So, all my of my close friends and family know that I have an OBSESSION with planners, post-it notes, list making, spreadsheets and micro-managing my entire life on paper. I am constantly trying out new planners, new layouts, new post-its and even new pens.
Which brings me to one of my newest favorite planning formats: time ladders. I must give credit to my awesome co-worker Steve (Twitter+Instagram) for introducing me to this concept. This has been great for me to use at work because we track time. I can plan out my workday by the hour, list what I need to do that day and at the end of the day I can refer back to it to enter my time.
I’m also a digital planner addict and one of my favorite apps is Evernote. I purchased their large classic moleskin to use as my planner/notebook for work and I absolutely love it. I think the cover is really unique and it fits in my purse perfectly. You get three months of Evernote Premium with each notebook too so I can take photos of my notebook, upload them, and search for specific words, dates, etc…
So, what exactly is a time ladder? I wish I could post a photo of my actual pages but I work with multiple clients at my job and must respect their privacy along with my employer’s. So, here is an example of what my time ladders look like with fake tasks:
I work from 9:00-5:00 so I list my hours on every-other line. I draw a line across the page after 5:00 and below this line I list everything I need to get done for the day with a checkbox. I always list the date at the top and page number in the corner. When it comes to the actual time ladder one line equals 30 minutes and two lines equals an hour. So, “make coffee” accounts for 30 minutes and so does “post photo of breakfast on IG”. Whereas “read news on Twitter” doesn’t have anything on the second line so it takes an hour. If a task takes longer than hour (check Facebook) I draw an arrow to the next task. If it takes less than 30 minutes I usually just write the time it took in parenthesis and will write another task on the same line. Lastly, since I track time at work I highlight the task on the time ladder once I’ve entered the time.
When we have internal meetings or client meetings I use this notebook to take notes too. It’s nice to just have one notebook and not a ton of notepads or sheets of paper to keep track of. The moleskin notebooks have a built-in fabric bookmark so I can easily find the current day. I keep a post-it note on the front page as an Index so that I know what pages account for each month. Such as November is pages 1-12 (I purchased my notebook late November), December is 13-37 and January is 37-65.
So far this system is working out really well for me and I really like the Evernote moleskin. They’re about $24 on Amazon but they have 240 pages, include the three months of Evernote Premium and they come with smart stickers. I haven’t used the stickers but they do seem pretty neat. The stickers are icons and are searchable, digital tags in Evernote Premium. In less than 3 months I’ve only used 67 pages so I think it’s a pretty fair investment. As long as I can make a notebook last three months I won’t have to purchase Evernote Premium either.
What types of tools or tricks do you use to plan and manage your time?