Lessons Learned: Organization and Planners
Planners, books, journals, whatever you used to keep your life in order, you need it! I do too, and I'm here to tell you I've tried darn near everything to keep my life in order, and I've done pretty well at it even with just the basic google calendar for years. However, then came along paper planners into my life.
Let me tell you; this was a revelation to me. Between using Notion as a digital planner on my computer to keep my full life organized, to a Happy Planner to keep my work life organized, to a small Recollections planner to keep my outside of the house life organized, I'm an organization pro. It took me a few times, though, going through planners, and sometimes an expensive one, to learn a few lessons.
Don't shell out cash until you're sure of what you want.
I made this mistake. I bought a Golden Coil. Yes. You heard me. One of my first planners was a Golden Coil. Now I'll admit I was used to scheduling myself down to the hour because of my previous job, and so this gave me that same option to do that, schedule house chores, a reading list, groceries, you name it, and it was in there. It's not only customizable, but it's beautiful. The paper is a lovely weight that holds up to heavier pens, though I learned to use pens that don't bleed, and the coils on it are strong and sturdy, so I didn't have to worry about bending them when putting it in my purse.
Though putting it in my purse was an issue for me. I wanted this one magical planner to rule them all, which wasn't working out for me. I have a large purse, but this one book, scheduled out for six months with tons of extras, was a heavyweight addition on my shoulder. I needed something lighter. With the loss of a job, I found I didn't need to schedule days down to the hour or be anal about what I did at what time. Free time was something I had plenty of on my hands, and staring at an open day on a daily planner is no fun, let me tell you.
The next planners I found were life planners like CleverFox, which are fantastic, I have to say. However, they had a bunch of frills I didn't need. While it was fun first to fill out all the affirmations, goals, and everything else at first, it got old after a while, and I started not to do it; instead, sticking to just my schedule and making sure I stayed on track with everything. For some people, this is likely something they enjoy doing, but I'm a simple person and only need a to-do list, a weekly spread, and a few empty lists to fill out as required.
The unique thing was that this company was very nice in giving me my money back because I wasn't satisfied despite my having written in the planner already. I almost felt bad for having done so; however, they said that it was okay to keep it in case I gave it away or use it in the future and that my satisfaction was important. I tried their budget planner and loved it, but I wish it had more sheets for expenses, as having a family with over one person spending doesn't fit one month onto four sheets of A4 paper.
Oh, the world of digital planning! I could go into this in so many ways it's impossible to know where to start. However–this is more about paper planning than digital, so I'll touch briefly here about my love for Notion (we won't go into the many digital planners I downloaded onto my iPad that didn't work) and the nerdiness that ensues when I use it to organize…. well, everything. It is my central database where everything comes from; everything starts from there. It is ground zero for an organization in my life.
A good friend turned me on to it, and I've been hooked ever since. I highly recommend it if you're into digital planning and are a geek about spreadsheets, numbers, and formulas. You'll fall into this trap… ah… I mean program and never come out.
Buy a Reusable Planner
If there's one thing I've learned over going through a million in one planners, both paper and digital, it's that I need to have something I can reuse. My go-to is an Erin Condren planner that I can put inserts into,
My secondary planner is a mini Recollections to-do planner, which keeps me on track outside of the house, where the Happy Planner keeps me on track inside the house and with freelancing and work. This little sucker fits perfectly into my purse, a pen fits into its coils nice and neat, and it's cute to boot.
Do What Makes You Happy
I found, honestly, that planning through any means makes me happy. It gives me something to look forward to, something to be crafty with, something to be creative with, and something to look at and keep my sh*t together daily. Being productive and organized makes me joyful, more content, and more willing to open up my time to do new things because I have everything laid out and mostly together.