A few years back, I wrote a blog post about why I choose and how I use a paper planner.
Pretty much everything in that post is still true, except for the sort of planner I use.
After experimenting with a few layouts and having to draw the exact outline I wanted each week, I simply decided to create the design I like the best and stick with it.
I’m so proud of these products and use them every day, so I know they work and could be valuable to you too. I hope you’ll check them out.
Why I Think Mostly Organized Planners May Work for You
Mostly Organized Planners are digital products and printable at home, so you can start using them TODAY!
I use a discbound system because I like to be able to take pages out and put them back in or use new print outs if I need to redo a week.
You can use a binder, add monthly tabs if you like, or simply use a page marker to get you to the right page.
You could also print the whole thing, take it to a store like Staples, have the first and last pages laminated and the whole thing bound.
It’s really up to you.
Two Sizes to Choose From
(And did I mention they are all available in French and English?)
The Letter Size is made to fit a regular size binder, but can also be printed smaller to fit a Classic Happy Planner Size as well (instructions are included when you buy). It’s a bit more work, but completely doable and I choose that option every time because it’s my favourite size.
But I know not everybody can afford the luxury of having a big planner, so I decided to create a Half-Letter Size layout and I’m quite happy with it.
Mostly Organized Planner (Letter Size) Section by Section:
- Before the monthly pages even start, I have 8 pages for Yearly Planning. I created this section to try to envision my whole year. I find it’s a really good exercise to see the big picture and this part changes a lot as weeks go by (thank you erasable gel pens!).
- Next, the Dashboard is the space where I list all that I want to work on and important dates for the month.
- I use the Monthly Calendar to plot out events, meetings and big milestones.
- The Events/Reminders space is for things that I want to make a note of, but that I’m not necessarily attending. This can be to note that a colleague is on vacation, or that there is an event in town I might want to attend, but haven’t committed to yet.
- Then comes Scheduling. This is a regular agenda view with time slots for: appointments, big deadlines, block of time to work on something specific if needed, birthdays, vacation and time off, etc.
- The To-Do Page is where the magic happens. This is where I list EVERYTHING on one page: my top 3 priorities, errands, meals, as well as all the tasks that need to get done that week.
- I also have a little Gratitude space to write down what went well that week. It’s so easy to forget the good parts and having that space reminds me to document the positives, the victories or what and who I’m grateful for.
- At the end of the month, I have a space to Brain Dump all of my thoughts and tasks that somehow didn’t get done or got added to my plate.
- The month ends with Note Pages for anything else that didn’t find a specific space.
Mostly Organized Planner (Half-Letter Size) Section by Section:
The Half-Letter Size has all the practicality of the big planner, in a compact size you can put in your purse/bag. This simpler layout still lets you plan and stay on top of things, as well as reflect, take notes and brain dump your thoughts at the end of the month.
This one is undated, so you can start using it anytime, take a break and resume using as you wish.
- Monthly Calendar on one page to plot out events, meetings and big milestones.
- One Free Page for brainstorming, doodling and inspiration.
- The Weekly Pages in this planner are simple, yet effective: top 3 priorities, top 5 main tasks for each day of the week, space for appointments and meal planning + weekly task list and space to take notes.
- One page for Reflections: gratitude, lessons learned, progress, etc.
- The month ends with a space to Brain Dump all of my thoughts and tasks and a Note Page for anything else that didn’t find a specific space.
Why I Still Use a Paper Planner
There is something beautiful about writing down your thoughts on paper. Somehow it makes them more real, manageable and easier to remember. This is my experience and also has been proven scientifically.
Although I tried to go electronic only, and failed miserably, I still use modern tools to get alerts and notifications. This hybrid system is perfect for me.
I love being able to flip through pages, go back to a certain date or month and see the whole picture. It helps me keep a handle on all the parts that is my life. It’s also immensely helpful if, like me, you have to write reports and need to reference back to meeting and task completion dates.
Plus it’s just nice to be able to look back when you’re planning for your next year and need to figure out what worked and what didn’t.
If using paper, why not go Bullet Journaling you ask? Simply said, I tried it and had no patience for recreating layouts every week. I can appreciate that people get their creative on while producing beautiful pages and I love watching videos on how they do it, but it wasn’t for me.
How I Use my Planner
TIP 1: Colour coding is key! This is where my planner comes alive and rapidly makes sense when looking at it. I have a colour for personal stuff, for work, for Mostly Organized, for my volunteer work, etc.
To you, that could be a different colour for each member of your family, or for different bigger projects you’re working on. If you’ve never tried colour coding your planner, I highly recommend it.
TIP 2: As I mentioned, Bullet Journaling wasn’t for me, but I’m still using some of the shorthand signs that make that system so great.
TIP 3: I consistently use my planner! Regardless of the planner you choose, if you’re not actually using it and you’re always chasing the next best thing, you will never get the results you want. Don’t get me wrong, it’s ok to experiment, but you need to stick with a planner for a while to really get a feel for it.
Why I Created my Own Planners
After trying a few planners and not having any luck getting something that really fit my needs, I decided to create my own.
I’m absolutely not a designer, so my goal was to create something that was functional first, but also somewhat pleasing enough to the eyes that I would want to work with it all the time.
Inspiration for my main Mostly Organized Planner came from a layout I created with my old Moleskine Planners. I loved the fact that there were lines to write on. To some people, that’s just too restrictive, but I simply can’t write straight on a blank space and it always ended up looking messy, so to me, lines are a must.
One reason I created my own planners is that there are a lot a good daily planners out there, but not a lot of great weekly ones, especially not ones that have calendars starting on Mondays.
Why oh why are weekends STILL split on most calendars is beyond me!
For my personal needs, daily planning is too rigid. There are too many details and tasks that I would end up repeating daily or that take more than a day to complete, so the weekly layout works best for my brain and I believe it can be effective for a lot of people.
It’s amazing seeing things I created in the hands of people like you. I hope you will check them out and start planning your life on your terms.