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How I Set Up and Use My Planner

How I Set Up and Use My Planner


Edit 3/3/16: If you want to see my latest setup click here. I also have a video in the post to give a more in-depth look into my planner.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I love paper planners. The lack of any one electronic method that suits my planning needs has kept me in a paper planner. Not that it really matters, though. Even if there were an electronic method that did work, I probably wouldn’t use it. I just love paper!

A few months ago I shared with you various kinds of paper planner layouts. In that post, I talked about my newest planner, The Planner Pad. Well, after trying to adapt to the larger 8 1/2″ x 11″ size, I switched back to my A5 size Life is Crafted pages.

The larger size was just too bulky for portability. And, if I was sitting in my chair in the family room instead of at my desk or the kitchen table, it was too hard to fit on my lap to write in comfortably.

So, in early December, I spied the Kikki-k gold planner online. I already have one Kikki-k planner in raspberry, but the gold color was calling my name. I placed an order for it and then when it arrived I wrapped it up for Christmas.

gold planner

I use the Mind Organization for Moms method of time management by Power Of Moms. This method is based on Getting Things Done by David Allen. I have set up my planner to hold most of my resources for this method.

This is what I have in the 7 sections in my planner:

1. Calendar
My calendar is the bulk of my planner. I use the week on two pages option so I can see my whole week at a glance including to-do lists, spending, exercise tracking, and water intake.

At the top of the pages I divide my to-do lists into 5 categories: computer, phone, discuss, home, errands. The computer and home categories get two sections each because I tend to have more to do in those areas than the others. These categories are from Mind Organization for Moms.

My calendar is still a work in progress, but after using these pages consistently over the last month, I am beginning to develop a method that helps me to stay on top of everything.

Planner pages

2. Meeting Notes
When I first saw this section in the planner I wasn’t sure that I’d use it that much. However, in the last few months I became involved with two event committees and another committee with my church. I definitely have a need for this section now.

Arienne from Life is Crafted sent me these awesome top dividers with my planner pages order. I’m using them to separate each committee I am on to keep my notes all organized. It is nice to have this section and not worry about taking another notebook to every meeting.

Planner Tabs

3. To-do lists
I do a brain dump in this section just to get all of my to-do items off my mind. Then I separate them into different categories such as things to be done now, current projects, long-term projects, and blogging. I reference this tab when I need to see what needs to be done in the coming weeks. I can then assign the tasks to the appropriate places in my planner.

4. Current Projects
I use this section to keep up with projects I want to complete in the next 3-4 months. I usually have tasks from my to-do lists section entered here. This section makes it easy to see what I want to get done and the steps it will take to accomplish those projects.

5. Important Next Actions
This section is where I list all of the important next actions I need to take in the following month or so to move me forward on my current projects. I take these actions from each of the current projects I’m working on. Then when I do my weekly planning, I check this section to see if there is something I can get done in that week. This section is really where the work begins to take shape on my projects.

6. Routines and Planning
I keep a list of routines I try to do on a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, and annually. Let me assure you, though, these things don’t always get done when they are supposed to. These lists just help remind me what needs to be done.

7. Goals
As you would expect, this section keeps my goals for the month and year handy for me to reference. I also have some long-term goals here to keep me motivated and moving forward.

I’m sure some of you reading this think I’m super organized. Let me tell you that I don’t always spend my time wisely. Just because I have a great planner and a plan does not mean I’ll be productive. I still have to do the work. I’ll accomplish nothing if I just look at my pretty planner and then don’t do anything to follow through with what I have planned.

I’d love to hear how you manage your time. Leave a comment below and share what kind of planner you use no matter if it’s paper or electronic.

Happy planning!

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  1. Where do I go to get those planner pages? It looks like exactly what I need!

    Thanking you in advance of helping me.

    God Bless

  2. I love this post Jennifer,

    I was just using the calendar on my phone but I used to have (& love!) a pocket sized filofax so I decided to go back to my first love & buy a new personal size one . I bought the leather in the fluro pink colour & I absolutely love it! The only annoying thing is that the calendar doesn’t start until January 2016 but I’ve started to transfer my website passwords & other important information over in preparation and writing in important dates for next year (birthdays, when the dogs due her annual vaccination ect!).

    I also love to customise my filofax with different coloured pens, washi tape, sticky notes so I’ve gotten started on that too. I’ll definitely be checking out the “life is crafted” link you posted above for more ideas .

    Thanks again for the interesting post!

    Best wishes,

    Sarah xx

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Sarah! I’d love to see a pic of your new filofax. I love planner binders and would have them all if I could afford them! 🙂

      I’m waiting on my Life is Crafted pages for 2016. I can’t wait to get set up for the new year!

      Thanks again for stopping by to say hello!

  3. I can’t even read the whole article without hurrying down to comment on my excitement!!! Oh my goodness are you me?? Am I you??? Like in the first four lines you said ALL of my “people” and methods (Planner Pad, Power of Moms, I see some GTD keywords)!!! Ok now to scroll back up and devour each section. Btw do you know of a safe way to get a beautiful cover for less? I DROOL over Filofax A5 Aquamarine but haven’t yet thought I could spend $80. Thanks so much! And I’m so happy Pinterest led me to you!

    1. Dori,
      I’m so glad Pinterest led you here, too! I’m excited to meet someone else who loves paper planners as much as I do. This post is from last year, so I’m working on a new post (hopefully with video) to show my current set up. As far as getting a good deal on a planner, you might check Amazon or eBay for slightly used planners. Some people sell them when they realize that particular planner won’t work for them. I think there may be Facebook groups that sell planners too. You might want to check that out.

      Thanks again for stopping by!

        1. Hi Dori,
          Kikki K have some nice planners on special (30/40% off) at present so if you didn’t find something at the beginning of the year now might be a good time to get one.
          A fellow paper lover,

  4. I found your blog on Pinterest and have fallen in love with it. Totally agree that even if someone came up with a calendar on my phone that could meet my needs I would still use my filo I just love it!

    Love this post xx

    1. Fay, I’m so glad you stopped by to comment! I’m getting ready to do another post and possibly video on my current planner set up. It’s basically the same as in this post, but I’ve also streamlined it a little more. Glad to meet another filo lover!

  5. What a beautiful planner! Planner envy right there haha. I love your ideas, I will definitely be introducing these into my own planner. It was so useful I’ve used it as part of a resources post. Keep up the good work!

    1. Jess, thank you! I’m so glad you stopped by. I’m working on a new video and post to show my current set up. I hope to have them ready by next week. Be sure to look for them!

      1. Hi! Jennifer, this is Robin Green. I just recently invested in my first planner. I found your blog on pintrest and your explanation of how to set it up was exactly what I needed. Thank you so much. Sometimes I find it overwhelming trying to set mine up, being my very first planner. Mine however is a day runner.

        1. Robin,

          Thanks for stopping by! I’m so glad this post was helpful for you. I’m working on a new post with some more ideas on how I plan for the year ahead. I’ll be making a video to go along with it too. I hope to have it up by the end of December. I hope you’ll check it out and let me know what you think!

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