2021 Planning Setup

Happy New Year! While 2021 has certainly started eventfully in the US with successful Senate runoffs, a White supremacist coup attempt, and ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, little has changed in my day to day life (well, except increased news consumption). In this post, I thought I’d give an overview of my current planning setup for 2021.  I have three basic types of planning: projects, action, and future.  Each type has its own set of tools and review timeline.  

All the notebooks, light-up pen, and Zebra mildliners


Professor area of life setup


Although I like to keep the areas of my life separate for higher level planning, any given day or week includes most, if not all, of these areas.  So, when I’m planning at a more micro level (weekly and daily) I don’t separate these areas out, although I do color code them for a nice overview of how they are fitting together and to keep me on track about the various amounts of time I want to spend on each one.  

Daily Page!

I particularly like the Inkwell Press daily because it has the page divided up into sections, which I use to track various activities during the day.  In the “Escalate” section I record any tasks that have to happen that day, and I track habits in the “Cultivate” section.  I use the “Accommodate” section for things that pop into my head during the day, but that I don’t have to address right away and record my meals in the Notes section. At the end of each day, I do a quick review, filling in the day’s main accomplishment, what I could improve, and what I’m grateful for in the boxes as the bottom.  


The circular calendar was an exciting find for me because this is how I actually picture the year, and I’m excited to use it to plot out seasonal rhythms of the year for the various areas of my life (e.g. summer programs, classes, holidays, etc.) as well as goals in each area (trying to stick to one goal per area at a time!).  Once I feel better about writing down future events (post pandemic) I think it will be even more useful! To fill it out, I use a compass to make pencil lines, and then highlight them in with the Zebra Mildliners.

Circular calendar, professor life version


I keep my paper planners and some of my paper notes by compiling them into one discbound notebook for the year.  I don’t reference these that often, but it is nice to go back to them sometimes.  I also archive my “Done” list every semester in Trello and start a new one, and archive any project boards after they are completed.  I also sometimes go back to check these (for example if I’m starting a similar project) so this is useful too.   

2020 Archive

So, that is my 2021 planning system! Let me know what system you’re using, and if you’re trying anything new in the comments!





3 responses to “2021 Planning Setup”

  1. RKK Avatar

    this is really helpful and i can’t wait to spend some time to really dive in it. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Emma Trentman Avatar
      Emma Trentman

      Thank you, I’m glad it’s helpful!

  2. SHU Avatar

    love this 🙂 It also reminded me that I really need to play with trello . . .

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