I love all things planners, lists and staying organized! I may not be the most organized person, but I sure love to try new ways to keep life all together. I’ve gushed many times about my favorite planner – the Simplified Planner Weekly Edition – since I first got in back in August last year. It fits my need to have a planner to map out the months, weeks and days, but without a ton of extras and razzle dazzle.
When I’m choosing a new planner, or even a new system for keeping track of lists, I love to see examples of how others use a tool. I’m a visual person (or maybe a copy cat?) so getting sneak peeks at real life planning is helpful to me. So today’s post is all about that!
This has been about 6 months in the making… it took me that long to figure out the best system for using the Simplified Planner. It was a bit of trial and error, but I’ve got it down to a science that works for me!
There are only a few things I need to help supplement planning with the Simplified Planner.
- The Pen – I love the Pilot G2 rollerball pen ultra fine (0.38mm tip). It’s a great fine tip that doesn’t bleed through or smudge!
- My phone – My husband and I keep a shared calendar on our phones for family events and appointments. He also keeps work tasks on there that will affect when we have dinner (late night work shifts, etc). This is especially helpful to refer to when I’m planning months and weeks.
- Moleskine Volant – I’ve talked about this cheap little notebook before, but I love using this for list making and brainstorming. The Simplified Planner has almost zero space for planning/brain dumping, so this little notebook gives me a space for it. It keeps my chicken scratch out of my pretty planner.
I love long term planning! Any planner I own, whether it’s a DIY version or a structured planner, MUST have a monthly spread. It’s just so handy for visualizing what is going on for the coming months.
I’ve learned, though, that plans change… so I’ve now gotten into the habit of just planning one month at a time. All future appointments first go into our shared calendar on our phones. Then I will reference that when I begin my monthly planning process.
Here’s my process for Monthly Planning!
I sit down to do a monthly plan about 1 week before the new month starts.
The first step is sitting down with my phone and writing in any recurring events that I know always happen, like my Bible Study group or Elizabeth’s school days.
I also write in any birthdays or special events.
Finally, I add in any appointments or family events I need to note, like kids birthday parties (so many of those!) or doctor appointments.
To keep things tidy, I don’t necessarily add the time that event is happening. Instead I write them in certain spots in that day’s box. For example, if it’s a morning appointment, I write it at the top of the box. An afternoon appointment goes in the middle, and an evening event goes at the bottom. It just visually gives me a clue as to when things are happening. I get more specific when I start my weekly plan.
Each monthly spread has a section for Notes. This is the only spot where I will “future plan” longer than one month out. I jot down goals I need to accomplish that month or even tasks that need addressed when that month rolls around. For example, in March I jotted down that I needed to look up when Spring Break was for Elizabeth’s school so I could plan accordingly.
Once that’s done, I’m ready to plan out my Week!
The Weekly Planning process is, for me, the longest of the three. There is more to sit down and write out than other steps.
I love sitting down on Sunday afternoons, with my planner and my phone, and sketching out what the coming week will look like. I write in appointments or activities, cleaning tasks to accomplish, my blog plan and my menu plan.
This is where I really spent time playing around with the process and layout of how I wanted to write things down. I tried several methods, and settled on this current one shortly after New Year. It’s really worked for me!
The Simplified Planner layout has 2 list sections. A lined section on the left, and then a bullet section on the right. I use the left side for the “nice to do” tasks and the right side for the “must do” tasks, which includes that menu planning box!
When I sit down to plan the week, I first write in any appointments or events with a time stamp around it. That goes at the top of the left section, in chronological order (nerd alert!). I refer to my phone AND the monthly spread for this.
Next up comes my cleaning tasks for the week. I do the same tasks on each day, so it’s easy to write down. I might refer to the previous week to remind me of a few things, but in general, it’s all locked in my head.
I then jot down the blog post I have planned for each day in the last line of the right section. It’s just a visual reminder that if it’s not done yet, it needs to be!
Menu planning comes next. I look at what’s going on that week (husband working late?) and plan meals accordingly. I jot the plan AND where that recipe comes from (Pinterest or cookbook/page number) in each day’s handy little meal plan box. Once this is done I can also write my Menu Monday posts!
Finally, I jot down any tasks I know MUST get done. I don’t do too much here, though, as plans always change. I save any major list making for my daily planning step.
Once that’s all done, I feel like I really accomplished something that Sunday! HA!
I try to sneak in a Daily Planning session the night before, right after I’ve got the toddler down for the night. It’s a fairly quick process, but I find that if I skip this step, my next day isn’t very productive!
First up is looking at what didn’t get done that day that I can try to do the next day. Depending on the urgency, I’ll write it in the “must do” or “nice to do” sections.
Then I write in any tasks that I know need to get done. Usually this involves some sort of blogging task – pictures to take, video to edit, etc.
Finally, if my day is looking a little light (HA!) I refer to my Moleskine Volant for any tasks I could sneak in. This usually involves some organizing project I’ve been putting off.
This whole process takes no more than 10 minutes. It’s really quite fast! If it took any longer I know it wouldn’t happen regularly. Who has time to plan daily longer than that??
I also created a video to walk you through everything!
So there you go! If you’re a nosey person like me, you’ve hopefully found this helpful. Even if you don’t have the Simplified Planner, you could easily adapt this process to any planner or notebook you’d like!
Other posts you might find helpful!
A round up of all of my Favorite Organization Tools
My Daily & Weekly Cleaning Schedule
My how-to on how I created my own DIY Planner. This taught me exactly what I need in a planner!
Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission from clicks and/or purchases made. BUT I purchased everything mentioned with my own money, and was not paid to review this product. I just love this planner!