I need a planner in order to stay organized. I’ve tried using electronic calendars, on my phone or the computer or whatever, but those never seem to work for me. I think it’s the way they show you a day at a time, even if you select to see more than that, the screen size often doesn’t accommodate it.
So I use a paper planner. Over the years homeschooling, I’ve tried a variety of ways to incorporate planners. At one time, I had a planner for homeschooling, one for blogging, and one for “life” which was where I put all our appointments, errands, etc.
The problem with having three separate planners, for me, was similar to using an electronic calendar. It didn’t allow me to see everything as a complete picture. This is why, this year, I’ve reduced everything to a single planner. I put it all in one, whether it’s school, blogging, or life in general.
It makes for a much fuller planner sometimes. Some days are so full I have to squeeze things in in margins and going vertically instead of horizontally. I have to write small, and I have to be clear. There’s not a lot of room for mistakes, becuase that scratched out text is taking up real estate that could be used for something else.
But it allows me to see my life as a whole. And that is crucial.
With separate planners for everything, it was hard to really see everything I did in a day. If I didn’t meet my writing goal for the day, I couldn’t easily see that we’d done a ton of school stuff that day, or that all our errands had taken so much time that there’d been less time to write. I always felt like I was failing, falling short, if I didn’t meet every goal for everything in every planner.
Which is why one planner makes this so much easier. With it all in one place, I’m able to see all the other things I did in a particular day, and therefore, see why I didn’t meet my writing goal or why we didn’t get as much school done as I wanted. It also makes it easier to plan school on days when we have appointments, errands, or other plans that are on some kind of schedule. It’s all on one page, in one planner, so I don’t plan a whole day of school when we’ll be gone half the day for doctor’s appointments.
I’m using The Happy Planner this year. I use different parts for different reasons.
There’s this page:
This page is used for school, work, and life. You’ll notice I’m improving my marketing skills (work). I noted that I’m reading Hunger Games (school, with the kids). Depending on when we finish, The Three Musketeers may be added there. And what I’m watching is pure life, one show that I’m already completely addicted to (Shades of Blue on NBC) and another that I’m checking out (Mad Dogs on Amazon Prime). The others are still blank, even though it’s almost the end of the month because I either don’t know what I want to put there (going? Where am I going? I have no idea. Nowhere. Home. The bathroom.) or because I don’t do it (crafting? I don’t craft. I can’t craft. I’d hot glue my fingers together.). Others will be filled in some months and not others.
I also like the important dates and birthdays for the month sections. Both will prove incredibly useful for providing me with an overview of what’s going on in a particular month. The “I am grateful for…” section will serve as a good reminder when I’m feeling stressed, irritated or lost, giving me a reason to deliberately think about something I’m grateful for so I can fill the section in.
I use the monthly calendar pages as my blogging calendar:
You’ll notice, in these two images, that one has yellow sticky notes, while the other has the blogs actually written on the calendar itself. The sticky notes one is a tentative calendar. It’s ideas I’ve had, laid out in an order that I think will work, but may change depending on what happens in the next few weeks. It allows me to move them around as needed, without needing white out or having a bunch of scribbles and squeezed in text all over the place if I change my mind or circumstances change. Once a post is written and firmly scheduled, it gets taken off the sticky note, written on the calendar itself, and I move on. I can’t take credit for the idea, as I got it from a friend of mine who runs more blogs than me, as well as several groups related to blogging on Facebook. She uses this system, and while I didn’t think it would work for me, it’s actually turned out to be ideal.
I use the weekly pages as my schedule for everything other than blogging:
I hope you’ll excuse the blacked/grayed out areas on the second image – there were a few personal details in there. These particular weeks, being so early in the year, aren’t particularly overloaded. January tends to be a bit of a slow month for us, getting back into the routine after the holidays. I note everything on these pages. Appointments, school lessons, field trips and get togethers. Phone calls that I make, emails I send that require responses, changes that we make (a new router, or signing up for a service or product) – they all go on these pages. It allows me to plan ahead, but also to go back if need be. If, six months from now, our new router stops working, I can easily go back through my planner and figure out when we bought it, for example. If I dispute a bill, I note who I talk to, when, and how (phone, in person, email), and if it comes up again later, I can easily reference that information without hunting for scratch paper or trying to remember on my own. I even note things like (as you can see here) when something like a park day is cancelled due to rain. It seems silly and inconsequential, but when it begins to feel like we’re going stir crazy around here, it helps to be able to look back and see that the past two or three park days were cancelled due to weather so, gee, maybe that’s why we’re feeling like that.
By using this planner this way, my blogging and the rest of my life are still somewhat separated, but it’s all together in one place. By putting our school lessons, planned or as they’re done, on the same page as our appointments, I can see how busy we’ve been. You may have also noticed a small number written between the date and the day of the week – that’s my word count for the day in my writing. That not only helps me keep track of my overall count for the week, but allows me to see which days were productive and which weren’t – and why the ones that weren’t productive, weren’t. It also helps keep me from getting too hard on myself when I do have a low count day – I can see the days around it that went way beyond, or at least a little beyond, the goal for the day, and realize that that one day doesn’t mean I failed.
I keep my planner close at hand all the time, too. Even if I don’t need it at a particular moment, say on a Sunday when I don’t plan much of anything or do much of anything, I still make sure to keep it handy. That way I don’t lose it (which is all too easy for me to do), and by keeping it in sight, I’m reminded that I need to keep using it, no matter how well this particular day is going without it.
Do you use a planner? Which one? How do you use it?