Figuring out the perfect method for organizing your day planner can be a process. Now that I’ve used a planner for a couple months, I’ve finally discovered what works for me and what doesn’t. My planner is a place where I keep track of housekeeping chores, workouts, meals, appointments, to-do lists, goals, and habits I want to form. It could also be used for work and school schedules without taking too much away from the other categories. While this is a lot to keep track of, no one wants to lug around a heavy, bulky day planner. There are ways to squeeze all those responsibilities into a smaller space!
This planning advice might work better if you are a stay at home mom than if you are working or going to school. I have only used a planner since being on maternity leave, so my schedule is tailored differently. I will have to post an update on planner changes once I return to work!
First Thing’s First: Color Code
Color coding is not necessary but it is easier to follow and looks cute! I use skinny markers, the cheap off-brand kind, and I love them. Gel pens would work great, too.
These are the colors I use for the different categories:
Orange: Daily and Weekly Lists
Dark Blue: Weekly Recurring Tasks and Appointments
Light Blue: Sub-notes and Reminders
Purple: Housekeeping Chores
Light green: Workout Description or Name
Red: Checkmark for Completed Workout, ALSO Sunday Lesson Planning
Pink: Weekly Meal Ideas and What We Actually Ate
Black: Weekly Focus
Variety of colors: New Habit
To-do lists can be pesky little critters. There are sometimes just too many to complete in a day or even a week. When I first started planning, I would list in the daily planning section all the things that needed to get done, and sometimes there were 15 items on my list! Even while writing it down, I knew I couldn’t finish it all in one day, so I would cross off the things I actually finished that day, and write my new list the next day. It was mentally overwhelming. At the end of the day, Neil would come home from work and I would be so disappointed with myself because I only completed one or two tasks on my list. So I figured out a better way.
- In the weekly goals and notes section, I write down a list of tasks that need to get done this week. I do this on Sunday, making sure to leave room for things that come up.
- On Monday, I write a list of no more than eight tasks to accomplish for the day, usually less than six.
- A couple of those tasks are things I would probably do no matter what, like “work out” and “shower”. These two tasks take up one to two hours of my day, so I like to account for them. It makes me feel good to cross them off my list as I complete them and motivates me to accomplish more. What are a couple parts of your essential daily routine that can be added to your list?
- I try to do the smaller tasks first. The sooner I can check items off my list, the more I feel encouraged and “on-the-ball”.
- Tasks that happen weekly or regularly, I write down at least a week in advance. For example, on Mondays I try to go grocery shopping, on Wednesdays I bathe Claire, and on Sundays I write in my journal. The week before, I write these at the top of the column on those days, then when the day comes, I also add them to my to-do list.
*If I were working, I probably wouldn’t have more than 5 tasks on my to-do list, depending on my work schedule that day. If I were in school, more items on my list would need to be school related. Don’t think something can’t be on your to-do list just because you would do it anyway.
I am still not the greatest housekeeper, and the housekeeping chores are the first thing to not get done if it’s a busy day, but the system I have now is much better than what it used to be…
My prior housekeeping plan was to let the house get really dirty and not clean anything for about three weeks. I would always keep the kitchen area fairly clean by doing dishes daily and wiping down counters, but things like dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, and laundry either wouldn’t get done, or my husband would do them. I kind of have a mentality that if I just always clean up after myself, things will stay clean and I won’t have to worry about chores. But the thing I have learned after living in my own place for awhile now is that the house gets itself dirty… dust builds up, crumbs fall on the floor, hard water stains form. So you can’t just expect a clean house just because you clean up after yourself.
On Saturdays, I would spend all day trying to clean everything. Some chores would go months without getting done because I just couldn’t do a month’s worth of cleaning in one day.
So now you’ve heard my housekeeping confession, and hopefully it makes you feel better if you are not the greatest housekeeper, either. Or maybe you thought you were not the best, but now you are changing your mind!
Here’s what I do now:
Download and print this housekeeping chore list HERE.
At the bottom of the column in the daily planning section, I write down the chore for that day. When the day comes, I also add the chore to my to-do list. I don’t always get the chore done, but if not, then I try to do it the next day. Usually I can get the chores done by the end of the week, but any unfinished chores are finished Saturday or simply skipped for the week. It works much better than spending my entire Saturday cleaning!
You could paste the table into your notes section at the front of your planner for reference. I have mine handwritten, and I sometimes make changes if my schedule changes. For instance, my Friday mornings are usually not very busy, so I plan more chores for that day.
I write down my chores on each individual day at the bottom of the page in purple.
Feel free to customize this table to fit your needs. Obviously if you only have hard floors you will not need to vacuum, or if you have three levels instead of two, you’ll need to make some changes.
*My mom tells me that once I have more kids, this cleaning schedule will be unrealistic. I’m hoping to prove her wrong! 😉
My workout plans have been simple to implement. On Sunday, I plan and write down my workouts for the following week. I always put a check box next to the description of the workout so that I can write a checkmark after I finish the workout.
I don’t actually plan my breakfasts or lunches; dinners seem to be more of a struggle to come up with. On Sundays, I brainstorm a list of dinner ideas based on what we need to use from the fridge or freezer, then I write my top five or six recipes in the weekly notes and goal planning section.
Next, I write the ingredients I need to purchase on the markerboard that I keep on our fridge.
*Side note: I love keeping our grocery list on the fridge because when I run out of something while cooking, I can just grab a magnetic dry erase marker off the fridge and write it down real quick. Here is a magnetic dry erase board on Amazon.
I purposely plan shopping day for Monday so that I have the ingredients for dinners that week.
I also like to write down what we actually ate so that I can have a good idea of what we need to eat more or less of over the long term.
Forming Good Habits
If there is a new habit I want to form, I write it down in the bottom left corner of the weekly planning page and try to make it nice and flashy. 🙂 I only focus on one habit at a time, so it doesn’t require a whole lot of room. Since I always keep my planner open on the dining room table, I see the reminder throughout the day.
There is a space at the top of the weekly planning section for a weekly focus. I try to correlate my weekly focus with the monthly vision plan, writing either tasks or smaller steps that will help me reach bigger goals. I think it’s important to have a general direction or focus for both the month and week.
On top of the weekly and daily planning pages, there is a monthly calendar. I used to use this to write all of my appointments and things like “date night” and “family night”, but then I realized I was never looking at the monthly calendar because I had all that information in the daily section. I now use the monthly calendar to plan these blog posts! I have a list of post ideas, and I come up with titles based on the ideas, then I write the titles on the days I want to post. Of course, I put a check box next to each one so I can account for the unwritten posts.
You may not have a blog, so the monthly calendar could be used for more complete meal planning, school deadlines, a work schedule, or anything you wish you had more room for in the daily planning section.
Hope These Tips Help!
This is my weekly planning section on a Friday, so mostly full. I love how it looks when all filled in. How do you organize your life? Do you agree that it’s easier to have all your plans in one place? Let me know in the comments below!