Being a mom is a full-time job. Between daily chores and school commitments, it can be daunting. Add in any other commitment like working outside of the home or volunteering and it can be completely overwhelming. I have a hard time keeping track of my own work and appointments never mind the kids, the pets, and the hubby’s schedule. That is where planning comes in. Kirsten and I are both very attached/addicted to our planners. People ask me all the time why I don’t just use my phone. My answer is a simple “What happens if my phone breaks?” It happens. That wonderful day when out of the blue, your phone doesn’t work. Yes, yes, I know all about the cloud. However, that doesn’t help in the immediate aftermath of phonetastrophe. While we both agree planning is a must, we have two very different approaches to how we do it.
Jackie – Erin Condren Life Planner
Three years ago, I started using an Erin Condren Planner and it changed my life. I love seeing the days, weeks and months all spread out before me in their color coded glory!!! I am a very visual person. Color coded notes and stickers not only look pretty but, they actually help me remember where I am supposed to be and who is supposed to be doing what at any given time. Erin Condren gives a choice of three different layouts (horizontal, vertical and hourly) as well as a color/gray scale version of their planners. You can also choose 12 or 18-month options.
I have alway used the horizontal version because that is the layout that speaks to me and works best with my schedule. Last year, I used the grayscale planner and although it was soothing and clean, I went back to the colored version this year. I love the magnetized book marks. I use one to clip the weekly and monthly schedules together. This way I can easily flip back and forth between my weekly and monthly view.
Erin Condren gives a good number of pages in the back of the planner. I use these to keep track of things over the entire year like books read, a week at a glance calendar (with everything that doesn’t change from week to week), etc. The planner also comes with a little clear plastic zip pouch that I use to hold all my pens and paraphernalia. And, I admit that I have a larger neoprene zippered pouch that I use to hold it all. It is not small but then again, I need all that space for the zillions of activities my family has in a week.
Kirsten – Bullet Journalling
Like Jackie, for years I used the Erin Condren life planner but in the past year, I found it wasn’t jiving with my life. I wasn’t keeping up with my planning and I found I was making it more complicated than it needed to be. I needed a change. I’m a list maker. I love, love, love lists! So when I started hearing about Bullet Journaling, I was intrigued. I tested it out and I haven’t gone back!
Essentially, you start with a blank journal like my beloved Leuchtturm1917. The grid paper makes each page spread customizable to your life. Each month I set up a month event spread and habit tracker (which I am terrible with keeping up with.) Then each week I set up a list of my to-dos. In true bullet journaling, there would be a daily to-do page as well, but I find that as a stay at home mom most of my tasks don’t have firm deadlines. So I instead, I list my tasks on the right page with the highest priority at the top and lowest at the bottom. On the left, I put in any tasks due on a specific day and other things to keep top-of-mind. At the end of every week, I migrate the left over items to the next spread and start all over.
The other thing I love about this type of planning is the collections. A collection is a page spread that isn’t part of the monthly/daily pages. You can see my Home collection above. These specific lists are the kinds I like to keep around to refer to frequently. I have holiday gift lists, blog info, shopping lists, events to-dos and more on specific pages. Each Leuchttrum notebook has a few pages at the front dedicated to indexing. So when I create a collection I need to refer to often, I list the name and page number at the front for easy reference. This system has totally eliminated the random lists and piles of paper around my house. Check out our PINTEREST page for more bullet journal spreads that are inspiring me.
I also find that the supplies can be kept to a minimum and are small enough to travel with me in my smallest bag. That was the biggest frustration I had with my life planner – it wasn’t portable enough for me! These are the pens I use most frequently. I have 8 of the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner in black and they are my FAVORITE pens. I recently picked up this neon set too.
So what would the best planner be for you? Its clearly all about how YOU plan. For multiple to-do lists and more flexible planning – go the bullet journal route. If you are into seeing a more traditional format or you juggle multiple schedules, appointments and tasks per day than the Life Planner is probably for you.
I would love to know how you all plan! Sound off below with suggestions and your own recommendations. Or if you just want to say you are #TeamKirsten or #TeamJackie when it comes to planning 🙂