The good news is that Office Depot offers a comprehensive selection of planners, calendars and storage solutions to help you run your business and your life.
While conventional wisdom said that everyone would soon turn to online calendars or smartphone apps as the top choice for today’s business planner, a funny thing happened—by and large, many people continue to embrace the ease of using a portable, tangible monthly planner. In fact, if you’re in the camp that prefers a paper calendar or day planner, you’re in great company. Research firm NPD Group reports strong growth in the appointment and planner book category, as their popularity surges among consumers seeking a more effective way to keep their schedule organized.
But with so many choices, you might be wondering what your monthly planner says about you. Here are five questions to ask yourself as you make this important decision.
1. What image do you want to convey?
Are you all business? Then a leather-bound DayTimer might be your book of choice. It represents stability and tradition, while emphasizing your focus on decorum.
But those in creative fields, who want to present a more personalized approach, might consider something with a touch more whimsy. Great options to express your charisma include planners from elite designers like Trina Turk, Ivory Ella and Emily Ley; or the playful look of Blue Sky Planners, which offers a variety of fashionable design choices, such as splashy florals, muted leaves or fun polka dots.
2. What’s your daily “juggle” like?
Masterful, you say. Often our work obligations are just one part of our daily schedules. You may also need to keep track of family needs, volunteer work, exercise classes—and of course, your social commitments. A monthly planner like the At-A-Glance series can make it easy to visualize everything you have to accomplish during the day so that you don’t end up double-booked. Juggling is an art, and you never want to inadvertently drop the ball.
These calendars are also helpful for multitaskers who prefer planning their days by schedule blocks, rather than one big to-do list. Putting all your activities into specific hourly time frames can help keep you on task, because it accounts for the fact that not all items on your to-do list have the same time requirements. For example, you might book one hour to write a report; but put four short client base touch phone calls into the next hour square. A business planner that lines out the day by the hour can make it easy to keep your agenda moving along.
3. Where do you like to keep details?
Some professionals prefer a streamlined approach to their business planner, with a simple schedule they can adhere to—date/time/meeting attendees—a “just the facts” style. But others like to use their planner as a repository for meeting notes and details so they can refer back to specifics associated with each item on their calendar. If that’s your preferred mode of record keeping, you might look into the new TUL Metallics line, which offers a premium experience with unexpected touches, including metallic ink pens, affordable luxury metal accents and—this is good for you—complementary note-taking and planning products.
And if you are a chronic over-packer who tends to find your briefcase or bag laden with excess agendas and paperwork, multiple notebooks, dangling cords and random pens stolen from hotels, we have the ideal solution. You can “get it together” with the TUL Pro Notebook—a combo planner and notebook, that also charges your phone on the go. Genius! Other suggestions for meeting that “I’m going to get more organized” new year’s resolution include creating a filing system so that you can find the papers you need easily and investing in an elegant pen that reflects your professional status.
4. What role do you play?
As an individual contributor, you only have to worry about one schedule—yours. And that makes a regular monthly planner the perfect choice—whether you choose discbound planners that allow you to easily flip around, or a DayTimer that lets you insert planner refills in your book of choice.
But if you regularly interact with teams on multi-layered projects, you might need a monthly planner that’s designed to take into account multiple deliverables, timelines and outcomes. There are two good choices that allow you to easily track team-based deadlines. The first is a Dry Erase calendar that mounts on your office wall or can be hung in the conference room where you handle team planning and brainstorming sessions. This type of planner allows you to keep up with constantly moving time frames and flexes with the team needs, since, nothing is “set in stone,” or more accurately, written in ink. A Dry Erase calendar planner offers the ultimate in flexibility because you can create your own process—maybe you use different color markers for specific teams or projects. It’s easy enough to make changes without creating a huge mess that’s hard to follow.
The second option is a desk calendar. This is particularly useful if you are personally tracking multiple projects but don’t necessarily need to display them for the whole team. With the dates and deliverables in front of you at all times, it’s easy to refer to if a manager, client or other stakeholder has a question. It also prevents deadlines from slipping because you neglected to flip a page and see them. With a desk calendar, it’s right in front of you in black and white—or purple and green, whatever works for you.
5. How far ahead do you like to plan?
Finally, try to think about how your work evolves. Do you often have projects that have a long lead timeline where you are routinely looking 14 to 16 months out? An 18-month business planner would be the right choice because you wouldn’t have to juggle two calendars to stay on top of future deadlines. Another option would be a DayTimer that offers filler packs that you can use at your discretion; go ahead and “fill it up” so you can see what May next year looks like.
But for the rest of us, we’ll just take one year at a time. Ready, set, plan!
About the Author
Cathie Ericson is a freelance writer who specializes in small business, finance and real estate.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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