Winners & Planners Unite

I’m excited to announce that Melissa Liston is the big winner of the 2016 planner! And the Jar of Joy is going Lynn Buss! She’ll receive 100 days worth of joyful notes. In addition to these lucky ladies, I’m sending huge virtual hugs to everyone who entered and helped me celebrate the blog turning one.

In addition to splurging on some spice cake with cream cheese frosting, my parents surprised me with a cute t-shirt that features the Neat Nook logo.

I was so surprised by this sweet gesture. I might have teared up a bit. In hindsight, I probably should have showered before I had this picture taken.

Wasn’t this the sweetest gift? Yes, I teared up a bit.

It was such a fun week, and I hope you all enjoyed the giveaway. With all of this planner talk recently, and the fact that 2016 is only one monthly tab away, has me thinking about what works and doesn’t work about organizing a planner.

I’m sure we all use one, but it doesn’t always get our undivided attention. I know I’ve had plenty of hectic weeks where I abandoned my book, and I undoubtedly paid for it later – like the time I spaced Avery’s orthodontist consult and couldn’t get scheduled back in for two months. That was one of those weeks sans planner.

As a recovering perfectionist, I realize life happens and it’s messy. I also realize that I don’t have to memorize my entire life schedule. I have this pretty little book sitting next to me waiting patiently to be my assistant. So let’s put it to work!

A few tips for organizing our planners.

{ONE} Pick one that fits your life.

Let’s say you have multiple kids with multiple activities, and you’re also starting a home-based business. A calendar that just offers a monthly view won’t cut it. You need a sizable planner with space for everyone and everything in your life. Consider options with full pages for each day, such as The Simplified Planner. If you don’t like carrying a book and writing things down, use a mobile app like Planner Plus that syncs right to your calendar.

{TWO} Color your world.

Meaning, use color codes for each type of activity on your list. My niece, Sarah, introduced me to this tip. She has a set of colored pens that she carries along with her. What I like about this is it gives you a quick visual cue for each day. For example, work/business items are blue, kids’ stuff is green, house needs are orange, and personal things are purple. In addition to breaking up a long, overwhelming list into manageable chunks, color-coding gives you a snapshot of where you spend most of your time. In an instant, you can see what’s a priority in your life at the moment. If you start to feel unhappy or pulled too far in one direction, try to shift some of the colors around. Or maybe it’s time to create a new category for a hobby – and color that baby bright yellow!

{THREE} Legend has it.


In addition to color-coding, you can write symbols next to each item so you know what’s going down. The Day Designer uses the suggested legend shown above, which is helpful. I don’t use all of these marks, but I do star important things and label whether it’s a task or event – mostly for showering purposes.

{FOUR} Multi-devices can totally work.

For example, if you mostly use the calendar on your phone for tracking errands and daily to-dos, that’s great. You can use an offline, paper planner for all of your big-picture planning and goal setting. Don’t feel pressure to fill out both planners, though. Assign each planner a job and make them both work for you!

{FIVE} Include long-term planning.

It’s easy to get caught in the trap of making daily “to-do” lists that help you get things done around the house, but they don’t necessarily make you feel accomplished. I’ve felt this way many times. When I look at a page full of crossed-off items and feel drained versus energized or proud, I know something is off.

This is a clue that I need to look back at the long-term vision I have for myself. Are the things I’m doing and crossing off my list each day moving me in the right direction? If the answer is “no,” it’s time to reevaluate where I’m spending my time. Laundry still needs to get done, but maybe things like weeding the garden could wait until I’ve spent time meditating or reaching out to a fellow blogger.

The Day Designer, shown above, is an incredible planner for establishing your purpose and mission. If you want to live a purposeful life, long-term planning is a must.

{SIX} Get in a routine.

Just like creating any good habit, we need to show up every day and practice. It can be hard, I know. With your planner, though, the good news is that if you spend a little extra time up front, the daily check-in goes much smoother and faster. I try to sit with my planner on Sunday nights, like a little meeting with just the two of us, and I fill out the pages for the week ahead.

I start by looking at my monthly view to catch the big stuff: birthdays, anniversaries, ortho checkups. I transfer those details to the week’s list, and then fill in what I know needs to get done each day. If the week marks the beginning of the month (like next week), I’ll also check in with my annual plan to be sure I’m on the right path toward my goals and making happy, productive decisions with my time.

It all sounds simple enough. I know. If any of us fall out of routine, forget an appointment, skip a week with the planner, there’s no need to freak or feel bad. You’re not alone. It’s easy to get back on track.

And as Glennon Melton says, “We can do hard things!”

Have a productive week, sweet friends.



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