My DIY Planner

It’s time to get real personal. Yep, I’m going to let you in on one of my prized possessions. My planner!

I have used several systems to keep myself organized in the past, but none of them seemed to flex to my life and family. I am a list-maker, and most planners don’t easily allow my to make my beloved lists. So rather than change the way my brain worked, I stuck to my lists and changed the way my planner worked. I used to just write and re-write and update a master list on a single sheet of paper. I even typed and printed from the computer sometimes. Problem was, I would make misc lists and they’d be floating around too. So a few years back (pre-Isaac), I finally created a system that works with my real life…. I use a spiral notebook. GASP!

I start with a simple blank notebook, about 8.5″ X 5.5″ (just a tad bigger than half a sheet of printer paper). The brand is usually whatever I find on sale around the time when I am finishing my previous planner (notebook). It must be ruled. Pockets help. They seem to last about 6 months.

I may transfer a few long-term lists to the new notebook at this time: project list, isaac’s needs, errand list, wish list, etc.

Since I happened to buy this one the same week as my new washi addiction, it got a little dazzled. This is the first time I have gone this far to decorate a notebook, but it was fun. To me it’s more about function, but I suppose you could go all out with the washi if you desire.
planner8Of course my plain-jane notebook is missing the calendar part of the average planner, but I, personally, didn’t need it included. For years I have used Google calendar (at work) and iCal (on my phone); they sync well together so it is a way to keep my calendars with me at all times. My work and personal calendars can be viewed separately or together. I admit that I am breaking the number 1 rule of the popular Franklin Planner system (I took the course when I was 13), which would say to “keep only one calendar/planner”. I have found a healthy balance in leaving my work list at work.

So the picture is pretty self-explanatory. I write out tasks by day, starting with current day and then a few more days. The above photo shows Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and the weekend. Sometimes I get more elaborate with my sharpie art because I enjoy this part of the process. I like it pretty if I have time. I like to only see a few days at one time rather than the whole week.

I update my list every 4 days or so. It may sound like a lot of work, but it flows with my life. My husband’s job, ministry work, and Isaac’s health are just a couple things that affect this Momma’s life and schedule. There are a lot of variables right now, and when life happens, plans have to change. With a regular planner, you have to format the way they set you up to. I like to be able to create my own format depending on the week and what is happening in life.

Once most of the items are crossed out, I rip off that page, transfer any leftover tasks, and throw that list away. Ooh, it feels so good! This method keeps my list clean and easy to work off.
I try not to give myself more than 5 tasks to do each day. The Monday tasks above were from a few weeks ago when I had the day off work. I had a few extra projects on that list that you saw here: rotating clothes & Isaac’s food list.  I don’t write down things like: do the dishes, clean up Isaac’s toys, check my email. Those tasks (or chores) happen regularly and I don’t need to be reminded. I do have a rhythm to my week that I try to stick to if possible, but that’s a whole other blog post.

My DIY Planner goes everywhere with me. To work, in the car, running errands, grocery shopping…. you get the idea. I make notes while I am out. It’s amazing the things you think of when you are driving. My planner is often hanging out on my car’s console.
I take it with me into stores. I use a large paper clip (one of my favorite things) to hold grocery lists, coupons, bank deposits or whatever is on the agenda on the inside of the cover. It also acts like a clipboard to hold my grocery list while I shop.
My planner sits with my keys on my desk at work, so when I happen to have a random thought, I make a note of it and get right back to work. This actually is a great time management system for me, because I don’t drift off into that thought, I write it down and know that I can come back to it later.

As I said before this was the week I fell in love with washi. It was getting plastered everywhere. I added a few strips to the outside to cover up the logo and text. I also underlined the titles of some long-term lists that I keep in the planner.
These lists have items that I want to get to, but they aren’t in the week’s agenda or even this month’s agenda. I do not want to forget them. Tasks are items that can be accomplished in a day. Projects are jobs that will likely take a few days, a week, or 15 nap times. I also have a “Blog Ideas” list, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise by showing a picture. Having blank, lined paper available in the notebook allows for the random lists that pop up: packing lists, christmas lists, etc. And, they are ALL in one place rather than on sheets of paper that can easily be lost.

So those are the basics of my planner. This tool helps me stay organized, focused and about the tasks that my family is counting on. It is such beneficial tool for me that came out of years making lists. Are you a list-maker too? How do you stay organized and on task?

10 thoughts on “My DIY Planner

  1. Mara @ Super Savings

    I love this idea! I’m a list maker too and have always had trouble making a planner work for me. I was trying to come up with a way to use a notebook, and I think this will work great! And I love how you made something functional cute too with the washi tape. Thanks for sharing! =)

    ~ Mara

    1. projectmomma Post author

      I am pretty tech-saavy and love my mac products but I still like reading books and making lists. Thanks Mara!

  2. Living So Abundantly

    This seems so doable! I am totally a list maker, but I often scribble it down on random pieces of paper and lose them or accumulate them if I have more than one list. I am going to try this. Thanks! I saw this from Simple Organized Living’s post on facebook. ;)

    1. projectmomma Post author

      It is really easy and like I said works with my ever-changing life. Let me know how it goes :)

  3. M

    I love this idea. My only concern is, how do you plan for the next week or the week after? If I’m only on the 7th of April & I have a Birthday party to attend the 26th of April, where does that go? Or, do you keep those types of things on the Google calendar & update the weekly list each week?

    1. projectmomma Post author

      I hear ya. That is one reason I tried so much to use a planner. Because my work uses google (mail, calendars, docs), i sync that with my iphone (iCal). So I still have all my dates right in front of me, often. For example, my son Isaac’s dentist appt for Jan. 2014 is in my calendar set to remind me a few weeks before. Sunday nights I take 30 minutes or so to plan my week (home, work, meals, appts, errands, etc). At that time I have both my digital calendar and written planner out. Occasionally I will write a meeting or time down on my planner if I am afraid I am going to forget, but with the way my brain works I am pretty good at time management and don’t forget those often. Does that answer your question? I want to do a post on my weekly rhythms soon. There is so much that I habitually do that I no longer have to make a note of it. Thanks for stopping by!!

      1. M

        Yes! Thanks for the reply. I am such a list-maker; I feel silly for not thinking of this before! This method is definitely something I’m going to implement.

  4. Kait

    I’m going to try this right now! As soon as I finished reading I started to think of where I put my notebooks. I just moved and am starting college soon so I have lots to take care of and it’s getting difficult to keep track of everything. I’m actually feeling pretty batty! So glad I found this blog! Thanks for sharing.


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