Happy Monday people! So, I’ve been wanting to make my blog prettier and increase my audience and stuff, so I’ve been doing some research (hello Pinterest!) into it. One of the suggestions I’m going to implement is I think I’m going to break my blog into categories by day of the week. I don’t know how long this will last, but I’m thinking since Mondays are so manic (thank you, The Bangles, for that classic song), I’m going to post some of my favorite organizational tips (or maybe not, because beyond this post, I don’t know that I have anything else to share). So, here we go!
Back in the day, I was a paper planner girl. It all began once I had my first full-time job, had ongoing projects, and needed to remember to do them. I remember my first planner. It had a page for each day of the year, with blank lines. No times; no month-view. Just a simple, journal-like book. I loved that thing. It was taped together by the end of that year. I graduated to Franklin-Covey after that, and fancied myself an A+ organized planner (ha).
Then technology came along, and I decided it needed to be in my phone and/or iPad. I tried so many planning apps, but none of them allowed me that freedom to just make a list of what I wanted to accomplish at some point in the day. Plus, I forgot more than one appointment because my phone was on silent or not near me or something equally ridiculous.
Early last year, after complaining that I was in a rut, my husband reminded me that I used to be very organized and productive when I had a paper planner. Woah! Do those things still even exist? Shortly after that, I saw someone else’s paper planner and it had pretty stickers.
What was it? I’m not only going to recommend it, but I’m going to let you in on a couple secrets that I just found out about earlier this month …
How and Why I Chose THIS One
I pretty much have one of the most awesome jobs ever. I am part owner of a retail shop! I know, it IS glamorous. Seriously. Well, sometimes. I get to shop for a living. I also get to do a bunch of other stuff like pay bills, schedule social media, write newsletters (in theory), handle payroll, and a bunch of other stuff that needs to get done. But not on a a strict, hourly schedule. Additionally, I have a school-aged son, a husband, and doctor’s appointments (lots of them right now). So my must-haves for a planner were something like this:
- Week view with room to make lists
- Way to differentiate between the three of us
- No times
- Easy to use
- Stickers a major plus (yes, I am a child)
I scoured the Internet, comparing views and features; ease of use and presence of stickers; overall attractiveness and likelihood of use. It was one of those “easily distracted” moments where I spent excessive time searching. Honestly, these kinds of planners are not inexpensive, so I didn’t want any regrets.
Finally, I settled on the early winner and the same planner I had seen a colleague using: The Erin Condren Planner. Some of you are probably thinking, “Did she really just take that long to tell us about what we already know is the awesomest planner?” And others of you are thinking, “Who the heck is Erin Condren?” For those of you yawning, you can skip down a bit or quit reading altogether. For the rest of you … hold onto your hats ’cause your about to be blown away!
Here’s one bad thing about an EC planner. If you are somewhat indecisive, choosing your cover is going to be miserable. There are so many fabulous options, and it was just as excruciating this year as it was last year to pick my custom cover. Here is what I chose for 2016:
I love this quote, and I figured with all that my 2016 is bringing, I needed an inspirational quote to look at every day.
As you can see below, this planner works for me.
EC Planners used to come one way only: vertical layout, with each shaded area designated Morning, Day, and Night. In 2015 I learned how to make it work for me, and scheduled my days within those chunks (not realizing there was a whole world of customization at my fingertips). In 2016, EC came out with more variety:
- Horizontal layout
- Vertical layout (no designations in shaded areas)
- Vertical, timed layout (for those who keep appointments, e.g. massage therapists, hairdressers)
Since I am a creature of habit, I stayed with the vertical layout. But I love the ability to section it off how I want. Right now my three sections are: Spiritual, Health, Work/Personal. Typically, I would probably do Spiritual, Personal, and Work; but having cancer kind of makes the Health category a necessity.
Every EC planner comes with four sheets of stickers bound in back (two sheets with printed items like birthday, sale, doctor appointment, etc; and blank sheets in different colors). It also comes with pull-out book mark and a double-sided folder and zip-close pouch bound in the book. EC offers sheets of personalized stickers as well as a number of seasonal and themed books/kits for an additional cost. You can also purchase matching cell phone cases, personalized trays, and more. In other words, unless you have unlimited funds, I suggest you go in with a budget in mind (FYI the planner is $50, including cover personalization).
The World of Etsy
At some point earlier this month, I discovered that there are people out there — creative people — who have businesses dedicated to making stickers for EC Planners that EC doesn’t make. These people live on Etsy. Do a search for Erin Condren on there and there are 250 pages of stickers. Some are totally useful — different bill stickers, laundry stickers, holiday stickers; and some are a little more specific — shark period stickers and poop stickers, for example.
Now, with the aforementioned available (did you see the unicorn poop ones?!) I thought for sure they would have chemo and radiation stickers. Truth be told, they did. But they were ugly. Then I happened upon Alyssa’s Etsy page. I liked her stickers, and as I clicked on a item for a closer look, I saw that she does custom orders. So I emailed her to explain what I wanted and to find out how much it would cost. Amazingly, she asked for my detailed input, there was no up-charge, and she turned them around over a weekend! I highly recommend her! Aren’t they beautiful?!
Tips, Tricks, and Final Thoughts
For how much I love stickers, you’d think I would have already thought to buy random stickers to include in my planner, but I didn’t think of it until recently. You can decorate your calendars with them, use specific ones for events (I wish I had gotten some Star Wars stickers for the opening of the new movie), or use simpler ones to designate important items on your to-do list.
Washi Tape is great, too. Many users use them to make the shaded areas stand out on their week view, or to create separation in the horizontal view. I use it to cover up mistakes in my calendar when I don’t have white-out tape around, and to mark visits, trips, and breaks.
If you have stuck around to the end, thank you! I know it’s a long post, but for those paper-planner users, it’s an important one. Do you have tips for the EC Planner? Or do you swear by another brand? I’d love to hear your thoughts!