Tomorrow evening 2015 will come to a close and the book of 2016 will be opened. I always look forward to a new year. I look forward to having a fresh start, blank pages to fill. I take time to think about what I want out of the year and even more time to plan on how to make it happen. One of the main reasons I close my shop at the end of the year is to take time to get things set up for the new year. Whether it’s the house, business or finances, the end of the year is my motivation to get things situated.
The day after Christmas I make a long list of things that I want to get done over the next week. I have a list for house tasks, personal goals, financial planning and a miscellaneous list for the extras. All lists are kept in one notebook and checked off as I go. Not everything I plan to do actually gets done in one week. With a one and three year old at home, my productivity level isn’t the highest and nap times have been shorter and shorter lately. But, since everything is written down, I can come back to them as time permits.
Another thing I get giddy about at the end of each year is to setting up my new planner. I always set aside an early morning or nap to dive into it. I make sure I have new pens, stickers, washi tape, a hot coffee and (hopefully) quiet time. There is something about opening a new planner for the first time. Those crisp white, blank pages just waiting to be filled…
Taking the time to set up my planner for the new year is just as important as making sure my house is in order.
My planner is a big part of my everyday life. I’m a wife, mom, blogger and small business owner. I’m constantly on the go between preschool, kids activities and appointments. When I’m at home, I’m powering through a daily to do list. I don’t have much down time during the week, which is the way I like it. It’s how I work the best and what fills my bucket. In order to get the most out of my days, there needs to be a plan. On the days I take time to look at my planner and make sure things are written down, I’m less stressed and more productive.
Last year, I shared my planner choice for 2015 and my thoughts on the planners I’ve used. You can read more about my planner here and what I need out of a planner. This year, I’m using the Emily Ley Simplified Planner -Daily Edition again. This is the first time I’ve purchased the same planner back to back, it’s nice to finally have a product that really works for me.
Whenever I set up a new planner, I go through the same process. It’s one that has evolved over the years as I have come to learn what I need out of a planner and how it can best work for my day to day life. The biggest thing about getting and using a planner is that it has to work for you and your day to day life.
When setting up a new planner, the first thing I do is write down important dates. At this time, I take my current planner and transfer all important dates over. I go through each month and make sure birthdays, anniversaries and other important dates are written down into the monthly calendar.
Next, I make sure our family schedule is transferred over. Right now, our schedule is mostly filled with AG’s stuff. Preschool dates (and days off), swim, gymnastics, etc. For this schedule, I fill it out in the daily section. With her school, I make sure all important dates are filled in. For everything else, I just write them in for January. Since classes and other things can change, I make sure to have one month set and then can update as new months begin.
After the schedule is set, I fill in bill due dates & appointments. Again, I fill this in the daily section. I always make sure to write the due dates in a few days before they’re actually due. I want to know what is coming out, due and when. I also have all payment due dates and appointments in my iCalendar as well. The more reminders the better for this easily sidetracked mama.
Now to some of the fun stuff! One thing I want to get back into this year is monthly goal setting. I haven’t done it in two years and I miss it. I’ve already set goals for January and have them in my planner. I have them on side of the monthly view of January so that I can see them whenever I check for dates. Each month I set 5-6 goals covering the following areas- ME/ personal, kids, health/ fitness, marriage, finance and business. In January, I want to read a book, get back to doing Mommy School, meal plan with clean eating meals, stay away from Target AND Starbucks, plan a Top Golf date night and set up bookkeeping for the business for 2016.
I mentioned before that it is important to make sure your planner works for you. One of the biggest things I personally needed out of a planner was space for daily tasks. I wake up in the morning and make my list of things to do for the day. At the end of the week, I take time to go back and see what I didn’t get done. Having all of my daily lists in my planner makes me more productive in the long run. Here are daily tasks I add in my planner every Sunday- meal plan, cleaning schedule, mommy school, blog tasks, accounting and SMWL important tasks. While a lot of these tasks have become habit for me, having them written down still works best for me. And lets be honest, the gratification I get from crossing things off a list is extra motivation!
Lastly, the location of your planner is important. For me, keeping mine in my office on my desk is what works best. I get up by 5 each morning, hoping to get at least an hour of quite time before the kids wake up. After I make my coffee, I dive into my planner for the day. I make my daily to do list, look at what I have going on and see how I need to manage my time that day. Sometimes I take it with me to meetings but most of the time it stays in my office.
Along with all of the above, the key to making your planner work for you is being consistent. Your planner will not fill itself out, it won’t remember important tasks or days. You have to find the time to put into making your planner work for you. Planners are such an amazing organizational tool, they can really have a positive impact on helping to keep your life organized if you find a planner and create a system that works for you. Pretty soon that system will become a habit and you will never look back!
I’d love to hear from you! What are your keys to setting up your planner for success each year?
Do you have a favorite planner or have you tried a bunch of different brands over the years?