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Full Time, All the Time

with Britt Reints

Forget the 9 to 5; the demands of a working mom aren’t limited by a time clock. Full Time, All the Time is a blog about balancing the many roles of a modern woman - and maintaining your wellbeing while doing it. I am a writer, mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend and sometimes volunteer living in Pittsburgh. Oh, and I think you look pretty today.

You can also find Britt on Twitter and at

Live by the planner, die by the planner

Categories: the juggle


I have used a planner off and on for about 10 years.  I started with the Franklin Covey paper planners when my mom took me to a seminar for my birthday, which might sound lame but was actually one of the best gifts I’d ever received.  Since then, I’ve experimented with numerous planning systems, including generic paper calendars, palm pilots (back when there was no such thing as a smart phone), iPhone planning apps, and Google calendars.

I can say with confidence that life with a planner is infinitely better than life without a planner, whether it’s paper, digital or a combination of both.  But…

I have noticed that relying on my planner to tell me what to do and where to be when makes the part of my brain that was normally responsible for doing that juggling completely unable to function.  Like - ever.  Normally?  That’s no big deal.  After all, I have my planner.

But heaven help me if I forget to put something in the planner.

Or something gets rescheduled and I don’t note the changes in the planner.

Or one appointment runs longer than expected and another task gets missed and I forget to reschedule it for another time in the planner.

If it’s not in the planner, it doesn’t exist.  It doesn’t happen.  Period.

Of course, the obvious solution is to put everything in the planner.  But once in a while I find myself making plans during a casual conversation with a friend and thinking to myself, “remember to write that down later.”  Or telling myself, “remember to go back through yesterday and make sure you actually did what you were supposed to do and take care of that one thing you didn’t get around to.”  Or, “really, Britt?  You have to write down Mother’s Day?  You’ll be fine.”

If it’s not in the planner, it doesn’t exist.  It doesn’t happen.  Period.

(I actually stopped after that last sentence to add “order Mom’s gift” to my planner.  True story.)

The joy of relying on a planner is that you free up time, energy and brain space that you used to spend remembering every little detail.  But it seems that your brain, like your biceps, operates under the “use it or lose it” rule.

Do you use a planning system?  Do you find that you have to write everything down now, or you’ll forget about it?

Photo by Jayel Aheram on Flickr.

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5 comments so far...

  • Ironically, I’ve always found planners to be far too much work. I use Google Calendar and sync it to my iPhone to keep track of appointments, etc. and to remind myself of things I may forget in the course of getting all the things done I need to, but I’m always surprised that the simple act of putting something in writing cements it in my brain and I often neglect to refer to the calendar.

    Finn  |  May 5th, 2010 at 8:13 am

  • I don’t have a planner, but I do use my calendar for big events. It’s a good hybrid for me.

    Avitable  |  May 6th, 2010 at 6:11 am

  • I absolutely use a planner. I actually still have a dinosaur planner (Franklin Covey) that I use as a glorified task list because I enjoy manually crossing things off my list. Everything else goes in Outlook and syncs with my bberry.

    I LIVE by my bberry and although I do occasionally forget to put everything in it, I have still managed to remember things that weren’t entered. I also keep both my work and personal on one calendar so as to not overcomplicate things.

    Stacey  |  May 6th, 2010 at 8:30 am

  • I LOVED my Franklin planner, especially the pretty paper I could pick from. (I am a paper geek. There has to be a technical word for that.) You know what, since I stopped using the Franklin, I’ve been less organized.

    I mostly plan in Outlook now, scheduling my appointments and synching with my phone. When I’m really busy at work, I schedule everything, including STAND UP AND WALK TO THE BATHROOM AND PEE. In all caps, with a reminder.

    I make lots of lists on plain paper, scratch paper, sticky notes, the whiteboard in my office. I love the feeling of checking something off as done. At the same time, when I write down EVERYTHING I have to do, I feel overwhelmed to the point of paralysis. And if I write it down and it doesn’t get done, then I feel guilty or ashamed.

    So I don’t write down everything, especially when it comes to stuff for home. If, for example, I wrote down everything I’m ’supposed’ to do today, I’d feel trapped, then rebel like a 3 year old. Letting go of the list is part of my adventure in learning to go with the flow.

    lynn @ human, being  |  May 8th, 2010 at 10:37 am

  • My motto at work is “If its not written down, it does not exist.” My husband calls me the list lady. At home, I have a family calendar, dry erase board, different colors, the whole bit. The kids know to look at it. The husband has not found it. At work, I have a desk calendar. And I put them together in my phone. Its crazy but I have to or I forget.

    mama2boyz  |  May 10th, 2010 at 8:42 am