A new year, a new planner. And there are SO MANY to choose from. To help you out, we gathered some of our contributors to let you in on our favorite planners and how we use them to stay organized.
I’ll admit I am a sucker for all things time management. At 20 years old I was a part of an organization that sent me to Franklin Covey Time Management workshops. I remember sitting as the youngest person in that workshop and being sold hook, line and sinker into the idea of designing the life I wanted. By nature I’m somewhat of a sporadic person. I love finding a new route or drive to a familiar destination, I’m a fan of stopping to smell the roses and I love having time to be fully present. And that is precisely why I love the Day Designer. Whitney English, the creator of the Day Designer, has married the idea of time management with the principle of designing your life based on your values, priorities and goals. It’s simple in function, it allows for schedule management and time management in a beautiful and clean design. But beyond the design, it is the worksheets at the front of the planner that really set this a part from the other products I have used. Taking time to work through these pages and reflect on my individualized strengths, values and priorities and translating those into achievable goals has propelled me to really structure my time and tasks in a meaningful way. I’m truly grateful for this resource, It’s made me a better person, wife, leader and of course…mom.
2017 marks the 3rd year in a row that I have relied on my Erin Condren Life Planner to be the boss of me and my family. I use my planner to keep track of our family appointments, commitments, my social schedule, my four-year old son’s social schedule, the to-do list, meal-planning (when I meal-plan), special events of the day, some journaling, and more. Truth be told, I’m not exactly the most disciplined person in the world when it comes to planning my life all day, every day, day in and day out, but chances are, if I don’t at least write down what I need to do and where I need to be, I won’t make it. Or I manage to commit to being in two places at the same time. What I love so much about the EC Life Planner is that each month has a full calendar view and then each week. The spaces are big enough to write it. There’s lots of room for jotting down notes or thoughts. There’s cute little pre-printed sticker tags that represent common events in a gal’s life, like doctor & hair appointments, birthdays, etc. The sticker tags are removable so if you have to reschedule, it’s not a big deal as far as your planner is concerned. There’s a cute little clear snap in bag that can hold your pen, business cards, or whatever. There’s a also a super handy date book to keep track of birthdays, anniversaries & other special occasions/events that occur year in, year out. Since this is my 3rd year, I actually use the date book to record a gratitude journal because there’s no sense in rewriting all those dates year after year. I love how customizable the EC Life Planner is. Everything from the colors to the layouts of dates, to the cover, to even the coil bind that holds it all together is customizable. They’ll even personalize it at no extra cost! And I’m just gonna keep it real for you, aesthetic appeal matters to me. It matters to me big time. I know I can get a less expensive planner, but to me, they’re not nearly as cute as Erin Condren planners and if it’s not cute, it won’t inspire me to use it.
I have gone through so many planners over the years. I would buy one based on how cute it looked on the outside without any care about if it’s pages would fulfill my needs. Last year alone I think I had three different ones. That all changed when I discovered the Passion Planner (actually, my husband discovered it and I stole it from him), I am officially hooked. Like may planners, there is a month view and then weekly views to write in appointments/things to do/places to be. I really like that the weekly layouts are broken down by time so I can keep track of when I need to do things on my list, and have a visual of my day. Each week has some blank space for notes, journaling or doodling, if you are the creative type and space to write the good things that happened. One of my favorite features is that each week also has a separate work to-do list and personal to-do list, which helps me stay organized. What really sets the Passion Planner apart from others is their desire to help you with goal setting, achievement and reflection. There are monthly, weekly, and daily focus spots to keep you on track and monthly reflection pages to look back and find the positive moments from your month.
Going paperless with Google
I’m one of those people who organizes my life electronically. Specifically, Google is my organizational God. Not only are all the Google products I use 100% free, but the ease of access works wonders for me. No need to spend the $30 or more on a new planner each year! I use Google calendar, which I have synced up on my iPhone. I love that I can easily add appointments, birthdays, meetings and other events from my phone or my computer. I never have to say to my friends, “let me check my planner when I get home” because my phone is always with me. It is super easy to create recurring events (birthdays and anniversaries recur on the same day annually and swim class recurs at the same day and time weekly), which means I only have to enter those things in once. I even enter little reminders into my calendar, things like pay bills or t-shirt day at my son’s school. My calendar will send an alert to my phone at whatever time I choose, which makes me less forgetful during the craziness of my days. Since I also use Google’s email program (Gmail), Google will prompt me to create a calendar entry when events come through my email, such as after I buy concert tickets. But here’s the best part. Since my husband also uses an electronic calendar through his work, we send each other meeting invites so both of us have key events on our calendars. When I schedule a haircut appointment and need him to stay home with the kids, I add him as an attendee on my event to block off his calendar. Same for events at my son’s school, doctor’s appointments and weekend plans. He can never say he didn’t know about something because I put it on his calendar. I realize that this approach may not work for all couples, but it works like a dream for us. Yes, we effectively manage our lives through calendar invites. I also use a lot of the other Google Drive applications. Since I used to work for an accounting firm, I’m a big fan of spreadsheets. I use Google Sheets to track all my holiday shopping lists, budgets, addresses and other miscellaneous items. I also use Google Docs for simple lists, like my grocery list or to-dos. Again, all these items can be accessed from my computer or through the app on my phone. There are a ton of other calendar and document programs and apps available, but the Google suite works well to keep me organized.