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When I'm not blogging, I love walking to town with my husband for a date day, talking to my three young adult children about their lives, and planning pretty much anything I can- parties, projects, travel, budgets- you name it I will plan it! Click here to learn more about me!


January 1, 2021

Simple Planning Tips For Everything You Need to Plan!

Do you want to plan a dinner party or a dream vacation or even plan ahead for a home improvement project but don’t know where to start? Being organized and thinking ahead are a big piece to this puzzle.

I have been told my best personality trait is my knack for planning. So I decided to put together a couple of blog posts with simple planning tips that work for me to help you plan everything you are looking to plan!

Travel planning is a beast in and of itself so I will be putting that in it’s own post giving you all my tips on how to plan that vacation you have been wanting to take but are overwhelmed with the idea of planning it. I have never used a travel agency (I guess I can blame my type A/planning personality for that) but did you know I worked for a travel agency for five years???

“Bring the Joy and Motivation”

I recently received an email from Jenna Kutcher (not a personal one – I am just on her mailing list 🤪) and in it 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 LOVE THIS! How spot on is this for 2021???

simple planning tips

I Love to Plan!

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…

I don’t 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..

Here are some of my tips and tricks for how I have perfected my planning skills (in hopes maybe a few of these ideas are helpful to 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 😂.

Own A Planner

I honestly recently went quite a few years without a paper planner. 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. But now I have the Erin Condren Life Planner – I picked the one with the customizable quote on the front and love it. The covers are a sturdy laminate – and can also be moved to your next year’s planner if you bought the markers too and wrote anything on them (like I have already done on my 2021 planner 😂).

simple planning tips

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 by now 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…

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. Also – the calendar on your device is more of an abbreviated quick look at a glance option. At least for me anyway…

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. It helps to get a clear idea of what I expect from myself for the week and what I need to accomplish!

Make Lists

Lots and lots of lists… in the 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 on grid paper. Yup – grid paper. I have used Post it Grid notepads for longer than I can remember. I kinda love them…

simple planning tips

A few years ago, a good friend of mine said he uses Docket Gold graph pads – I was intrigued and decided to buy some pads for myself. To say these are some of the handiest pads of paper to have in the house is an understatement. Do you know how easy it is to make lists with grid paper?? SO EASY!! But I have also taken notes for the many online courses I have taken these last few years with these pads… love them!

I make lists for most of the little daily and monthly to-do’s like groceries, chores, bills I need to pay, etc. These stickies are usually where I put my step by step action plans for anything I want to achieve. They have also been very helpful when planning out the online courses I take. Lists can remind you of the lessons you need to finish or even get you started on that class you keep meaning to take!

Use the Pages and Numbers Apps on your Phone (if you have an iPhone that is)

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 entire year of 2020. But if you can just jot dreams, goals, ideas down- you would be amazed at how much easier planning can be.

Insanely helpful for sticking to your budget btw!!!

The Pages, Numbers, and Notes apps are tremendously helpful with keeping to a budget. If you see it on paper long term – you 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 🤪.

Use these apps for your bucket lists

I currently have a list for the next 5-10 years of home projects, Christmas trips, graduation parties, vacations. I have these on the Pages and Numbers apps on my phone/computer not on my paper yearly planner though. Like I said – things change and it is much easier to move things around on a screen than it is on paper.

Obviously 2020 pretty much moved all my travel plans to another year. In fact, the Greece trip I had planned for my 50th birthday back in June 2020 has now gotten pushed ahead for a few years. TBH- it was a pain in the butt to plan that expensive trip and I am really not a beach person so all that planning effort drove me crazy! I added Romania to that itinerary to get my ‘away from the crowds up in the mountains’ favorite place to be included in that trip. FYI – Romania has now been moved higher on the must see list than Greece 🤷‍♀️.

simple planning tips

This trips spreadsheet in Numbers sure did get changed a lot this last twelve months. I am hoping it gets a little more filled in for 2021 🤪. Some would say it is a vacation bucket list which probably is quite accurate 🤷‍♀️. Not going to lie – while the world of travel has been put on hold – this list has been quite fun to look at and dream!

I have sidebars on this list for fall and Christmas destinations that you can’t see in this photo… but did you notice I am hoping to get to Finland in December?? That was a trip we had planned for 2020 but hey – it will just make it that much more magical when we actually do get there right??

My home project list is all my PAST projects and goals for FUTURE home improvements listed out by year. It’s helpful to keep this list to see what changes you have made and when. One thing the projects list makes me aware of is that I bought time with the bathroom painting remodel I did last summer.

simple planning tips

Looking at the home project list – I can plan out when I will likely need to spend money on that bathroom again. And PLAN accordingly! Like I mentioned in my post about how to DIY board and batten – things change (you know like a global pandemic keeping you home for your 50th birthday). But planning for when I THINK things will need to be updated in the house is quite helpful for sticking to the budget!

simple planning tips

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. Having this in an app prevents me from reinventing the wheel year after year… Back in October I shared my Thanksgiving schedule here on the blog. I meant to share Christmas with all of you but time got the better of me… there’s always next year though!

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!!

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Make sure to go easy on yourself… if you don’t check things off that grid paper list you have going for quite a while – its okay! Planning is a learned skill (unless you are like me and born a planner 🤪). It can be taxing on your brain too – so give yourself and your brain a break.

If we have learned anything from 2020 – it’s that often things do not go as planned. And THAT IS OKAY! Flexibility is not my strong suit but 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 😂.

Be Kind to Yourself

Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.

-John Lennon

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.

I am currently enrolled in two blogging classes and seem to be moving at a very slow pace… and as you all know tax season is coming up pretty dang fast. That grid paper is going to be used quite a bit these next few months 😂.

Planning skills take practice and a conscious effort so don’t give up but also – make sure to be kind to yourself!!

Well there you have it – my simple planning tips to help you be a better you and plan that project or dream trip while you are at it! Let me know if you have an awesome planning tip that works for you in the comments below!




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