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If you count the electronic ones, I have five functional calendars in my office, (and two from past years, but the pictures are way too cute to take down!) but my favorite is my paper planner. This little book keeps me organized and on top of all the crazy going on in my life. So I’m sharing with you my gorgeous agenda and some tips for how I use it to keep my mind together.
Why This Planner?
Everyone’s need for organization is different, and that’s why there’s so many planners in different styles, sizes, and colors. For the past five years, I’ve been using one from Lilly Pulitzer, for a couple reasons:
- It includes everything I need, from note pages, to a yearly calendar page, to monthly overviews before the weekly spreads, to tabs, and of course: stickers!
- It makes me happy, when I see the bright fun prints and colors. I love matching my pens to the patterns, and having the joy of such a beautiful little book to carry around.
When choosing a planner for yourself, do your research and think about how you’ll be using it. For some people, just the monthly spreads with plenty of notes pages work the best. For others, they need a full page for each day. I’ve found through lots of trial and error that this system with the monthly overview and then weekly spreads is the best for me.
Also, choose one that makes you happy to look at and write in. It should be pretty, but not so precious that you’re afraid to scratch things out. It took me some trial and error to find the right size, but I’ve learned that something about 5.5×8.5″ is right for me.
Creating a System
It’s good to have a plan for how you’ll be using a planner. With mine, I use the different types of pages in their own way:
- Yearly overview: I mark off important birthdays and anniversaries, and also cross out holidays and PTO days from work. This gives me a quick sense of the balance in my year and time off.
- Monthly overview: I use these to visualize major events, vacations, people visiting, planned dinners and outings, and holidays. It gives me a quick way to judge how busy the overall month is, and quickly make appointments without flipping through pages.
- Weekly spreads: This is the bulk of where I do my planning. I’ll reference the yearly or monthly overviews, but these pages are my bread and butter. Here, I keep track of daily to-do’s: blog posts to write, social media scheduling, photos to take, things to cook and bake, packages that are being delivered, and any other plans. I use colors to keep things straight and easy to quickly reference.
- Notes: I use these pages to jot down ideas that come to my mind that don’t necessarily fit within a date. These end up being mostly blog related, but I’ll make note of restaurants or breweries to visit, podcasts to download, and more when it’s convenient. I use it like a checklist, so I can quickly see what I’ve made progress on.
- Travel: These are for planned vacations, but also ones that I’m in the process of planning. I’ll use the included sections to write down ideas of attractions and a general plan.
Keeping it Close
If you’re on the run a lot, you’ll want a planner that can easily slip into your bag or backpack. I don’t bring my planner everywhere, but I do bring it on longer trips when I’ll need to use it.
For me, I spend most of my time at home or working from home, so my planner has a special home in my office. It’s close enough that I can grab it if I need to check something outside of work hours.
Making it Mine
This is my favorite part, and what really separates a paper planner from my Google or Outlook calendars. I do a few cute things in my planner to just make me happy when I look at it. This book holds my life, and I want that to bring me joy.
- I use fun colors that match each month’s theme. I don’t full out color code, but instead, I choose 3-4 colors per month that I’ll use to separate out personal, blogging, cooking, and general events. Staedtler Triplus Fineliners, which I became obsessed with thanks to an old planner community from my LiveJournal days, are my favorite pens. But I’ll fill in with cheaper knock-offs if the colors aren’t quite right.
- I like to add stickers to fun events and sometimes just because they are cute. When I see stickers on sale at Target or craft stores that match the general bright, tropical color scheme, I’ll pick them up. I also save all my old stickers from previous years, so I always have a good library to work from.
- Overall, I make my planner work for me by using and filling lots of check boxes. I love to-do lists, and it helps to use my planner that way. I’ll usually have a little open square near each line item, and them I’ll fill it in when done. I don’t have a full bullet journal system otherwise. I’ll add an arrow if I need to move a task to the next spread, but otherwise, it’s just the boxes.
Are you a lifelong planner user, or someone who is excited to get more organized in 2019? Either way, let me know how you use your planner to keep your life together!