My high school and college self would absolutely crack up at the title of this post because I can't begin to tell y'all just how disorganized I was during those years. Looking back, I have no idea how I ever made it to any appointments or obligations because I never even wrote anything down; if I did it was on my hand which was washed off within the day...huge help that was. Once Zach and I got married and moved into a house, I started getting more organized with my life (still not a pro but better!) and bought my first planner. I used it a little that first year but not much- I started really becoming a planner junkie after Bear was born and we joined a playgroup. My calendar was filling up with playdates 3-4 times a week, Bear had doctors appointments often, etc. so I needed a way to keep track of everything since I learned quickly that mom-brain is a real thing. And boy do I have it.
Shortly after Bear turned two, I started this blog and began working for an app called Snap+Style so we were even busier. All the more reason to stay organized, set goals, and try stay on top of everything. I'm definitely not the world's most organized mom, and unfortunately using a planner religiously can't force me to be on time places, but I do know where and when I should be there. I would say that overall though, this habit has helped keep me sane more than I can even say and goal setting has really helped grow my blog and styling business. I took a poll on Instagram and the majority of readers there wanted to see a post on how I use my planner and set goals, so here we go!
1. Find a planner that works for you.
I'm one of those crazy people that buys 3-4 new planners every year before deciding on one I like best. For the past several years, I've ended up using the Happy Planner (found at Michael's) because I love the lay-out, how customizable it is, and just the overall size of everything. Some planners in that medium size have the tiniest boxes in the monthly sections and that's a no-go for me; I need some big ol boxes to jot things down and use stickers! Prior to using the Happy Planner and again this year, I'm using the Kate Spade 17-month agenda which I also really love. Mine this year is the biggest I've ever used and I'm actually really liking it even though I didn't know if I would. I carry big purses- totes most of the time- so even though the planner lives on my desk 95% of the time, it fits in my bag when I do need to take it with me.
2. Create a legend.
I actually haven't done this yet in my new planner (I only got it last week) so I don't have a picture to show, but I've done this in my previous two and it was such a huge help! Basically this is just an easy way to keep tasks organized. I use highlighters to color coordinate specific categories (Target dollar spot currently has adorable highlighters in fun colors) and colored pens for specific things (ie: red pen for Bear's school stuff, blue pen for my work schedule, pink pen for blogging, green for doctor's appointments, etc.). I put the legend in the notes section of my planner so if I ever forget what a color/symbol represents, I have it all there. When I just glance at my planner, I know basically what we have that day without even having to read the notes.
3. Use stickers and washi tape.
This may seem silly and unnecessary but honestly if you want to start loving the task of planning, this is important! It's the "fun" part of planning, if you will, since it makes everything pretty :). I buy almost all of my washi tape and stickers at Michael's- I tried a ton of sticker books but my very favorite are the "Me & my Big Ideas" books made by The Happy Planner. My favorite book is called "Everyday Memories"- it has so many cute seasonal stickers that are great for monthly use!
I should also mention that I use both the monthly and weekly sections of my planner, but for different things. The monthly (calendar-looking) section is used to keep track of our everyday schedule (school, work, appointments, etc.). The weekly sections are used for my blog content/ideas since there's a lot more room to write and I don't need to keep track of our schedule in two different places- that would just confuse my already feeble mom-brain. Because the weekly sections have a lot more room and it's more of my "brainstorming space", I use more stickers and washi tape here. The monthly calendar is more "down to business" and the weekly pages are used for more creative purposes.
4. Choose a planning day.
For me, this day is Sunday because that's our grocery shopping/house cleaning/get organized day. Every Sunday evening, I'll sit down at my desk for 20-30 minutes and write in my planner. Of course I use it throughout the week as I need to jot down appointments and things that come up, but it's equally as important to set a specific time for planning out blog content and going over my goals for that week. Whatever day you choose, make a habit of setting a little time aside for planning/making to-do lists for the week/setting and going over goals. You'll be so glad you did!
5. Set monthly goals.
I mentioned this previously but got quite a few questions on Instagram regarding how I go about setting goals. At the beginning of every month, I will designate a specific section in the "notes" part of my planner (usually about half a page) and write down goals for that month. I have three sections for this: business, personal, and financial. I keep them pretty specific so that I can actually work towards reaching them and it feels so good to mark one off when I do! Business goals of course pertain to my blog/styling job (like "host a giveaway" or "grow 1k followers on Instagram), personal are wife/mom related (like "read 3 books a night with Bear" or "have 3 date nights this month"), and financial are obvious ones that are the least fun but still important.
When I sit down on Sunday evenings to plan blog content, I'll also write down a few goals for that specific week. Just small things that I'd like to get accomplished like "publish 5 blog posts" or "get caught up on laundry". Setting small yet obtainable goals for myself is just a feel-good thing for me that keeps me motivated and again feels so good once they're accomplished. I feel like so much about organization has to do with purpose and if you don't set goals for yourself, you'll be lacking in this department. If you're super ambitious, you can also set yearly goals! I do a few of these, too, but prefer setting more short-term obtainable goals that lead to bigger things before I even know it. And of course some months I don't get to cross off but one or two, but rather than getting discouraged it just motivates me all the more to be a boss babe the following month and not slack so much (that or just set easier goals, am I right? ;) ).
I hope this helps those of you wanting to start using a planner more- it really will be one of the best decisions you ever made as far as staying organized. And if you have fun with it, you'll learn to love it! Buy a planner that you love and are proud of, go crazy with the stickers and washi tape (Michael's and Hobby Lobby always have coupons), and get after it. You'll be surprised at how organized the rest of your life starts to seem when you just start keeping everything tracked in one little planner.
Hope you've all had a great week and have an even better weekend! I'm about to get into normal clothes (I changed into pajamas as soon as we got home earlier- anyone else do this immediately after walking into their house?) and meet my friend Shelbi for dinner at Olive Garden. We haven't seen each other in several weeks and I'm looking forward to catching up! I know, I know- we're pretty basic with the OG selection but this pregnant girl is ready to carb it up and eat allllll the breadsticks.
Thank you for stopping by!