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Create a Personal Planner
When it comes to time management and organizational skills, one of the most important things you should do is create and use a personal planner. Although this may sound trivial, you will be surprised how you come to rely on it, how well it helps keep you organized and how it helps you to be in the right place at the right time.

It isn't necessary to spend lots of money to have a personal planner that works for you. In fact, sometimes, purchasing a pre-made planner is a waste of money because it doesn't have everything you need and often has things you'll never need.

So with that in mind, think through the areas you might want to have in your very own personal planner. I will share with you what I have in mine, but you use those that will be useful for you and add any sections you think you need.

Here are the materials you will need: (you can get most of the items at Wal-Mart or any office supply store)
Small 3 ring binder (approx. 9”x 6”) I use the project type with the clear vinyl cover on the front and back.
College ruled loose leaf paper to fit your notebook – a couple of packs
2 packages of tabbed dividers (5 per pack)
2 vinyl ziplock pouches – These will be found where supplies for planners are located in the store. Make sure they are 3 ring binder style to fit your notebook.
1 package of 3 ring style phone/address pages (also in the planners section)
Pen (Slide it down inside the 3 rings and you'll always have one with you.)
Your favorite wrapping paper, gift bag or duplicates of your favorite Photos.

Suggested sections to include:
Ministry/Volunteer Work

Here's what you do. Put some paper in the notebook and divide it up with the tabbed dividers. Label the dividers according to the sections you want to include in your notebook. Then, use the gift wrap, gift bag or favorite photos to dress up the outside of your notebook so you'll be happy to see it and happy to carry it around. I use a favorite floral wrapping paper cut to fit in the vinyl sleeve. Its pleasing to the eye and makes your notebook more of a joy. No more carrying around something with no personal significance, use your favorite photos of your kids. You'll always have them with you when someone wants to see a picture.

In each section I suggested, you might include:

1 month at a glance - (I use the lined sheet, and number the line at the beginning of each and the first letter of the corresponding day of the month – M T W T F S S ) Each day gets only 1 line. This is a built in way to keep from over scheduling. You can only get so much on one line, take a hint and don't overbook. Overbook = Stress. This calendar is for appointments you've scheduled, practice times, game times, lesson times, what ever you have planned to do that you don't want to forget.

Daily to do sheets - Here you will list all of the things you need to do. Each day gets its own page. Transfer appointments, etc. from the month at a glance page and then fill in with other things to do that day, errands to run, phone calls to make, etc.…

Year at a glance – This is for long range planning. Again I use one sheet – front and back and divide it into 6 months on front and 6 on back. Here's where you will write down information on dentist appointments 6 months out, future doctor appointments, vacation dates, etc…

Zipper Pouch – Use a zipper pouch and put – school schedules, dance schedules, ball schedules, etc.. Immediately enter any pertinent information into your daily/monthly pages (practice times, game times, recital times, etc… But, keep the sheets if they have phone numbers or other information on them)

Wal- Mart or other shopping lists not including grocery
Decorating Ideas
Paint Colors and/or swatches
Material swatches (You can tape swatches to a sheet of paper or use another zipper pouch.)
Home maintenance professionals information:
Use one of the phone/address pages and include the name and number of the people you use for – house cleaning, painting, plumbing, lawn care, handy man, pool maintenance, etc…

Grocery List
This week’s/month’s menu
Recipes shared with you by friends or copied from magazines at the doctor’s office.
Include a phone/address page for the phone number of your family's favorite carryout spots (pizza pick up, Chinese, etc.)
You also might include a plastic pouch for takeout menus or coupons for your next grocery trip.

Names of each family member along with their Social Security numbers, drivers license number, etc.…
Name address and phone number of each Doctor you and your family members use.
Insurance Information: Include – Health, Dental, Life, Auto, Home Owners, Disability, etc.… List the company name, your policy number, your agent’s name, their address and phone number and any additional information regarding coverages, etc…
Mortgage Company Name, address, and phone number.
Bank and credit card information including who to call in case of lost or stolen credit cards and for customer service.

Your List of Priorities – (List those things that are most important to you in order of importance. My list: God, Family, Others)
Short term goals (6 months, 1 year)
Long term goals (5 years, 10 years)
Set specific goals for:
Service work

This section will include anything you are currently working on: Home Improvement projects, Decorating Projects, Craft Project Ideas, Landscaping, Play areas, Etc…

Ministry/Volunteer Work:
Ideas for ministry
Meeting Notes
Teaching material
Team/Committee member names, phone numbers and addresses
Bible study member names, phone numbers and addresses
Prayer requests
Mentor relationship notes

Notes, Ideas, Contacts
Phone/Address sheet for business associates names and phone numbers (I would only put those here that you might need if you were out somewhere. You don’t want to be carrying around a 10 pound phone book everywhere you go.

Birthday Party Ideas, guest lists, menu, game ideas, etc…
Anything else that doesn't have a specific place in your notebook, can be put here to work on and keep up with.

I only recommend putting names and numbers here that you might need with you when you are out and about. Your families work numbers, mobile numbers, pager numbers, etc… You really should only have a few numbers in here that you might need with you if you had an emergency out somewhere. Your notebook is not the place for a full fledged phone/address book. Keep this in something else at home.

I challenge each of you to build your own personal planner and see just how much more organized you will become! I would love to hear your success stories and answer any questions you might have. Please feel free to email me.

Lori McGuire is a wife, and a work-at-home mom. She runs "Let’s Have A Party", a full service Party Consulting Company, and is also an Independent Party Consultant with 1-800-PARTYSHop.

For more information  visit her website at or email
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