How My Planner Helps Me Manage Depression & Anxiety

Hello, friends!

This week I wanted to take the time to share on a subject that I believe needs to be discussed more and taken much more seriously in our society and in my social circles. And that is the subject of mental health, specifically regarding the various forms of depression and anxiety. More people struggle with these issues than we know and it’s time we all talked about the elephant in the room.

I’ve searched high and low for ways to manage these two illnesses in my life after realizing there wasn’t a “fix all” solution that would magically make it all go away. Surprisingly, my planner, has helped me realize that it’s more of a balance and combination of several solutions. This seemed odd, to me at first, since aren’t planners supposed to make you uber productive and vigorous? Which seemed like the last two things I seemed to be able to do in my lowest lows. But planners are so much more than being productive. More than anything, they’re about living your life by design and empowering you to make space for what matters. So I wanted to take the time to share the “aha’s” I have had through using my planner in this aspect.

As a disclaimer, I am not a licensed therapist. Any and all advice or thoughts I share here are purely my own that have been formed through my own experiences. I so recommend that anyone who is struggling with their mental health to seek out a licensed therapist through psychologytoday.com in your area that you can trust to walk you through processing and healing some of these illnesses. If finances are an issue, many therapists offer sliding scale fee options (it’s all based on your income and usually very affordable) or can direct you somewhere where you can get affordable help. It’s also becoming more and more common that insurance providers do cover general therapy, so be sure to check with your insurance too! I LOVE THERAPY and it has helped me so much.

If you find yourself having thoughts of harming yourself or even others, please, please contact the National Suicide Hotline and find some relief. They now have a live chat feature as well if you don’t feel well enough to make a phone call.

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1. TRACK YOUR DAYS: GOOD & BAD
The first way that my planner really helped me with depression and anxiety is through tracking good days and bad days discreetly. There’s several ways you can do this. One idea could be through the monthly layout in your planner and circling dates that are good days and then maybe using a triangle for days that are bad days. I also try to write down things in my planner that are good memories or even if there’s something really bad or hard that happened, I stil try to track it. That has helped me see that I have patterns that contribute to my mental health in good and bad ways. If I don’t get out of the house at least every other day for example, then I tend to get really low and have multiple bad days in a row. If I get to the gym consistently, spend lots of time with friends and family, then I began to notice that I had a lot of really good days in a row.

2. TRACK YOUR HEALTH HABITS
The second way was that tracking my exercise, water, meals and sleep helped me to see that lacking in these things and not making them a priority DEFINITELY contributed to my mental health. I had one week where I had worked 6 days in a row with no exercise, poor diet and little sleep and I fell into a really deep low. I also used to tell myself “Oh, I exercise pretty consistently” but then I would look at my planner and realize I had only worked out two days that week. Hmmmm. So then I would give myself a goal of doing something active at least 3 days a week. Exercise should be something you enjoy! I hate how our culture makes it seem like you need to be miserable and suffer through it. If you enjoy it, you’re more likely to do it. (This is why I play volleyball 3 nights a week!) All that being said, I definitely recommend looking at your planner to see if you can track these items within it. I use the weekly layout in my Hobonichi to track these items and it really helped me want to stay consistent (don’t wanna break that streak!)

3. FIND SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO
When I was in high school, I used to look at my giant desktop pad and find something to look forward to that week. Whether it was youth group or a basketball game, I would always tell myself, “two more sleeps until XYZ!” I realized that just because I wasn’t in high school anymore didn’t mean I couldn’t do that again! Actually, I realized I should all the more do that because being an adult is HARD. So on Sundays I would work on finding at least one thing in my upcoming week that I was looking forward to and excited about. It really helped me to keep going and push through some hard moments. It also made me realize that sometimes I would look at my upcoming week and wouldn’t have anything planned or committed to that I was particularly excited about. So that would set me into action with making plans with a friend to go see a movie, go hiking, etc.

4. MAKE IT FUN!
The last thing that has helped me immensely is making my planning FUN! My planner is wild and colorful and sure, some may think it’s tacky, but I think it’s cute as heck. I love looking at my planner and it’s a happy place for me to be. Make your planning your own! Maybe you could add doodles for upcoming work meetings. Or you can add a funny quote or inspiring song lyric each day. This is initially what drew me to planning, was seeing all these amazing, fun, super cute planning spreads on Instagram that made life so fun. It also helped me realize that I wanted to fill my days with things I loved doing and spending time with people I love.

I hope you have found this helpful! As always, you can find a video below walking through these same tips. I’d love to know if using your planner has helped you at all with dealing with any mental illness, specifically including depression and anxiety. I can promise you all, that it DOES get better and that you are very much loved and worth it. <3


What the HECK is • bullet journaling • and why is it so popular?!

You’ve seen it before on Instagram. . .

You’ve heard your super organized friend mention it over and over again. . .

Maybe you’ve looked it up before and decided that the seemingly complex system just wasn’t for you?

It’s safe to say, bullet journaling is in. It’s swept the planner community by full force and has even seeped its way out into the lives of many other communities and busy professionals

Today I wanted to break it down for you and help you see that you don’t have to do bullet journaling any one way. ? In fact, the most successful planning systems I’ve seen successful people use have been pieced together from various systems they’ve tried over the years. And bullet journaling has a lot of simple concepts that you can pull from to help you in your everyday planning.

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Ok, the basics:

TASK LIST
The method of bullet journaling is focused on a list. Often, people use journals or notebooks with graph paper to help their writing stay in line. The symbols can go in no particular order and follow this code:
  A dot represents a task that needs to be completed (a “to do” if you will)
 A hyphen represents notes from meetings you were in or an observation you made, thoughts you had, and ideas (I’ve even used this to write down song lyrics or poems I had stuck in my head that day!)
o An open dot represents an event that is happening that day that is scheduled or one you want to remember
> The more than sign is then put over at the end of a bullet at the end of a day that represents a task that you migrated to your task list for tomorrow. Womp! Nah, it happens to all of us!
< The less than sign over a bullet at the end of your day represents a task that is scheduled
An x over your dot simply means that your task is accomplished! Yasss queen!
There’s more to this if you want to get really complex with it! You can read more about the signifiers on the official bullet journal website here.

INDEX
Ok, so the task system is the meat of the bullet journal. But these next few pieces are what ties the entire method together. The Index should be on the first few pages of your journal or notebook. It basically acts like a table of contents and reference point for your journal. So if you want to remember when you went to New York City for vacation and what you did there, you put those page #’s here.

FUTURE LOG
On the next two page spreads, you’ll separate them into 3 different sections on each page. These should add up to 12 different sections for each month of the year (snazzy, huh?). Here is where you can put birthdays, anniversaries and big events you have throughout the year. It sort of takes place of a yearly spread in a normal planner.

MONTHLY LOG
The next set of pages will be an entire page spread devoted to one month. On the left-hand side, write the month at the top and then write the date of each day down on the left-hand side. Some people like to know which day of the week each day is, so next to each day you can write the first letter of that day (M for Monday, Th for Thursday, F for Friday, etc.) So each date will look like: 23 – Th. Here is where you can use this as a monthly task list to brain dump dates on the left-hand page and then write corresponding tasks on right-hand page.

 And that’s pretty much it! So as you can see, it can be really overwhelming at first and some people find it too complex to use the entire system. I’ve adapted the task list portion of it for my every day use and find it really easy to track! I’ve tried to do the entire system before and honestly, was not a fan of how much time it took me to set up each portion. I am a huge fan of planners with neat, minimalistic layouts that give me pieces of my day to organize and bullet journaling required me to do a lot of work to incorporate that element into my planning.

See my YouTube video below where I check out my FAVORITE journal and notebook of all time, the Leuchtturm 1917 Hardcover Dotted journal and talk a little bit more about bullet journaling!

What do you think?! Could this be a system you use? Or pieces of it you’ll steal for your own planning? I’m all about begging, borrowing and stealing pieces of systems to create what works best for you!

5 SUPER Cute Planners for Under $20

If there’s one thing that’s overlooked about choosing a planner, it’s definitely choosing one that you will want to carry around. I was so happy when the planner world exploded because we have more options than ever on what planner to choose! As a girl who can’t get enough of cute stationery supplies and planner supplies, I’ve come across some absolutely adorable planners! The thing is though, is that sometimes these cute planners can be quite spendy. ? But have no fear! As a fellow girl who is also on a budget, I’ve come across some ways you create a super cute planner you LOVE using and love to show off when you carry it around. 

Studio Ghibli Planner ($19.90)

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   AHHHH. I flipped out when I saw these! I am a HUGE Studio Ghibli film (My Neighbor Totoro is my all time favorite movie) and was so excited when I stumbled across these on Amazon (Prime baby!). They not only have Kiki’s Delivery Service but Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro as well!

Molang Rabbit Any Year Planner ($9.99)

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Isn’t this so cute?! This little guy is from a company in Korea but available via Amazon Prime too. It’s undated and comes with matching stickers! It’s perfect for carrying in your purse and keeping on your desk when you’re on the go. I used this a while back for our budget and absolutely loved it! It’s a minimal planner, but very cute!

Sanrio Hello Kitty Sweet Kitty Small Diary Scheduler Planner $11.99

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Ok. if we’re being honest I am a bit of a nut when it comes to Hello Kitty. I even have a tattoo of her on my left forearm. So this little guy is way cute and again, Amazon yo! This would be perfect for your budget, meal plans, family activities and even planning out content for your own blog! It’s undated which is great because as soon as you get it, you can start planning and using it at anytime!

Happy Planner w/ Coupon ($10-$20)

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If you love the feeling you get from being able to pick up and look through a planner before you buy it you are in luck! If you head down to your nearest JoAnn FabricsHobby Lobby and Michaels they sell these gorgeous, fun, whimsical, and simple Happy Planners! If you use their 40% off coupon (you can find it online on their websites and use it on your phone, or in your local newspaper flyers too) you can get a discount on them both in-store or online. Often this coupon (most stores will only let you use them on full price items) will knock the price down significantly and make it more affordable and maybe so you can even get some stickers, sticky notes, and bookmarks that match!

Target Dollar Spot

Can we just take a minute to thank the good Lord for Target’s Dollar Spot?! They have loads of crazy adorable planner supplies! This video did a great job showing the variety and amount of planner supplies Target sells and for so cheap too! Every time I walk in I have found tons of not just really awesome stickers and planner accessories, but actual planners themselves! YAS QUEEN. They usually sell inserts as well. So you can walk out Target with a planner, inserts, accessories and more for easily under $20, if not $15. Amazing!

I hope this was helpful to get you to see that you don’t need to spend tons of money to create/have a planner you love and that you love planning in. There are tons of options out there that can help you plan out your life and create the lifestyle you want to live!

This Unhealthy Mindset is Leaving Thousands of Planners Unused Each Year

Can we please talk about an extremely detrimental mindset that we all struggle with? It’s something that is ever apparent at the beginning of the year especially when we’re all eager to change our lives and get things moving. We get PUMPED and are chomping at the bit to make change happen.

It’s the all or nothing mindset.

Either you’re going all in, or you’re not there at all. And I see it happen all the time with using planners too. Right now, this time of year is about the time when a lot of people fall off the planner bandwagon and let their planners gather dust in the corner. Maybe you’ve said something like this: 

“Ah, well. I haven’t used this for weeks! Guess it’s no use since I stopped using it for a while.” 

“Shoot. What a waste. All this paper is blank and it reminds me that yet again, I failed to create another habit.”

So, maybe this is you and you’re cringing at the thought of yet another, unused planner.

I’ve identified a few ways to help you actually use your planner. I knew for so long that a planner was a powerful tool that could help me be intentional with my life and give me peace of mind that I was getting the right things done. 

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1. Make it a part of your routine

We all have routines, (whether we intentionally think about them or not). You have an order of getting ready for bed (wash face, floss, brush teeth, take vitamin, sleep). Or when you get in your car (get in, set down stuff, put water bottle in cupholder, turn on heat/AC, turn on radio, and go). Begin to think about making reviewing and writing in your planner every day. I plan my day in my planner in the mornings, right after I’m done doing my morning devotional time and reading. Then at night, I review it and write out thoughts, ideas, or reflections that I had that day. What time of day do you have a routine that you can take 5 minutes to write in it? 

2. Put your planner where you’ll be triggered to use it

For me, this is on our TV tray in the mornings right where I have my Bible and devotional book. Right after I’m done with my devotional, it’s right there reminding me to look at it. I then write out my top 3 priorities for work and my personal life and any other pressing tasks that I want to get done. Maybe for you, this is your bathroom counter so when you’re getting ready in the mornings you’ll be reminded to write in it while you get ready for the day. Or maybe it’s your kitchen table so when you eat breakfast you can sit down and plan out your day. For some, they leave it on their desk at work so it’s right there, waiting for them when they start their workday.

3. Kick perfectionism to the curb

Make it messy people! Your planner is for you and you alone. I love that my planner is my own little world where I get to reflect, ponder, dream, create and write without judgment. I make it cute, so it’s cozy for me to look at it and write in. I’ve heard people say, “I’m so scared to mess it up! What if I miss a day?!” But that’s the beauty of a planner is that gives you a clean slate every single day. (Just like we get in life!) Who cares if it’s messy at first? In fact, you’re going to mess it up, because you’re a human being.  We learn from our mistakes. So you may see that you really loved a habit tracker, but you found the top 3 exercise daunting and overwhelming. That’s ok! Pick and choose what works for you.  

I hope this encourages you, friend, to keep planning and never give up. Your life is worth living and being intentional with. You have things to create and people to meet. Let your planner help you get there!

PLANNER REVIEW: MochiThings Brilliant Weekly Planner

Yuussss you heard that right! There’s a company called MochiThings! Mochi is a delectable rice cake type substance that most people in America recognize from frozen yogurt shops! MochiThings is a Korean office supplies company I stumbled a few months ago and I have been drooling over their products ever since then (like this SUPER cute wallet!).

One thing that really sticks out to me about their products is that they are functional, yet cute. They are based in Seattle and I have found their shipping to be lightning fast! Their customer service is phenomenal and they were so kind. I reached out to them about partnering for a review of the Brilliant Weekly Planner and they so generously said yes!

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First things first, I ADORE what the front of this planner says. “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” How true is that? Let’s focus on the things we can control and be the best in those spaces and the rest is out of our hands. That’s a great message to see before you open this cute little guy up.

One thing to be aware of with this planner is that it is on the smaller side. It’s a PERFECT size if you want something that has a weekly layout, yet isn’t too bulky to carry around. It’s totally the type of planner you can stick in your purse or backpack on the go. I chose the pink version, however, they have these planners in multiple types of colors and it’s definitely a gender-neutral option!

The outside cover is brilliantly sturdy and tough. I tried scratching it with my fake, acrylic nails to see how it would hold up and there were no markings at all!

The one thing that makes this planner stand out from others, is definitely the Project Plan piece of it. At the beginning, it has a 6-month layout for one half of the year and then the next page spread is the last 6 months of the year. Then, each month it has a monthly update section.

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How cool is that?! And then the weekly layout is unlike any I had ever seen before. I love the big box at the top of each day and then the checklist underneath. Perfect for tracking big appointments you might have that day that you can put in the box and then making a list underneath! The top space would be great to use for a weekly quote or what your top 3 priorities are for that week.

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And lastly, there is TONS of graph paper in the back section of this planner for notes, lists, things you want to remember, etc in the Free Note section.

Of course, I did a YouTube video review that’s more in depth. Check it out below!

Your Ideal Week & Time Blocking for Beginners

Hey, friends!

Allow me to be a little vulnerable this week

A few weeks ago, my timehop on Facebook popped up showing me some memories from a few years ago. Back when I was in college, I was planning a wedding, working full time (between 2 jobs) AND going to school full time. Wow. I don’t miss that time in my life at all. I have changed so much.

My life was a mess. I was exhausted in every way. Physically. Emotionally. Mentally. Spiritually.

And eventually, the wear and tear I did to my body would catch up to me over time. I became really depressed. I was incredibly unhappy and even physically my body never felt good.

The thing is, is that I knew I was going nowhere, but I was going there FAST.

Every day I would tell myself, “Just one more day. Soon, this will all be over. . .”

But the scary thing is that it wasn’t going to be over. I just. Kept. Going. I piled on job after job onto my schedule ignoring my husband begging me to rest. I had to keep up, pay bills, get ahead, save money, go here, work there, thinking eventually I would be at a point where I could drop something.

I was too scaredafraidnervous to sit down, be brave and ask myself, where am I going? Why am I doing this? What do I want my life to look like in 5 years and what will it take to get there?

But the thing is, when we’re juggling 10 things, we’re probably dropping 2-3 of those things often throughout the week or the month. I fully believe we are just not designed to have our head in 5 different places at once. And when we do, it doesn’t last for long before somethings gotta give.

In an interview, Bill Gates & Warren Buffet sat down and were asked the same question, “In one word, what would you say is your secret to all your success?” Without any prompting or hesitation, both of them quickly responded, “Focus“.

To be completely honest, I still struggle with “going nowhere fast”. But my planner has helped me find white space and room. It’s helped me create boundaries and more than anything, it’s helped me carve out time into my life to reach goals and do the things I want to do (like hanging out with you guys!). I truly LOVE my life now and I’m so passionate about planners because planning has helped me become a better person and my planner allowed me to dream again.

I finally realized though, that a lot of the good things I had in life that I had been blessed with, I was really intentional about. For example: my husband. I knew marriage was something I wanted to take really seriously so I was very picky about the guys I dated. I even wrote out what I wanted my husband to be like and what his values were so I could make sure they lined up with mine. I know that sounds CRAZY but it’s insane how well my spouse and I go together. We will be married for 5 years this coming May. (The happiest 5 years of my life!)

How do I keep my house clean? I have time blocked off each week to clean and do basic chores. Very few things are allowed to interrupt that time. I’m very intentional about it because I know my environment affects me in more ways than I know and I can’t focus unless my house is in order. It’s a value of mine.

As you can see, the intentional mindset can apply to any part of your life. But there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. It can be overwhelming when you’re first starting out using a planner.

As I was drifting along, I stumbled up an exercise I found through Michael Hyatt that was a total game changer. It’s a simple task of sitting down to block out time and to create your ideal week.

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You see, when we set big goals, we think it will take big steps to achieve them. But in reality, they don’t. They take small, consistent, usually daily baby steps to get there. (I know, that’s not what you wanted to hear, but honestly – where is the fun in immediate gratification? Compared to the beautiful journey filled with ups and downs of going somewhere, I’ll take the marathon over the sprint!)

We all know you don’t lose weight by going to the gym one time and eating a salad for lunch one day. No, it’s week after week, day after day, making better decisions, choosing to go to the gym for 45 minutes instead of scrolling through Instagram.

This exercise can help you see where you need to cut back on commitments, what’s really taking up a lot of your time and where you can sneak in tasks even that you really want to get done.

I explain more in the video here:

Basically, your steps are:
1. Layout current commitments

2. Theme your days (You can find a way better explanation on this on my friend Mike Vardy’s site, The Productivityist!)

3. Analyze it. Do you need more white space? Do you have a lot of white space you can fill with things you want to be intentional about?

4. Live, tweak, repeat. This will not be perfect the first time you make a go at it!

The ideal week WORKS because your time is focused, you are focused and you don’t feel guilty for working on something because you’re neglecting another. You probably have time blocked out to work on that other task! It’s so helpful.

So tell me, what do you think about the ideal week? Have you ever heard of this? Will you try it using this worksheet I made for you? Let me know in the comments below!

3 Ways Your Planner Can Help You in Times of Distress

Last week, I received some news that dramatically changed my day to day life and affected me and my family in multiple ways.

It left me angry, frustrated, sad, happy, confused and questioning why. I was a ball of emotions. The day after I received the news, I didn’t follow my normal routine. I really wasn’t sure what to do. I felt so off the entire day. My head was all over the place.

The next morning, I opened my planner to the beginning pages and felt instant peace. Here’s why:

1. AFFIRMATIONS

In my planner, I have written down affirmations of who I am and the person I want to become. It has helped me tremendously remember in times of distress what defines me and what doesn’t. And studies show, what we focus on is what we become in the end. My affirmations include things like: “I am a good wife. I am wonderfully made. I am beautiful. I am loved by God and my family. I am safe. God has great plans and a purpose for me.” They may seem really “woo-woo” at first, but I promise you that it will change your life after reading them day after day! Head over to my Pinterest board and pick out some affirming truths to add to your planner. After I read through my affirmations I felt centered and remembered who I was and who I am striving to be.

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Image from @chibird on Instagram

 2. GOALS

During my morning routine after I read through my affirmations I move on to my goals. My goals are 90 days long and I use the PUSH goal system from Chalene Johnson. The news I received actually hadn’t changed my goals at all, which was a relief as I am really close to achieving some of them this round! Studies have also shown that reviewing your goals every day is extremely beneficial and keeps you on track. You can also compare your goals to your to-do list you have written down. You might find that they compare very well or they contrast! Reviewing my goals helps me stay focused on the short-term target instead of pining after an ambitious year-long goal or the dreaded. . . New Years Resolutions! 

3. VISION

Lately, I’ve realized that I am TERRIFIED to write down exactly what I want my life to look like. Would I want it to be too big, too much? Would that make me turn into a greedy, rich, unhappy person? Or perhaps I would want too little, leaving me to die wishing I had done more or helped more people. (These are the things that I think about at night, ha! Thank youuuu anxiety and being a worry wart.). So a few months ago, unprompted, I just sat down and blocked out everything that had gone on that day and just dreamed. I wrote down what my daily routine would look like, I wrote down what kind of friends I would have, what my house looked like, what my job/sources of income were and what kind of person I was. It was so freeing and I could sum it all up in 5 sentences. Some people call this a CRAFL (a Crazy, Ridiculous, Amazing, Fun, Life). I remember studying the “magic question” in college as well when I was majoring in Psychology that would help people dream again. The question is, “If your life could look like or be anything in 5 years, what would that be?” This is a similar question you can ask if thinking long term is too overwhelming (I know it is for me, certainly!). After reviewing this I realized that this news didn’t totally set me all the way off the train tracks on the way to creating the vision I have for my life (like it certainly felt it had).

Reviewing these 3 things (affirmations, goals, and your vision) can be incredibly beneficial to keeping you on track, especially when we get hit out of nowhere with news or circumstances out of our control! Affirmations especially can help anchor us to who we are and what we are here for, despite what the world or our circumstances tell us.

I encourage you and dare you (oh, shoot!) to try reviewing one of the 3 types of daily review exercises above and see what it can do for your life. Tell me in the comments below, which one will you add to your planner and daily routine?



4 Ways My Planner Changed My Life

A few years ago, I was in a job I hated, I had dropped out of college, was in thousands of dollars in student loan debt and had no direction in my life.

Yet, I always felt so busy and like I never had time to do or invest in the things I wanted to accomplish and spend time with the people I loved.

That all changed when I picked up my first planner and committed to using it.

You see, I have always been more of a “Type A” personality. I still remember so clearly the first ever planner I got in 5th grade. It had a horribly bright, orange clipart Tiger cover on it, thick paper, with small, silver coiled binding. I treasured that thing. I loved writing in it. I loved seeing what was coming up next. I loved feeling productive and like I was “ahead” of my homework. Since 5th grade, I’ve had multiple planners and desktop organizers, but none had been life changing like my first Erin Condren planner was.

I don’t remember how I stumbled upon Erin Condren planners, but I was hooked. You could be organized and make it bright and whimsical too? Sign. Me. Up. I was always drawn to organization, but feared becoming a crazy, stuffy, obsessive type person. I had a limited mindset that I wasn’t creative.These things just aren’t true. Sure, they come more naturally to some personality types. But anyone and everyone can be organized. I truly believe this with all my heart. I think it takes hitting rock bottom to see that it’s time for change, it’s time to make better decisions.

My planner became my happy place. I would look at it often when I was at work, motivated by the cute, small stickers and plans for fun things I had written down that afternoon. It gave me peace, it gave me an exit plan, it gave me hope.

Soon after I began using my planner, I realized a few things:

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1. I was a human being. I need white space in my planner.

White space in design is not a good thing, but in our real, actual, very mortal lives, white space is necessary. It’s a very good thing to have in your planner, scattered throughout your weeks. It means you don’t have anything planned. You can be spontaneous. You can rest. You can relax. You’re giving yourself space to be a human.

2. I was doing a bunch of things I didn’t like, with people I wasn’t fond of, in places I hated.

That’s what happens when we don’t take ownership over our lives and schedules. Truly. You have more control over these decisions than you think.

3. Time is precious.

It goes by so fast. In my deepest bouts of depression, time seemed to drag on forever and ever. Yet, I would flip the pages in disbelief that I had let another month go by, sitting in the same space I had been when I had began that month. Enough was enough. It was time to change.

4. Daily habits, when done in the right mindset, add up immensely over time.

Do what you can, when you can.

Please know that it takes time and discipline before you may feel, “in the groove” with your new paper friend! Give it at least a month, daily committing to using it/looking at it before you move on to the next one. 

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:

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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.

And here is a YouTube video going over my entire planner system too!



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!

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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 EtsyAmazoneBay, 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 do indeed collect cute Pokemon cards for my desk.

Yes, I do indeed 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.

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

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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

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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!

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.

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.

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 a sunny 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

“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.

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.

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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. 




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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. 

How to Find the Perfect Planner for Your Life

As the new year approaches, we all love to start things fresh and new with a new slate! And for many people, that includes buying a brand new planner too.

The planner industry has exploded over the past few years and it seems like everyone is coming out with their own planner and major brands are bigger than ever. That being said, it can be really overwhelming to find one that works for you. Often, we buy planners thinking that it will finally be the one or the product that helps us get organized and reach our goals. But there’s a need to be intentional and think through your decision, so you don’t end up wasting money and feeling guilty you bought yet again, another planner you didn’t use. Here are a few ways you can filter out which planners are not the right fit for you and which ones are!

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1.Lifestyle

This is key when finding the right planner. Each and every one of us has different schedules, priorities, and goals and our planners need to align with this! For instance, I have a very flexible schedule that allows me to work whenever and I rarely have time-sensitive meetings or appointments, so many planners with hourly layouts like the Passion Planner just don’t work for me! I’d rather have room to scribble down notes, ideas or important tasks I need to make sure I get done that day. When I was in college though, I fluctuated between the Passion Planner and the Plum Paper Student Planners as their layouts are created and suited with students in mind and are more schedule focused. 

Another example is a stay at home mom who has 5 kids in 5 different activities might need to plan out her day hour by hour, so something like the Purposeful Planner or the Day Designer work great for her so she can keep all her plates spinning as she takes it day by day. 

Take time to think through your days. What stresses or bums you out? What do you need more clarity on with your schedule? Would a planner with a monthly layout help you budget your bills? Will a planner with a daily layout help you stay focused and take it one step at a time, but still allow you to plan ahead with appointments? Find a planner that has a layout that’s conducive to your lifestyle and make it work for you, don’t work to make it fit into your life!

2. Style/Color Scheme

This is also very important, as you want to be carrying this thing around with you everywhere! I recently switched over to a Hobonichi and to be honest, the outside covers of it aren’t pleasing to the eye or my style at all. So I hopped over to AliExpress and bought a $20 unicorn cover for it and now I can’t help but take it everywhere with me! Some prefer planners with more modern and professional style like a Filofax or like Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner. Some prefer simplistic styles with splashes of color like MochiThings planners. Others prefer complete control over the aesthetic of their planner so a good old-fashioned Moleskine and Bullet Journaling works well for them (although, when I was bullet journaling I fell in LOVE with the Leuchtturm 1917 journals). And of course – there’s some that prefer wild, crazy, fun colors so the classic Erin Condren and Lily Pulitzer planners are right up their alley.

3. No Such Thing, Jellybean

It’s time we all accepted that there is no such thing as a perfect planner. Sorry to bait and switch ya, but it’s true! The planner itself is a guide to helping you plan out your days and weeks, but it’s up to you to stick to it and find what works for you. Don’t be afraid to get messy and write and make mistakes in your planner! If it’s dated, you will never be on that same date ever again, so go for it.

Take your time, breathe and explore your options. Rushed decisions are rarely ones we are happy with later and the same goes for choosing the right planner for you. Your unicorn planner is out there, I promise! ?

So tell me in the comments below, what’s your biggest struggle when looking for the right planner? I wanna know! 

Planner Review: Chalene Johnson’s PUSH Journals!

Hey, hey, peeps!

2019. Is. All. Most. Here! I can’t wait! It’s going to be an incredible year.

With a new year brings lots of goal setting and sometimes goal setting can be really, really hard for some people (like me!).

A few years ago Chalene Johnson released her book PUSH that has a 30-day system walking you through her goal-setting process that she’s taught for years. She finally made some journals to go with it!

I went ahead and did a video review of them, which you should note – are the old version! She just released a new set that took into account all of the customer feedback she got on the first round of journals.

I love these 30 day journals, because they’re undated (she doesn’t want you to feel like if you don’t use it for one day, you need to throw the entire journal out the window), have lots of health tracking options (diet, water, exercise, sleep) and make it so your goals are aligned with your priorities. Sometimes, we set goals but then don’t know where we’re supposed to fit them into our hectic schedules, but Chalene’s system really helps you narrow down what’s out of whack, what needs focus and where you want to grow in your life.

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I made some adjustments to mine and took it down to Office Depot to see if they could make it ring bound instead of the hard spine bounding. It took about 5 minutes and only cost me $2-$3! The new plastic coils do go into some of the writing, but not enough to bug me or make it unusable.

If you are someone who likes to see the whole picture or year, needs to plan things out months in advance, then I wouldn’t recommend these journals for that type of planning. These are a really great option if you’re someone who just needs to take it day by day, but need a guide or system to stay on track towards your health and goals!


What do you think? Would this planner help you? What would you change about it?

How I Use My Planner For Our Budget

Something I just love about having a planner is that it can help capture my thoughts, keep me on track and help me see ahead! When I started to utilize my planner to help me with our budget it became a game changer and gave me so much more clarity on what money needed to do what and go where. This system is simple, takes a few steps and involves a monthly layout, which most planners have!

A fresh start in my Hobonichi Cousin (A5).&nbsp;

A fresh start in my Hobonichi Cousin (A5). 

STEP ONE
Use the side of your monthly layout to list out allllll your monthly bills. I don’t include categories that fluctuate or that we pull cash out for (gas, food, fun money, pets, etc.). List out recurring monthly expenses like utilities, phone bill, insurance, student loan payments, Netflix subscriptions, etc.

STEP TWO
Next, go through each bill and look up its due date and the amount that will be due. (If you’re not sure, it’s ok to estimate it!) Then, find the day it’s due and write in the name of the bill and the amount owed.

STEP THREE
Next, write out the days of the month that you get paid. You can always ask the bookkeeper at your work for a list of dates that your paycheck will be deposited or when they plan to write checks if you’re not sure!

STEP FOUR
Now, as you get paid, you can look ahead and see what bills are due before the next time you get a paycheck. As you pay your bills, cross them off in your monthly layout and on the list on the side. I recommend that you do all of this the day you get paid! This makes it so your bills are paid each pay period, you have the money you need for your cash envelopes and you don’t have any remaining money sitting in your checking just tempting you there. That remaining amount can go toward savings, sinking funds, or paying off any debts you still owe.

More than anything, make your budget and planning as easy as can be. Some tips that we have found helpful:

– Use envelopes for categories that you tend to overspend in (for us, it’s always FOOD!). If you hate the hassle of envelopes, they make adorable wallets like these that help keep your cash separate!

– If you’re married and both working, sit down, write out your expenses and see if you can live off of one income.

– If you can, assign each paycheck a job! For instance: the first paycheck of the month will go towards your bills and necessities (pull cash for food money, gas money for the month, etc) and the second will go towards savings or debt payments and paying down debt. If you have side hustles or income, you can then use that money towards fun things like dates, entertainment, etc.

– If you struggle to pay your bills throughout the month with the timing of a paycheck, call the company and see if they will move the due date of your bill. (We’ve done this before and have found most companies want your money and are willing to make things easier for you! ?)

– As you go throughout your days and you think of something you need to budget for with your next paycheck, make a note of it in your planner on that day and use the $ sign before it. That way, when you get paid you can look back and see what you need to remember to budget money for and not forget.

– Now that you have written out what days you get paid, make a note/task for the day BEFORE you get paid to write out your budget for that paycheck. That way when the money hits your account, you already have jobs assigned for your dollars.

– Get cute STICKERS! Goodness, budgeting can be stressful and overwhelming at first. Make it fun with stickers like these:
KeenaPrints
Sweet Kawaii Design
o MonsterMomentsCo
Erin Condren

I’d love to know, how do you use your planner with your budget? Do you pair the two together or keep them separate? Tell me in the comments below!

Just remember, budgeting is a habit that takes time to perfect and it takes a while to find systems that work for you. Like anything, if you stick with it, you will figure it out eventually! You can do it!

Planner Review: Travelers Notebooks!

When you hear the word Traveler’s Notebook, you probably think of some awesome, Hobbit-like, mysterious traveler who has their trusty old leather-bound notebook that has been with them on all their adventures.

And you’re right! That’s definitely what they are. These types of planners have EXPLODED in the planner world – and for good reason! They’re also very customizable, sturdy and great for creative planners who want to have a small section/insert in their planner for every part of their life.

Take note that these planners can be overwhelming if you’re a beginner planner and need a daily layout or weekly spread to walk you through your planning process, or if you’re still figuring out what your planning style is. It’s also really easy to spend lots of money on these bad boys too, decking them out with inserts, dashboards (the first page you see of a section or when you open your TN), paperclips, bookmarks, dividers, etc!

Here are a few of my favorite, recommended places to get your own:

Chic Sparrow

Here’s my YouTube review of a Traveler’s Notebook I bought from Portland Leather Goods! Another bonus is a lot of companies will stamp your name, initials, or whatever you’d like onto the outside of your Traveler’s Notebook!

Planner Review: Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner

If there’s anyone who can truly be considered a productivity expert, Michael Hyatt is your go-to guy. I’ve been following Hyatt online for a few years now and it’s safe to say, he knows what he’s doing. His tips and content have been invaluable and he’s most known for his book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World and his Best Year Ever (goal setting) & Free to Focus (productivity) programs.

This planner combines his approach to daily productivity with a long-term, yearly goals in mind.  One journal covers 3 months at a time and they’re all undated. This is helpful because you don’t have to wait to get started! As soon as you acquire the planner you can begin to use it.

When you first get the planner, I highly recommend going through the videos they made for it and watching through them before you get to it, as he has certain pieces of the planner that don’t make sense or are unrecognizable at first glance.

The quality of this planner is unmatched! You can tell the hardbound cover, ribbons and paper thickness are great for those on the go and those who need to pack it around. Hardbound planners can often have a hard time laying flat making them impossible to write in at times, but not with the Full Focus Planner. At the beginning and end portions of the planner it can be a little unruly and want to close, but through a majority of the book, you should be a-ok!

I think my favorite parts about the layout of this planner are the weekend optimization portions (we don’t really think about planning out our weekends, but it’s still so good to figure out what you’re going to do so you’re proactive about them instead of reactive) and how it reiterates looking at your goals on a daily basis, so you can make your schedule match making progress towards them!

Here’s a short video doing a walkthrough of the planner, so you can see for yourself all its productivity powers in its glory!

This planner is perfect for entrepreneurs, business-focused folks, guys and people who need a straight and narrow approach to their day!