Planners. I love planners. I love the way they look fresh out the box and I love the way they look after a year of hard use. I love the feel of my pen moving across the fresh, crisp paper and I love how the corners of my washi tape curl up after a few months. I love how the paper smells, I love all the pretty embellishments.
And yet, as pretty and fun as planners are, I just wouldn’t be able to use one if it wasn’t also highly functional. I have found, over time, that I like myself much more if I am organized and know what’s coming next. I like myself more when I have a planner for recording my life events. It grounds me. It helps me find my center. I am just not a free spirit, “whatever will be will be” person by nature, but I can embrace spontaneity when I have a good understanding of the big picture. My planners and lists give me that scaffolding and allow me to move more freely in my life.
And I have a little ritual with my planners: each year, on January 1st, I make wholesome, delicious soup in my crockpot (to help wash away all the rich foods of the holiday season) and sit down with my calendar and planner system to set up the new year.
I gather my planning gear
my wall calendar: for appointments and special events that impact my family (so they have a place to go and check what’s going on when).
my iPhone: my on-the-go wall calendar, which I sync with my wall calendar once a week (usually Sunday afternoon).
my planner booklets: these are the heart of my system of planners (and I’ll say more about these in a bit).
last year’s calendar: go through and highlight all birthdays, anniversaries, important dates or anything else that I need to carry over to next year; this is also a nice opportunity to sort of say goodbye to that year, remember the parties and the appointments, and maybe make note of any memory keeping/scrapbooking I may want to do.
next year’s calendar: move all the highlighted events from last year’s calendar to next year and and a few stickers or washi (just to get that ball rolling—I will continue to add to it throughout the year.
I set up my planners
Over the years, I have found that, when I shop for planners, their pages are either too general to be of much use to me or so specific that they don’t apply to my life (and are usually really thick and heavy). Last year I landed on my booklet system and it really works for me. This January, I will go through my booklets, transfer any important information to my new booklets, and set up my new indexes (Bullet Journal-style). Then my old booklets will go on the shelf for a year or so, just in case I need them for something.
These booklets have kraft covers and come with grid or dot paper and I use them for everything. This year, I will also be adding: this Inkwell planner (which I will use on my desk, for an overview and general organizing of my household), this Moleskine journal (which I kind of bought on an impulse, and I will use for something special, like sketches or my homeschool lessons) and this Medium Monthly Planner from Mochi Things (which might be great for tracking my kids’ homeschooling)
The last thing I do is create a place for the new year’s tax records
There are really cool, fancy tax systems all over the internet (one of my faves is from A Bowl Full of Lemons). But I think simple is better. So I take a letter-size, plastic pouch and label it with the year and just put everything in there. It works for me!
My Planner Booklets
All in all, I keep a separate booklet
for each of these areas of my life:
|master lists: these are the major things that need to happen, like I have to renew my passport soon—it might not happen this week, but I need to squeeze it in somewhere.|
|homeschool lessons book: this booklet is my most important homeschooling book, with all the lessons I plan to give (which are highlighted once they are completed).|
|assignment book: this booklet helps me keep track of what I have assigned Stori and Trumann and if it’s been completed, graded and recorded. Rach designed this for me, and you can have one, too! Just click here. (For best results, print with Acrobat Reader, as a booklet.)|
|FK business book: this is the brains of the business—the book that has all our important contacts, marketing plans, product ideas and so forth.|
|manufacturers: we have been trying to find a manufacturer for some special products we want to produce and so I started a booklet for that—it lists all the names, contact info, answers to questions I asked and my overall impression of the businesses that we have contacted.|
|sketchbook: this is where I sketch scrapbooking layouts or planner accessory ideas for Finders Keepers.|
|gardening book: I keep this booklet for tracking plants in my garden that require special care—when I get a new plant, I start a page in this booklet and write down how much water it needs, when and what I should feed it, and so forth. If I’m feeling enterprising, I take a picture when I plant it and one year later.|
|day to day living, gotta get it done, book of lists and record keeping: this is where I list, each week, what I need to accomplish, appointments, anything from the master list and achievements (like weight lost, exercise goals, house purging, etc)|
I love the flexibility of this system. I can band them together (however many I want with me), with my journal band; I can band them with my MAMBI pencil case with elastic strap; or I can take along my big bag o’ pens.
- syncing my wall calendar with my iPhone calendar
- creating a new week spread for my “day-to-day-living” booklet, pulling from my master booklet
- planning our homeschool lessons
Wall calendar tip:
I keep scheduling sheets I get from our various activities in the folded up part of my wall calendar. This keeps these papers (which are remarkably easy to lose) handy. Bulkier schedules (like the music school’s yearly handbook) go in a drawer in the kitchen.
Corralling the Gear:
Take handbooks for schools, music lessons, church, whatever and create a place for them (I keep mine in a drawer in the kitchen hutch that also has contact sheets and phone registries for our various activities).
Always be ready to plan:
I organize my planning materials on a three-tier system: I always have a good pen and a roll of washi in my purse (and a sheet of stickers paper clipped inside the cover of my planner), for super-handy, on the go planning. I keep a few good pens, a few rolls of washi and a few sticker sheets inside my MAMBI planner pouch (which we sell in our Planner Pops Toolkit #1). I keep most of my pens, several more washi rolls and a bunch of sticker sheets in my pen bag (which is actually an Alicia Silverstone Ecotools cosmetics bag I picked up on Amazon. I’m not sure if they have it anymore, but it’s called a train case).
Find the perfect planner for you:
Each of us planner lovers uses our planners differently. For this reason, I would never tell you which planner you should use. If you are feeling lost, however, here are a few of places to get started: