PLANNER REVIEW: Inkwell Press Daily Coil Free Planner

Hey, Planner Peeps!

This week I reviewed Inkwell Press’s Daily Coil Free Planner and isn’t it just gorgeous?! I absolutely love the cover that has the tree texture providing it a little more unique look and feel.

This planner is undated, which is great for those that know they won’t be using their planner every day, but don’t want to waste any pages. So easy to do in dated/pre-dated planners!

Price wise, it’s a little on the spendy side, coming in at $44. However, it contains enough daily pages for 184 days. So, considering there are 261-270 weekdays in a year, you may end up getting two of these in a year. However, if you love the layout(s) and they work really well for you, then it’s always 100% worth the investment in my opinion!

This planner contains the classic, signature Inkwell Press honeycomb design and look and has more modern, neutral tones throughout it. My favorite part of the planner though? The 3 week honeycomb habit trackers. Beautifully designed and easy to use, this is a great feature for those that want to create new daily habits like reading, exercise, water intake, etc.! I know habit trackers like this have been key in maintaining habits and building new ones. There’s just something about not losing your winning streak and wanting to maintain it. 🙂

You can get your own Inkwell Press Daily Coil Free Planner here.

Here’s a more detailed review on my YouTube channel:

So, what do you think? Do you think this planner is a hit or miss?

How I Lost My Job, Started My Own Business and Replaced My Income In 90 Days

My hands shook as I swiped the bar on my phone to answer the phone call.

“Hello?”

“Hi. Is this a good time for you to talk?”

“Yes, it is. What’s up?”

“Well. . . There’s no easy way for me to say this, but I’m letting you go.”

I don’t really remember much of the conversation after that. My stomach shrunk, my heart felt like it was in my throat and chest felt like it was on fire.

I considered maybe that I was just dreaming and I’d wake up and everything would be fine.

But I wasn’t.

The next morning, I sat in disbelief on my couch, sipping my coffee, staring at the overcast clouds outside my window as they floated among the mountains. It slowly sank in that on Monday, I wouldn’t have a job to go to like the rest of the world. (Getting let go on a Friday isn’t necessarily the best start to a weekend, take it from me.)

What now? What’s next? This certainly wasn’t where I had seen myself at 25 years old. I was on a mission to climb the ladder and climb it as fast and as hard as I could, to make it to the top. I realize now, that your career isn’t a ladder. It’s more like a jungle gym (Sheryl Sandberg eloquently describes this in her fabulous book, Lean In) and that linear career paths are far and few between.

We had an enormous rent payment, multiple other bills and oh yeah, occasionally the need to eat food and buy gas for the car. I had to think of something and something fast as a two week severance pay wouldn’t cut the mustard for long. Not to mention, our lease was up in a month and a half and what little savings we had we were planning on using already to move into a cheaper, smaller apartment.

I started to apply for other jobs but my heart sank every single time I opened an application. Why? Just so this could happen again? So I could work my ass off, dedicated, for two full years only to be let go again? No, this time, I wanted full control. If I were to ever find myself in this place again, I wanted it to be because of my own doing and no one else’s. A week later, I decided that it was time to take the leap. It was time to go full throttle into something I have known for the last several years I wanted to do. It was time I started my own business and run it in a way that made sense, was profitable and the thing I was most excited about: cared about people.

Step by step, I’ve built up a steady stream(s) of income as a freelance virtual assistant. I replaced my income within 90 days of being let go and it’s been a wild ride. Here’s how I did it:

I went to therapy.
Yes, I know you weren’t expecting that one. 🙂 The truth is, getting let go is a significant loss. You lose routine, coworkers, connections, a sense of pride, accomplished progress on projects, etc. I was in a total rut after I was let go. I kept going to therapy to get back to the “old me” until I realized that there was no old me, there’s only present me. And that present me can only get better and better and better. EMDR therapy is incredible and I highly recommend seeing a trusted counselor that’s trained in it as it is a great option to heal trauma. It’s hard to let go of the past, but some things we have to put up on the shelf and let them stay there for a while.

We cut alllll unnecessary expenses and downsized.
After working side by side with so many self made, successful people – I’ve been able to see and learn many valuable lessons. One of those being to not let your lifestyle outgrow your steady income. I’ve seen so many entrepreneurs grow their business and let their lifestyle grow with it too. There’s nothing wrong with it, as long as that growth is sustainable. You can’t be in “launch” mode 11 months of the year. So we viciously cut expenses and moved into a teeny, tiny studio apartment. I knew if I wanted to make this work I’d have to make some short term sacrifices and simplify my lifestyle so I could go full throttle into starting this.

I questioned why.
Everything. All of it. Why did I stay at certain jobs for so long? Why did I want to buy a house? What is the point of having kids? Why did I believe I had to accomplish certain things in a certain way? Why did I dress the way I did? I radically questioned all the beliefs I had and chose to use this opportunity as a fresh start. It gave me a chance to start over, as I finally no longer had a boss or career dictating certain things about the path I was on.

I reached out to community.
I did not have a clue as to what I was doing and I was reminded of that daily. I had a small mastermind group of a few other girls that I leaned on heavily during this time. I’d send quick SOS texts whenever I wanted to quit or wanted their thoughts on something. They were amazing and urged me that I could do this and to actually double the prices I was previously charging to attract clients that saw and would utilize my skills. This was so validating and so crucial to the process. Starting a business can be incredibly lonely, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You’re not a special, lone, stuck in a wasteland of nowhere snowflake. Reach out. Ask for help (this is different than asking people to do things for you). Pinpoint where your stuck and be open to the options and ideas people give you. You’ll be surprised at how well people actually do know about you and how they deeply care for you.

I drowned myself in positivity every single day.
I picked myself up by the bootstraps and instead of running around whining, “Why me?!” I changed my internal narrative to: “Why not me?!” I unfollowed every single person and social media account that me feel less than, were connected to painful memories of my old job and just overall did not add any value to my life. I covered my planner with motivational quotes. I daily wrote down Bible verses in my planner. I consumed all the positive and motivating podcasts that I could get my hands on (and I still do).

However, I also thought about the worst case scenario.
Which was: moving in with a family member and work at McDonalds. I’d still be alive and I’d still be one of the richest people on earth, because I had a roof over my head, people that loved me, a supportive spouse and dishes to clean because there would be food to eat. That’s it. That’s all. (In fact, some of the nicest and happiest people I have ever known have worked at McDonalds. Truly.)

I did what the experts told me to do and followed their instructions like my life depended on it.
This is something I’ve seen in my industry over and over again. Don’t. Argue. With. The expert. (Especially publicly at a conference during a Q&A. OMG. You are wasting everyone’s time and yours.) I found a free blog post that listed out a lengthy, but detailed step by step process on how to start and market my business and followed it to a T. Count me as an A+ honors student following that process and those instructions. More importantly. . .

I broke it down into bite sized, daily pieces using my. . . . planner!
Stealing the model from Chalene Johnson’s PUSH goal system, I broke down my big goal, which was to replace half of my old income in 90 days. I wrote down every single little thing I would need to accomplish that from getting a business license to creating a PDF that would explain my services, my experience, how I operate and my pricing to creating a web page on my blog. I remembered that we, as humans, generally overestimate what we can do in just one day. However, we vastly underestimate what we can do over longer periods of time such as 3-5 years. We can accomplish many things, just not all at once. So I broke them down and each day would grab 3 of those 10 minute tasks and accomplish those first. The tasks ranged from making a phone call to following up on a cold lead to brainstorming 5 names to add to my master spreadsheet of people who potentially could use my services. Whatever it was, I didn’t resist it. I just did it.

I used what I had, when I had it.
After I got let go, I had to send back my laptop to my old company (I worked remotely). It was our only stable, normal working computer and I couldn’t even apply for other jobs without it. But I knew that if I was going to start a business, I was going to do it right. No debt. No unnecessary expenses. No fancy website. No marketing team. Nada. I would start small and grow as I felt comfortable and as necessary. Anything I don’t know how to do, I used this AMAZING tool called the Google search bar and figured it out. (It’s really cool, you should try it sometime!) I firmly believe that every problem is figureoutable. Within a few days of getting let go I scrapped together a couple hundred bucks, marched on down to Best Buy blasting Taylor Swift and bought a Chromebook. Yes, a Chromebook. Boohoo. All you Chromebook haters can calm down because it works like a charm and has Google. Enough said. (Admittedly, eventually I upgraded to a Mac Mini!)

I stopped feeling sorry for myself.
I reminded myself that I have been through way harder things than this and no one would care about my dream(s) as much as I did. Ever. Ever, ever, ever. My life is up to me and I certainly cannot control what happens, but how I react and what I can do today, in this moment, to be a better person, help others, and grow closer to the finish line of my short term goals.

I was picky about who I worked with (and forever will be).
Any potential client that emulated past or previous behaviors that I had allowed that were incredibly rude, unhealthy or just plain unnecessary I refused to work with. These red flags always usually pop up in the initial getting to know each other conversation so it’s not hard for me to rule them out. It’s important to note too, that these folks almost always never want to pay the full price. I didn’t write out my precise ideal client, but I wrote out the values that people had that I wanted to work with. (For example, they cared about their customers and they cared about the relationship with their customers/clients. They were timely in their responses to me, etc.) My clients are THE BEST. I tell my husband all the time about the really cool things they are doing and how blessed I feel every day that I get to work with them and help them.

Overall, yes. Getting let go sucks. Building a business is hard work. But it’s worth it and it was a dream that I had hidden down in my heart for many years for various reasons that were backed by one thing and one thing only: FEAR. Our dreams may seem like big, lofty, impossible goals but when you look closer they’re actually made up brick by brick of tiny, brave pieces that were achieved every day over a period of time.

 

 

Our $35 Weekly Grocery Budget

Hey, Planner Peeps!

I don’t know about you, but sometimes figuring out how to buy groceries and stay within a teeny, tiny budget can be really crazy. A few weeks ago, I posted on Instagram that I had gone to the grocery store that day and had a budget of $35 to spend for our groceries that week. I shared that I was mad, because I went over and had spent $36.39 (ugh, those bottle deposits get me every time here in Oregon!) and was beating myself up. But then I had a flashback to 5 years ago when I was first married and I had written down in my planner how bummed I was because we had spent over $100 that week in groceries for my husband and I. I love planners and planning, because they help me to be able to look back and see how much progress I’ve made and just how far I’ve come. It’s really inspiring and motivating!

However, I had so many people asking me how the heck I shop for two people on such a tiny budget, I knew I had to write a post about it to show you guys how I do this. But first, a few disclaimers:
– I am only shopping for two people. Not a family! Just my husband and I.
– Neither one of us are really picky eaters or have strict diets. We honestly both really just love food and are thankful to go to bed with full bellies at night. The $35 weeks are admittedly, not the healthiest weeks for us!
– This is not our grocery budget every single week. How our food budget operates is we take out cash for all our categories we tend to overspend in or need to reign in (food, gas, entertainment, pets, gifts, etc.). We take out $100 each week for food and toiletries. This $100 covers eating out, groceries, coffee runs (I work from home so this is vital for me, I HAVE to get out of the house!) toilet paper, shampoo, conditioner, etc. So, this fluctuates each week. Some weeks we don’t eat out at all and the grocery budget is huge! (I tend to stock up on staples when this happens! Yahoo!) Other weeks we want to eat out with friends and family so we just deal with a tiny grocery budget. We are HUGE Dave Ramsey fans and this small budget will not last forever. In fact, once we are out of debt we plan on doubling (if not tripling) this category amount because we love to eat out and try new places. I can’t wait!
– Don’t compare yourself! We live in an area that has a decent cost of living and this is a sacrifice we are making temporarily while we pay down debt. Just because we get by on $35 a week on groceries sometimes, doesn’t mean you have to as well.

Ok, now! Lets do this.

Tip #1: Use what you have.
Scavenge your pantry for those odds and ends that are still edible, but might be collecting some dust! A can of black beans and some leftover tortilla chips? Grab a cheap bag of shredded cheese and some salsa and you’ve got nacho night! Don’t forget the freezer! Are there ribs from that BBQ from a few months ago that you forgot you threw in there? Leftover frozen veggies and those veggies in the fridge that are going bad soon that you can use to make a yummy stew? Rice that you can use for chicken stir fry? Get creative and keep it simple!

Tip #2: Check coupon sites before you go and shop the sales!
My all time favorite coupon sites are Krazy Coupon Lady and Money Saving Mom. Check these frequently before you go to a particular store (you can search deals by store, brand, etc nowadays! It’s awesome!) and see if they have any freebies or moneymakers that you can take advantage of! I’ve gotten free toothpaste, free floss, free paper towels, really cheap toilet paper, body wash, makeup, shampoo, conditioner and more from stacking a coupon with a sale that store is having. Toiletries can get really expensive and if you have the storage space, I highly recommend on stocking up when these good deals are happening! Even if you don’t need toiletries, check for food items too. You can start to get creative when you find out that Keebler crackers are only $0.50 that week! 😉 Also be sure to check meat prices. A few weeks ago the store had a great sale on chicken drumsticks for only $0.99 a pound. I was able to get 3 pounds of chicken for only $3! That might not seem like a big deal, but when your grocery budget is only $35, it totally is. 🙂

Tip #3: Shop at Fred Meyer/Kroger and get their “Woohoo” deals!
Yes, I know – you did not expect those store names! They have a reputation for having higher prices, however – they have incredible markdowns on the perimeter of the store! You’ll find these markdowns with the red and yellow “woohoo” sticker on it.

Wooooooohooooo! Great deal!

 

Check the produce section (especially bagged veggies and bagged salad), the deli area, the meat are and the dairy area specifically for these stickers! I make it a little bit of a game and try not to buy any Woohoo deal that’s over $1. Obviously, this quinoa was over a $1. So I do try to make exceptions for staples like this. Or, bagged cheese will be on sale for $1.50, of course I’ll make an exception for that because it’s a great deal and bagged cheese is a versatile food. I’ve gotten fresh salsa for $1 and all sorts of other fresh foods for very cheap doing this!

Tip #4: Scavenge the Manager’s Special Section @ Fred Meyer/Kroger
You’ll find these areas discreetly off to the side, but they often carry great deals! Our Fred Meyer has two. They always have one in the produce section that has bagged produce for $0.99. I’ve gotten a bag of apples, peppers, brussel sprouts and more for $0.99 a bag here. Often, the fruit or veggies are just a little bruised or have a spot on them, but they are still fully edible! The other area is in between the dairy section and meat section. On one side it contains the bread markdowns and the other side contains just general markdowns and woohoo deals in general. The general markdown side is where I got the Woohoo quinoa! 🙂 Scope out these sections and you’ll see things to start getting creative and pulling together with recipes and such! Often, these sections are hidden. So don’t be afraid to ask an employee if they can point you in the right direction!

Here’s a video on me talking my head off about all this, with a few other tips!

I hope you found this helpful and that this gives you some hope. We have come a looooooooooong ways when it comes to reigning in our grocery budget and we are so excited to pay off all of our debt in the process!

 

 

 

 

 

How I Use My Hobonichi Techo Notebook: Part 3 – Daily Layout

Hey, friends!

This week wraps up a 3 part series on how I use and utilize my Hobonichi for everyday planning! This week we are focusing on the daily layout section.

If I’m being fully honest, I have a few key things I drop in my daily layout but other than that, it’s a free for all!

Each morning a part of my morning routine is to write out my PUSH goal at the top of the page for that quarter. I also write out a Scripture at the bottom of the page that I want to be reminded of that day. These Scriptures I usually pull from the ones assigned from the Jesus Calling devotional.

I truly am not one of those folks that feels the need to plan out every single minute of my day. That type of planning stresses me the heck out! Besides, my daily routine is pretty much the same day to day with a little bit of variance depending on the day of the week. If I do have an appointment, I often will write that down in the small hourly section on the left hand side of the daily layout and plan my day around that building block. 🙂

I often will also write out my top 3 tasks that I absolutely have to get done that day. Those tasks are the ones I usually work on first and get out of the way. The rest of my list is just icing on the cake.

A few other pieces I include are my husbands work schedule (we only have ever had one car our entire marriage, so I need to take him to work and plan on picking him up!), what I plan on doing for a workout that day and then what I plan on making for dinner. Those all go at the bottom in their own special place.

Here’s an example of a typical day in my daily layout section:

You also will find that I leave room often in my daily layout as a catch all. 🙂 From budgeting to notes to some catchy song lyrics I need to get out of my head, I like having some breathing room to write it all down.

That wraps up this 3 piece series!  hope this helps you see that there is no “right” way to use your planner. You are the only one who uses it, sees it and cares about it. So make it your own and do what works best for you.

You can find the others here and also a YouTube video going over my entire planner system too!

Monthly Layout
Weekly Layout

 

How I Use My Hobonichi Techo Notebook: Part 2 – Weekly Layout

Hey, Planner Peeps!

Last week we chatted on how I use the monthly layout in my Hobonichi.  I got some great feedback on it and so appreciate it whenever you guys let me know what you like seeing on the blog!

This week we’re panning over to the weekly layout, which I use mainly for a habit tracker! I’ve found that as a human, we thrive on routines and our habits make up a big part of those. My body thrives and my mind thrives when it knows what to expect next. Even though some people claim, “Ah, my personality thrives off of spontaneity!” that may be true, but as you go throughout your day – you’ll realize you have habits and routines established that you might not have even been intentional about. My habit tracker in my Hobonichi has taught me a lot. A few of these things being:

  • I’m not so diligent about some habits and I’m way more diligent about others
  • It’s all about progress, not perfection!
  • Some habits matter more to my productivity than others

 

By the way, did you know I have a Pinterest board dedicated exclusively to planner layouts and ideas? I’ve found lots of great ideas from there and when it comes to ideas for your planner, I’m all about borrowing and stealing ideas from others!

Gotta fill in those boxes. I try not to be too much of a perfectionist about my squiggles.

 

I write down the habits I want to keep track of that week and then fill in the boxes on that line for the corresponding day. Super easy to put together and there’s something about coloring in boxes that I find soothing. Don’t judge me. 😂

Basically, I started out with a really small habit and that was drinking a glass of water. Don’t try to create 10 different habits at once, as most of us New Year Resolutioners know, it gets overwhelming quick! Most healthy habits are building blocks of small steps you can take each week to get better and better. Did you notice I’m at 8,000 steps a day but everyone makes a big hullabaloo about 10,000? I’m not quite there yet – but soon will be!

When I wanted to started to drinking more water, I challenged myself to just start drinking a glass right when I wake up every morning (did you know that 80% of Americans are chronically dehydrated? Water is so important!). It’s also important to make sure your habits are measurable and not just general (for instance, read a chapter of a book, drink 80 oz., 8,000 steps, etc! Also, to see how much water you should drink every day, take your body weight and cut it in half and then that’s how much in ounces. So 200lbs = 100 ounces of water a day).

I then usually write and track these in the morning or night and look over what habits I am doing well on and which ones I could use a little push on. I’ve found tracking these to be really helpful and notice that when I don’t have a good week (or my anxiety feels overwhelming), it’s usually contributed to by not sticking to my routine and habits!

Do you have a habit tracker? There’s a lot of bullet journal peeps that are big into them since they’re so easy to create and make your own layout for! Do you find tracking your habits overwhelming or helpful? I wanna know! 🙂

 

How I Use My Hobonichi Techo Notebook: Part 1 – Monthly Layout

Hey, friends! I am so excited today to be sharing with you that I’ll be starting a new series on the blog all about how I use my Hobonichi Techo Cousin (A5) Planner. A few weeks ago I asked my peeps on Instagram if they wanted to know more about how I use it and I got an overwhelming response that YES, you guys want to see more of the insides! To be honest, I have hesitated sharing this because I firmly believe in finding a planner and doing what works best for YOU and you alone within it. I’ve tried to copy other peoples planning styles or the way they decorated, and it never worked out. The style I have now is completely hodged podged from various techniques and trial and error over the years. But I realized initially, that those people SHARED their planner layout with me too, so why not share mine with you?

Back to the Hobonichi. I get questions about it A LOT and I love that it’s sort of an obscure planner. This is partially because it’s not American made, but it’s from Japan! The Hobonichi is the most popular planner in Japan, hands down. Some of its notable features are that it’s paper bound, but many folks keep it protected in stylish covers. I did a review of it a few months back and decided that it was too much and my husband used it instead. I switched to an Erin Condren planner for a little while, but suddenly found myself wanting to track more health habits and not finding a lot of that functionality within the Erin Condren planner. So alas, I am back in a Hobonichi! As you can see, it’s totally fine to jump from one planner to another every once in a while, as my seasons of life have changed with my planners in the past and still do. The key is to stick to some consistency and make it a daily habit, regardless of what planner you use.

You can find a lot of Hobonichi covers on Etsy, Amazon, eBay, or my personal favorite, AliExpress! AliExpress is where I bought my infamous pink unicorn cover. I absolutely LOVE being able to customize the outside look of my Hobonichi. It helps it feel more like “my planner” and I can change the cover with the seasons or my mood. (Like scoring a super cute mustard yellow fabric color for the fall!)

There are 3 main parts to the Hobonichi Cousin size. The monthly layout, weekly layout AND a daily page for every day of the year. Considerably, this can be overwhelming to some. But it is rare to find a planner with all 3 types of layouts. Most only have 2 out of the 3. The Hobonichi A6 only contains a monthly layout and weekly layout. A GREAT option if you’re not a fan of how big the A5 is, but still want a quality, customizable planner!

The monthly layout I use for 2 things: my bill tracker and daily gratitude log.

Yes, I collect cute Pokemon cards for my desk. 😉

If you want to hear more details about how I use my planner for our budget, definitely check out this guest post I did on the lovely Lydia Lois’ blog on the subject! Her blog is all about helping millennial’s save money and use it wisely, among many other awesome, helpful topics! As you can see, on the left hand side, I write down all our recurring bills for the month and any random bills that may occur during that month as well. I then write their due date in the calendar section. I scratch them out as we go and as they get paid.

The monthly section is something that I look at every day in the morning as a part of my morning routine (more on the morning routine coming soon!)

Every morning, at the end of my morning routine, I write down something good that happened the day before or something that I was super grateful for. I usually add a KeenaPrints sticker or a Sweet Kawaii Design sticker to brighten it up even more. (BTW, you can use code LORNA15 for 15% off on all orders over $10 on www.keenaprints.com!)

Sometimes I will write down really big events that are happening that month if I want to refer to them, other than that – I usually just plop them in my daily layout and look ahead to see what’s coming up next!

I hope this helps. If you can’t tell, I love, love, love my Hobonichi and can’t wait to share with you next week all about how I use the weekly layout. It’s certainly not what most people use it for, but it has helped me tremendously with my habits! I keep things simple, I keep them fun and that’s how I get things done.

 

Rifle Paper Co. Planner with Sarah Robinson

Hey, Planner Peeps! I’m so excited to share this space with a very special guest this week. My friend Sarah Robinson and I met through an old job and we soon started a mastermind with two other lovely ladies! Sarah writes over at  Beautiful Between and loves to share about hope, love and redemption. We got Chinese food together last November and she generously showed me her planner. I fell in love and immediately asked her to write a post on how she used it, along with her systems! Without further ado, here’s my lovely friends way of living life, intentionally:

I shouldn’t even be writing this.

At least, that’s what I would have believed not long ago.

I never saw myself as “organized.” My half-done checklists got lost in some notebook or another as I kept searching for the perfect planner, the perfect system, and the perfect way to get everything done.

Really, I was searching for ways to live up to my unrealistic expectations. I crammed my schedule full to the brim, edge to edge in planners and calendars, desperate to do enough that I would finally feel good enough.

Want to know what’s funny? I was convinced I wasn’t a perfectionist because I wasn’t perfect enough.

In all my frantic striving to just be good enough, I was focused on the wrong things. I made lists and set goals for things I wanted to accomplish, but they often went undone. And I beat myself up for all that I couldn’t quite manage.

It wasn’t until I stopped asking what I wanted to do that perfectionism’s grip began to loosen.

Now, I’m asking a better question.

Who do I want to be?

It’s so much more than what I want to accomplish. It’s not about the checklist and the achievement. It’s about identity: who I am and who I’m becoming. It’s about building the life I want.

Now, I don’t find my value as a person in what I cross off the list daily. I’ve learned that much of who I am and who I become is wrapped up in my daily activities, and I get to choose what they are.

I want to live a life that fully aligns with my values, so I make sure it shows up in my daily to-dos.

So what does it look like in practice?

First, determine who you want to be and break that down into specific traits. Here’s my example list:

I want to be someone who:

  • Loves people really well.
  • Creates meaningful work that touches lives.
  • Stewards my one life well.
  • Lives a generous lifestyle.


Then, take each of those traits and break it down to specific tasks/things that contribute to it in your life. These should be things you can schedule or principles you can implement as you fill your planner. Here are some examples for each of the traits above.

  • Loves people really well:
    • Schedule reminders to reach out to loved ones.
    • Prioritize margin/open space in my schedule for unexpected opportunities to spend time with people.
  • Creates meaningful work that touches lives:
    • Schedule time for deep work, research, thinking, even prayer.
  • Stewards my one life well:
    • Prioritize what makes me healthy so I can give of myself how I want to.
    • Schedule exercise, grocery shopping, counseling, and down time.
    • Consider what I say yes and no to. Sometimes I need to say no to good things to make room for great things.
  • Lives a generous lifestyle:
    • Schedule payments to keep moving toward being debt free (so we eventually have more money to give).
    • Set aside a little money from each paycheck for generosity (so we have money available whenever an opportunity arises to help someone).


The tools of the trade

This is a planner blog, so of course I’m going to share the tools that work for me as I create the life I want. Also, please know that while Lorna may use affiliate links and receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase the items below, I don’t get anything for these recommendations. These are just tools I love that help me become who I want to be. I think they might help you, too!

Rifle Paper Co. Planner

Last year, my husband hunted high and low for the perfect gift: a planner I would love. After TONS of research, he landed on my gorgeous Rifle Paper Co planner in a dusty pink. I love the heavy paper, the floral cover, and the quotes on every two-page spread.

I also LOVE the two-column layout! In 2017, it was perfect for me because I don’t usually fill my planners with my entire to-do list. Instead, I include up to 3 “most important things” that I list in order of importance. On one column, I list the top 3 tasks for work. I list the top 3 for my personal life in the other column. Then, I tackle them in that order.

If I only complete those 3 things that day – or even if I accomplish the single most important thing on each of my lists – I count my day a success. It feels good to have my own definition for success and know I can attain it.

 

 

Highlighters & fine point felt pens

I love having color to freshen up my pages, so I try to write in my planner with fine felt markers. I usually go for colored Sharpie pens or Staedtler Triplus Fineliners (my favorites!).

I also hate crossing or checking off items in my planner – it looks so messy! Instead, I highlight items as I complete them. It’s a bright, visual way to show my progress at a glance. 

 

Airtable

My writing has taken off over the past several months. It’s become a business and requires more attention and planning than a hobby. I’ve also started taking on some freelance clients and, much as I love my Rifle Paper Co. Planner, it wasn’t cutting it for my ever-expanding to-do lists, editorial calendar, and multiple projects.

Airtable is an incredibly flexible online tool full of templates to manage any kind of project, lists of clients, or even personal stuff like menu planning or keeping track of your favorite books. The best part is that it’s FREE and 100% customizable.

It’s the perfect complement to my analog planner. I track complex details and connect important information for my projects in Airtable so I can see where I am on big projects at a glance. But I still write down my 3 most important things in my planner to keep me focused.

What it all comes down to

I use these tools so I can have the life I want: one of joy, wholeness, and purpose. I use it to chip away at the important commitments and tasks that I’d otherwise sacrifice at the altar of the urgent. I use it to define success and move myself toward it.

But most of all, this is how I free myself from unrealistic perfectionism. This is how I’m becoming happy with who I am and what I do. And that is priceless.

Want more from Sarah? Click here to get her free mini-ebook on living a beautiful life right now. 

PLANNER REVIEW: Chic Sparrow Travelers Notebook

The first time I laid my eyes on a Chic Sparrow travelers notebook while scrolling through Instagram, I screamed. Oh. My. Gosh. It was the gorgeous, quality, worn, classic but sturdy notebook you dream of carrying on your far and away adventures to New Zealand.

Picture Bilbo Baggins scrawling notes of his journey.

Picture a secretary whose also a mom and wife, using whimsical inserts and stickers to piece together her busy but full life.

Picture a researcher, trekking through the mountains of Scotland, scribbling notes of his finds.

Picture a business owner on Huntington Beach in California, relaxing but writing away notes and ideas.

That’s the beauty of these notebooks. They’re versatile, flexible, yet the type of quality that is going to show the wear and tear of life in years to come, all the while still looking gorgeous and cozy.

“All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost.” — J.R.R. Tolkien

I finally took the leap and ordered a Mr.Darcy Buttered Rum A5 travelers notebook. (Yeah, Mr.Darcy as in Pride and Prejudice! Doesn’t that just scream comfy with the name alone?) I had stalled for literally years, because I didn’t feel like I was an “advanced” enough planner to comfortably use and decorate inserts (which is a total lie). When I opened up the box, I kicked myself for not getting one so much sooner. It even smelled good!

The beautiful thing about these notebooks is that they’re each handmade, right here in the USA. They make it very clear on their website that no two notebooks are alike. While they’re similar in the basic pieces, each notebook contains variations of textures and colors.

In other words, each notebook is different and ready to tell a story as it rides along the journey of life with you. These notebooks are foldable and flexible, yet sturdy enough to hold a pen (yep, a leather pen loop is attached on the inside) and the elastic firm enough to grip your inserts in place, without worrying about them falling out.

Travelers notebooks are a great option if you have many pieces of your life that you want to keep all in one place. Think of it as a “headquarters” or “dashboard” for your life. With the four elastic straps inside, you can have several inserts and still be able to easily find whatever you need at a moments glance. Chic Sparrow also sells inserts too. Not to mention, so many lovely Etsy shops sell inserts that are readily made or that you can download and print at home to track your budget, to do list, calendar, cleaning, movies to watch, gift giving for Christmas time, and the list goes on.

Here’s a quick video below, where you can see this lovely planner for yourself:

CORRECTION:  In the video I mention that the leather is Pantina. While the leather itself does Patina with time, the leather type is considered Vegetable Tanned.

So, what do you think? Do you think you’ll take this piece of magic with you, as you journey through life? I know I certainly will. And I can’t WAIT to see what kind of tales this piece of craftsmanship will be able to tell with me years down the road.

The Honest Truth About Why I Think You Need a Planner

I’m not into the hustle. I’m into hard work. I used to look up to people who were busy, martyring themselves for causes or metrics that in the end were purely being chased out of vanity.

I decided to write this post because I don’t want people to get the wrong idea about WHY I am so passionate about planners and intentional living. I’ve found that it’s certainly not looking back at a to do list that has multiple items checked off. Even better, it’s about looking at your week, your days, your lists, knowing you are accomplishing the right things and you can feel good about it all.

If I’m being really honest, I hate the weird connotations I feel when I hear the word productivity. I feel tired. I feel sad. I feel like a cog in the machine.

I came to the realization a while ago, that I would rather live in a 500 square foot apartment and eat Top Ramen, working in a job I really enjoy making pennies, rather than be praised by people I don’t like for accomplishments I achieved at the sacrifice and cost of what REALLY matters to me.

For me, it was sacrificing positivity (a HUGE personal value of mine) for a label that I didn’t really want.

And life is just far too short for that.

When I was 9 years old, I saw my first glimpse into death.

It was Thanksgiving Day and we had just sat down to eat, when all of a sudden we heard a loud, eerie sound of metal clashing. We ran outside and saw a horrific scene of injury, blood, trauma and pieces of metal that were once normal cars. It was so silent, but all so loud at the same time. 

I’ll never forget my Dad walking over to the driver of the truck that had been slammed into by a small car, all because of a failure to stop at a  stop sign. He held the mans wrist in his hand and waited to hear any sign of life. Calmly, he put his hand down and walked back to me slowly, shaking his head. He locked eyes with me as I stared and quietly said, “He’s gone.”

I still think about that accident to this day, because it was truly a wake up call for me. It all happened within seconds, and within minutes peoples lives had forever been changed.

I have sacrificed relationships for money that was lost just a few days later.

I have sacrificed actually enjoying my life and being present for numbers or Instagram followers or Facebook likes.

And I have wanted and coveted what someone else had (cars, houses, influence, following) not realizing all the panic, the pain and the drama that ensued sprinting after those things instead of pacing themselves.

That’s the key though, with using a planner. You are planning the life YOU want to build. And that’s why I am so passionate about helping people find the right planner and using it.

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Maybe you don’t care about money. Or maybe you do? Maybe you care about having peace in your life. . .  Or maybe you care about having your days filled with your family and friends. Maybe, it’s having your days filled with connecting and working with people who have the same spark you do and the same drive to see things accomplished like you.

We are all different, but a life lived with intention, is hardly ever a life wasted. 

Today friends, I challenge you to write out your 5 values somewhere in your planner where you can scan over them every day. These are key, intrinsic priorities that help you make decisions, choose the life path you want to walk down on and they make sure that no matter what, you are living the life you are called and intended to live.

Here are my personal, 5 values:

* Peace
* Trust
* Positivity
* Service
* Health

I’d love to know, what are your five values? If you feel comfortable, I’d love to have you share them in the comments below! Too many of us are busy living lives that are filled with the agenda of others, instead of stopping amidst the noise and creating the agenda our inner compass is calling us to live.

The Two Types of Planners

The biggest question I get alllll the time is this: “What kind of planner should I get?” and my first question to that question is this: “What does your daily lifestyle look like?”

That’s because I firmly believe that a planner that’s right for one lifestyle may not be suited well to another. It’s OK to get discouraged and overwhelmed at all the planners at there, but I firmly believe that if you don’t give up and you keep searching, you WILL find a planner that’s well suited to you and can you help you get organized. Lets start with the two types first.

The first type of planner are ones that are pre-formatted. Essentially, they walk you through pieces of your day and tell you exactly what to do. This type of planning is GREAT for beginner planners who need help figuring out their style, systems and what they need to be productive! Some examples of these types of planners include:

Day Designer

Passion Planner

Panda Planner

Full Focus Planner

Purposeful Planner

 

Then, there’s planners that only have the dates and aren’t pre-formatted at all. They contain blank pages with the dates or, they’re journals that are an open book, free for you to format and use however you want. These planners are awesome if you know what you need to write down, need a lot of space (like me!) or you want flexibility and freedom in your planning to choose and move strategies as you go. Some examples of these types of planners include:

Leuchtturm 1917 Dotted Pages Notebook

Hobonichi

Erin Condren Life Planner

Happy Planner

Classic Moleskine Journal

Now that you’ve viewed some options, which planner do you think can suit you better or help you stay more on track? I’d love to hear in the comments below! And don’t forget, once you’ve purchased your planner, don’t forget to sign up for my 5 day free email course on getting started!