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3/20/19 — Hey Mama! Before you keep reading, I wanted to pop in and tell you that I have a new FREEBIE that is pretty incredible. If you are struggling to keep up, if you want to be more productive, or if you are feeling stuck in a rut, grab my SAHM schedule! This is the exact schedule that I follow to enjoy my life rather than cleaning up after it-all preloaded into a Trello board for your convenience! Grab it here!
I have a secret to share. I used to suck at using a planner!
When I was younger, the idea of needing to use a planner in the first place was absurd. I remembered everything I needed to. So when lack of sleep and my chaotic household started to affect my ability to, you know, actually have a memory and be productive, I was baffled. But it was clear that I need a system to be at all productive, so I gave in.
For the last two years or so, I have gotten into the habit of getting things out of my head as soon as possible! This is the only way that I can be sure that they won’t disappear into oblivion after five minutes. Getting everything in order has seriously improved my productivity and helped me on my journey to taking control of my life.
As you can imagine, making the shift from anti-planner to holy-smokes-I-actually-need-a-system has been an interesting journey
Different Types of Planners
When you first start exploring planner options, you are going to be presented with a choice very early on: digital or paper?
This is definitely a personal preference and something that you need to decide according to your personality! In my experience, here is what I found:
- Paper planning feels more creative
- I retain more when I write it out by hand
- Paper planning requires me to always have my planner nearby
- Paper planning can become expensive if you buy stickers, accessories, fancy pens, etc
- Digital planning is convenient-it can be accessed from anywhere, including your cell phone
- Digital planning can become complicated if you try to use more than one program
- It can be free, or you can purchase programs at a variety of price points
The biggest realization that I had was that using a planner is extremely effective if you can find what works and get into the habit of using one.
My Planner System
Well, I am going
Right now I am taking a few courses that I got with my Ultimate Productivity Bundle that I am very excited about. I’m sure that I will tell you about my favorites and how they helped me
1. Planning is one of my chores.
In order to be productive and balance all the things, I have submitted to the concept of using a planner. The problem was that I kept forgetting to actually fill it out!
Well, now I plan out my week every Sunday. It doesn’t take me long these days because I start with my daily cleaning routine and bigger goals already filled out.
Most of what I need to do is plan out our food. This is easy because I always cook from the freezer now, so I just have to choose which meals to defrost, and decide on my Cookie Jar recipes for the week.
I also check in with Chris to see if he has anything that needs to be done, double check my kid’s school folders, and I fill in any daily tasks that I know about. This takes me about 15 minutes and saves me hours per week scrambling.
2. Use a combination of paper and digital planning.
I am completely sold on digital planning. I tried to carry around a paper planner and it was an absolute nightmare. Willow is a destructive monster and any chance she got to color on or tear my pages she went for it. So now I use Trello! I’ll tell you more in a minute.
However, as I said earlier, I feel much more creative and I retain more when I write things out on paper. This is important when I am brainstorming for my blog and setting my goals especially.
Instead of trying to create a binder or use a paper planner to keep my papers organized, I use my pretty printables or grab a notebook. Then, when I am finished, I get rid of the paper.
Wait what?! How is that productive?
The problem with paper planning for me is not while I am planning, but rather after I have set the plan. It is hard to access and in my crazy house, it is often ruined before I even get the chance to use the plan.
Since I started using Trello to keep my life organized, I realized that there is a simple solution to this problem! Instead of filing the physical piece of paper, I snap a photo and attach it to whichever card makes sense in Trello. I can even create a new card if I want to!
Being able to meld the two worlds has been such a game changer for me!
3. Checking my planner is part of the routine.
Before I started using a digital planner, if I remembered to check my planner in the morning it was basically a miracle. Now, digital planners are just as easy to forget, but a lot harder to lose which has been the key for me. Here are a few ways to remind yourself to check your planner everyday:
- Rename your alarm to CHECK YOUR PLANNER! The phone is already in your hand which makes it fast and easy.
- Put your planning service front and center on your phone screen.
- Set your planner to open as your homepage on your computer(this has been a game changer for my work productivity!)
- Get into the habit of checking your planner at certain milestones throughout the day. I check mine first thing in the morning, after my morning cleaning routine, at lunchtime, and right before I pick Parker up from school. Checking throughout the day will help you to avoid missing specific timeframes(like when you need to make a phone call or go to an appointment!) and also keep your tasks checked off as you go.
4. I keep a daily task list, not a running to-do list.
Keeping a to-do list can be awesome, or completely overwhelming. I tend to fall into the paralysis analysis group when I start feeling overwhelmed.
If I can’t wrap my head around the steps that I need to take first, I spiral. I have literally found myself having mental breakdown because I just couldn’t handle it all.
That is why I don’t keep a to-do list anymore. I keep a daily task list instead.
I’m going to share my basic Trello board set-up so that you can replicate exactly what I do. If you want to grab the free template for yourself, you can find it in the Freebie Library. (Get the password by joining my mailing list at the bottom of this article!)
First things first, I list out my entire week. I often list out two to save time and help keep my budget in order. Chris works nights, and we are now on a special diet, so we have an A week and B week according to his schedule. This helps me to stay on top of packing lunches and such. (Cheater meals are for when Chris will not be eating the meal at all, so I can make whatever I want!)
Then, on Sundays I fill in my checklists as necessary. This is always fast and easy because I start with a template:
As I go through the week, I add tasks to my daily task lists. I consider how full the day already is, how much of a priority the task is, and when the deadline is when deciding which day to place it in.
If a task is going to take less than five minutes and it’s an appropriate time I will handle it right away! If it has basically no relevance for the entire week, I either let it go or put it into my brainstorming card to reassess later.
This is such a simple little trick that has made such a difference for me. My daily task list is essentially a to-do list, but having to prioritize and assess the importance of my tasks before I can even place them into the plan has made such a difference. It’s a rearrangement of the workflow, and it works great for me!
RELATED: WHY YOU NEED TO SORT YOUR TO-DO LIST
Create a Productive Planning System to Get Your Life Organized
As you can see, my planning system is rather simple but it works. I love being able to combine paper and digital systems in order to use the benefits of both. Making it a point to plan out my responsibilities in a strategic way has seriously eliminated stress in my life. I highly recommend trying to find a system that will work for you, and implementing it consistently. It will help you to finally gain control of the chaos!