Planning System Details

My system, which I’ve branded as the Notes For Learning Planning System, is largely based on the concepts I learned from Franklin Covey’s Focus course. However, I’ve also added elements that I like from Ryder Carol’s Bullet Journal Method.

One of my colleagues recently asked me about my planning process. Over a Teams call I connected my iPad and sketched out the basics using the Vittle whiteboard app.

Below is my zine of the same process with a few extra notes. A link to the zine is at the end.


For years I used the Moleskine Classic squared notebook. The notebook has 240 pages, but I only utilized about half of the pages each year. I then decided to try the art series, which has thicker pages (like index cards) but only has 104 pages. As a result, I purchased the Archer and Olive notebook that I am currently using this year. It has 160 index card thickness pages – the Goldilocks planner for me.

The Leuchtturm 1917 is apparently a popular planner, but I have never used it. It has thinner pages like the Moleskine classic series.

After you’ve purchased a notebook, the next step is to prepare it for use.

NUMBER PAGES It is essential to number all of the pages. Some notebooks have prenumbered pages.

TABLE OF CONTENTS The next step is to prepare a table of contents based on these approximate page allocations:

  • Pages 1-5 – front matter (contents, legends, identifying information, etc.)
  • Pages 6-17 – pages for monthly event lists
  • Pages 18-121 – a year’s worth of two-page layouts
  • Pages 122 to the end – space for extra notes, lists and trackers


Two specific lists that should be added at the front are the legends.

COLORS I’ve used a four-color system for several years. It works for me, and I recommend it as a starting point for you.

Black is for my employment and related events, tasks and notes.

Blue is for personal and family notes, events and tasks. In this example are medical and dental appointments for me, family overnight trips, tasks around the house, etc.

Green is renewal. This color includes spiritual and worship aspects of your life as well as any community involvement.

Red is designated for significant categories. Before my daughter graduated high school I reserved this color for any events, notes and tasks centered around her (e.g., school events, vacation, her medical appointments, etc.). Use red for the significant category in your life: second job, major life event, your education, etc.

STATUS For both tasks and notes I use small icons to represent the statuses of tasks.

Add both the colors and statuses legends to a page near the front for quick reference. You can also add to the inside front cover (as indicated in the image above from the zine).

Monthly Event List

Create twelve monthly event lists. I prefer the list to the standard calendar view. It’s easier to draw and allows more room for events.


A task is “a piece of work that needs to be done” (Oxford Dictionaries).

Two Page Layout

This page from the zine describes the weekly planning process.

Meeting Notes

The bulk of your planner will consist of two-page layouts. The primary elements on these spreads are the week’s events, tasks and notes. Most of the space on the two pages of each week will likely be filled with notes.

Overview of the Weekly Process

Download the Zine

Click on the image below to download a zine version of the planning process described above.

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