Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A New Plan

As a girl who lives by her lists, it helps me to have a place to keep them together so I don't wind up with post-it notes all over the house. I talked about keeping a sewing calendar in Sew Organized for the Busy Girl, which has been really helpful to me in my creative work. Nowadays I keep a lot of that information in a monthly calendar on my phone, but I also like have something on paper where I can write down the daily steps that get me to those weekly goals. I spent the last week of 2019 looking for the perfect planner to carry me into the new year, but after several hours spent combing through what was available both online and in stores, I came up empty. So this year I decided to try something new: I made my own planner pages from scratch on Adobe Illustrator.

I had originally planned to bring the file to the local office store and have it printed and spiral bound, but my mom encouraged me to live with the pages in a binder for a few weeks first so that I could make adjustments as needed. It was good advice. I've found a few ways to streamline the page as I go along.

While I often have special appointments in my schedule, most of the items on my to-do list fall under a recurring set of categories: cleaning, cooking, homeschooling, writing, and sewing. There are some things that I need to do every single day, but can easily forget to do (feed the dogs) or forget whether or not I've done them (take my allergy medicine) if they're not on a list in front of me. I love having these daily chores already built into the page so that all I have to do is check them off. There's also room to write down extra tasks that come up as well as a spot at the top for special activities or important things that need my attention right away.

In my drive to work through a checklist, it's easy for me to forget about the small everyday things that are going on in my life, so I added room at the bottom of the page to keep track of those too. There's a place to list what I'm reading, listening to, and watching every other day. I like that this will not only help me stay faithful in keeping my annual list of what books I've read, but it will also let me see what's influencing my thinking throughout the year.

My favorite feature, though, is the small section in the lower right corner for moments that I want to remember -- little victories, quirky happenings, funny things that the girls say. Just looking back over the pages I have already, I can't help but smile at the memories I'm recording, things that could have so easily been forgotten otherwise. The time we were watching White Christmas for a family movie night, and James declared that the pale yellow socks that Danny Kaye was wearing were the height of fashion...so of course I had to track down a pair for him online (he loves them!). The day that Bunny scored a 98% on both her history AND science semester finals. The night when Bear lost a tooth not five minutes after the girls were talking about how much they wanted ice cream (we celebrate every lost tooth with ice cream in our family; it's a tradition). The morning that Mouse came to me excited because she had actually enjoyed a math lesson for the first time ever. "Because," she added (I kid you not), "multiplication and division are the death of all good things." I ran right over to my planner to write that one down before I could forget it, let me tell you...

I love hearing what other people are doing when it comes to planners and organization. What do you use to stay on top of your daily, weekly, and monthly schedule? Do you like using a planner or not? Have any of you tried making your own? What are the most helpful tricks you've found when it comes to getting your to-do list done each day? Please share!


  1. I use a bullet journal for work (I have an office job) and then I just have a monthly list for my sewing goals. In the same notebook I use for my sewing goals I also keep track of patterns I have, etc.
    I need to keep some kind of journal for my personal life. For instance, us we cannot remember what we did for the kids birthdays last year. It'd be nice to keep some record of those things, but I have trouble keeping them up.

    Thanks for sharing the details of your new planner! Hope it works well for you.
    PS I found using one of those pill organizers really helpful when I can't remember if I've taken things or not! I can just look and see if there's still anything in there for the day. Esp. helpful if you have to take more than one a day!

  2. At the end of 2018 I spent more hours than I care to remember researching planners. I ended up buying a small binder that I love and purchased a digital file of filler pages that I "thought" would suit well. I did all the printing and cutting and within days discovered I hated them (the description was NOT clear). After that I gave up and grabbed (from Target's dollar bin!) a cheap planner, tossing the binder but keeping the simple blank filler pages (days and months). That actually ended up working well enough so I did the same thing again this year. I also have a few tabs at the end for other lists and things, along with extra pages for lists and notes to put wherever else I need them. There are tons of printables out there but none really work for me. I don't need (or want!) much--mostly just space to write and some pages for lists. It's not perfect but right now this is working pretty well. It's an on-going process. For me, starting with a durable binder (and coordinating hole punch) worked best. Still watching for the perfect filler.

  3. I love Lori Holt's Planner book. I never used to track my quilts - design, sizes or fabrics used. Now I love that I can write it all down - and also future quilts that I would like to make :)! Otherwise, I just have grocery lists with added sections for other items on our fridge. My daughter loves, loves to organize her day, like you, with lists - just for the joy of stroking things off, she says :)! Love the special memories you add to your daily lists!

  4. I have a spiral notebook in the kitchen with a pen attached to the spiral! Each of my 2 grands have their own page(s). Georgia at 3: Grammie why are you wearing that green stuff on your eyes-it looks like Oscar's trash can lids!" etc etc :) I always enjoy your posts-Susan in Boston

  5. These are super cute! Any chance you'll make the PDF available?? ;)

    As a homeschooler, I have to ask too if it was a particular Math curriculum that brought on the excitement about math?? lol

    Hope you have a great week! I always enjoy reading your posts - thanks!!

  6. I'd probably get more done if I used a to-do list, but I'm pretty much a fly by the seat of your pants girl! LOL Seriously, I do have a planner, I just forget to use it!

  7. Brilliant idea to write down those memories! You will enjoy reading them in years to come. I still have some very favorite ones from my two when they were little! I'm tweaking my planner this year, making it work for me a bit better. It's so different now than when I had a busy active household!

  8. I love to check off little boxes on a check off list. I don't have Adobe so I just print mine on small notebook paper. I could use Excel or Word I suppose for a simpler version. I love your list but I would probably make one whole sheet per day.Have a great day


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