Creating the All-In-One planning journal (Step 3)

Over the past few weeks, I have been walking you through creating a planning journal like mine.  If you have missed the previous blog posts, you can view them over here:

In this step I am going to discuss using your calendar, planner, action lists and waiting for list.  I’ll be giving you details on how to use each of them to stay up to date on a day-to-day basis.


Your calendar is your source of control over your whole family.  It should contain ALL the appointments for your family and it should be in a place that is easily accessible by the whole family.  My family calendar is on the wall between the living room and kitchen.  If my husband gives me any “vital information”, for example a meeting that we both need to be at on Thursday, my first response is “Write it on the calendar”.

The calendar only works if your whole family uses it.  For this reason, it may become your responsibility to remind them.  Once a day I ask Mark if there is anything that needs to be added to the calendar, usually just after supper.  I then add it in immediately, or I ask him to add it in.

When it comes to the workflow that we discussed last week (view it here), you will add anything to your calendar that must be done on a specific day at a specific time.  The calendar is the set in stone, time specific, tasks of the day.

Here are some tips for using a calendar:

  • Put it in a place where the whole family can see it.
  • Make sure the squares are large enough to be useful, no use cramping the information together.
  • Update it daily
  • Check your calendar for tomorrow before going to bed
  • Check your calendar every morning

I have a simple calendar for you to download and print out.  It isn’t “Pretty” but it is a good size to keep track of all your family appointments.  All you need to do is write in the year and the day’s of the month.  You can use stickers and coloured pens to make it look nice!

Download calendar: Authentically Ash Calendar

Daily Planner

The daily planner is where you write the appointments that are relevant to you for the day ahead, and any to-do items that must be done on that day.  Every evening before you get into bed you are going to check your calendar.  Write your appointments for the day ahead of you into your daily planner.  Then check your tickler file for tomorrow and write any of your Must-Do tasks into your daily planner.

First thing in the morning, check your daily planner for the day ahead of you and plan your day according to your appointments and must do tasks for the day.  Try to do your “Must-Do” tasks as early in the day as possible, and plan any errands you need to run around your appointments.

I found that the following format for a daily planner works the best for me.

Daily Planner layout |
A picture of a page in my daily planner.

This year I am trying an A5 planner because I found that an A4 planner was cumbersome to carry around with me, but an A5 planner is definitely too small for my needs.  Figure out what works for you, but in future I am going to be buying an A4 planner.

Some tips for using your planner:

  • Update tomorrow each night before you go to bed.
  • Write “Must Do’s” from your tickler file into your daily planner.
  • Write the “appointments” on the correct date and time the night before.  Appointments tend to change, so I rather keep the calendar as the main source of appointments.
  • Carry your daily planner around with you as you go through your day to remind you of your Must-Do’s and appointments.
  • If you have an A4 planner, you can also use it to make notes of stuff that comes to mind and needs to be added to your calendar, tickler and action lists when you get home.
  • Transfer notes from your planner to calendar, tickler and action lists as soon as you get home.

I have a simple Daily Planner layout that you can download and print out.  It also isn’t “Pretty” but it is a good size and has the columns you need.  All you need to do is write the date at the top of the page.

Download Daily Planner Layout: Daily Planner Page

Action Lists

The action lists contain all the tasks that you need to get around to as soon as possible, but not necessarily today.

A quick word on “contexts”.  The context is where you need to be, or the equipment you will need, to complete the action/task.  For example, you may need to be @Phone to “call mom”.  Or you’ll need to be @Internet to “book a flight”. The @Phone or @Internet is the context.

The contexts I use the most are: Computer, Errands, Home, Internet, Notebook/Planner, Office, Phone and Person.  Person is where I keep a list of things I need to discuss with specific people (or give to a person) the next time I speak to them, but they are not so urgent that they warrant an immediate phone call or visit.

I place all my Action Lists behind the Action List tab in my Planning Journal and I have a separate page for each context.

I title the page with the Context, then create 4 columns underneath.  The headings of these columns are: Start Date, Project, Task, End Date.  The End Date is actually the completed date, but “End” is shorter to write out and I know what it means.

You may notice that one of the columns is “Projects”.  This is because your action lists are used to keep track of all your single step tasks, whether they are stand alone single step tasks (like “Write thank you note”) or whether it is a single step task that is part of a bigger project (like “Get ID photograph taken for new ID document” which is part of the “New ID” project).

I work on checking off items from my action lists as soon as I am finished with my morning checklist, daily checklist and must-do tasks.

Tips for action lists:

  • Add items to them from your planner, physical inbox and notebook each day.
  • Rewrite them once a week (if they are starting to get untidy)
  • Do your morning checklist, daily checklist and must do lists before you start working on your Action Lists.
  • Update your the projects next actions according to the items you have crossed off your action lists, or items you have added to your action lists.

We will discuss projects in more depth next week.

Here is a free download of a sample “Action List” you can print this out and keep it behind your Action Lists tab in your planning journal.  I will be honest, I don’t use this download.  I prefer to completely hand-write my action lists on notebook paper.  It is up to you to do whichever you prefer.

Action List template: Action List

Here is a picture of what my Action Lists look like:

Action List |
A picture of my @Computer action list.

Waiting For

I keep my “Waiting For” list behind my Action Lists tab in my planning journal.  The waiting for list is where you write all tasks you have delegated to other people, or the tasks that you are waiting for responses on other people for.  For example, if you delegate “Get new tires for car” to your husband, then you would write it on the “Waiting For” list.  Or if you are waiting for the electric company to respond on an electricity bill you queried, then you would also write it on the “Waiting For” list.

Sometimes, other people are unreliable.  This is a common fact of life.  There are also people who are just forgetful.  You cannot change anybody, they can only change themselves.  This means that you need to remember to follow-up with people if they haven’t completed the task, or if you haven’t had a response from them within a reasonable time frame.

This means that the “Waiting For” list will also have one extra column, compared to regular action lists.  In this column you will write in pencil the date that you plan to follow-up the request/task.

The “Waiting For” list is the only action list that you will check on a daily basis.  If there are any items on it that you need to follow up on that day, then you will write it as a must-do task in your daily planner.

Here is a free download of a sample “Waiting For” list.  You can print this out and use it in your planning journal: Waiting For

In summary:

Daily To-Do’s:

  • Update the calendar – do this when the whole family is together and make sure they all know what is happening tomorrow.
  • Check your calendar before bed.
  • Check your calendar when you wake up in the morning.
  • Update your daily planner before bed:
    • Add calendar items for tomorrow
    • Add must-do tasks for tomorrow
    • Add your “Waiting For” follow-up’s to your must-do list
    • Transfer notes from your planner to your calendar, tickler and Action Lists
  • Do your Action Lists after you have finished with your morning checklist, daily checklist and Must-do tasks.
  • Update your project next actions as you cross the items off your Action Lists.

Weekly To-Do’s:

  • Rewrite your action lists if they start looking sloppy

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