This article is the fourth in a series on note-taking. If you missed any of those, you can also view those on my blog (FrankBuck.org and click on “Blog”).

In this article, we examine using a paper planner. For the person who uses a paper calendar and paper to-do list, this article will be one of the two most significant ones in the series.

A life-changing gift

For many years, I used a Day-Timer. It consisted of a loose-leaf book with a two-page spread for each day. The left-hand page gave me a place for appointments and to-dos. As a high school senior, I had adopted the practice of writing things.

Therefore, to this point, the Day-Timer was not any different from what I had used previously.

Frankly, the right-hand page was a mystery. With where I needed to be and what I needed to do tucked away on the left-hand page, what more was there?

A life-changing book

The mystery of the right-hand page became crystal clear when I read a book called Time Power by Dr. Charles R. Hobbs. Dr. Hobbs conducted time management workshops using the Day-Timer as his recommended tool. In the book, he explained how he used the right-hand page.

That page became the place to record anything that came up during the day. It became the one place to record notes from telephone conversations, meetings, one-on-one conferences, good ideas that would occur to the user, or anything else that needed to be recorded. Instead of writing notes on an assortment of scraps of paper and sticky notes, the right-hand page provided one place to record it all.

How to use it

The right-hand page is the one place to trap all incoming information. Sometimes, information comes quickly. Meetings are packed back-to-back. As soon as one call ends, the phone rings again. Because you are trapping the information in your planner, you can shift your focus to the new interaction.

The magic happens later in the day. When the dust settles, review what you wrote. Ask the question, “What do I need to do about what I wrote?” The answers to those questions become the to-dos you put on your task list for the appropriate day.

How to get started

The best planners for the purposes of implementing what you are reading in this article are the Day-Timer Desk Size (loose leaf) and the Franklin Planner (loose leaf). Visit the websites for these companies as opposed to shopping at the office supply chains. The chains tend to stock watered-down versions of the originals and do not feature this right-hand page.

You can also make your own paper planner. A spiral notebook will work. Label each left-hand page with the date. Record appointments and tasks there. Use the right-hand page for documentation.

This one idea moved my documentation system from “I don’t have one” to “I have a great one,” and the same thing can happen for you.

What’s next?

If your calendar and/or tasks are digital, the next several articles are for you. For those who organize with paper, stayed tuned. We will conclude the series with an article that allows you to function in a world of mile-long URLs and flood of emails while you still enjoy the look and feel of paper.

Frank Buck is the author of Get Organized!: Time Management for School Leaders and was named to “Global Gurus Top 30” for 2017 and 2018 in the time management category. He speaks throughout the United States and internationally about organization and time management. You can reach Dr. Buck through his website: FrankBuck.org. Follow him on Twitter @DrFrankBuck.

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