When it comes to “planning life” this girl I know (me) can get a little anxious, worrying profusely about making sure I don’t forget something and keeping all the plates spinning. It can be hard to balance all of life in ways that help me and everyone around me to live healthfully and happily, and for the longest time I had been looking for a good way to do it.
Now let me just say this – you don’t have to go out and buy a fancy planner to live a happy and successful life. You don’t even have to spend a lot of money on a planner to plan well. I would argue that, as with all things, it takes willpower and practice to get into the habit of planning and working life well. I for one took an online class about it to spark some motivation, and found out about the Erin Condren planners there.
The way I see it I can just show you pictures of the inside of the planner and call that good, but the reality is that there may be a few people out there – like me – who want fleshed-out examples of how it can be used. For privacy purposes I won’t be showing actual days and plans, but rather will share what I can to maybe inspire a new mom with new mom brain (ladies, I don’t know if it ever goes away…) to work towards gaining that small sense of control back. These are really only my experiences, but I’d love any tips or tricks anyone else may have! Feel free to share in the comments 🙂
So first things first, I love that I can personalize what’s on the front of my planner with Erin Condren. I picked Romans 12:12 because it’s my favorite verse and a constant reminder to walk with God – even in our life-planning craziness He is still there. And this girl? Needs all the help with being reminded of that as she can get! There are also some wonderful motivating quotes throughout the planner as well, which I also love seeing. Like that “Bloom where you are planted” in the photo below? Yeah, just saw that and it totally just made my day. Really.
OK, so here’s the deal. My life can be really crazy at times and really slow and sweet at times – both of which I really enjoy during those various seasons. Right in this very moment and this season of summer I am ramping up for some really busy things, so what I like to do is list out all of the things I have going on:
- work – blog posts, freelance articles, commitments with brands and networks, continuing education, research, writing, recipe development, etc
- home – bills, playdates, cleaning, date nights, family time, summer travel plans, home needs, car stuff, groceries, appointments, etc
- personal – Bible time, journaling, working out, showers (yes, I plan my showers), girls’ nights out, etc
- goals – all of the things I want to do in the next week/month (kind of self-explanatory, but still)
I keep a running in list in the back pages of the planner, which are blank, and as I plan out the months and days I can cross those things off or add as needed. First I go through and write out all writing commitments – both for my blog and for freelance – in the month. This gives me a chance to really take a full snapshot of what’s going on and where I can give or take time for work purposes. If there are any appointments or home things that I know about in advance, I write those in too, although admittedly those things tend to change on a weekly basis. I rarely write in my personal stuff in the monthly overview section, but you get the idea – write down the things you know about in advance here.
After I’ve sufficiently planned out the month, more or less, I turn to the week at hand and write in each section of each day the things that I need to do. Right now Weston is taking 2 naps per day, which means that I attempt to do all of my work things during those times. When he’s awake we’re usually eating, at a playdate, at the pool or playground, and/or cleaning the house (well, I’m cleaning and he’s going through and tearing it apart again ;)). I literally write out every little thing I know we need to get done for the day, more or less in the order they need to happen.
And then? I go through and mark it all out as it gets done. I don’t have to do that, but it really does feel good to cross things off the list!
I tend to keep my planner open to the weekly overview, so if there are things that need to be done later in the week from the monthly overview, I will usually go in and write it at the top of the specific day and then highlight it. Keeping those things visible really helps me see the full picture, and then adjust accordingly. I really work my hardest to get most of my work for the week done Monday and Tuesday so that I can relax and go with the flow a little more Wednesday-Friday and on into the weekend. It doesn’t always work that way, but that’s usually my goal! I find that it’s especially important to try and stay far ahead of things during this season as we’re coming up on some really busy weekends and travel.
So another thing about the planner that I admittedly haven’t taken advantage of as much is the address book and all of the fun stickers that come with it. I’m hoping to use those more often, but I figured it was more important to get used to writing stuff down and planning than it was to use all of those things more consistently. Now though? I’m hoping to make the future months all pretty and littered with birthday and anniversary stickers!!!
One thing I really like to do is go back at the beginning of every year and make sure I input all of the birthdays and such from the year before. I’m not perfect at doing this, but it really helps keep me consistent with sending and cards and/or gifts to the people I love.
Now we’re kind of to the back of the planner. This is where all of those blank pages are that I doodle and list on, but it also has a great section to (as it says above) keep it all together. I have to keep track of receipts and such for work, and that little space is a lifesaver! Plus there’s a full 2 year quick view that kind of helps me keep everything at a glance. More than anything it’s helpful to have it all there for planning trips and vacations as needed!
There’s also a ziplock (not sure if that’s the right word, but you know what I mean) thingy in the back that’s great for holding business cards and receipts as well. More than anything it’s just really nice having room in one planner for all of the things I need to see and look at any given time. That whole quick-glance thing makes a busy life that much easier!
Like I said, I’m not angel when it comes to being organized these days, but I can definitely attest to the fact that my old system wasn’t working and left me stressed and worn out just trying to remember all of the details and things I was supposed to keep track of. This system is certainly working, and I can tell a huge difference in my ability to plan appropriately for all of the stuff life throws at me. And y’all? If it makes me a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and worker? Then I’m all in 🙂
So what about you guys? Tips? Tricks? Questions? I’m all for hearing how you stay organized and motivated!