New Job, New Planning System

As soon as I was offered my new job, I starting thinking about what my planner system for work appointments and tasks would look like. I knew I wanted to keep as much of my work related planning out of the Malden as possible (keeping my work details in my personal planner in the past has lead to LOTS of unneeded stress). But outside of that one little detail, I had no idea what to create for my system. 

So I winged it. On my first day I brought along my Quo Vadis Day Per Page Journal 21 and a spiral bound steno pad, just to have a place to jot notes and mark any appointments. Turns out this combo is all I really need.

Although I initially had dreams of using my lovely A5 Siena Filofax for work related dealings, I soon (and shockingly) realized that a Filofax would actually be overkill in this situation. Working in higher education admissions means that not only am I working with a lot of confidential information, but most of it needs to be shared amongst the entire campus staff. Therefore, student records and details are kept in simple manilla folders in a file room. Contact details, including last contact and any meeting records, are kept in a digital system. At the end of the day, all I really needed was a calendar for tracking my appointments, and a notebook to capture any necessary thoughts/tasks/appointment notes etc. throughout my day. 

The day per page calendar in my Quo Vadis is perfect for the task, as my team can see upwards of a dozen appointments a day. There is even enough space to write in two appointments at the same time if need be. Since my scheduled hours do change depending on the day of the week, I used a highlighter to mark what hours I’ll be in on any particular day.

Keeping all of the appointment details in a separate book means that all I need in my personal Malden are the hours I’ll be working on any given day. I never thought I would separate work and personal, but so far it seems to be going really well. Having my hours in my personal book means I know how to schedule my week, but keeping the details of my work day out means that I’m not already stressing about tomorrow the night before - which is a huge relief.

Of course, planning wouldn’t be complete without some color coding. While I write in all appointments in my work book in black ink, I do need to know the results of the appointment. After a week or so in the job, I was able to come up with a color coding system that best fit my needs. 

After an appointment, I simply highlight the appointment with the color that correlates to the result. Blue if the appointment did not show, purple if they rescheduled, yellow if a financial aid appointment enrolled, etc. Green is my personal schedule, where I track the hours I’ll be in and any non-student based appointments I have. 

My work notes organically evolved into a bullet journal-esque system. I’m just using a simple spiral bound steno pad I got from work, but it seems to be doing the trick. 

This book is strictly for notes and tasks, so I don’t need to worry about forward planning. I start each day by writing out the date and boxing it in. Then, any notes or tasks that come up during the day are written down. I use the following symbols for my system:

     >     General Notes
     [ ]    Tasks
     ! >   Important Note
     ? >   Question

Any important notes also usually get bumped up to the index page, which I keep at the front of the book. This allows me to access important details quickly.

This system is working great for me so far. I think the key is that I let it grow organically - I didn’t walk in on day one with a system that I was going to force to work. Although I of course want to use a beautiful Filofax whenever possible, this system was simply the most practical and beneficial. 

What do you use for your work planner? Do you keep everything together? I’m sure every career field is different - what works for you?

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