The How & Why Of Using a Planner in 2013 {guest post}

Today, I want to introduce to you a sponsor of Raising Arrows, who happens to be a mother of many and the creator of The Homemaker’s Friend Daily Planner.

SueHer name is Sue Hooley.  She and her husband, Dan, have been married for 22 years and have 6 children ranging in ages from 3 to 19.  After struggling for years trying to make her life fit into a conventional planner, she created her own adaptable planner and began selling it in 2010.

2013 Daily Planner small

Today, she shares with you why a planner is so important to the daily operations of the home and exactly HOW to make it work for you.  (You can order Sue’s planner at this link and receive FREE shipping!)

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As a homemaker, my daily planner is a friend that helps me juggle dentist appointments and ripe peaches with bulging clothes hampers and potlucks. It is a central location where I can make notations about upcoming church and social events, household jobs, appointments, children’s activities and more. A planner gives me a visual image of present duties and future commitments.

Written tasks and events give me specific direction. There was a time when I spent half the morning trying to decide which “important” thing to do first. I would begin a project, only to realize that I didn’t have what I needed. Then I would begin another project, and by the end of the day I hadn’t really accomplished much. If you have experienced this same confusion, you can get control of your day by making and following a weekly/daily plan.

A planner helps me make the most of my time. If I write ‘send a card to Aunt Elizabeth,’ I will likely get it done. I can easily ignore a small job, but if it is written on paper, I am more likely to find a few minutes for that particular task. In addition, I feel blessed by reaching out to someone beyond my own four walls.

Homemakers have a variety of duties without a specific time allotment. One week we might butcher chickens, plan a potluck and entertain guests. The following week we might be involved in totally different activities. In all of the busyness, we are still a wife, a mother and a household manager. If the days are constantly scheduled too full, someone or something will suffer. We owe it to our families to create a relaxed atmosphere and allow time for spontaneous picnics and sledding parties. A simple planner with month and week layouts will help you to arrange and prioritize obligations and events in a way that will lessen frustration.

How a Daily Planner Works

There are three particular areas that are especially helpful in daily planning. A monthly calendar gives a feel for what is ahead. Weekly/daily planning keeps us in step with what is most important for today. A running tasks list will help us stay focused.

A monthly calendar gives a quick overview of what is ahead. Generally these pages are not for detail, but rather for events and appointments. Make an entry for each upcoming event such as church meetings, weddings, school activities, reunions, holidays, and etcetera. This will help you see at a glance what is taking place. This information is helpful for weekly/daily scheduling.

Make it a habit to post every function that affects your family, church and school. Even if you are not involved in the Easter singing at the rest home, you will know the event is taking place. Then you can pray for everyone involved, offer to baby-sit or just be interested in the affairs of your church family.

A weekly layout with writing space for each day will serve as a guide for your week.  I find it helpful to write basic information prior to the week’s arrival. That way I know for what tasks, appointments and events I need to allow time. Usually at the beginning of the week, my weekly layout has many of blank spaces. Then as I go about my daily work, I jot down other tasks as they come to mind. It might be as simple as ‘sew on a button’ or ‘wash bed sheets.’

Be flexible when planning the week’s activities, and always take into consideration the stage of your family. While paper and pencil are essential instruments in daily planning, it is really the eraser that keeps things flexible and flowing as we learn to adjust our goals to fit our lives.

Begin by establishing an early-morning routine to take care of the everyday essentials: dressing, eating breakfast, cleaning up dishes, packing lunches, combing hair and getting children off to school and your husband off to work. Establish a goal-time to have the morning routine and clean-up finished–perhaps by 9:00. Once the basics are done, you can put more into the rest of the day. It may take some time to develop this habit. If you have a new baby or if you are a late riser, you may need to adjust your morning goal time.

To keep from scheduling the day too full, it may be helpful to write down routine tasks.  If laundry is the biggest task on Monday, write it down. Depending on the ages of your children or the size of your family, it may be the main accomplishment for the day. If cleaning is done consistently on Friday, then consistently write it down.

Decide early in the day what you are having for supper. The longer you wait to make this decision, the fewer options you have.  To lessen the choices, I follow this pattern:
Monday we have a casserole
Tuesday we eat meat and potatoes
Wednesday we fare on soup
Thursday we have a casserole again
Friday we enjoy a Mexican or Italian supper
Saturday we fire up the grill

Doubling recipes and putting half the food in the freezer is a like having cash in the savings account!

Besides the daily to-do list, it is helpful to keep a running tasks list. These are projects to be worked at as you have time, like sewing school clothes, organizing your recipe collection or updating baby books.  There are some projects that must be done and others that are not as urgent. If we keep a list of these projects we can more easily decide when to work them into our schedules. Don’t feel defeated if you never get to the end of this list. It is always “running,” catching more as the days go by. Just write the things down and then forget them until you can make time. Occasionally, I decide to not do a project and I cross it off the list. Maybe I’ll move another one to next year. Tasks list may be categorized by one month, by two months or by seasons.

Sometimes I title my tasks list pages: spring, summer, fall and winter. Since each season brings its own unique activities, I make a list of projects that must be done, and some extra jobs I hope to accomplish. Some projects are so big and time-consuming that I lack the courage to tackle them. In addition, it is difficult to find a block of time large enough to start and finish the project. If I break the project into several stages it seems less intimidating and more do-able. If I want to make a comforter I write it like this: sort fabric, cut blocks, sew top, knot comforter.

If I have a tasks list page for each month, I often pencil out what I need to do in the coming months, too.  The monthly tasks list is often affected by events. If it is my turn to host family for Thanksgiving, November will have many jobs related to that event.  If I want to give the house a thorough cleaning in the spring, I choose a month for that job. I write down every room in the house and as each room is completed, I cross it off the list.

The tasks list helps me to stay focused and it’s a fun challenge to juggle my schedule with all the other events that pop up. I transfer the information from the tasks list to the weekly pages. Additionally, I check the month-at-a-glance calendar for upcoming events to comfortably arrange the week’s activities.

As I mentioned before, carefully consider your stage of life when you are setting goals or using a planner. Our youngest child was born on June 25, so for the month of July, I wrote: “take care of baby, enjoy family, and be happy.”  My planner became a place to record Baby’s weight and other tidbits to transfer to a baby book at a later date. In time, we established a new routine and gradually my planner became more detailed.

Written schedules are not laws that can’t be changed, but rather they serve as guide to help you plan what is reasonable. Freely modifying your schedule is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength. It is important to make wise choices that are best just for today.

A planner is a friend that will help you to wisely schedule what is good for you, your husband and your children. Always take into consideration your health, abilities and stage of life. It will be a friend that helps you remember what you need to do and you will be rewarded with a feeling of satisfaction when even the simplest of jobs has been completed.

You can order Sue’s 2013 Daily Planner here!

2013 Daily Planner small

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5 thoughts on “The How & Why Of Using a Planner in 2013 {guest post}

  1. I like it. I use a large desk calendar on my fridge and keep a list or lists on a white board where I can easily see it or a sticky note on my calendar that I remove when it has been accomplished. The morning routine seems to be very important in our home. If it gets side tracked the whole day or sometimes week seems off.

  2. Just ordered!!! I’m so excited!!! It’s been well over two years since I’ve used a planner. Thank you Amy and Sue. :)

    What really strikes me a lot about this planner (besides how practical and easy it is to use) is the beautiful sunflower on the front. Our beloved son Ethan, who is now with Jesus, LOVED sunflowers! And our other son, Evan, loves them too (so does Mommy & Daddy). Therefore, I will smile each time I look at it!!! Thank you. God bless you both, and your families in the new year!

  3. I ordered this planner, along with the 2012 one, last fall and LOVE IT! It is the first planner I’ve found to be fully functional for my stage of mothering/homeschooling many little ones. And it is simple, which I like. Some planners can be over-complicated, but this one makes it so easy to plan and CHANGE plans! I use a pencil and erase as necessary :) Highly recommend!