Monday, July 27, 2015

Planner Use with Memory Problems

This year, I have been using the Passion Planner for my... well, planner. 

My first house did not have much storage, so I used the "pile method" for books and papers. One rule in my family was "Don't touch my piles." I knew where everything was in each one. Ask me, and I could find it within seconds. Now I lose things regularly - beyond the usual getting older problems.

I have memory problems thanks to fibromyalgia. Here is what the Mayo Clinic says about it:
  • "Cognitive difficulties. A symptom commonly referred to as "fibro fog" impairs the ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks."

I had several big, important projects going at the same time. Previously, I would have kept notes about each one in a separate notebook. However, that was not working this time, because I lose things now, as in "I can't remember where I put it." This caused stress, plus each project was a stressor. Stressors have a tendency to make fibromyalgia flare up. 

That is why my new planner discovery became very useful and will carry it forward into all future planners. I have used color coding for as long as I have had multiple children with appointments - about 30 years. I decided to color code my projects and keep it all together in my planner.

I did not worry about putting the different projects each on its own page, because I had no idea how much space each would need. I just wrote my notes in different colors as they happened. This also helped with chronology. Here's what helped

I would write, call "X" in my planner on the day I needed to make that call. On that day, I would turn to my notes in the back, write the date and time of the call in the color for that project. It was a cross-check to have the date both on the calendar page and in the notes. 

Note the color changes.
I recorded who I spoke with, the nature of the call, and the information gathered using as many of the exact words as possible. If I needed to follow up, I had everything all in one place in one color, making it easy to locate. 

Every project is completed at this point. However, these are ongoing projects that need to be revisited about every six months. I am going to copy the notes into my next planner with each project's notes together. If more projects come up, I can simply use a new color for each one. 

Future notes will be in chronological order as they occur, not with the project. The following year, I will add the new notes to the original notes when copying into the next year's planner. Each year, I will repeat the process as long as I need to. 

To make it even easier going forward, I will write a telephone directory, of sorts, at the front of the notes so each will be easy to find. I plan to organize these by color, also. Also, each project will be in alphabetical order.