I have tried probably every todo app under the sun and they all suffer from the same fatal flaw for me: the window/tab/app gets buried and I stop referring to it. Now, if I was rich with unlimited space, maybe I’d get a monitor just for a todo app. But, I’m not! And I also embrace the small child in me who still loooooooves stickers and an endless supply of gel pens.
My basic planner method is the same no matter what the actual paper product is:
- A weekly overview of things I need to accomplish or focus on that week along with a summary of how I felt about last week and things I’m grateful for (I think this is corny and I am here to admit that it is a nice thing to do for mindfulness).
- A section for each day where I write down the top 3 things I have to get done that day (or more realistically, really should get done) and any other todos that come up.
- Somewhere to take notes.
Some additional nice things to have are: tracking various kids’ activities, food management, and keeping memories.
In the layout above, I’ve repurposed some sections to fit whatever I needed, and ended up using the 3-part box that typically would be last week summary/this week summary/gratitude for some notes on my sister’s wedding instead, but it’s a good overview of how I use things. On the left there are things that really about the week or some specific item of planning (trips, in this case) that isn’t really tied to a given day. I also like to use a quote/phrase sticker down at the bottom, and eventually added a photo of an actual spontaneous girls’ night in an empty area.
On the right there’s one box where you have a line per day, and I split that in half to put my workout schedule – currently following P90X 3 – and the main meal I need to plan each day. After that there’s one box for each day of the week, where I was pretty good about writing down my top 3, if not actually getting through them. It was my first week back at work after sabbatical, I’ll forgive myself. The Saturday box is covered by another photo I printed out of a special memory I wanted to keep of that day, which perfectly fits inside the box. I use an HP Sprocket I picked up for super cheap for little photo stickers and I’m pleased with it, full price is perhaps a little steep but it’s really fun to have, especially because I only have a black and white laser printer at home.
Each Monday morning I sit down and get things mostly set up – drawing 3 circles for each day, reviewing the fridge, reflecting on the past week, transferring any continuing projects or todos, picking out some stickers, etc. I don’t really go for color schemes or any particular theme with stickers, but it’s a fun way to repurpose or define sections and emphasize things.
So how did I end up going from a dot grid notebook to this fancy thing? And what is the deal with the stickers? Well… last fall, I went to Target, as one does, and randomly picked up a pad of planner stickers that jumped out at me because they were really well-designed, nice paper, and the bulk of the stickers were for writing down your top 3-5 things to do in a cute little box. Perfect for how I set up my days!
I really enjoyed the stickers so I went online to try to find more of them and… couldn’t. Turns out they were a limited Target-specific release that I lucked upon. But it did lead me to the company and their core product – the Happy Planner. I’ll be honest – I got completely sucked in to browsing stickers because again, I LOVE STICKERS, but didn’t really find the planners all that appealing because most of them focused on more of a sticker-centric artsy layout, rather than writing on lines. I ended up ordering some sticker books to pick up from a craft store on my next trip to the US, and when I went, I browsed their planners in person and found this one with a layout and relatively understated design that actually appealed to me.
Here’s the thing: this ecosystem of products can really suck you in. There’s an entire world of YouTubers dedicated to showing how they sit down each week to do “spreads” and explaining the pros and cons of the different layouts (mine is called a dashboard layout, apparently) and flipping through sticker books and buying dedicated planner totes. I am perhaps not at that level (though turns out of my beloved friends is at the cutting-custom-stickers level so I mostly just text her about this), but I did get a couple other things that are worth mentioning.
I also picked up a pack of project planning paper in a bigger size and figured I’d try them out before committing to the whole disc-bound system. I ended up enjoying it so much I bought one of their notebooks in that size with a cover I like a lot to hold that paper. I really like being able to customize the contents of that particular notebook without it being a hardcover binder, so it currently has a combination of project sheets and regular lined paper.
And finally, besides the ever-growing pile of sticker books, I have one of their recipe organizers. I have a pretty sizeable collection of cookbooks that I use a lot, and the internet is a treasure trove, but I find myself continuing to write down favorites we make constantly and I’m tired of digging out a giant book for, recipes from friends and family, and modified versions of things that I’ve figured out over several iterations. There’s this funny orange journal I’ve had for almost 20 years that’s become the place I write recipes down (after cutting out several pages of teenage angst at the front), but I figured a structured recipe keeper that still lets me just write stuff down would marry the desire to have something polished with my preference to not futz with my computer any more than I already do. To be fair, I do end up printing the recipe names and foiling them (another post someday, maybe!), but that’s it for the computer involvement 🙂 The disc-bound system also comes in handy again there, because I’ve added a page for common weights and conversions that I use frequently and are spread out between several different books.
Anything else you want to know? Just ask! And I’m sure I’ll change my mind again 6 months from now, because I’m always trying to manage myself better.