Wow, what an awesome response from you, planner curious and planner pro friends! I’m so happy to hear about your own planners and what you use to organize your life. If you would like to read more about the planners I am using, please read the Planners Part 1 post here.
Setting aside time to plan sets me up for the week and makes everyone’s life around here more organized and seamless, which I am always striving for. Not every day is perfect (ahem, understatement) and some mornings, despite our best efforts, are rushed and we forget to put library books in book bags or don’t send the right shoes for PE class (“I told you I needed the tie sneaks, Mom, not the baby Velcro ones.” The horror.), but planning goes a long way to making life a little less hectic around Willowcrest Lane.
Last time I wrote about what I plan in (read that here), and today’s post is about how I plan. Typically, I spend about 15-30 minutes on Sundays doing a weekly plan, and then I set aside about 5-10 minutes each night after the kids go to bed to do a quick plan. The weekly plan is where I set up my planner for the week and write down tasks, appointments, and our schedules.
The quick nightly plan is more for just a quick check to see what meals I need to prep for the next day, or write down fun or memorable things we did (built a hockey rink today, or kid number one lost a tooth!) that make my planner serve as a memory keeper and journal.
I love to stamp and decorate my planners because it’s fun for me (hey, I like to color; no shame), but sometimes all I have time for is pen and paper, and that’s perfectly fine, too. On Sunday afternoons when the baby is sleeping and the big kids are having quiet time, I make tea in a pretty tea cup, light a candle, and retreat downstairs to my craft area for a little time to myself.
When I sit down to plan, I first look at the monthly view. This is where all of the long-term appointments and events go during the year, like school functions and projects, sports schedules, as well as my work schedule.
I like to color code these in my planner to keep our events easily recognizable. Each of us has a color and I find that it just makes my life easier to glance at something and know automatically which person it pertains to. After transferring over the events for the week from the monthly to the weekly, I’m ready to plan my week.
The left side of the weekly layout of the Erin Condren Life Planner has lines that I use to write down the tasks that I need to get done that week. Things like an oil change, projects the kids have due, calls that I need to make (I hate the phone and avoid it at all costs, by the way. Anyone else?), and organizing spots I want to tackle. Under that I list the projects that I’m working on or want to start (like the oversize pallet clock that Tom and I are working on. Can’t wait to share it with you!), or other projects I have my eye on.
When I sit down to plan, I look at the previous week’s task list, highlight what I didn’t get done, and then transfer them over to the next week along with the new tasks.
The last bit of functional planning that I do is write down our meals at the bottom of each day. I plan our meals on a separate day (usually Fridays), but I like to put them into my planners to keep track of, too. It’s fun to look back at seasonal meals that are my family’s favorites, or special holiday foods that we like to eat (hello, Shamrock milkshakes, anyone?).
Now that the functional part of planning is taken care of and I know what I have on my plate, I can get a little more creative if I have the time. This is when the stamps, colored pencils, washi, and stickers come out! In the same way that I functional plan first, I like to stamp with my functional stamps first. Sweet Stamp Shop and Studio L2e are my two favorite shops online for these types of stamps. The have lots of planner specific sets that fit perfectly in planners. I go through and stamp out work days, events, coffee dates, pay days, date nights, play days etc. with the different sets and icons.
When all this is finished, it’s time to really get creative! Iike to use both stamps and stickers depending on time and how creative I feel. Stamps were my first crafty love. Before I became a teacher, I spent time after college working in a radio station with a bunch of fabulous women who turned me into a stamper. They taught me how to make cards and other paper crafts and I was hooked for life once I saw their beautiful creations. There are lots of fun places locally to buy stamp sets as well as online shops, too. Some of my favorite sets are from Michael’s and JoAnn’s, and Hobby lobby. There are endless ways to plan and decorate that fit your own needs.
Most importantly, planning is all about what works for your needs in your schedule and time frame. Not only does planning bring me a sense of calm and peace, but my life and my family’s life just plain runs more smoothly. I hope planning brings you the same peace.