Planners are my jam. I love testing all the different ones and trying to make it work for me and my life. I’ve tried all different types of planners. I’ve done bullet journaling, which I LOVE, but I’m not artistic. Seriously, I cannot draw a straight line with a ruler. Boring layouts are not my jam, I tried to make it as cute/pretty as I could with stickers and using markers but it still wasn’t working for me. I’ve tried planners that were under $10 from Target. Those didn’t work either. I was on the verge of investing in an expensive planner that a lot of bloggers I follow use or have used and liked until they found something better. The person who designed the planner was someone I also followed and I really liked her. I couldn’t afford the planner right away without hitting another one of my funds, so I decided to wait.
During this wait, I had to keep making doctors appointments and it is VERY awkward to pull out your huge planner to write in and schedule appointments on the little desks in front of the scheduler. I use the big paper sized planners so I can also stash any paperwork I need to carry around without folding it or ripping it. So I started putting the appointments in my Google calendar for things it was awkward to pull my planner out for and then would tell myself to input it to my planner later.
At some point, I realized my paper planner was starting to give me anxiety. My planner would have all the things I was doing that day- work, appointments, errands, to-do list for that day, and then I would also have my school assignments listed in there to keep track of what was due each week. I also tried to put goals in there for myself to remember to do the things I want to do. One week there was more colored area from writing (I still use colored pens because I think it is better with color) than there was white space left. I was always told I do too much but I was seeing it on paper. There were no margins in my life and looking at the weekly plans and each day stressed me out. How was I going to accomplish all that in a day? PLUS, I never got around to my to-do list each day. I would forget to check my planner and as things popped up in front of me during the day, the to-do list took a back burner.
Something had to change. Using planners was something I loved but it was stressing me out. I didn’t need extra stress in my life. I’m a natural planner. I love to-do lists and plans and schedules. My planner should be a relief for me, not a stress inducer. At this point I still hadn’t purchased the expensive planner. In fact, I was also starting to think that inputting my appointments and things in my Google calendar to then put in my paper planner was really double the work instead of easier. I decided I was going to test out a digital system.
Now, one way to deter me from trying something is if I research all the different ways I can do it. I actually do this a lot. I think I want to try something new, I read a bunch of stuff and then I cannot decide which way would work for me. For this experiment, I wasn’t going to research the best to-do list apps or ways to keep your schedule. I KNOW how to do those things. I just needed to use different tools. I can stay on a schedule like a drill sergeant. So I used my Google calendar, which I already had and was using. I also started with the reminder app on my iPhone. These were apps and tools I already had. My phone is always with me so I don’t need to worry about misplacing something I need to-do. What I first liked about using my phone was that I could input something the moment I remembered or realized I had to do it.
In the reminders app, you can make separate lists for your to-dos as well as set priority and times for an actual reminder. So time sensitive things I can set an alarm for within the reminders app, plus give it a bunch of “!!!” to catch my eye. So for me, I have 5 lists. I have my regular to-do, that is like general to-dos, laundry, errands, pick up whatever, etc. I have my school list for assignments. I also have a list for my ministry and the things I need to do for that. I also have a writing to-do list to keep track of projects and things I need to do for the blog or things I want to do. I also meet with a coach and I have a list for the things I need to do or things we talked about before the next meeting.
Now, everything gets put in a list. If I think it and I need to do it. I put it on the list. Sometimes, the numbers get pretty high and that is where anxiety CAN get triggered. But, since I use the priority and reminder times, I know I am not forgetting to do anything important or on a timeline. Sometimes, I think about researching something for Lucas so that will go on my to-do list, but it something that can wait a little bit and not have to get done right away.
I put everything schedule wise in my Google calendar. I have color codes for school stuff, work stuff, blog stuff, goals and writing time, and reminders. The types of reminders I put in my phone are if I have a free trial of something and I want to remember to cancel it or if I need to think about keeping it. With Google calendar, I can set alarms to go off to remind me about events. This is my favorite thing because I set the alarms to the time I would need to leave the house by. So once that alarm goes off, I need to be walking out the door.
I’ve been using this system for almost a year now and I have no plans to go back. I did recently buy a paper planner for my goals and things I want to do, goal wise. I’ll do a different post about that because it looks different and doesn’t overwhelm me at all (so far). It is very nice to have somewhere that I put all my goals though because trying to plan that out in digital form was not working for me as it was easy to ignore.
What I like the most is that I can pull it up anywhere. I also have an apple laptop, so I can pull up my reminders if I need to add something or see what I can do if I am at my computer with some spare time. I can also pull up my calendar on my computer to help me plan things. The accessibility of these apps make it all awesome. It is so much better than making sure I always have my planner on me. Now, I can carry smaller purses. (Seriously, I used to carry tote bags everywhere to carry all my stuff. Now I just carry a small notebook around for meetings and any writing ideas I get while out and about. Small notebooks don’t need huge tote bags for purses.)
What do you use for planning? Tell me about it!