How I plan my days — and free printable daily planner form
I have a planner problem.
I love them. I want them all. I have had an absurd number of planners in my life. They are so pretty and fun.
Every time I purchase a planner, I think it will change my life. Every time I purchase a planner it ends up in a drawer somewhere after a few weeks. I have never stuck with a planner or planning form in my life — until now.
Somehow, I have finally figured out how to make planning work for me. I think that is the key: making it work for you. My version of planning probably doesn’t look much like other people’s version of planning, but it works for me. I have become much more intentional with this system in place. I wish I would have figured this out years ago.
I actually use a few different tools, not just one. Some tools are just good for certain tasks and not for others. While it may seem more complicated to use multiple tools, it actually simplifies planning for me.
I avoided using an online calendar for a long time. I preferred paper planners and I also didn’t want to take the time to learn how to use an online calendar. About 6 months ago, I read a book on organization and it recommended Google Calendar, so I finally gave in and tried it. I even did a couple of tutorials online to learn how to use the features. Now I love it!
I use Google Calendar for my regular monthly calendar. It is convenient to have my calendar everywhere I go since it is on my phone. I also like that I can set myself reminders for things, like getting the furnace cleaned.
A paper daily planner
While I record all my monthly appointments on Google Calendar, I do all my daily planning in a daily paper planner. Currently, I am using The Purposeful Planner (I’m also a big fan of the Simplified planner). Printable planning pages also work well so I included some at the end of this post for anyone interested in using it.
Every evening after the kids are in bed and I am binge-watching some random TV show, I fill out my planner for the following day. I start by checking my Google Calendar for any appointments and figuring out what I will make for dinner.
Then, I figure out my top 3 things to do. These top 3 are my priorities for the day. If everything else falls apart, I focus on the 3 things I need to get done. Limiting this to just a few items helps me to actually get them done. I typically get done much more than that, but it helps me focus on my priorities.
I make a checklist for vitamins and exercise because it makes me feel good to check things off.
Instead of checking off each time I drank water (I already drink a ton of water) in my planner, I write my kids’ first initial in the bubbles. It is a way of reminding myself to spend intentional, focused time with them — play cars with Levi for 10 minutes, help Judah with his latest invention.
In the schedule section, I write anything I want to get done during the day. I do most of my homeschool planning separately, but I do write a few things I need to do with the boys since they only have a couple of items each day. I try to write everything I am thinking about; it really helps cut down on the million things constantly running through my head.
In the past, one of the big issues I had with using a planner is that I wanted it to look perfect. It would make me crazy if it was messy. Now I realize that if it isn’t messy, it isn’t being used well. My planner typically lays on my kitchen table for most of the day and, at night, I take it upstairs with me. This way, anytime I have random ideas running through my head I can write them down quickly and get them out of my head. That is one of the most helpful aspects of my planner.
I use Lesson Trek for homeschool planning. I take 15-20 minutes to fill out the planner online for the week every Sunday evening. Then I print it out and refer to it throughout the week. At the end of the week it gets placed in Eden’s portfolio.
Spiral Notebooks for the kids’ homeschool checklists
I explained how we use spiral notebooks for the kids’ daily school in an earlier post. They are the last piece of my many planning tools.
While using so many tools may seem overwhelming, each has its own purpose and together they work very well for me.