From as far back in my adult life as I can remember, maybe even back into high school, I’ve loved to have a calendar/planner to track things in. I’ve tried going digital over the years – had a Palm Pilot when they first came out and all that jazz (being the techy that I am, I had to give it a whirl) but I came to the realization long ago that I just have to have paper.
I think it has to do with my kinesthetic tendencies, but I love to write things down, make lists, cross the lists off, and see the progress I made on various projects in my life.
I’ve done the Franklin Covey bit, even dabbled with a European planner (which I loved in concept, but it was not practical for me).
Since I work from home and 95% of my work life is digital I’ve struggled with figuring out how to make a planner work for me in recent years. I knew in my gut I needed one for my sanity and productivity, but it didn’t really make sense to write down my work schedule when it changes so rapidly with meetings moving daily and my work task list didn’t really need to be merged with my family to-do list.
What I’ve been doing is keeping them separate – I use an Arc notebook for my work to-do’s and then have been using an Erin Condren planner for the past three years. I love the layout and the bright, cheerful colors. However, I have been struggling with the layout of the pages – trying to figure out how to make the Morning-Day-Night format work for me. I don’t really divide my days up that way since 70% of my day is devoted to my online work schedule.
And then I discovered the multitudes of Erin Condren fan groups on Facebook and the Erin Condren videos on YouTube. Which led me to the realization that this was my planner (duh) and I could make it whatever I want.
Enter my latent scrapbooking tendencies, my crafty tools and color printer and now I’ve become a customizing planner fool.
So, now I’m happily prettifying my already pretty planner. And you know what? I’m finding that by doing something as simple as putting new word stickers over the “Morning-Day-Night” headings has reinvigorated my planning/organization genes. And I am LOVING that I’m once again keeping everything in one place… where I can find it easily.
Still not moving my work stuff out of it’s current home, but I like the separation of church and state, so to speak.
I’ve learned how to overcome some of the things that used to drive me nuts about the planner – like not being able to add in kids’ schedules and important papers (like instructions for doctor’s appts, etc.) – DIY “coil clips” to the rescue.
I’ve figured out how to make my own stickers, too, using my old Xyron Sticker maker and my color printer. I just resize whatever I want to be a sticker to 1.5” wide (which just happens to be the width of the day boxes as well as the width of the sticker maker) and run it through to make my own stickers.
Lots of folks use washi tape to decorate the pages, but I find it’s just distracting. I like small bits of color and art added here and there but I want to keep the planner true to it’s purpose: organizing my life.
I like keeping our menu plans in here – adding my to-do’s (now that I have nice lined stickers) and highlighting important things with colorful stickers.
Here are some of my favorite toys, I mean, tools, for decorating my planner:
- Avery Self-Adhesive Removable Laser Id Labels, White, 8.5 x 11 inches, 25 per Pack (6465)
- Post-it Tabs, 2-Inch Solid, Assorted Primary Colors, 6-Tabs/Color, 4 Colors, 24-Tabs/Pack
- Pilot FriXion Ball Knock Retractable Gel Ink Pen – 0.7 mm – 10 Color Set
- Avery Removable Color Coding Labels, Rectangular, Assorted Colors, Pack of 525 (06721)
- Semikolon Sticky Tab Markers, Assorted Colors (5100002)
- Xyron 150 “X” Create-a-Sticker Machine Assorted Colors
- Pilot Precise V5 RT Retractable Rolling Ball Pens, Extra Fine Point, 4-Pack, Black/Blue/Red/Green Inks (26055)
- Pilot Precise V5 Stick Rolling Ball Pens, Extra Fine Point, Assorted Colors, 7 Pack (26015)
- We R Memory Keepers Crop-A-Dile Eyelet and Snap Punch, Blue Handle
- Avery Assorted Removable See-Through Color Dots, 0.25-Inch Round, Pack of 864 (5796)
And some of my favorite Facebook Groups and Blogs where I’ve been finding inspiration:
- This is a GREAT article/video on using an Erin Condren planner – and one that got me really going on the whole concept of making my own boxes for the days.
- My Erin Condren Simple (FB group)
- Erin Condren Fans (FB group- fancier pages and lots of “loot”)
- Plum Paper Central (another FB group – this one for a competing planner, but good ideas)
- Great source for print-yourself stickers.
- A good video showing how to make your own DIY “coil clips” to insert other papers (like kids’ schedules) into your planner) – another lifesaver for me.
So, what do you do to keep your life organized? Are you a digital person? Is it all on your phone or tablet? Or are you a paper person like me? What type of planner do you use?