Time management Monday: What my first Quo Vadis planner taught me about organizing my time

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Years ago the first Quo Vadis planner I ever used was a Septanote, which is the academic year version of the Trinote weekly planner. These planners both have the Quo Vadis Agenda Planning Diary format created more than 60 years ago by a French doctor so he could effectively plan his week.

Quo Vadis Agenda Planning Diary format in Trinote and Septanote planners

I learned a lot about organizing my time and tasks just by using the planner. I had used other planners before, but they had just a simple week at a glance format. This was my first time using a planner that had time management features built into it.

And boy did I need it. That was an extremely busy time for me: I was working full time, taking graduate classes, applying to grad schools and to the Peace Corps. This involved multiple applications, studying for and taking the GRE, and medical exams and interviews for Peace Corps. Not to mention keeping up on my busy job as a lab tech in a biochemistry lab where I ran experiments, ordered supplies and equipment, trained lab workers, recruited and interviewed employees, etc. That year I also traveled to see family, and at the end of the academic year I packed up everything and moved to Nepal for two years in the Peace Corps. (I went to grad school after that).

Luckily the university where I worked had an excellent bookstore, where I bought a Quo Vadis Septanote weekly planner. This planner saved my sanity and was the reason why I was able to keep up on everything all year. Since then I have used Septanote and Trinote planners during especially busy times in my life. They always keep me organized and on top of everything. In fact I am using a Trinote planner again this year because it’s the only thing that helps me keep everything straight when I’m very busy!

Here is what I learned from using the Quo Vadis Agenda Planning Format. (Photos shown are of the Trinote planner, click on photos for a larger view and click on links for more details.)

How to organize my day: The daily columns timed to the half hour allow me to plan my day in detail, see what time is taken and when I have gaps in my schedule, and lets me take into account travel time to and from appointments. I can do time blocking and pad my schedule to make sure I have time to get everything done each day.

Timed daily columns

How to organize my tasks: Categorized lists allow me to organize my tasks as I write them. No more big jumbled lists! I can easily see what I need to do.

Categorized task lists

Designated spaces in the daily columns allow me to write tasks specific to each day.

Daily spaces for lists and notes

The timed daily columns and categorized lists allow me to see what I need to do and when I have time to do it. But the organizational features of these planners go even further to the next level of productivity:

Prioritize: The daily Priority boxes allow me to focus on the most important thing each day. I have made my goals my priorities, and that has made a huge difference. (See this post for more info.)

Daily priority box

See the big picture: The Anno-Planner allows me to see the entire year across a two-page spread so I can easily see the overview of my year. This shows me when big events are coming up, holidays, travel, school vacations, etc. I can see the pattern of my year all at once.


Plan ahead for holidays and events: I like that holidays for the US and UK (as well as Australia and Canada, and most religious holidays) are printed in the day spaces. I’m American living in the UK, so I need to know holidays for both countries for personal and work purposes. Having these already printed in the days keeps me from writing them on the wrong days.

Holidays printed in day spaces

Plan next year: There is an anno-planner for the following year, which allows me to plan into next year without carrying two planners around.

Future year planner

Keep it all together: The refillable covers have pockets inside the front and back of the planner that are the perfect place to keep papers, tickets, receipts, invitations, etc. The Trinote is big enough that full size pages folded in half fit into the pockets with plenty of space.

Inside pockets front and back

Take it everywhere: The Trinote and Septanote planners have a page size of 7 by 9 3/8 inches, which is a little bit larger than A5. Even though the pages are nice and large, the book is slim and portable. I weighed my Trinote on my kitchen scale and it weighs only 453g, even with the removable notes booklet. It fits perfectly in my bag, and I take it everywhere so I can always update my schedule and jot reminders on the go.

Slim and portable to take everywhere

These organization features and techniques are all proven to increase productivity. Because they are all built into my planner, I don’t have to think about creating them. The Trinote is a fully-formed organizational system; all I have to do is open it up and use it.

I use my Trinote planner to organize everything: work, personal, family, volunteering, home chores, and everything else I have going on. Keeping everything in one place allows me to organize my time and tasks with no overlapping or double-booking.

In the USA you can order the 2017 Trinote weekly planner from these retailers, and in the UK you can order the Trinote from Quo Vadis UK (which ships worldwide). The 2017-2018 Septanote academic year planners will be available to order in May.

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