Creating the All-In-One planning journal (Step 5)

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:

This week I am going to tell you about the daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and special checklists in detail, and help you setup yours.


In my planning system, checklists are used for repeat tasks that either happen daily, weekly, monthly, yearly or on special occasions (such as Christmas, or when you travel). My standard format for a checklist includes:

  • A title, or when this checklist occurs
  • Daily checklists have the days of the week next to each task (Sunday through Saturday) – this means I print out the daily checklist once a week.
  • Weekly checklists have the week in the month next to each task (Week 1 to Week 5) – this means I print out the weekly checklist once a month.
  • The project that the task is associated with
  • The task
  • The context of the task

Daily Checklists

I have 3 daily checklists, Morning, Daily and Evening.  I keep them neatly behind the “Daily Checklists” tab in my planning journal, except for the one I am busy with, which I put on a clipboard and carry around with me until I have completed all the tasks on it.

My morning checklist is divided into 3 sections, namely:

  • Rise and Shine – the things I try to do before making breakfast, the goal is to do them before Mark wakes up, but that doesn’t always happen.
  • Kitchen and Family – those are the things I need to do in the kitchen, and to keep the household running smoothly.  e.g. make breakfast, feed pets etc.
  • Get ready for the day – these are the things I do around the house first thing in the morning to get ready for the day ahead of me.

My daily checklist is divided into 4 sections, namely:

  • Get to work – these are the tasks that I do the moment I get to work in the morning.
  • During the day – these are the tasks I do once I have finished all my work related To-Do items
  • Home from work – naturally these are the things I do when I get home from the office.
  • Other – this is anything else that I want to accomplish on a daily basis, but isn’t associated with a specific time of the day (e.g. drink water)

The evening checklist is my only one that is time specific.  If I haven’t completed the morning or daily checklist by 5pm, then I stop trying and start with my evening checklist.  My evening checklist is the most important checklist for me, I feel that if I do this one well, then I will wake up ready for a fresh start the next day. My evening checklist consists of 3 parts, namely:

  • 5pm to 8pm – these are the tasks I do from 5pm to 8pm in the evening.  If I haven’t completed them all by 8pm, then I stop and move onto the next section.
  • 8pm to 8:30pm – these are my “planning for tomorrow” tasks.  I check the calendar, make a to-do list and so on.  It is my cool down period.
  • 8:30pm to 10pm – this is my before bed routine.  It consists of personal hygiene, and relaxing activities.

If you look at my lists below (as they are today), you will notice that there is nothing related to looking after a child, this is because my child is only due to pop out at the end of April 2015.  Mark and I do read to the child in the evenings already, because we are sure that our child is able to hear our voices.

My checklists (as of 24 February 2015):

Don’t feel overwhelmed when you look at these checklists.  I definitely don’t get to everything each day.  I have good days and bad days just like everyone else.  These are only the tasks that I try to do on a daily basis.  If I am pressed for time, I go through the checklist quickly and consciously decide which tasks I can afford to skip (e.g. morning meditation) and which ones I have to do before leaving the house (e.g. feed the pets).

Creating your daily checklist

Naturally, you have to create your daily checklists according to your households needs.  My checklists above are simply a guideline that you can use to get your own mind thinking about what to include on your daily checklists.  I regularly move tasks around, add tasks and remove tasks.  The checklists are always going to be a work in progress.  As soon as you find something isn’t working for you, then change your checklist.  Because you need to be able to change your checklist regularly, I recommend doing it on the computer instead of writing it out.

Start small, try to only include the “Must Do” items on your checklist at first, you can add the “Want to Do” tasks later, but also try not to add too many “want to do” tasks at once.  I recommend only adding 2 or 3 each week.

Keep your daily checklists behind the “Daily Checklist” tab in your planning journal.  You can either work from your planning journal, or carry your checklist around with you on a clipboard like I do.

Weekly Checklist

My weekly checklist is divided into each day of the week, and Anytime.  The Anytime tasks are the ones that I want to complete at some point during the week, and naturally the tasks on a specific day are the ones I want to accomplish on that day of the week.

Some of the specific day tasks can only be completed on that day of the week, for example “Cell Group” on Thursday’s. Others specific day tasks can actually be done any day, but I put them on the day that I would like to accomplish them.  Occasionally I move tasks around, like I might write my blog post on a Tuesday instead of a Wednesday.  It depends on the schedule of the week.  My weekly checklist is mostly a guideline.  It reminds me of the “Must Do” items, and also keeps track of my “Want to do” items.

Here is my weekly checklist (as of 24 February 2015): Weekly Checklist

Creating your weekly checklist

Like with the daily checklist, think about what your household needs are and what makes sense as for as your “Set in stone” weekly schedule.  If you have children who have ballet or karate lessons every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, it might make sense to do your grocery shopping on a Tuesday and run other errands on a Thursday.

You can change this schedule as often as you need to.  Once again I recommend typing it out on the computer so you can change it easily.

Start with the “Must Do” items, and add the “Want to do” tasks slowly as the weeks pass.

Write your “Must Do” tasks for the day into your daily planner so you don’t forget them.  Reference your checklist in your planning journal once you have finished all “Must Do” tasks for the day.

Keep your weekly checklist behind the “Weekly Checklist” tab in your planning journal.

You will also include this week of the months checklist behind the Weekly Checklist tab, swapping it out at the beginning of each week.  See the “Monthly Checklist” section below for more information on this.

Monthly Checklist

The monthly checklist contains the Anytime tasks and the ones that must be completed before a specific date in the month, e.g. bills to pay before the 7th.  When I work through my monthly checklist, I first do the ones that have to be done before a specific date, then I start working on the ones that can be done anytime during the month.

I also store one checklist for each week of the month containing the detailed cleaning for that week.  For example:

  • Week 1 – Porch and Dining room
  • Week 2 – Kitchen
  • Week 3 – Passageway and Spare bedroom (soon to be child’s room)
  • Week 4 – Master bedroom and bathroom
  • Week 5 – Living room

If I am busy with the first week of the month, I move the “Week 1” checklist behind the “Weekly Checklist” tab.  Then in the second week of the month I swap it out for the “Week 2” checklist, and so on.

I also keep the current months checklist behind the Monthly Checklist tab.  See the “Yearly Checklists” below for more details on this.

Here is an example of my monthly checklist (as of 24 February 2015): Monthly Checklist

Here are my detailed cleaning checklists for each week:

Like always, don’t get overwhelmed when you look at my lists.  It is very seldom that I complete everything that is on the lists above.  I do the “Must Do” items first, then if I have the time and energy I start working on the other items on the list.

Creating your monthly checklist

Like with all the others lists, you need to create the monthly lists according to your household and your needs.  My lists are just there to give you an example of what goes behind the “Monthly Checklist” tab in your planning journal.

While developing your Detailed Cleaning Lists (if you choose to do so at this time), it would be a good idea to look at improving the Flow of your home first. Take a look at my blog post on this topic over here.

Once again, it is a good idea to make these lists on the computer.  That way you can easily change them whenever you want to.

Always work on your “Must Do” tasks first, then move onto your “Want to do” tasks.

Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t check everything off your list each month.  You should feel just as good about deciding not to do something as deciding to do it, especially if it is a “Want to do” task.

If something must be done on a specific date of the month, then add it to your daily planner for that day of the month as a “Must Do” item.  For example, I pay all our bills on the last Friday of the month.

At the beginning of each month (or on the last day of the month) move the current month’s checklist behind from the Yearly checklist tab, and put the completed month’s checklist back behind the yearly checklist tab.

Yearly Checklists

Behind the yearly checklist tab I keep all my checklists for stuff that doesn’t happen every month, but only 1-6 times a year.  There is a separate list for each month of the year (similar to the Week 1 to Week 5 lists behind the Monthly Checklist tab).  This means that I have a list of stuff that needs to be done in January, but not necessarily in February, and so on through the months.

In the month of January I move the January checklist to behind the Monthly Checklist tab of my planning journal.  At the end of January I move it back to the Yearly Checklists tab and put February behind the Monthly Checklist tab, and so on for each month of the year.

An example of something that doesn’t happen every month is taking the pets to the Animal Clinic for their annual injections, but I need to remember to take our pets sometime during the month of August.

I’m not going to share my Yearly checklists here, as they are still a work in progress, especially those for the later months of the year.  I am adding tasks to them regularly still.

Like always, I do my “Must Do” items first, then I do the “Want to do” items.  There are months that I don’t get through all my “want to do” items.  If I really need to do them I carry them over to the next month, otherwise I just skip them.

Creating your yearly checklists

Remember, that tasks are not strictly “once a year” items.  You could have “Change water filter” on your January, April, July and October checklists.

Don’t try to build these checklists all at once, you can add items to them as you go along.  It is a good idea to sit down a few days before the beginning of the new month and write down everything that you must do (or want to do) in the coming month.

Special Checklists

I also put these behind the “Yearly Checklists” tab, as there are not many of them.  An example of a “Special Checklist” is the “Camping Checklist” which contains all the things I must remember to take when we go camping.

Here is my Camping Checklist: Camping Checklist

You can create special checklists for any occasion that does not happen on a regular basis.  I even created a “Baby Preparation” checklist with all the stuff I need to do or buy before our baby arrives.

Next Week:

I’m going to cover reference filing, the Someday/Maybe lists and the Tickler section. After next week’s post, you should be able to replicate my organization system and adjust it to your personal needs.


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