I’m a stay at home mom with a growing list of digital marketing clients. Time is my smallest resource which makes me a productivity junkie and process freak. So you know I love online tools that make my life easier.
Project Management Software? Sign me up.
Tax software? Take my money.
Of course I use Google calendar to track all my meetings, doctor’s appointments, reminders, recurring tasks, and all that jazz. About a year ago though, things started falling through the cracks and I realized I needed a new solution. I didn’t want to be glancing at my phone or the computer all day to stay on track. I have enough to do on a screen. I started searching Pinterest for a good planner and discovered bullet journals. The idea that I could create my own schedule design really appealed to me. Artsy sketches and 46 pen colors did not. My strengths are in organizing, not design. How could I take this concept and make my schedule my own?
Let me preface this by saying: I believe that you should use the tools you have until you can’t anymore. I decided that the best way to achieve a planner template was in my go-to for everything, Google Sheets. I outlined out some tables, labeled the days, and voila! My custom planner was complete.
As my needs changed, the planner has taken on different forms. One week I felt more goal oriented, and the next wanted to take more notes on my kids’ development. I’ve made three versions, and each has helped me at a different point in my life.
Yes, I do realize that lots of people use weekly planners they buy online. I always start a planner with good intentions, then find it years later with 90% of the pages blank. That’s because I’ve never had one that has met all my needs and been set up the way I wanted it to be. I can proudly say that I’ve been using my custom planners for over a year now. It’s amazing how something works so well when it’s able to change with your needs.
The Scheduling Process
I use Google Calendar events to add any Facebook events I’m attending as well as client or personal appointments. I use the calendar reminders to schedule recurring tasks like taking the trash out, car upkeep, even watering my plants. Every weekend, I sit down with a fresh planner, and jot down everything for the week ahead. If I schedule an event for the week ahead after the paper schedule has been created, it goes on paper instead of in the app.
Throughout the week I use the planner to know what to expect every day. Once I complete an item, I highlight it. Crossing it off means it was cancelled, or we didn’t go. I keep about 5 at a time on a clipboard so I can carry it to the kitchen and check things off, or reference a past long term list if I have a few extra minutes here or there.
Here are the three different versions and how they have worked for my lifestyle. I hope they give you some inspiration to set your planner up in the way that suits your own life. No time for that? Download the 3 version PDF (and get access to the Google Sheets to edit them for yourself) for a measly 3 bucks.
Planner 1- Daily Tasks, Menu, & Goals
The tasks, to-dos, and events on this planner are all-in-one. Anything that needs to get done on a particular day is together in one place for me to glance at. I always struggle with what to cook for dinner, so planning that ahead makes life a little easier. I could also match up the complexity of the meal prep with light days, so I always know I can handle it when the day comes. I was also pregnant when I created the one you see above. Getting exercise and retaining my flexibility was a top priority, so I added a goals section to track what I did every day. It’s really satisfying to see when I complete a goal every single day and I love filling the boxes in. I also added sections to note projects that should get done at some point during the week, and projects that can wait, but shouldn’t be forgotten. I do have a separate shopping list for food, but I added a place to note clothes and random items that aren’t available at the market.
And yes, my kid sometimes gets ahold of the planner for their own artistic endeavors. Evidence above.
Planner 2- Daily Tasks & Journal
This planner uses the all-in-one concept for tasks, events and to-dos on the left. I tried to plan one activity for my son every day of the week so I’d have something to turn to if we got bored with playing cars. (Which is rare, but can happen.) I also made a note about when I quit dairy to help my newborn’s allergy. If I ever need to know the exact date, I can look back and have a record. Told you I was obsessed with organization.
It was probably just my post-birth hormones, but at this point I was loving every day with my new little girl. I was terrified of forgetting all the wonderful things she and her brother were doing. Being a mom really is the best. Anyway, I added a journal in place of the menu and goals. I was recovering from a c-section, so no need for the goals. Menu items got written to the left when I realized I was sick of take-out.
Planner 3- Detailed Daily Tasks & Planning for Kids
This schedule came about because of the way my day was sectioned out- before nap and after nap. Nap time really is glorious. I was also starting to take on more clients so my workload was increasing. I was mostly recovered from surgery, so I was back to staying busy around the house too. I sectioned out my events into am and pm. Work got its own column, which wasn’t used that much because of my awesome project management software. I just made notes of the big things I needed to do. The tasks column always fills up quickly.
I included my usual shopping, this week, and long term sections. I also added a whole section for Kids Activity Planning.
This is the schedule I’m working with right now. It’s just so convenient to glance and know that I should plan a playdate to get the little ones out of the house if we don’t have anything going on.
Print One Now and Try It!
For $3 you get each of the planners I wrote about above. The PDF pack is easy to print so you can get going on micromanaging yourself in a flash. Want to edit a section title or customize it even more? You also get access to the Google Sheets file to do with what you will. Quick pay with Stripe and download on the next page. It’s one of the easiest ways to get started planning on your own terms.
Do you think it needs a section added, or do you have an idea to optimize? @ me on Twitter @jahanaydma, and let me know. I’d love to hear how you incorporate it into your own busy life.