Saturday, November 12, 2016

Do You Love Planners?

I do.  But I don't always love using them once they're set up.  I tend to enjoy the set up process more than the day to day use part.  I've found that to be true in several areas of my life.  I can plan a fabulous layout for my garden, researching what plants will do well together, when to plant each one, etc.  I can even get the seeds into the ground.  But go out and pull weeds on a regular basis?  Not so much.  Or filing-I absolutely LOVE the process of setting up a filing system.  I've lived in my current home for 4 years and I brought a stack of papers when we moved that needed to be filed.  Want to know where they are to this day?  Uh huh, still in the little basket they were in on my desk at the old house.

Knowing my tendencies better now, I try to exercise a bit of constraint when I see planners.  There's no point in buying one and filling in the first few pages of details if it doesn't get used.  However, I know I need a way to keep a running to do list and a calendar to mark activities that have to happen at a specific time.  Keeping track of kid's sports and other activities, church functions, my occasional outing with a friend, and my husband's music gigs means it has to be written down.  Sometimes that even fails-it doesn't do me any good to write it down if I don't look at it each morning!

I've seen some very beautiful planners and tried very hard to justify their price because they are so beautiful, but I can't.  There's a frugal trait within that usually wins.  However, I'm not quite willing to just use a spiral notebook either.  I like having the dates filled out for me.

What about keeping track of that schedule when I'm not at home?  Should I take that planner everywhere I go?  Maybe once upon a time, but we all know the digital age means there are oodles of  calendar apps.  OK, so how do I find balance between what I can see on a small phone screen and what I can see on paper?  What about knowing that if I have to pick up my phone every time I want to add to my to do list, see what's next on the list, or check something off means that I will get sidetracked by all the distractions that go with this digital age?  Where's the balance of using both types to benefit me?  It's in choosing the right paper planner and the right digital calendar.  What works for me might not work for you, but here's what we do.

We find the free Cozi app to be quite useful.  Tony and I both have it on our phones and I use it on my laptop often too.  Everything that has to happen on a certain day or date and at a certain time goes into Cozi.  Of course, it instantly syncs with all the devices we use it on, which means while Tony is away working and gets a call about another job, he knows right away if he's available.  We don't clutter it up with daily activities that we know will happen for precisely that reason-we both need to be able to see the scheduled activities quickly.

Each person is color coded so that we can also quickly tell who's involved in this activity.  Recurring activities are easy to program, as are reminders.  They can be set up to two weeks early, and as little as zero minutes before start time.  Notifications can be set up for any user with a smart phone or email address.  At this point in our life, that means Tony and me, so when an activity is just for one kid, we have to also mark which parent is responsible for getting that kid to his or her activity so that the app will send a notice to that parent.

The calendar portion has a place to record notes for the event (such as, 'don't forget to take_____' and the location, which will of course link to a map app to help you get where you're going.  The Cozi app also has a to do list, shopping list, and place to record meals.  We used to use the shopping tool more often, but now I simply use it as a way to keep track of things I want to get at various places some day in the future when I happen to be in an area that has a better selection for shopping than where we live.

Then there's the paper planner.  For the last two years I have used The Homemaker's Friend Daily Planner.  I was drawn to the cover AND the individual pages.  Many times a planner has a beautiful cover, but the daily pages are quite plain.  Since it needs to be open to be useful, that means the cover is rarely seen. Having pretty pages inside is a big selling point for me. Clearly, the set up works for me in this season of life, or I wouldn't have just purchased my 3rd one.  Because I like it so much, I recently became an affiliate with the Homemaker's Depot, which is where the planner and a few other useful books are sold.  If you use the link above to buy a planner or anything else at The Homemaker's Depot, I get a small commission, but your price doesn't change.

For the next couple of weeks you can save 20% on your total order and get free shipping on orders over $49.  Details-

20% off at Homemakers Depot (Expires 11.22.16)
Coupon Code: nov2016
 FREE SHIPPING on Orders over $49.00

2017 Planner (fall) w/menu

I like the tabbed dividers for monthly and weekly pages, plus the sections for tasks, projects and shopping lists.  Those are even perforated so that I can take just the small list with me to the store, not the whole planner.  Sue, the creator of this planner, had the brilliant idea to make the monthly pages with tabs that make it easy to get to a particular month, but don't stick out as far as the divider tabs.  The weekly section even has an indication on the upper right to cut off that corner so that you can quickly turn to the current week.

There is a Bible verse or inspiring quote on every page, and there is a theme to the verses that changes each year.  This year all of them utilize the word 'let', and there are some amazing verses with that word in them!  I like the size too.  At 8.5" by 5.5" it's big enough to be useful, but not so big as to be clunky.

The weekly pages are 2 pages per week, and the upper left of the layout is a two column to do list section.  Monday through Friday are equally sized, with Saturday and Sunday being about half that size.  Each day has a space for that day's menu, and a blank area to use however it best suits you.  I found it useful for recording income from egg and milk sales, or cash expenses that I had no other way to track.

Right now, Sue is giving away her menu planning worksheets that match the theme of the 2017 planner, and that's a $4.95 bonus for you!

I know the current trend is to use colorful pencils or pens, washi tape, and/or sticky notes to personalize events and activities, but our schedule changes enough that I need to be able to easily erase and rewrite.  I love the idea though, and maybe one day I'll utilize it.  For now, I use my coloring books as an outlet for that colorful and creative side.

Do you love planners and planning?  What's your preferred method, or are you still looking for one?  I'd love to hear from you!

PS-I'm creating a whole new blog, AZFarmGirl.  Look for it soon!