“Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.”
– Gloria Steinem
The art of pen to paper will never die in me. I’m not quite sure where insane amounts of post it notes, highlighters, pens (with obvious different writing style capabilities), and washi tape fit in there.. but those are along for the ride as well. Planning, like most hobbies, develops over time through practice and patience. Eventually you’ll learn what information is crucial, how much time you want to spend on decorating, and which planner products work for you. If you’ve always wanted to start, here’s my weekly routine using The Happy Planner to help get your creative wheels turning. Also, don’t run to the nearest craft store just yet! This hobby can get out of hand so I’ve also included some tips on how to shop sales, coupons, and discount stores to obtain your planner and accessories.
Month 1, Day 1
We all have that one mom friend that plans her kid’s birthday six months in advance. Trust me, as organized as I am, I’m NOT that mom! I write in my planner one month at a time. If there is ever an event, birthday, or something I need to remind myself of that is further out than the current month, it gets written on a sticky note and stuck on that months tab. I’ll quickly overwhelm myself if I think too far ahead! Then as each month approaches, I collect those sticky notes, look through emails/texts, and gather other loose papers I have on my office desk and prepare to schedule them in.
So I’m organized and ready to go right? Wrong! The best part is picking the months color theme & mood. If I’m ever in need of inspiration (um, constantly) I scroll the hashtag #BeforeThePen on Instagram to see what other Planner Girls are up to. I may also get carried away on YouTube, Etsy, Pinterest, Google.. the websites go on and the possibilities are endless.
After writing down my family’s schedule, I move on to my monthly goals. This is forever changing, but currently I have nutrition, fitness, financial, and “maintenance” goals; kids annual appointments, home upkeep, cars, etc. If you use a vision board, a planner is where you can transform those visions into actions and create a plan on how to accomplish them.
So you’ve created goals, now what? Goals are pointless unless their success can be measured, which is why you should include trackers. Get creative! Highlighting boxes, drawing shapes, assigning colors.. there are a ton of ways to do this. I find that tracking my goals helps when I feel defeated or unproductive and need a reminder of how far I’ve come to encourage me along. At the end of the month, I tally my marks to see how I did for the month, which helps in creating the NEXT months goals.
Planning on the Daily
It’s smooth sailing after you’ve laid your month out! Your week is a smaller breakdown of your month where reminders, daily to do lists, and motivating quotes reside.. and another blank canvas for you to design *wink.* This is where the Planner Girl in you is born, because now it’s about creating a habit by utilizing your planner on a daily basis. Most people, including myself when I first started, go full throttle in January and by the summer their planner is under a pile of magazines collecting dust. Planner companies understood that trend and the undated planner was born. Months and days are left blank until you write them in, so if you fall off for a bit, simply pick right back up without worrying about pages being wasted.
Oh, my heart.. I love the extras! Quite honestly, I haven’t dived in to EVERYTHING that The Happy Planner has to offer (like stamps!) so my decorating has been limited to stickers and pens. I did find these list inserts that I fell in love with which have been useful for journaling, my weekly grocery ad match ups, and monthly list of bills or debit transactions. Once I come up with a storage solution for my planner accessories, I’m sure I’ll test out more products.. or ya know, if I get sponsored.. whichever comes first!
- Year Around Savings: You would think that at the end & beginning of the year planners would be full price? Wrong! Undated planners are usually 50-70% off on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and New Years Day at craft retail stores like Michael’s and JoAnn’s. You can also find dated planners on clearance throughout the year at office supply stores, Target, or Walmart. Sure, you’ll lose a couple of months usage but this is a good option if you’re just starting and trying to make planning a habit.
- Coupons: Subscribe to email lists for Michael’s and JoAnn’s and you’ll receive tons of coupons that can be applied toward your purchase, some can even be stacked with items that are already on sale. Also, download the stores app for savings not offered anywhere else. You’ll save AT LEAST 50% off the retail price if you remember to check the app and your email before you shop.
- Dollar Options: You really don’t need me to give you another reason to go to Target buuuutttt have you seen their Bullseye’s Playground?? Post its, stickers, washi tape, pens.. you name it. Some are intended for planner use, others are not, so think outside the box. I also stock up on cute items during Target’s seasonal, holiday, and back to school clearance. Other discount retailers like Dollar Tree and 99 Cent Only Store carry gems from time to time, so keep an eye out if you shop there regularly.
- The Land of the FREE: Another reason why I chose to use The Happy Planner was because of all the free printables available on their website and Pinterest! They can be easily inserted into your planner or cut out and used. Even if you go with another designer (or generic!) planner there are plenty of free printables on Pinterest or Google.
Whether you’re a beginner or pro, student or mom, fitness or finance goal digger, a planner is a fun way to organize and craft your way through your journey. Get started, don’t break the bank, and Happy Planning!