Let’s just start with the reality that the pictures of the inside of my Simplified Planner are not Pinterest-worthy.
Because I use the heck out of it.
What is the Simplified Planner?
The Simplified Planner is an annual paper planner sold in either a calendar version (January-December) or an academic version (August-July). There is a daily version, where each page (except for Saturday & Sunday) is one day, or a weekly version, where a page spread is Monday through Sunday.
I think it’s best to let my new BFF, Emily tell you what’s so great about it.
Why a Simplified Planner?
A few years ago, I created this printable in order to have everything that I needed to know for my day in one location. And it worked really well. I had great intentions of writing out my goals for the day and using the extra minutes section, but the truth is that just never happened. And there was no white space, which I found myself wanting.
I chose the Academic Daily Simplified Planner. Academic because our life goes in school-year cycles and Daily because I knew that I wanted a daily schedule and my tasks all on one page.
Let’s call a spade a spade. This planner, while beautiful, practical, helpful and all the other yummy adjectives is not cheap. With a steep price tag of $58 for the daily and $48 for the weekly, I wanted to make sure that this is what I wanted and that it would do what I wanted it to do before I doled out that cash.
Emily Ley has copies of both the daily and weekly pages for free in her free printable library, so I printed off three weeks worth of planner pages and gave it the old college try. I highly suggest doing this.
After using those pages as my planner, I realized that the simplicity of it was just what I needed. I also liked that it was bound already (as opposed to my homemade printable which would get hole-punched and stored in a binder) and smaller than my binder.
How I Use My Simplified Planner
I have found that it works best to fill out my Simplified Planner one week at a time. I pick a time each week – most often Friday afternoons – and transfer everything from appointments, tasks and meals into my planner.
Start with Your Calendar
Our family uses iCal for all of our appointments and events. I open up that week on our calendar and transfer all of the events from our family’s electronic calendar into my planner. Starting with appointments is helpful because everything else that needs to happen that day gets fitted around those fixed times.
Fill in “Everyday Stuff”
Each morning, I do my devotions, take my pills and make our bed. Ideally. To help me remember to do this, at the top of each page, under the date, I draw a little square (or use my daughter’s little square stickers that she doesn’t like) and write D (for Devotions), P (for Pills) and B (for Bed).
I also write in each day’s workout and my rest time. Some days, working out is a scheduled class at the gym, and some days, it’s just planks on my living room floor when I can squeeze it in. I have also learned that when I write something in on my planner, I’m more likely to do it, so making my rest time during the final hour of my kids’ naps helps me be more realistic about the available time that I have to get my tasks completed.
I keep all of my tasks in the app Wunderlist on my phone. Many of these are recurring, but without having them come up on the app, I will forget them. I view all of the upcoming week’s tasks on the app and write them in my Simplified Planner. From that point on, any additional tasks for the week get written into my Simplified Planner and only tasks that are due more than a week out get added to my Wunderlist app.
I write in each of the three meals that we eat into my schedule because it helps me to mark out the white space of available time. I don’t plan breakfasts or lunches, so I don’t write anything more than the meal’s name in my planner.
I meal plan suppers, but have learned that what I think we will eat when is almost never how it goes. I write the planned suppers on these Post-It flags and put the post-its on the days where they are assigned. Then, when we change our mind, I can just move the post-it and not run out of white-out so quickly.
After putting the suppers on their days, I will go back through and add in any corresponding tasks that may come with prepping that meal. Most often this is thawing meat or prepping a crock-pot meal.
This is completely optional.
Ideally, I would like to use Emily Ley’s color coded dot stickers to categorize tasks, but they were sold out when I ordered my planner.
Right now, I color code with pens because it gives me a quick at-a-glance way of knowing what my day looks like.
Because I will get asked, my color coding is as follows:
Purple – Errands/Appointments
Orange – Meals
Black – Work
Blue – Blog
Green – Household
I bought the icon sticker set (only because the color coded dots were sold out), the sticker book, the page marker and the washi tape to go along with my Simplified Planner. If I had it to do all over again, I would just buy the sticker book. The stickers in it add a fun little touch to the pages and for how much time I spend looking at the pages of my planner, I want to enjoy it.
There’s nothing wrong with the icon stickers or the washi tape. I just haven’t figured out how to use the icon stickers well. And the washi tape is great and some people would love that the colors coordinate with two of the planner covers, but I don’t care about that. I could have bought much cheaper washi tape at Target and it would have served the same purpose.
I use the washi tape on the monthly spread for things that last more than one day and on the daily spread to mark off a large block of time during the day.
The page marker is my only product that I wasn’t happy with. It’s too narrow to easily find the page and I have found that using a binder clip works much better. The binder clips is not as pretty, I’ll give you that.
I use the monthly calendar to track birthdays and anniversaries (where the icon stickers did come in handy) in addition to all-day or multi-day events (marked with washi tape!) or other notable events. I don’t like to clutter this up with every appointment we have on our calendar, but it is helpful to have a place where the big stuff can be seen in a calendar view.
The bottom section of the Daily Edition Simplified Planners used to be divided into two sections; The left half was for ‘Meals’ and the right half was for ‘Notes’. Beginning in 2018, the Daily Editions now have one large Notes space at the bottom.
I love this feature. As I mentioned earlier, I write my meals information in my schedule, so I don’t need to use the bottom part of the page for that. It’s also a really handy place to write whatever I need to remember from that day. Instead of having a bunch of little pieces of paper floating around with necessary information, when I need to find something I wrote down, I can find it in a Notes section in my planner.
After one month of using my Simplified Planner, I can’t imagine going back or using anything else. It has helped me to use my time well and prioritize what matters. Which is all I really want out of a planner.
What’s your favorite planner and why?
2018-2019 Academic Editions are sold out, BUT Calendar Editions of the Simplified Planner launch on September 5th. If you want one, I highly suggest ordering on launch day because they do sell out.