I love going to Staples. Staples, Office Max Office Depot, really any office supply store where I can pick up an organizer or something to file things in or even just some new pens. Walking into a store like that creates the illusion of productivity. Of course I’m getting things done- can’t you see me deciding between the sparkly pink pen and the sparkly blue one? I’m making very important decisions to stay organized. Unfortunately, the illusion doesn’t carry out much further than the doors of the store. Just because I picked up a brand new planner doesn’t mean I’m going to use it ever day. Maybe I just like being the kind of person that owns a planner, because I don’t think I’ve ever consistently used a planner for more than three weeks. Am I alone in this?
I’m not sure if it’s the process of taking my planner out of my bag that turns me off from using it or the thought that I trust my brain to remember things too much, but I can’t seem to stick with a planner. Sometimes I do find myself being “that guy” with various pictures in my camera roll of homework assignments written on white boards or shorthand assignments in my notes app. Jackie Reeve, a writer at Wirecutter said this in an interview with the New York Times when asked why people shouldn’t use their phones as planners,
“If you’re using your phone, you’re going into different apps for different purposes. Your calendar won’t do everything: You might be using a separate to-do list app, you might be using a separate app for notes. So one of the benefits is having this one book that can have everything in it. You can have it all in one place, and it can be almost as portable as a phone.”
Perhaps I’m a little scatterbrained when it comes to my organizational skills, but in my defense I’ve never missed an assignment or forgotten completely about a paper, so it’s not as bad as it could be, right? I know that paper and I don’t always get along; I have a similar problem with sketchbooks, leaving a bunch of blank pages or forgoing it completely and using my iPad instead.
It was when I was thinking about my sketchbooks that I had my realization. Maybe my problem with traditional planners lies with the fact that they are so different from all the other aspects of my life and in a way, inconvenient. If I want to communicate with someone I will pull out my phone and shoot them an email or a text, not write them a letter. And if I want to draw something I’ll pull out my iPad or tablet, not a pencil and a piece of paper. If I wanted to have a planner and stick with it, it would need to be like everything else in my life, digital.
I knew of a few places I could turn to in order to get my digital planner started. I had worked previously with an application called Trello at one of my previously internships so not only was I most familiar with that software, I also knew I enjoyed it and could get a lot out of it. So, I decided to give organizational planning another shot, this time I was happy that I wasn’t about to blow $30 like I would have if I went out and bought a traditional planner.
I started out relatively small with my Trello board, I thought about which class I was taking that needed the most organization and realized my graduate class was a great place to start. Because my class didn’t operate with standard deadlines (we use “modules” and usually have assignments due on a two weeks basis) I wanted to outline what my upcoming weeks would look like and try to stay on top of everything.
The board was exceptional easy to organize and navigate. I started with the most important thing first, choosing a background picture and although this is unrelated to organization, I was really impressed with how many options I could choose from; of course I went with something witchy as a nod to the season. I set up a section for each module, three past modules, the fourth, which I was currently in, and the fifth, the module for next week. I set up all the past readings I had done, the additional readings I had to do and any additional assignments I had as well. The board of the current week allowed me to put due dates on each reading or assignment and add little notes to anything I wanted.
I really enjoy Trello and every little feature it has to offer. Personally I think that I work better as a visual learner, so having all my assignments and due dates laid out on a board like this is the best way for me to plan ahead. Flipping through pages aimlessly and having to remember where I placed my planner is much more difficult than opening up a web page and seeing everything in front of me. I’m excited to give Trello a try and I’m looking forward to seeing if I keep this longer than I kept my past planners.