Because frankly, I hate planners.
1. If they are print, they are too confining.
2. If they are digital, they are too confusing.
3. They usually have pages I don’t need.
4. They usually don’t have the pages (or enough of them) that I do need.
5. I never remember to use them.
Every time I see a new planner come out on the market, I groan. I have a collection of planners started, discarded, and later handed over to my kids as glorified scratch paper. I can’t imagine a planner that ACTUALLY meets ALL my needs without a lot of excess or gaps.
Sure, they are pretty. Sure, I know lots of people who use them successfully. And I certainly *wish* I could make one work for me, but alas, I doubt the system I have in place could ever be replaced by a single planner – no matter how perfect it may seem.
(Although, my friend Lisa insists I would love a Traveler’s Notebook instead of a traditional planner, and I think she might be right, but I would need her to put together a tutorial and hold my hand through the process – *hint hint* Lisa! )
OK, so lest you think I’m hopelessly disorganized, or I’ve written this post just to rant without offering any answers to my disdain of planners, here’s what I DO use to stay organized.
- Google Calendar (Desktop & App) – After I took the Simplified Organization ecourse, I jumped into using Google Calendar and haven’t looked back. I already used Gmail, so it was a natural fit. Everything is color-coded, and I can add in links and notifications to keep me on track. The only thing I don’t like is that my husband uses Outlook, so we are not able to share calendars; however, my older two children do use Gmail, so I share calendars with them. (As part of the Simplified Organization ecourse, Mystie gives a great tutorial on how to pull together a Google Calendar that works FOR you.)
- Cozi.com (Desktop & App) – This is what I use for my shopping lists. It syncs across devices, updates in real time, and my husband will actually use it! I do not use it for anything but the shopping lists. (The calendar on Cozi does not fully sync with Google Calendar, and I’m just not willing to give up my Google Calendar.) I have a list for every store I use, and items can be added from any device and reordered as needed (my husband really likes this feature because I can’t seem to put items on the list in any proper order *snicker*).
- Evernote (Desktop & App) – This is what I use to menu plan and keep track of things I find online in a better order than Pinterest can offer. My menu plan includes links to any online recipes I’m using, and I can access the app from anywhere. Once upon a time, I used Evernote to do my homeschool planning, but I didn’t stick with it.
- Editorial Calendar WordPress Plugin – For keeping track of what topics I’ll be blogging on, I use a plugin here on WordPress called Editorial Calendar. I’ve used it for years, and don’t know how to get along without it. It shows me a couple of weeks at a time, and all the topics I’m considering writing on. I can start drafts and put them on a certain day, I can see what is upcoming, and whether I need to finish a post or reschedule, and I can put notes to myself in the form of draft posts to remind me of upcoming information I might need.
- Good Old Fashioned Spiral Notebooks & Pens – If you watched my Tapestry of Grace planning video, you know that I prefer to make my weekly lesson plans on paper. I also have a homemaking notebook (not a Homemaking Binder like I used to have – it was just too much) and a Blogging Notebook (again, not the Blogging Binder I once used). These are simply pretty spiral notebooks where I jot down ideas and notes to myself – much like the Brain Dump I talk about in my post on Homeschool Parent-Teacher Conferences. Despite my assimilation into the Digital Age, I still like my pen and paper.
That said, I am test driving an online homeschool planner called Homeschool Planet. There is a FREE 30 day trial, so I’m going to work it hard and see if it delivers what I need. I’m willing to pay for something if it has the features I want and need, and so far, I am impressed. (If it works out, I may have to stop saying I hate ALL planners) But, we shall see…
Ultimately, you have to do what works for you. If you find a planner that works, great. If you are like me, and the perfect planner doesn’t seem to exist, don’t despair. Get creative and figure out a system that DOES work for you. It might be a mish-mash of stuff like mine, or all paper, or all digital, or all on sticky notes (well…maybe not…). Whatever it is, don’t let it overwhelm you, and don’t let it get all complicated on you.