If you have ever missed an important meeting or special event due to being disorganized or overwhelmed, you are not alone. Janis McCollum offers a possible solution to ensuring it never happens again.

McCollum, Family Advocacy Program specialist, Army Community Service, hosted Fort Gordon's first 'Embrace Your Inner Planner' workshop July 18 at the Family Outreach Center. The workshop was intended to bring people together in one location for a morning of fun, planning and networking.

It was the first in a series of five sessions, all of which are free and open to military ID cardholders.

As an Army spouse, FAP specialist, mother of an active teenager and two adult children, grandmother of two and student enrolled in a doctorate's program, McCollum juggles a busy schedule. Up until a few months ago, she relied on multiple methods -- including a wall calendar, notebook and Outlook calendar -- to help her keep track of comings and goings. That was until she missed an important meeting … followed by another missed meeting she had rescheduled as a result of missing the first.

"Because of who I am, I came down really hard on myself," McCollum said. "I felt really bad, so I decided I needed to do something to get organized, to get my life together, and to have everything in one calendar."

Soon after, she discovered the power of planners. Now, whenever she has a meeting, event, birthday -- basically anything that requires her attention -- she writes it in her planner. And it has yet to let her down.

"The trick is to condition yourself to say, 'Wait, let me put that in my planner,'" McCollum said. "That's going to be the key to staying organized."

Not only has planning been instrumental in keeping her on track, but it has also been a source of enjoyment and bonding with other people, including her daughter and coworkers. With the variety of planners available on the market and vast range of ways to personalize them, McCollum said she often finds herself connecting with others over their planners. It was one of the main reasons she decided to host a workshop series. After seeing other people at work with planners, McCollum said the idea followed after they began comparing and exchanging ideas.

"This is a great opportunity for us to be able to do something different at Fort Gordon," McCollum said.

Marilyn Maze, a retired Army nurse with a hectic life, attended the workshop with high hopes. During introductions, Maze admitted, "I just can't seem to get organized to get organized."

By the end of the workshop, she felt relieved and optimistic about life with a planner at her side.

"The advantages are saving time with the stickers and everything," Maze said. "Everything was so well-presented at the workshop with such enthusiasm, knowledge and insight."

Similar to others at the workshop, Spc. Kialonia Tobar, 116th Military Intelligence Brigade, was looking for ways to help manage her busy life, but perhaps even more-so a creative outlet.

"Being active duty, pretty much sun up to sun down it's dictated where we're going to be, what we're going to be doing, what we're going to wear, so being able to be organize that schedule in my own way and express myself creatively is important," Tobar she said.

McCollum recognizes that planners are not for everyone, but for those who enjoy it, they can be a great way to stay organized.

"The biggest thing that I want people to take away from this is that staying organized can be fun, and putting the two together will give them energy to stay on that path of organization," McCollum said.

For more information and to register for upcoming planner workshops, call 706-791-3579 or visit: www.FortGordon.com/FAP-Planner.