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

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