Need some simple planning tips for everything you need to plan? This post can help you learn how to be a better planner :).
If you have read my ‘About Me’ section or know me in person – you know my favorite thing to do is PLAN!
My husband used to accuse me of enjoying planning more than actually partaking in said thing I am planning. It’s funny- I was insulted that he said that at first.
And then I realized – well shoot – I better start slowing down and really appreciating whatever it is that I put all that effort into planning…
Sooooo -are you wanting to host a dinner party or a dream vacation or even a home improvement project but don’t know where to start with the planning process??
Being organized and thinking ahead are a big piece to this puzzle.
Because I have been told I have a knack for planning, I decided to write this post with simple planning tips that have worked for me to help you plan all the things in your life too!
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In a rush?
My Best Simple Planning Tips
Bring the Joy and Motivation
A while back I received an email from Jenna Kutcher (not a personal one – I am just on her mailing list 🤪).
In the email she wrote “…what we want to remove is the overwhelm and we want to bring the joy and motivation needed in order to enter this new year with confidence.”
I loved this so much and wanted to share it with all of you ;).
Commit to Planning
My husband and I recently had a long conversation about our different approaches to planning:
He starts with the big picture and works his way in.
I, on the other hand, am all about the details and work my way out…
No matter which way your brain works, during that conversation, we came to the agreement that first and foremost – COMMITTING to an idea or dream is crucial.
It really is the most basic of simple planning tips and yet one that is often overlooked.
Executing anything is never going to happen if you haven’t even started or don’t commit to following through 😂.
Buy and Use A Planner
I went quite a few years without a paper planner a few years ago. But back in the 90’s and 00’s – before smart phones – you could be dang sure I carried my day planner with me EVERYWHERE.
School drop off? There. Dance classes? There. Vacations? THERE. I honestly never left home without it and if I did- it gave me anxiety 🤷♀️.
Back in the day I had a really pretty Laura Ashley flowery cover refillable planner.
Now I have the Erin Condren Life Planner.
I chose a customizable quote for the cover of my 2021 planner and the Bling It On Planner for 2022.
The covers are a sturdy laminate – and can be reused year after year in your new planner if you have written on them with markers.
I personally love these pastel markers and have written many lists on the included laminate covers with them.
In 2021, I also started using a desk calendar as my blogging content calendar.
And boy oh boy am I loving this easy way to see my biggest tasks that need to be done monthly!
But here’s the thing about planners: you need to USE THEM in order for them to be helpful!
And by use them – I mean carry it with you, write appointments/goals/priorities in it, etc, etc…
Planning has got to be part of your everyday life in order to improve on this trait.
It is immensely helpful to see things in writing.
Studies show you are way more productive and successful when you write things down! Writing down your plans and goals helps your subconscious know that you are working on them too 😉.
It is helpful to think of your planner as a roadmap toward your goals.
Use The Calendar on Your Electronic Devices
I would be shocked to hear that you are not using iCal or a Google calendar…
But in case you aren’t – get started!
My family shares each of their calendars with our iCal family sharing plan to make coordinating events much easier.
Everything is color coded so that we can tell who is doing what. My husband does shift work so all of his shifts and meetings are on our joint calendar so that we aren’t constantly asking each other for our availability for family or couple events.
I know what you are thinking- have a paper calendar AND an electronic one?
And my answer is YES!
I no longer carry my paper planner with me so looking at my phone super fast in order to commit to any events (or not miss anyone’s special day) is valuable.
The calendar on your device is more of a “quick look at a glance” option.
A healthy habit to get into (besides using these two calendars) is to look at your calendar every night before you go to bed.
I also like to take a deep look at my weekly calendar on the Sunday before a new week starts.
It helps to get a clear idea of what I expect from myself for the week and what I need to accomplish!
Lots and lots of lists… in your planner and not.
My youngest daughter recently showed me the Stickies option on our Mac computers – have you used this yet?? Just search ‘Stickies’ on your computer and voila – a memo pad appears. I haven’t gotten in the habit of using it yet but it sure does seem handy!!
My list making is in this beautiful notebook.
I also use grid notepads from Post It A LOT!!
Do you know how easy it is to make lists with grid paper?? SO EASY!!
I make lists for most of the little daily and monthly to-do’s like groceries, chores, bills I need to pay, etc.
Use the Pages and Numbers Apps on your Phone
This one is a big one – and one that a lot of people really do not do that often.
The whole ‘live for the day and be in the moment’ personality does not like this tip.
But honestly – it is the biggest part of planning.
I know things change – heck look at the years 2020 and 2021.
If you can just jot dreams, goals, ideas down- you would be amazed at how much easier planning can be.
These lists can also be written in the above mentioned grid journals :).
The Pages and Numbers apps can also be quite helpful for sticking to your budget btw…
If you see your long term goals on paper – you can know what is ahead and how much you need.
Did you know I have been in the accounting industry since college??
Budgets are kinda my jam…well besides planning of course 🤪.
Be sure to read my post on how to make a budget if you need help with that topic!
Write Your Bucket Lists in the Apps
I currently have a list for the next 5-10 years of home projects, Christmas trips, graduation parties, AND vacations in separate folders in my Pages and Numbers apps.
Ideas for what lists to include in these apps are:
- Vacation bucket lists
- Home project goals
- Savings and budget goals
- Holiday schedules
- Recurring party schedules
Like I said – things change and it is much easier to move things around on a screen than it is on paper. For this reason – I do not have these bucket lists written in my paper calendars.
HOWEVER – I have started bullet journaling this year (ie 2022) and am hoping to make that a place for me to write about gratitude, goals, visions, etc.
So you can be sure my bucket lists will eventually be written down in my new bullet journal ;).
My trips spreadsheet in Numbers sure did change a lot in 2020 and 2021. This list has been quite fun to look at and dream especially these last two years ;).
I have sidebars on this list for fall and Christmas destinations now that we are empty nesters and don’t have to worry about a school calendar.
Speaking of which – did you read my post on my two cents regarding empty nesting???
My home project list is in the Pages app.
It is all my PAST projects and goals for FUTURE home improvements listed out by year.
It’s SUPER helpful to keep this list to see what changes you have made and when as well as plan out the timing of any future projects you may someday want to do!
Annnnddd speaking of projects ~ you should 100% check out my impromptu bathroom remodel post.
And by impromptu – I mean the project I did not plan for in the Pages app but the Covid pandemic and figuring out how to celebrate my 50th birthday pushed me to do ;).
Looking at my home project list – I can plan out when I will likely want to spend time and money again on that bathroom.
And PLAN accordingly!
Like I mentioned in my post about how to DIY board and batten – planning for when you THINK things will need to be updated in your house is quite helpful for sticking to your long term budget goals ;).
I also have car purchases on this household project list.
Why? Because we are a family of five with five cars and if I don’t pay attention to those purchases – man oh man could we have a lot of car payments in one year.
For those of you thinking -wait I thought she had adult children? We gift each of our kids a “barely used” (by their dad) car for their college graduation.
And with two more college graduations coming up – there is some budget planning necessary there!
Schedules for how to prep for Thanksgiving, Christmas, regular old dinner parties with friends, and most recurring events in my life are ALSO in the Pages app.
I host book club once a year and serve the same menu (a potato bar btw!) so having this schedule listed in my pages app is super helpful and time saving!
Having this in an app prevents me from reinventing the wheel year after year…
I wrote a blog post detailing my Thanksgiving schedule here on the blog if you are looking for ways to be more efficient with that holiday!!
Use Pinterest and Instagram Folders
These social media platforms come in soooo handy when planning home improvement projects and trips.
I have separate folders on each platform for practically everything.
If you aren’t using the saved folders capability yet – get started! It helps with goal setting and dreaming!!
Take It Slow and Steady
Make sure to go easy on yourself… if you don’t check things off that list you have had going for a while – it is okay!
Planning is a learned skill (unless you are like me and born a planner 🤪).
And It can be taxing on your brain – so give yourself and your brain a break.
If we have learned anything from 2020 and 2021 – it’s that often things do not go as planned.
And THAT IS OKAY!
Flexibility is not my strong suit and I am slowly learning to work on that.
It doesn’t hurt that my husband has a much more easy going personality and can make quick decisions on the fly. Like I said on my ‘we all have a story to tell’ post – together we kinda make one really good person 😂.
I actually do not remember being much of a planner as a kid, but I do remember planning the crap out of my wedding and honeymoon – and it all started from there 😂.
Actually that isn’t true – I planned plenty of events for my college gang I guess.
Don’t even get me started on how much slack a planning personality gets from 18-22 year old friends.
It’s okay though – I know they appreciate me now!
Or so I would like to think anyway..
Be Kind to Yourself
Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.
This may be hypocritical of this super planner to say or maybe this is just me reminding myself to give myself some grace when planning.
Planning skills take practice and a conscious effort so don’t give up but also – make sure to be kind to yourself!!
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Home is where one starts from.
~ T.S. Eliot
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Have a wonderful day my friend! I hope something makes you smile today ;).