I have struggled for years, my whole life really, to get organized. I tried lists, apps, calendars of all kinds. Mostly, I just remembered
For a while, the iPhone seemed to be the answer. There are tons of apps out there, many of them truly wonderful, that help people organize their days. They give reminders, coordinate between multiple people, and let you tier out and prioritize to-do lists. It seems like all of these apps work great for me for a month or so, and then I begin to struggle.
I have discovered in the last couple of years that I just can’t process the information unless I write it out by hand. Because of this, I’ve made the switch back to a paper planner.
Now, I’ve tried and failed at the paper planner thing before. My mother always used a paper planner, and I tried a few times when I was younger, but each time fizzled after a couple of weeks. I had good luck in college with the New York Public Library’s student planner, but now that I’m juggling my work schedule, my home schedule, my husband’s schedule, and the schedules of my two kids, it just doesn’t meet my needs anymore.
For 2016, after months of feeling like a top spinning out of control, I decided to purchase a bigger, heftier planner. I had a number of requirements:
- Sturdy coils and cover that wouldn’t get bent up in a backpack, purse, or brief case
- A monthly spread at the beginning of each month (you’d be surprised how many don’t have this)
- Plenty of space to write appointments and to-do lists
- A dedicated space for meal planning
- A way to differentiate between work and home (part time work is great, but it adds a layer of complication)
And it had to be pretty. I knew I was going to spend a year looking at it, and I didn’t want something that just looked completely utilitarian.
I searched high and low. I looked in book stores and online. I bought one that I thought I liked, but I didn’t. Then, I stumbled across the Erin Condren Life Planner (ECLP). Initially, I was worried. It wasn’t cheap, but I got $10 off (affiliate link) and I got it on sale, so I justified the cost. I am so glad I did. It has made my life so much easier.
I started off with an elaborate color code scheme, plans for how I was going to use each of the three boxes the vertical layout gave me, and definite ideas on how I was going to list out everything and get it all done right now.
What I realized, though, was that I needed to give myself permission to be flexible. The ECLP gave me all of the space I needed–it met all of the requirements I listed–but with all the rules I had set for myself starting out, I quickly felt overwhelmed and anxious. What I had to come to terms with is that it’s okay for one week to be color coded and one week to not be. It’s okay to skip a day. It’s okay to change the system from one week–even one day–to the next.
I had to give myself permission to be imperfect. I realized a few weeks in that part of what has caused me to fail so many times before at organization was that I didn’t allow myself to be flexible. I didn’t allow myself to experiment and try different things to see what worked and what didn’t.
Once I allowed myself to try different things, I started having fun with it, and if I’m having fun with something, I don’t want to quit. I’m on month 3 of using my Erin Condren Life Planner, and so far, it’s been just what I need. Some weeks are busy with lots of notes, others are not. Each week, I try something a little new, keep what works, and ditch the rest.
If you’re like me and you struggle to get yourself organized, if you feel like you’re going a million different directions, none of which are the right way, give this planner a try. It’s been a life-changer for me. No more missed appointments, forgotten after school activities, or skipped chores. I’ve even developed a reputation at work for being super organized, which I’m sure will make my mother chuckle.
In a future post, I’ll share with you why I ditched the To-Do list and why you should to, so stay tuned!
I got my first Erin Condren Life Planner on sale, and if you want to get $10 off your first Erin Condren Life Planner, be sure to sign in and order through my affiliate link.