The Case For Mid Year Diaries Posted on 28 Jun 14:15
I have used mid-year diaries for many years.
My diary of choice at present is the Moleskine Weekly Planner. I prefer the softback edition, but it's also available in various styles sizes, colours and different covers. I also like to use a diary layout that has the dates on the left hand page and a blank facing page that can be used for other content, such as project updates, meeting notes, and to do lists. I also use the facing page for carrying forward information relating to diary entries.
I always pair up my diary with a notebook - these days my main pick is one of our own Paper Tiger notebooks with dot pattern pages.
I like to customise my diary pages. I immediately take a pen and ruler to the page, creating a column for appointments, a column for my daily 'To Do' list, and another column for notes.
I also divide my facing page into a series of blocks;
- Business Admin
- The Home Front
I've been inspired by Bullet Journalling to make more of an effort with layouts and presentation, and it has definitely helped me organise my plans and thoughts in a systematic and helpful way.
I use different coloured pens, and even deploy washi tape from time to time, and have begun using coloured pens and highlighters. I use gmail for email, and for years I have associated specific colours to different labels and folders in my inbox. By following the same colour themes in my diary I actually improve my workflow and can identify things at a glance.
For many years, I crossed out things once they were completed, and of course that's very satisfying! I have diaries going back decades, and everything is crossed out, sometimes to the point of illegibility. Recently, I have begun using highlighters to mark items in my Moleskine as completed or outstanding. Visually, it's easier to read, and it means that the record of work and activity is more legible. That is really helpful when I go back through old diaries looking for something specific.
Of course, the mid year diary is usually used by students, teachers and academics, who 'begin' their year in the autumn term or semester. It makes sense for the education sector to plan accordingly. However, most mid years begin in June, and they usually cover an 18 month period - this means that a diary starting in June 2021 runs all the way through to December 2022.
The mid year diaries are usually available to purchase in shops like Paper Tiger around Easter. This means you can start using them for diary planning and project management well in advance of the date that they become 'active'. The extended period of coverage means that you can also drop future commitments into your diary, and then have the option of carrying them over when you buy your next diary.
These 'diary disciplines' are also true for classic calendars, diaries and planners, and there are obvious benefits in terms of the focus and 'fresh start' mentality that you achieve by starting a new year with a new diary! Nevertheless, there are several reasons why I use the mid year format diary, and I think they are applicable to other people and professions:
Long Summer Days - the summer months are my project planning and implementation time, so I have more time available to me in the middle of the year to plan properly, and prepare myself for the second half of the calendar year. Sunny days (sometimes) also help me think more clearly!
Christmas Time - the retail year is focused on the final quarter of the year, so I like to have that period as the key focus for my calendar year. People who love making big plans for Christmas would certainly benefit from starting their plans in the middle of the year. One of the final commitments I have in my diary each June is our annual Christmas meeting, which sets off the second half of the business year in Paper Tiger.
New Year Resolutions - the first few months of each calendar year are also busy with occasions like Valentines Day, Mothers Day and trade fairs and stock buying, so time is limited and I have less time to plan. If your year starts at a hectic pace, give yourself more time to prepare your agenda with a mid year diary.
Bester For Semesters - I have school age children, and my wife is an academic, so the domestic agenda runs on the academic agenda! Academic planners are really useful for families with small children.
Planning Ahead - The extended number of months in a mid year provides additional flexibility for planning, keeping notes and preparing yourself over the longer term. I really enjoy putting dates into the diary, in the full knowledge that I will be copying them over to a new one because they are positive, rewarding things for me to look forward to and anticipate, and that is great motivator.
Have I persuaded you? Some of these rituals and routines will work for a standard year planner or diary, the important thing for anyone using a diary is to be diligent and consistent with usage. I have used diaries for decades for work and domestic planning, and I know that the more detail that I put in, the more productive I will be.
I also have years of activity, plans, projects and ideas to look back upon from time to time. I have found answers and inspiration in my back pages!