Tips for Organizing Your Planner and Daily Tasks
A fresh new year, a fresh page in the book, and a fresh planner! It makes me unreasonably happy to open up my planner each year. It all goes back to my sophomore year of high school, 1997, to be exact (you do the math!) when our school district implemented a new educational initiative. That red and gold planner with our school Grizzly Mascot on the cover ended up being one of the most important skills I learned. I probably took it more seriously than I needed to, but I’m also pretty sure it made my Debate and Forensics coach smile with glee.
Over the years since, I’ve always had a paper and pencil planner that I use religiously. And while my love of a good planner is borderline obsessive, it truly is an extension of my brain and allows me to juggle the hats of wife, mom, teacher, voice and piano instructor, drama director, decorator, influencer, and now blogger. I don’t juggle them perfectly…things fall through the cracks…but I don’t want to think about what chaos would ensue if I didn’t set aside intentional time to keep us organized!
While the tips I have for you today are simply what I’ve found to work best for me, I hope they maybe spark a new idea or even inspiration for you! Let’s get started!
How to choose the best planner
Do you want your planner to be large or one that fits in your purse? Do you need it for work purposes or just your daily to-do lists? Does it need to house information for multiple areas of your life? Do you like a vertical or horizontal layout? Do you need it broken into daily time slots or do you work better with room to right a list? Perhaps a monthly calendar meets your needs?
These are all questions to consider and are all individual preferences. Since I use my planner to delineate three specific areas: home/family, IG content, and school, I like to use a planner that devotes either an entire page to a day or has a vertical layout.
For 2020, I enjoyed using the Heart of the Farm Planner. Cory has created a beautiful planner that has lots of room to write, lovely photography, and even specialized pages to record things like prayer, praise, and gratefulness. Cory has a Daily or Weekly option. I found the Daily planner to allow me an entire page dedicated to each day and that was incredibly helpful! You can check out this favorite planner here.
I have also used the Erin Condren Life Planner ™. The vertical layout of this planner creates clear outlines for each area that I focus on in my planner. I also love the additional space for notes at the bottom and on the side.
You’ll want to answer these questions before spending time searching for the right planner:
- What is the purpose of my planner?
- What are my daily goals for how I use my planner?
- Where will I be using my planner? (may help you decide the size you decide to purchase)
I have used a variety of different planners over the years and have finally settled on the ones that work best for me in this season of life. Don’t be afraid to invest in a quality planner that will serve you well for the entire year! But it is also okay to say, “This planner isn’t meeting my needs,” and try something new!
Setting Up Your Planner
I spend an hour or so at the beginning of the year marking my monthly pages with school events, birthdays, trips, etc. No stress here, just penciling in what you can. And I ALWAYS USE PENCIL! You can find my favorite pencil here.
At the end of each month, I set aside a little time to fill out the following month in more detail. As I become aware of appointments, events, or additional information, I try to get it into my planner ASAP! I also use this time to organize my social media and blog content. You’ll find me asking my followers what they are interested in for the following month. My favorite and most fun ideas always come from YOU! I pencil those in on my monthly page and it’s always fun to see the month start to come together. I get excited to start preparing my content and I’m able to plan ahead for times when I’ll be out of town or busy with my family (always comes first!)
Each week, usually mid-week, I have a short planning date with my calendar for the following week. I write any appointments, special tasks, events for the kids, their test and special assignments into the daily portions of my planner for the next week. I also make detailed lists of what content I plan to share, to-do lists to prep for that content, communication and collaborations that I am responsible for…and so on and so forth!
You can see the intentionality woven through how I set up my planner! It may sound a bit obsessive, but I find that taking this intentional time actually creates more “white space” in our lives because I’m not scrambling around trying to figure out what’s next. We typically don’t miss events or deadlines and that alleviates a lot of stress for both me and my family!
How to Use Your Planner on a Daily Basis
Each day, I glance over my planner in the morning and again in the evening. I try to focus specifically on that day and not allow myself to always be feeling overwhelmed by what’s on the next day’s list! As I go through my day, I use a pencil and check off tasks as they are completed. It is very refreshing. And yes…I’ve been known to write down a task after it’s completed, just so I can check it off. I can’t deny it! But it does help to end the day with a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction to see areas where I made progress!
Any tasks that aren’t completed are circled so I can reschedule that task to another day. Let me stop and remind both you and I that it is OKAY IF YOU DON’T GET SOMETHING DONE! If it is a top priority item, I put a little star by it and make sure that gets done first. Otherwise, all you can do is your best. But if you plan for it, there is definitely a higher likelihood that you will complete your tasks and feel good about your work!
I also make sure to schedule in play! If we are going thrifting or to a party or just out as a family, I often write that in my calendar too. It is a great feeling to look ahead and see what you’re really working for. It is kind of like a constant reminder of your “why”!
Other Notes of Importance
There are many planners out there with color coding systems, etc. I’m sure they are wonderful and I know people that use them. I have found that keeping my system really simple takes some of the extra work and stress out of the equation, and that’s what its purpose really is for me anyway! Again, I encourage you to spend time thinking through how you want your planner to serve you and then search accordingly!
It is a great idea to start your kids on learning to use a planner. Even if it’s messy and imperfect, they will only learn by doing. A simple, Dollar Tree calendar is a great way to get them started!
Your planner is what you do, not who you are. I’ll say that again.
Your planner is what you do, not who you are.
I’ve gotten that mixed up before and suffered the consequences. Now, my planner exists to help me be more efficient so that I have time and white space to be with my family, to do fun things, and to just rest. Busy-ness is not something to be proud of and our society tends to mix that up. So here is a reminder to both of us to make your planner work for you, not against you.
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.” Ecclesiastes 9:10
“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Colossians 3:23