I'm a sucker for a good planner. The old school ones, where I can write lists and cross them off with a pen. I do use iCal on my phone, but that's for actual appointments and the kids activities with set times. My work TO DO list is in a paper planner I keep at work—on my desk. If I have meetings or go on business trips it comes with me, but besides that it stays on my desk. It's a good way for work to stay, well... at work and not at home.
Over the years, I've narrowed down my wants and needs for a planner. It came down to 4 things:
1. SIZE: I feel like I've tried every size and format. Small, large, daily view, weekly view, etc. and I always go back to a full week at a glance with 8.5"x11" size pages. I like to see what my week looks like all at once and I like to make goals on a weekly basis. Also, if I'm going on a business trip and need to bring other papers along it fits 8.5"x11" papers without curling their edges.
2. SPIRAL BOUND: I've also learned that I like a spiral bind. If I'm on a road trip and my husband is driving or I'm on a airplane I can easily fold it back so it fits nicely on my lap. This is tough to find if you are creating your own, but there is a system by Staples called Arc. Their notebooks are awesome because it's just like a spiral bind notebook, but with a nice leather cover. You'll have to buy a special hole punch here, but I've loved the Arc system and have used it for a few years now so the hole punch is worth buying.
3. VERTICAL WEEKLY LAYOUT: The hardest thing for me is finding weekly views in a vertical format. They are almost ALL horizontal. For some reason this drives me crazy. Lists are vertical not horizontal so why do people make their weekly layouts horizontal? I'll never understand. Thus the vertical layout I've created below.
So after looking far and wide I decided to just make my own. I've loved it. I've tweaked it here and there over the years, but it's pretty much what works for me. You can download it below if you would like to use it as well. I've also put some instructions below so you make the most of your planner and understand the difference between option 1 and 2.
- THREE WEEKLY GOALS: I have an area for three weekly goals at the top. Make them simple and realistic. They can be a step to a larger monthly goal, but don't kill yourself.
- THREE DAILY GOALS: Each day has 3 goals at the top. These are the three things I REALLY want to accomplish. I read somewhere that you will feel the most accomplished if you finish the three top things on your To Do list even if you do nothing else all day. So even if the rest of the day you are putting out other people fires or tending to kids you feel like you accomplished something if you only did these three things. My advice for these three items is to find you time in the day that you are most efficient. Mine is in the morning. Early. Before people start asking me questions and my phones starts ringing. I try and accomplish my three things during this time, because it's hard to say what the rest of the day may look like.
- For my TO DO list I try not to have to many. Like, five actually. If I have more than that then I spread them out throughout the week. We all think we can do more than we actually can, but we have to take in account, phone calls, meetings, kids, lunch, etc.
- HOUSE (available in option 1 download only): I do daily chores in my house. Simple ones so I'm not overwhelmed. For example, Mondays I vacuum. Tuesday I dust, etc. Then I do 15 minutes of organizing. This can be a drawer, cupboards, shelf. Anything. I just do 15 minutes and it keeps my house under control.
- EVENING (available in option 1 download only): I don't use this section very often, but if I have something for work I can only do at night then I'll add it here so it doesn't bog up my day schedule. I also add what we are doing for dinner. My dinner schedule blog post with a free downloadable is here, but sometimes I like to remember what we are doing.
I download my monthly calendars every year from this shop on etsy. They've got great style.
Another option is to add tabs as well. I use these and love them
If you don't want to make your own planner, then here are some options that I thought were great. The black and white stripe is from Anthropologie, which looks very similar to the one I made. I may have just bought that if it had been around a couple years ago.