Ask Jeff: What’s Your Biggest Time Problem?

Jeff Doubek, Day-Timer Spokesperson

Thank you all for your fantastic contributions to the Ask Jeff column. I do my best each month to offer tips and advice for anyone seeking ways to find more time in their day to get things done and reach success in achieving their goals.

This month I’d like to ask a question of you: what types of tips and articles would you like to see featured on the Day-Timer Blog and in upcoming eTalk issues? Please send me your issues, thoughts and ideas that you’d like me to address in upcoming articles.

In the meantime, please keep your questions coming and I’ll do my best each month to help you find ways to better enjoy your time!

- Jeff

Now, onto this month’s reader-submitted question:

Dear Jeff,

It happened again! Each year I buy a planner and by this time of year I completely quit using it. It’s piled up on my messy desk. I always have the best intentions to be more organized but it never seems to last. Do you have any suggestions how I can keep using it everyday. I need HELP! – CD

Dear CD,

Fear not because yours is a common problem. In between those who are newbie planners and those who plan daily there’s a limbo that people get stuck in. It’s a tough spot where planning hasn’t really gotten traction in your daily life — it’s just as easy to not use your planner as it is to use it.

In order to reach your goals and find success through better time management you must break through this stage.

Here are some tips for making planning a natural daily habit:

  • Set a “Plan Time:” Choose a specific time each day for planning, like 5 minutes over breakfast each morning.
  • Commit for 1 month: Make a goal for yourself that says you will unfailingly stick to your planning system for one month.
  • Be realistic: Start at a planning level that feels manageable. For example, you might want to start simple and keep just a weekly schedule and to-do list. Once you get the ball rolling, you can add activities such as monthly goal setting and time tracking.
  • Carry it: Keep your planner with you at all times so it takes on a natural role in your day.
  • Share the love: Be proud. Tell those around you about your new planning system, it’ll motivate you to continue your progress.
  • Don’t cheat: Planning is an act of integrity, so don’t allow yourself to skip a day because it’ll become far too easy to cheat again and again. Following through on your to-do list and daily calendar when things get hectic will do wonders toward making planning a habit. 

I hope these tips help. Please write back in a month and tell me how it’s going.

Enjoy your time — Jeff

Day-Timer Spokesperson Jeff Doubek can be reached at

6 thoughts on “Ask Jeff: What’s Your Biggest Time Problem?

  1. Hi Jeff, like CD I too seem to slack off on putting notes into my planner towards the end of the year. I have it on my desk everyday but do not put in all that I should. I will take your advice and put aside time to review the notes, plan for the next day and carry it around with me everyday. Since I decided to work from home these past 4 years, I was using my planner less, thought I could remember what I had to do but the was a big mistake. Thanks Jeff: Leo

  2. I have been a Daytimer fan since 1982. I thought after retirement I would not need to spend as much time planning. Boy was I wrong! I have all the extra hours that used to be “work” to fill with notes, drawings, ideas and so much more. For this purpose I use add in pages. I did downsize from Desk format to Pocket format thus allowing for ease of transport. I plan on the go therefore having my planner with me is essential. Each evening I check to remind myself what is on the agenda for the following day. I love my Daytimer planner. It is not only an aid memoire but a trusted old friend.

  3. CARRY IT – If it is with you at ALL times you will be more apt to use it on a regular basis and use it for everything. Make it your best friend, fun and reliable – Happy Planning!

  4. I call my planner “My Brain.” I use it for work and personal plans. For work, my planner keeps my schedules, tickler files, contact lists, project outlines, and even a “what if” section. For personal use, I added additional tabbed sections for passwords, hobbies, shopping lists with size requirements for various family members, vaccination due dates for pets, etc. Basically, I dump these necessities into my planner and clear my brain for my daily work and play. I would be lost without it. I would fight you if you tried to take my planner!

    • I guess my answer to CD would be to make your planner invaluable to you. If you fill it with all these items, you will use it because it will be tailored to your needs. Spend some time sitting down with it and some extra blank pages and brainstorm a little on what would be the most helpful for your life. Make it a party, go to a coffee shop or outside and just start writing.

  5. I found when I first started using a planner that I didn’t know how to “plan.” What’s a plan and how do I make one? Isn’t it something formal? NOPE! It’s simply a list of stuff I have to do, or if not a list, just notes — but they’re all in one place instead of on little pieces of paper all over the place! Then I got stuck on the bugaboo that everyone uses as an excuse, “I don’t have time to be writing stuff down in a book!” It took several attempts until I realized that the time I took to make a note of things to do, things I was asked/expected to complete on a deadline, things I wanted to keep track of, went so much more smoothly when I had them written down. If — or rather, WHEN I got interrupted it gave me a clear path to return to by simply looking at my notes in my planner.

    My Daytimer is invaluable. I save each year’s book — and on more than one occasion I’ve gone back 2 or more years and found the name or phone number I needed! You can’t do that with little pieces of paper!

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