I’m not new to the planner community. I am, however, new-ish to writing about it. I think I might have written one post previously about how I use my planner as a working mom. At the time, I was using a Sugar Paper Planner that I thought was all fancy and stuff. Turns out, it really didn’t meet my needs long-term and I ended up ditching it halfway through the year. Since then, I’ve used a Passion Planner, Arc, At-a-Glance, and most recently, a Day Designer, among others.
See, I’m an OG when it comes to planners.
So, why on earth did it take me eleventy hundred years to start using a binder system? Specifically, why did it take me so long to start using an A5? Here, take my planner card; I am not worthy.
Ya’ll, my life has been forever changed with the binder planning system. Forever changed, I tell you! The ease at which I can customize this planner to be a daily, weekly, or monthly. The ability to keep all the things in one place. The grownup feeling I get when I pull my Webster’s Pages Color Crush planner in Camel from my sleek work bag like a boss. Man, I didn’t know what I’d been missing and I keep telling my husband that I love this planner. His response: You loved all your planners until you didn’t anymore. Psshh, he doesn’t know anything anyway. I really, really do love this planner. Maybe it’s because I was feeling so unfulfilled with the Day Designer–the planner I used for all of two months before tossing it and getting the Webster’s Pages. I thought I’d love the daily format of the Day Designer, but having come from using the Passion Planner during most of 2016, I think I’d grown accustomed to the weekly format. Or maybe I’m just not as busy as I thought. Who knows? Either way, the Day Designer is a thing of my past.
This is how I use my planner as a full-time working mom and wife?
Should I tell you how many times I’ve Googled “working mom planner”, “how I use my planner as a working mom,” “working mom planner hacks?” No. Good because I wouldn’t be able to anyway. Just know that I’ve done it a lot. I am fascinated, semi-obsessed, with looking at other folks’ planners. It brings me great joy. That said, I assume that working moms don’t have time for all that posting mess because the pickings are slim. Even with all my Googling skills (You better ask about me.), I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for. Many of the results were outdated, consisted of moms who don’t work outside the home, or took me to actually buy or print out a “working mom planner.” Umm, I didn’t ask for that, ya’ll. Jeez. I did come across a few good ones but they were few and far between. Thus, here I am sharing my planner (and life) to help contribute to this community I find so fascinating and is so vastly underrepresented.
I will admit that how I use my planner changes depending on what’s going on in my life. If I feel like something could be working better by doing it another way, I do it. I am not static when it comes to planning, but this is how I’m doing it now.
I usually plan for the month ahead during the last week of the current month…when things are good. Sometimes, I end up planning for the month a few days into the month. Such is life. I start by getting my phone, note lists from the previous month, J’s school calendar, the school district calendar, Hubz’ on-call work schedule, my PowerSheets, and opening my work calendar. All the things that are time-sensitive or have a definite date go in first. For example, J’s monthly pulmonology appointments, PTO meetings, YP meetings or events, and Hubz’ on-call schedule since it varies month to month would go in first. These are necessities because I typically build the rest of my schedule around them. Birthdays or anniversaries also go in during this phase because, again, definite date and depending on the person’s location, time-sensitive for gift shipping. Lastly, I indicate my pay days.
After the most important, date-specific stuff is entered, I take a look at my goals for the month. What do I want to accomplish and more importantly, when do I want to accomplish it? Is there a step that I can take this month that will allow me to complete a goal or at least make some progress toward completing the goal? For example, if I know that J has an appointment on the 20th and that I’ll have to take time off anyway to attend the appointment, that may also be a good day to have my Passport picture taken, since 1) I’m already off and 2) one of my goals is to get a Passport. This is why I like to have all the schedules and to-do lists open at the same time–it allows me to see how things and parts can work together.
I use washi tape to denote something that is happening over a period of time. In the example above, J was out of school for a week for spring break. When I opened my monthly spread, my eyes immediately went to the line of washi tape because it stood out so much.
What else goes on my monthly spread?
This is actually a new thing for me. Recently, I started using the ‘notes’ section of the monthly spread to list all of our bills and their due dates. Now, I will admit that once I saw all the bills we had, laid out in all their nakedness, I wanted to throw the damn planner out of the window and hide under the covers. Seriously. I mean, I know we have bills but seeing them all right there was just too much. But I digress.
Having our bills listed with the due date, while jarring, was very helpful throughout the month. No late payments (and therefore no late fees) was worth the mini heart attack. I’ll probably keep this practice going. I’m all about managing these finances.
Utilizing the box at the bottom of the calendar page for goals is another new thing I tried. And, ehhh?? I’m not sure if I’ll keep it. I didn’t reference it as much as I referenced my weekly goals and that made me think that the space could be better utilized for something else. I may try it one more time before making a decision because, logically, having the monthly goals listed can certainly influence the weekly goals. I mean, I get that and all, but I just don’t know if it really works for me. Time will tell.
So…that’s pretty much how I set up my planner as a working mom and wife. Next month, I plan to schedule out some self-care days among other things because this system is always changing to better fit my needs.