I really miss the joys of buying school supplies, so each September I treat myself to a new planner or journal. It’s nice to get something after browsing the stationery and back-to-school aisles, and starting a new planner in the fall makes me feel like each year has two fresh starts—New Year’s Day and back-to-school—even though I’m not in school or have kids in school.

Keeping track of time

I read years ago that the average person uses something like 12 ways to keep track of their time: wall calendars, work planners, personal notebooks, online calendars, Post-it notes. It can get crazy.

I’d tried going super structured with the Productivity Planner from Intelligent Change, which helps you prioritize a few essential tasks each day. It’s based on using the Pomodoro Technique to complete them. (The Pomodoro is named for the tomato-shaped kitchen timer Francesco Cirillo used to set 25-minute sprints for himself. The idea is that you stay completely focused on a task for 25 minutes, break for 5 minutes, and repeat. You take longer breaks every four rounds and keep going until your goal is complete.) I love the idea but find it difficult to stick to it past a round or two.

I loosened up and hopped on the bullet journal bandwagon, buying a dotted (rather than lined) notebook and using the grid to create elaborate charts and monthly, weekly, and daily schedules. While I appreciated the excuse to expand my washi tape collection and indulge in fun pens, it gets exhausting to recreate templates every day/week/month, rather than just dropping in my to-do list or upcoming deadlines.

This year I went with a spiral planner from Paper Source: it’s got a lined two-page weekly spread that I can fill up however seems most helpful at the time and monthly calendars for longer-term planning. I like that it’s sturdy enough to toss into my giant bag, has a pretty, plain design, and already has all the dates and days of the week in there so I don’t have to write them myself.

Do you use a planner? How do you like to keep track of your time?

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