Planner Girl Part II

As promised, I’m following up with more details on how I use and decorate my planner. Let’s dive right in, and take a look at my monthly page spread:

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This is actually where I begin my planning each month. Every appointment and event gets put here first. This includes school days off, weekend social engagements, and doctor’s appointments. I’m also counting down our family trip to Alaska which is what those little yellow circles are on Tuesday. And the purple heart sticker shows when I have my week off from chemo.

Usually, I include assignments my husband has at our Christian meetings on Thursday evenings and Sundays, but I didn’t do that for some reason here. I don’t have our meetings marked because they are so much a part of my life, I don’t need the reminders and I’m not tracking any aspect of them right now. But if I wanted to track my attendance or participation, I would probably add them back to my calendar.

You’ll see that I have included stickers where I could. The month will look much different by the end of the month when all my appointments are filled in. I try to make this spread as attractive as I can, but I’m not too concerned with stickers being all matchy-matchy.

Some other things I could/plan on including in my monthly spread are:

  • When to change my contacts
  • When to go to the gym (I know that sounds hilarious coming from me, but I’m really going to make an effort this year)
  • When my family has appointments. Kiddo’s already go on here, but I could add hubs’ too.
  • When I go in the Bible ministry and for how long

Basically, anything you want to track monthly can go on this spread. It’s entirely up to you.

Sometimes, we have tentative plans, but they aren’t set in stone. Me and My Big Ideas (MAMBI) makes the most adorable little post-it notes that are perfect for this. I simply write the information on the little paper and stick in on the appropriate date. I like their little post-its because they are sized just write and they stick really well.

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Every Sunday afternoon, I plan out my weekly schedule. All events that have been recorded in my monthly section get marked in my weekly layout as well. These get written in first. When I can, I use a sticker, of course. I split my days into three different categories: Today, To Go, To Do.

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The “Today” section includes my daily checklist items, such as Bible reading, as well as events that happen that don’t involve leaving the house. For instance, I conduct a Bible study with someone and she comes to my house. So that gets noted in my “Today” section.

“To Go” is fairly obvious. This includes appointments and errands. It’s particularly important for me to write all these things down because I am not driving right now. Having all my errands and appointments written down makes it easier for me to negotiate who can drive me.

Once again, “To Do” is self-explanatory as well. This is my daily to do list. I find this section to be extremely important as well. Spending most of my time at home can get lonely, so when I write down things to accomplish throughout the day, it helps me to feel productive.

You may have noticed from the side-by-side photos I shared in the last post, that my week seems to be front-loaded. That’s because the beginning of my week is when I feel well enough to get things done, while Thursdays and Fridays are my chemo recovery days. Because my week is imbalanced like that, I find it extremely important to write down everything I need to get done during the week. That way I can make sure I get everything accomplished prior to Thursday.

On my sidebar is the meal plan for the week. Hubs does 99% of the cooking here, but he has trouble deciding what to make. So I am trying to help plan out our meals. It’s not going as well as I’d like, so suggestions are welcome.¬†The sidebar is also useful for habit tracker stickers, running to-do lists, and weekly goals.

So that’s how I plan in my Happy Planner. Tell me, what planner do you use, and how do you use it?

xoxo

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Planner Girl

I’ve always been a planner. My childhood best friend and I would write out elaborate schedules when she spent the night at my house, detailing when to wake up all the way to when to go to sleep. We loved nothing more than to be able to check off each scheduled event.

As a student in high school, I had a planner in which I documented all my homework and after school and weekend events. The planner I used had stickers in the back (it wasn’t Lisa Frank; I don’t remember the brand), which reignited my childhood love of stickers.

For awhile in the corporate world I used a Franklin Covey planner and even read Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. I was a total planner geek. But then I left the corporate world for the world of retail and the slower pace of the South, and I left my planner life behind.

Until my life became overwhelming again and I discovered Erin Condren. This planner also came with stickers and opened up the grown up planner world to me. If you type in planner stickers on Etsy, you’ll see what I mean. Same thing if you search Instagram for #planner. There is a huge community out there.

Erin Condren planners are beautiful and wonderful. You can choose a customized and personalized cover, and even order personalized stickers from them. They have fabulous high-quality stickers that you can purchase separately from the ones that come bound in the planner, plus an array of other accessories from pens to note cards. They offer three different layouts, too. It’s a planner’s dream, really. But for me, now being unemployed, it’s a little pricey.

That’s why I purchased The Happy Planner from Me and My Big Ideas (MAMBI) to use as my planner this year. While still using my Erin Condren planner, I discovered stickers from (MAMBI) that I fell in love with, so when shopping for this year’s planner, it was kind of a no-brainer.

If you happened to click on the Instagram link and scroll through some of the planner pictures, you may have discovered that planner decorating is a HUGE trend right now. And decorating styles vary greatly. Some prefer a minimalistic approach, while others cover their entire weekly spreads with stickers. Some people work with multiple planners for different aspects of their lives. For others, their planner is used almost as a scrapbook or memory keeper.

As for me, I need my planner to make sure I get where I’m supposed to be and do what I’m supposed to do. Between an already bad memory and chemo, unless I’ve written it down, I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing. I prefer to use one planner for all aspects of my life, rather than splitting my life into categories; however as I transition my son to online schooling, I may be adding a school planner as well.

Since my planner is kind of my life line as to where to go and what to do, functionality comes before beauty. While I love (big puffy heart love) stickers and washi tape, these must also serve a purpose in my planner other than being adorable. Therefore, I am not much of a “before the pen” decorator, meaning I don’t decorate my planner prior to filling it in with my appointments and to-dos.

Here’s an example of what my weekly page spread typically looks like:

As you can see above, I do utilize stickers, but my pages are not covered with them.

In my next post, I’ll explain how I divide my planner (see those three different sections up there), what I include in my planner, and how I use my monthly page spread.

Stay tuned!

xoxo

Terrific Tuesday: Happy Mail!

It’s a Twofer Tuesday! My second order of planner stickers from Etsy arrived along with my monthly Birchbox! Between yesterday’s Look Good, Feel Better and today’s box, I don’t need to shop for makeup or skincare for awhile!!

The stickers from Nikki Plus Three are awesome. As I’ve mentioned before, there are about a million stickers to choose from on Etsy. So with this order I tried to focus on things that we need help remembering. I’ll let you know in a few weeks how they work out.

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On a personal note, I ask that you will bear with me over the next couple months. I am doing my best to post regularly, but I think my Chemo Brain is hitting its peak. I need a reminder to look at my planner, but I don’t know where to write it ūüôā

If you don’t hear from me for a few days or even a week, just know that my focus is off, and my fatigue is at its height as well. Posts will likely be shorter, as I’m having more difficulty focusing.

On a final note, I want to share this cute picture collage from tonight. I am breaking my rule of not showing my son’s face, because it’s partially covered and quite honestly, if I took the time to edit the photo, I probably wouldn’t share it. Ain’t nobody got time for that right now.

We went to dinner after moving some things around at the shop tonight. The kid wanted dessert, and cotton candy was one of the choices:

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Don’t I kind of look like a troll doll?

Goodnight all!

xoxo

Road Trip

We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.Anais Nin-2.jpg
Road Trip Stop at South of the Border

We went on a road trip this past weekend — my parents and the three of us. It was a sad occasion. A dear friend to all of us lost his brief battle with an aggressive form of Leukemia. He was a doting uncle to my husband and me and a beloved PapaX to our son.

I will always remember his smile and his hand shakes. His hats and his mustache. But mostly the affection and patience he had with the kid. He would sit side by side with him and teach him how to play solitaire. He was a good egg.

He and his wife served as an example to me of faith and endurance. Strength through physical and emotional pain. Reliance on our Heavenly Father, above all else. She survives him — with most¬†children scattered up and down the east coast — and one of them living close by. I know, from watching her cope with emotional loss, that she will rely on the God of hope until she sees her husband again. But she’s in my heart and on my mind these days.

This weekend is the first time I’ve traveled since my diagnosis. I felt a bit numb the whole weekend — almost like I was watching myself go through all the motions. The emotions weren’t there. Because I don’t think I was ready to process them. This happens to me sometimes … my head comprehends the facts before my heart can accept them.

I was emotional this morning, subconsciously allowing my heart to accept that I’ve lost a close friend. To the same overall disease I am currently fighting. Different ages and different types, I know, but it saddens me the difference in our prognoses.

Until we see him again, we will laugh over our happy memories and our plans for when we are all reunited.

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We took our time with our little road trip and took advantage of stopping in at a couple stores we don’t have near us at home. Of course, we needed to stop at Toys R Us for the kid. How in the world do so many toys exist?! And I needed to stop at Michael’s to stock up on stickers for my latest obsession: my Erin Condren planner.

Did you know that there is an event in May just for planners? It’s like this weird, worldwide club! Instagram has hash tags for it. People take pictures of their planners and share it with the “Planner Community.”

I had to go to Michael’s to pick up some stickers. Then I trolled Etsy for hours on the way home until I finally had a sufficient yet not excessive shopping cart total (this has really taken me more like 10 days … stickers get expensive, and once you start, it’s easy to think you need ALL of them. Including the poop ones. I am proud to say that I spend under $50. And I didn’t get the poop ones).

Today I realized why this is so important to me. It is something I am in control of. On a good day, we don’t have much control over our lives. When you throw cancer and chemotherapy into the mix, there is significantly less. But I can plan my days, and I can make it look pretty.

We stopped at the (in)famous South of the Border on the way home (yes, I took that picture up there). As I took the picture, I felt a bit of Wanderlust. The last time we were there was on the first trip my husband I took after we were married. We were set to fly to Florida from Pennsylvania to celebrate our anniversary at the end of September 2001. And then 9/11 happened, so we set off on our first (of many) road trip.

It makes me think of one of my bucket list items — to drive across country. I’ve wanted to do that ever since I read Meet the Austins by Madeleine L’Engle when I was a teenager. Hubs and I want to take the kid when he’s a bit older and will appreciate it. I’ve always had a bit of Wander in me, and I hope to take that great adventure some day.

Thank you, readers,¬†for reading each post. I look forward to your comments below. And tell me, please, what’s on your Bucket List? An epic road trip? An exotic vacation? Let me know in the comments.

xoxo

The Best Paper Planner EVAH!

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 …

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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:

  • Month-view
  • Week view with room to make lists
  • Way to differentiate between the three of us
  • No times
  • Pretty
  • 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:

My Erin Condren Planner

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.

A Week in the life

The Details

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?!

Custom Stickers

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!

xoxo