I’m so excited about the things I have planned to accomplish in 2015. However, my main goal (Surface Pattern Design) is a pretty big goal that will take a lot of hard work, and between that, my other personal goals, life in general, and also working a full time day job, this year is going to be really busy.
Last month, I started looking at a better way to organize my days. In college, I used Moleskine’s Weekly Planner, which was great because I could see the week on one side, and use the other side (blank lined page) for writing out that week’s to-do list, extra notes, etc. In college, when I needed to consider the whole week of assignments to work on, this system worked great. However, once I started working, I realized it was lacking. There wasn’t enough space on each day to write out all the daily work tasks that I needed to do. So instead of coming up with a better system, I pretty much just ended up with a desk full of post-it notes every day for the last year and a half.
This year, I decided I needed a better system. One that organized my day better, listed my work priorities and regular weekly to-dos, kept track of the few meetings I have, and also had space to keep track of my personal to-dos. I started researching the biggest and best planners on the market: Erin Condren’s Life Planner, Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner, and Whitney English’s Day Designer.
The Life Planner is too colorful and busy for me and it plans by the week, not the day. The Simplified Planner and Day Designer are both simple and beautiful (The Day Designer Spotty Dots is GORGEOUS!), and plan by the day, but unfortunately in December they had already sold out for 2015. I sulked around a little that I had missed my opportunity to buy one, and started to plan out when more might go on sale or to see if I could find a retailer somewhere with one left, but I really wanted to start getting organized right then, so I took matters into my own hands and decided to make my own planning system (that would work specifically for my needs – BONUS!).
There are two things that I don’t love about both The Simplified Planner and the Day Designer. Number one is that the majority of each page focuses on each day’s appointment list, rather than the to-dos that need to be accomplished that day. In my job, I mostly sit at my desk and design on my computer all day. I occasionally have a few meetings spread throughout the week, but not enough to need an appointment planner. Number two is that they also don’t have space to separate work and personal tasks. I think the set-up would be perfect if I was solely an entrepreneur, but to work outside the home and also do design work for our business and have other personal career goals, the set-up just isn’t perfect for me right now. (I think I might try one of them out next year though! I’ll have to plan this far ahead to make sure I get one before they sell out next year!)
So I ended up with a mini 3-ring binder (in color “Peacock” from The Container Store, here.) filled with pages to help me plan not only my days, but my weeks, keep track of short and long term goals, meal plan, keep meeting notes, etc!
On each day page, there is room for me to write in my top priorities for the day, list my to-d0 list, keep track of any special meetings or appointments that day, I have a space where my reoccurring tasks are listed and I can circle the ones I need to work on, I have space to list my personal to-dos, list blog posts I need to work on, write down what I’m planning for dinner that night, jot down notes, and even a little space at the bottom to check off if I’ve done one thing that day in the direction of my dreams.
I printed my sheets on 8.5×11 color copy paper (it is a little thicker and glossier than regular copy paper and holds up a little better for this, without pens bleeding through), cut the pages in half, and hole punched them for a mini three-ring binder. I love using the monthly and weekly planner pages as well as the daily ones to help me stay focused on my long-term goals. I’m super excited about this system!
I’ve only been using this planner for a couple weeks now, but already it is working beautifully! I feel so much more organized!
Even better, I am sharing it with you!
Download Planning Sheets Here or click on the image above to download. Print as many times as you need!
For personal use only – not for distribution or resale. Copyright 2015 – Caitlin Wallace Rowland.
P.S. I just used some champagne metallic cardstock to cut dividers to put between my extra blank sheets for each category, but The Container Store sells lots of other accessories for these mini 3-ring binders, here, including dividers, a notebook that size, pockets, rubber bands, etc. Target also has some cute mini 3-ring binders.
UPDATE 1-22-15: After using these for several weeks, I realized that having sheets for both weekend planning and yearly planning would be helpful too, so I added those to the download above. I’m loving the yearly planning sheets! I’m using three different ones, one for work projects due during the year, one for planning blog posts throughout the year, and one for personal goals/vacations/etc that are happening throughout the year. A great way to see the big picture if you are a yearly goals kind-of person!