at the start of the week. This helps you stay on task and keeps away distractions.


Meal planner

meal planner


One of our most important goals is to plan meals for ourselves and our families. This weekly meal plan helps you write down what you are preparing and what ingredients you will need.  In the notes section, track information about the recipes. Keep each week in a binder to use as a meal rotation schedule.


Exercise planner

workout planner

Weekly exercise can be a lofty goal.  Here’s a planner that’s a weekly tracker.  It’s creating a plan for you that is specific, measurable and realistic. Keep your tracker with you to be sure you get your workout complete.


Travel planner

Travel planner


We’re off on a wonderful adventure! We want to share our travel information with friends and family. This travel planner helps us share the most important information.


Of course, all my blog posts on planners must share my love of the planner pad!


This week as you do your weekly planning, download one of the extra planners to help you get things done.  It will help you stay accountable and work on what’s missing from your goals.

2018 Word of the Year: Possibilities



Each year I choose a word as my reference for what my intentions are.  Other’s choose SMART goals or consistent habits.  It’s a guide that has been my stead for some time.  The guide word, also known as your one word or your word of the year, is catching on as a way to create change in your life.


This year my word is possibilities 

I am inspired by my clients who think about possibiltities.  What is possible this year? What can be a possibility that I should think about as I work or play?  What would be the options if there were fewer or no limits?


I chose my word possibilities as I thought of entering a new decade.  (Yes, this year my age ends in a 0.)  As a professional organizer and productivity consultant, I am a believer in limits, guides, structure and all that is established and set. This limit setting is intrinsic to every fiber in me. It’s who I am.   It came to mind that perhaps I have this year an opportunity to take ideas further by opening myself to possibilities.


What’s your new year beginnings?

I’d love to know your new year goals, new habits or word of the year!

One ADHD Family, Five Planners


1 adhd family 5 planners

Back to school means back to planners.  Planners are what keep families and individuals sane during the school year. It’s where we keep dates, deadlines, meetings and ideas. With ADHD, having a great planner is a must.  When I work with families, one of my first ways to make a difference is to recommend a planner.  In one family I work with, all the members know the value and are excited about using their planners.  Here’s the story of one ADHD family, five planners.


Mom’s traditional planner

Mom uses a traditional, month at a glance calendar.  She is working 2 part time out of the home jobs and her “family manager” mom job.  Mom loves to quilt and is a member of a quilt guild too.  Her calendar keeps her on track with where she should be on what day.  Mom like the month at a glance view to keep from being overwhelmed.


Big sister’s creative calendar

Big sister is starting an advanced degree. Her schedule includes a part time job and part time school.  Big sister’s calendar is customized for her routines, like cleaning her apartment, and self care, like hydration.  Big sister has a combination, daily, weekly and monthly calendar system bound together in a spiral.  She loves that all her priorities are in one place.


Little sister’s  Agendio planner

Little sister is starting her final college years, works a busy part time job and attends college full time.  She found a daily planner overwhelming and uses a template in Agendio to create a weekly/monthly planner.  She keeps her syllabus in her planner, as we as uses time blocking to keep up with her schedule.


Little brother Academic Planner

Little brother is beginning college.  While not a big fan of planners, Little sister has highy recommended this as a crticial element for colleg success.  Little brother uses order out of chaos academic planner because it’s big blocks to enter information.


Dad and his digital planner

Dad keeps all his information digitally.  He views it at wor on Outlook and checks his phone at home.


The big take away from this family is:  Use a planner that works for you and be productive!

5 Simple ADHD Time Management Tips

5 simple adhd time management tips


Do you feel there’s not enough time to get important work complete?  In the corporate world, a “perennial time-scarcity problem” afflicts executives all over the globe. In small businesses, owners wear many hats from marketing to providing services, which can stretch anyone and everyone.   Here’s 5  simple ADHD time management tips to help you be productive and get stuff done.


Write down your 3 Most Important Tasks each day.

Start your day with your 3 most important tasks.  Look at your calendar, your tasks, your projects and your goals.  Look far enough out to assess how much time you need for these.  Either written or digital, your tasks should be prioritized by your Return on Investment. Pick what has the biggest impact for your work.

Set a power hour and eliminate distractions.

Set and protect one hour during your most high focused time of day.  It’s important to know when you work best which is when you work most effortlessly and with flow.  A single distraction can set you back 20 minutes so turn off electronics, shut your door, put up a note on your cubicle or have a colleague catch distractions.  In one hour you can accomplish so much!


Use a timer to get started.

A timer is a great motivator for you.  Set your timer for 15 minutes to get you going.  Timers are part of the Pomodoro technique, a well-known productivity method with intervals of 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break. RescueTime is a free tool to record your time online by tracking websites and applications.  It helps you understand where you are using your time each day. It’s an automated time for your online time.

Assess the amount of time needed.

Whether it’s a task or project, a general idea of how long to accomplish will help.  There are two truths to this: that we may not know how long and work can expand to fit the time we give it.  A rough estimate, then doubled, can be a guide.  It will help you realistically project completion.


Time block your time.

Every task and project needs an assigned time to accomplish.  Block your work in chunks, assigned to specific times.  Scheduling is required to get stuff done. Your schedule can include routines that happen weekly at the same time.  These routines can carry you through what seems like small insignificant administrative work, work that you may have been trying to squeeze in.


While we can’t really manage time, what we can do is use better tools to be productive.  Choose just one of these tips to get started on making time work better for you.


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I am an Organizer Coach now!

I am an organizer coach

I have always valued education because furthering my skills makes a difference for my clients.  My clients are the reason I continue to learn new ways to help them let go, streamline and keep their intentions daily in their lives. Completing my Coach Approach training is one way for me to empower my clients with their home, work and life goals.  I am an Organizer Coach who works one on one with clients to empower your change and goals.


For the past year, and several years before, I have been taking classes via phone, working on skills in small groups, and completing a curriculum to become an Organizer Coach.  My classes and reading have included learning about modalities, using new tools to help my clients such as a values and needs assessment, and learning more about ADHD, depression and anxiety. Throughout the year I have coached or been coached in 3 different small groups to practice my skills and learn what it is like to be coached.


How do these new skills help you, my client?

  • Are you stuck and can’t get started? Coaching supports awareness, action and learning.  Your new awareness will lead you into action.  Getting started and finishing up are often holding back my clients until we work together.  Learning comes from perspectives at your success.  Overall, coaching supports maintaining the change you have created.
  • Need a trusted coach to listen to you?  I believe in the strengths of my clients. You bring thoughts and ideas and my listening brings focus to our work. Your values, needs and strengths are all a part of our work together.
  • Do you feel overwhelmed and paralyzed?  Your strengths are the foundation of organizing in your home, work and life. It’s easier to maintain the systems you establish by working from your strengths.
  • Do you struggle with ADHD or anxiety?  Brain based conditions, such as ADHD and anxiety, can impact your executive function and your goals. Our work together will move you forward as you create new awareness and learning.
  • Have you created support for your efforts?  Essential structures, such as self awareness, support and education are the baseline for your life.  Together we investigate how these essential structures support your organizing goals.


It’s been a busy year with training through Coach Approach, a coaching skills training program designed specifically for organizers.   I want to thank my trainers Denslow Brown and Cameron Gott, as well as my colleagues in training with me.



It’s the most wonderful time of the year

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Holiday organizing for joy and meaning!


It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We love the lights, sounds, smells and feel of the holidays.  It can be overwhelming too!  There’s lot of places to go, people to see, gifts to buy and cards to send.  Here’s simply strategies to keep this the most wonderful time of the year for you too!


Make lists

Have you been searching the Internet for a gift for a “just in case” hostess gift for a party?  Or not sure what to purchase for your family but you don’t know if you are a part of a gift exchange?  It all starts with a list.  It’s a list of who to buy for and a list of your budget for the purchases. That list keeps you aligned with what you plan, instead of those extra purchases and expenses. Find 3 small “general” gifts for hostesses and “surprise I brought you something” times.  My favorite list making apps are Evernote and Notes.  Your list is with you all the time on your smartphone.  Make your holiday wonderful with a list.


Write it on the holiday calendar

A quick family meeting, even if it’s only you and your partner, gets all the details on  your holiday calendar.  Invitations are coming in and holiday activities are starting up. Writing these on your calendar makes sure you are in the know and are at the right spot at the right time.  It’s also important to schedule time to just be.  By scheduling in this time to sit, reflect, catch up, and rejuvenate, you gives yourself the gift of time.  Otherwise, all your time will be filled and you will end up feeling frazzled.  It’s hard to not overbook the holidays however your holiday will be wonderful with a modest schedule.  Use your usual calendar and add these dates in red, green or blue to stand out.

Enlist help

Santa has his elves! Mrs. Claus is there too! It’s time for us to work as a team too.  There’s help around us to wrap gifts, make treats, and share the fun.  Ask for help from your family with specific requests but without being a perfectionist.  Look around for resources to help, ask teens who want to make a little extra holiday money and inquire when a friend mentions a service they used.  Take a small step by purchasing already cut fruit, using the gift wrap option online, hire a cleaning service or a decorating professional.  These little gifts to yourself make your holiday wonderful.

Rest up

The holidays are when we are most busy. It’s easy to stay up much later online, decorating and baking.  However, it catches up with us!  Keep true to your bedtime routine that includes sleep for 7 – 8 hours.  Be sure your sleep is restful with a cool, darkened space. Make a list at night while your tasks are fresh on your mind to keep your mind clear and ready for rest.  Stay true to your exercise routine to be tired in a good way to sleep well.



It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the wonderfulness of the season. Holiday fun extends to extra gatherings with friends, sharing more treats with neighbors and family, and extra good wishes with holiday cards and gifts. Simplify your holiday by choosing what’s most meaningful to you.  Reflect back on prior holidays with your family or in a moment of meditation to remember what made your holiday special. Take that awareness to the next step by reinforcing this with your holiday activities.  Just checking in and knowing that even one thing is NOT on your agenda this holiday makes for a wonderful experience.


Not sure what to simplify this year? Here’s how I do it.  My decorations include a festive doorway garland and my Christmas tree.   We send holiday cards at the beginning of December.  My holiday treats include make ahead holiday treats.  Find what’s most meaningful to you, and simplify the rest.


More tips to simplify and organize on my newsletter! Join here!













12 Secrets To Better Work Life Balance

12 secrets to work life balance



Work life balance is a conversation heard around the “water cooler.” We think about how we can equalize our work and our play.  But perhaps it’s how we keep our professional life in check and prioritize our personal goals.  Recently surveys show that less than half of us are feeling that we are successful with this. A recent survey shared that 40% of men and 33.2% of women were satisfied with their work life balance. It seems this is an area where we aspire to have better strategies.  Which one of these will help you create more work life balance?

  • Write it all down, then schedule

    My favorite quote, “the biggest lie I tell myself is that I can remember it all.” When it comes to work life balance, writing it all down is the best first step. When you write it ALL down, you see where you are spending time and getting stuff done. It’s a “time audit” of where you spend your time and how in balance you are. The secret to writing it all down is to schedule your work and your play. It might be surprising but you must schedule your play time too.   Research shows that we are happier with scheduled time away from work.  Vacations and mini-vacations improve happiness, health and connections.  Write it all in to insure you are reinforcing your work life balance.


  • Use your one best tool (planner)

    Having a planner is the first step. But the secret to using your planner for work life balance is scheduling transition time. A busy schedule requires time to transition. It’s important to write in your transition times, like the time to travel between meetings or picking up kids.  Also write in preparation time for upcoming meetings and homework time for classes you are taking.  It’s not just the appointments that matter; it’s the time in between.


  • Keep the big picture prioritized

    Not sure what’s most important? While most of us think of getting all tasks checked off, prioritizing requires keeping a big picture of what 1,2 or 3 things make the most difference in our work and life.  Most of us would say our family is our priority and making money at work is a priority. The secret is to not get too bogged down with all the little tasks.  All the little tasks can be overwhelming and stressful.  Everyday make a deliberate effort at these 2 priorities in some small way.  You are on your way to balance.  Put away your perfectionism too.  It’s getting in the way of you acknowledging your successes.


  • Weekly planning time

    The secret to keeping calm is planning.  Your weekly planning time reinforces your values and priorities.  It’s when you take a big picture view of your week and take note of all the tasks. It really pulls together your calendar and helps you prepare for your week.  When you know what’s ahead you are ready for a successful week.  No more surprises when you have weekly planning time.


  • Align energy and task

    I follow the Energy Project, a resource that believes that “science tells us that we perform at our best when we move regularly between expending and renewing energy.” The concept applies to how we align our energy and the task.  The secret to work life balance is that when you are working at a difficult project with high energy, then you are at your most efficient.  In addition, the Energy Project reinforces the idea of playing hard too. It’s about renewing your energy to be ready to tackle difficult projects.  It’s a secret time saver and productivity tip.


  • Create routines and themes (daily, weekly, or monthly)

    Developing robust routines makes for work life balance. Routines help us get stuff done regularly and consistently.  You can have Money Monday or Financial Friday when you focus only on finances that day. You might have a checklists for your morning. You might have a weekly  routine of Gym time on Monday, Wednesday, Friday.  In our home we have Gigi Friday every week where the grands come play that afternoon.  Check out what holds you accountable to your routine and why that works.


  • Host a Pajama Day

    We all want a day with no makeup and nothing to do.  Host a pajama day at least once a month and possibly once a week. That’s the day you stay in your pajamas and just relax.  It’s a day with no demands and no schedule.  You will be amazed how balanced you feel at the end of the day.


  • Intentional start to your day

    Prayer, yoga, and exercise are all intentional ways to begin your day. Starting your day in a centered, mindful way helps you maintain balance throughout the day.  Prayer helps us be grateful and mindful of our blessings.  Yoga and exercise center us in the moment, breath deeply and feel our being. Choose a mindful practice that boosts your brain and helps your work life balance.


  • Eat dinner with your family and have a date night with your honey

    Dinner time is our time to connect with our family and friends. Dinner is when conversations big and small take front and center.  These conversations are a break from the daily  grind.  Eat dinner with your family or friends to stay connected and in the know.  Weekly date night keeps the spark going in a relationship. Research shows when couples share an evening together there is improved communication and commitment.  A simple date night can be a walk or bike ride. Date night reinforces why you and your partner met and mingled.


  • Control technology

    Taking control of technology is required for work life balance. Technology is everywhere all the time.  The secret to disconnecting is setting boundaries.  No tech times include overnight, meals together or whatever you know to be one on one time.  Choose a common charging spot not in your bedroom to support restful sleep. Check your email 3 times a day to work on it and not be overwhelmed by it.  Be present and keep your tech in control.

  • Go team!

    A team approach helps everyone. Your team can be collaboratively, working together on a project.  You can delegate and share a responsibility on a task. You can have a coach who helps keep you accountable and helps you navigate your responsibilities. These are all ways to engage with others to do your best work.  How to create a team? Find resources in your area such as American Business Women’s Association, a local chapter of the industry you are in or the Chamber of Commerce.  Go online to check out additional tech tools such as Dropbox and Join Me. Attend a local conference to connect with those in your industry and learn more.


  • Keep it simple sweetie (your time, your space, your thoughts)

    When things get complicated, they get out of whack. It’s easy to over complicate and over think our home, work and life.  Keep it simple sweetie by doing what’s easy, what’s simple and what’s needed.  Keep in mind that the simplest answer is often the best.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, it’s time to step back and assess simplicity.


Remember, our work and life balance starts with the choices we make.  Keeping it all in balance is a work in progress and that at times our balance needs to shift between work and life.  Keeping it in balance requires us to spin many plates at the same time.


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