As someone who has been an adamant paper planner lover her whole life, I’ve been beyond happy with the current trend of planners that has been popping up all over my Instagram feed. I can spend hours upon hours drooling over all of the beautifully decorated layouts. (ahem – ‘spreads’ as those in the know call them.) I made the poor decision a month or two ago to look at Etsy for planner stickers and you guys – I highly suggest NOT doing this unless you enjoy feeling the undeniable need to spend hundreds of dollars on stickers. Yes, stickers.
Planners are an awesome way to maintain your sanity when you’re feeling overwhelmed. After Ryan was born I felt like I didn’t really have a use for a planner as a stay-at-home mom. But the reality is unless you’re a lug who literally sits all day, you have a use for a planner! Planners can organize your life – something we can all use, right?
Personally, I use my planner as a way to balance my life and my blog – it allows me to plan out my week and see when I’ll have time for writing, cleaning, and planning around the everyday hustle and bustle of my life with 2 boys. In an effort to help out a few fellow mommas (and bloggers!) today I thought I would share my tips for how to organize your life and blog with a planner as a mom, but to be honest, all of these tips are applicable to anyone. Switch out your work, after school, volunteer, or home responsibilities with where I have my blog stuff!
How to Organize Your Life with a Planner
Colored Pens. Grab a pack of colored pens that you like writing with (I really like these) and decide which colors will go to what ‘aspect’ of your life. You can even write a key if you’d like. In my planner, I use blue for blog tasks, purple for any social media, and a reddish color for personal things. I usually write my day to day to-dos in black because I think it looks neater, but if one of my to-do’s is for a very specific aspect, I change the color – for example, if it’s a bill I have to pay, I write it in green. I will say, though, that this past month I’ve been writing everything in orange and black because omg give all the Halloween things. <– planning should be fun!
Highlighters are also very helpful in helping organize your tasks and see important information quickly. I highlight any posts that are sponsored or paid in pink so that flipping through my planner I can see when I had sponsored posts as well as when I have upcoming posts.
Stickers. As I mentioned above, the world of planner stickers is vast and can quickly add up, but they are a fun way to organize your planner as well as make it pretty if that’s your thing. There are a ton of resources for free planner stickers online as well if you look for them.
To have those perfect cut lines you’ll need a Cricut cutter which I do not have, so instead I just print free stickers or even paid sticker files (found on Etsy – they are cheaper than the physical stickers) and just cut them with sharp scissors. (I use these that I also cut Ryan’s hair with – multi-purpose around here!) Planner brands also sell their own brand of stickers, and I really dig the MAMBI/Happy Planner ones.
If you’re looking for stickers just to decorate, I highly recommend checking out the Dollar Spot at Target and/or Michael’s. Michael’s has an awesome section of planners, and there’s usually a decent sale. Plus, you can always use a coupon.
Choosing the layout that works best for you. Personally, I am not a fan of the one day per page layouts that usually have an hourly layout, but some really enjoy that! I find that as a SAHM, highly detailed schedules just do not work for me because my kids laugh at them and go on their own merry way. Instead, I like the layouts that have all 7 days across 2 pages so that I can visualize my whole week without having to flip through pages and I don’t feel anxiety about not filling my day or sticking to my ‘plan’.
Some of the daily spreads feature hourly lines and other are segmented into 3 blocks. I prefer the 3 block planners. In the top ‘block’ I keep track of personal things – appointments, playdates, birthdays, etc. The second I assign to blog things – the title of that day’s post plus a check list for what I would like to get done that day in regards to the blog. The bottom block is for personal/home to-do items, like cleaning, bills, shopping etc.
Post its. I take these little page flag post-its and cut them to fit the width of a column. I then use them to fill in spots tentatively, usually with blog posts. While I love using an editorial calendar I do often find myself shuffling posts around. It drives me crazy to have a bunch of crossed out post ideas, so I like to put them on these and stick the to the tentative date, that way if something falls through or I’m not feeling writing that topic, I can move it around. When my week’s schedule is set, I write it into my planner and toss the post it. This could also work for tentative plans or events you might want to attend.
I also use larger lined sticky notes to put reminders on later months. I place one of these onto a week or month in the far future for things like posts I might want to write, far off events I might want to attend, or even to-dos I need to do later (like quarterly bills or renewing subscriptions). That way I don’t have a mess of randomly jotted down ideas throughout my planner, but I also have places for all of my future thoughts.
Use your sidebars. I love the sidebars of my planner. It’s where I can write goals for the week or month. Again, I use the same color system for my goals so that I can easily keep track of them. I also like that I can flip through and see what my past week’s goals have been and if I’ve been setting them too high or too low.
Use your planner to remember future things. I tape in an addressed envelope on the week a quarterly bill is due to be sent out, like you can see above. That way I’m less likely to forget and I have it already done for myself.
Same with coupons – tape your coupon to the week it expires to make sure you use it in time. I also do the same thing with Thank you cards. If I know I’ll need to send one out, I tape it into my planner as a reminder.
If you’re looking to start using a paper planner, there are a bunch of options, form very expensive (I’m talking $75+) to cheap ones from Target for $10 or less. all new ones will start hitting stores soon for the 2017 year, but if you want my advice I highly recommend the Happy Planner. The price is very middle of the road, but the quality is great. The paper is a great texture, (paper people – I know you feel me!!) pens don’t bleed though, and the cover is really durable. I love the cute monthly dividers (on plain ones, I like to tape in a picture!) and each month give you a spot to highlight some memories.
I also really like that the pages can go in and out without ripping, due to the disc system. I like to take pages out when I’m planning the left page so my hand doesn’t get in the way of the binding. This also allows for options like expansion packs tpo add more months or the fitness or home mini planners.
Honestly, there’s a lot to love about the Happy Planner, but I mostly just love that it’s cheaper, and there are so many cute compatible stickers that I can buy in an actual store. I know Erin Condren makes amazing planners and stickers, but you can only order them online which is a bit of a drag.
If I were buying a new planner – I have an 18-month model but I’m tempted!! I would definitely get the kit! They range from $35 – about $60 but they include the planner, stickers, notepads and a bunch more. You’ll end up saving a lot more that you spend if you buy it all seperate. I love the one above since it comes with SEASONAL stickers! (The non-seasonal ones are a lot cheaper though.)
Okay so tell me- do you use a paper planner? How do you feel about the sudden popularity? Let me know in the comments!
a bit thanks to Amanda for letting me think out loud!