Plan With Me – May 2019

May is upon us and with it Spring is coming. We’ve got some mighty travel plans in May, I’ve got a short readathon, and with the weather changing we are planning a couple of outdoor adventures. Since the month is turning out to be a busy one, and since my planning style has ever so slightly changed, I figured I would do a little Plan With Me.

I’ve talked about my own personal planning style before which is using a physical planner. I prefer to be able to write things out and see them in a physical format in front of me, rather than using an electronic calendar or notebook.

I always find it fun to see how others plan out their time, be it monthly or daily, and I find it gives me new ideas to apply to my own planning. The last time I did a planning post, I was using the Day Designer planner that had a monthly and daily layout. I still really like the Day Designer as a system, but I wanted something a little more “freestyle” for my planning. Somewhere that I could just write notes throughout the day without lines and such.

I did a little searching and found the Hobonichi planners. This is a Japanese company and they offer many different styles. The style that I used is the Hobonichi cousin and I have two notebooks, one for January to June and the second from July to December. I like that this planning system is similar to bullet journaling, but I don’t have to fill out any monthly/weekly/daily options.

So, on to my current planning set up…

Here’s the monthly view:

-2680635983152833583_IMG_2365

Within the month I use colored highlighters (Mildliner) to highlight my posting schedule. I use Blue for A Cuppa Cosy and Orange for my other blog, The Cosy Book Shoppe. Then I use various highlighters to indicate when my husband is off of work or will be gone, or if we are planning an adventure. I like the highlighter look as it gives it a bit of a “cleaner” look to my monthly layout. As someone who wants to quickly look at a month and see what is going on on a specific day within seconds, the highlighters have been a lifesaver. Within the highlighted line I will write in black pen (Pentel EnerGel Needle Tip – .3) what specifically the post, or the trip, or the notation is. Below that I’ll write any appts, important dates, or things to note. I use the sidebar to track my reading through the month, and the bottom sections to track travel and spending.

This planner does come with a weekly outlook, which I like to use for meal planning and as a good breakdown for our week. I mark out my days and times and track my walking and daily reading. This gives me a good chance to look at my week, see where my time is going, and fit in any adventures we want to take during the week. I continue my color coordination in my weekly layout as well using the Pigma Micron Pens.

-3149266593411443548_IMG_2368

Then we get to the day layout. This is a day on one page and has a spot for a time breakdown, a small to do list, and a large area to write on. I do a time breakdown, a water/tea tracker, I extend the to do list a couple more boxes, and use the free space to mind map/brain dump throughout my day. I’ve included a glimpse at some of the past days that give a pretty good look at these spaces. Some days are filled up, others are still pretty empty. I don’t always need to use the daily page and some days I’ll use it as a memory device to remind myself of what we did for a later journal entry or blog post (this is very typical when we travel long weekends).

So, that is my planning set up currently! I’ve been really enjoying the Hobonichi and I think it is what I’ll continue on with for the rest of this year and maybe even next year. Do you use a paper planner? How do you plan?

Planning and Writing in 2019

I’ve said it time and time before, I’m a paper and pen kinda girl. I really enjoy having a paper planner as well as a journal to write in. I feel much more “together” when I can physically write out exactly what I need to do, how I’m feeling, and future plans.

IMG_8838

This year I am, once again, using a Day Designer planner. These can get a bit pricey for a planner, but so far they are the only planner that I’ve found that has everything that I like. I’ve got a monthly overview, as well as daily sheets that are half page time, half page to do list. It was absolutely perfect last year and I have a feeling it will be this year as well. I like to see where my time is being spent and to kind of “plot” my days out in bits of time, so having both is a major help.

The only difference from last year to this year in terms of planning is the size. I am going down from the bigger flagship to the slightly smaller version of the flagship. I do not think I am going to need as much room this year, as I’m only blogging, homemaking and “wife-ing”/parenting (and traveling!) this year. I am not balancing a job along with everything else.

As far as journaling goes, I am doing something fun! I’ve decided to switch things up from last year. My big thing last year was to cut down on notebooks. I didn’t want to have everything spread across a million different notebooks and journals, but rather one central location for everything. It didn’t work out well for me. It’s hard to track everything in one notebook when you are doing such a variety of things and I found myself doing it less and less as the year went on. I found that if I had made notes about a blog post I wanted to write it was really annoying to have to wade past random things to find the one note I made who knows when.

So, this year I am going to go back to how it was. I am going to have my planner, and then a couple different notebooks. I’ve got one for reading and my book notes (which then comes into play for my book blog), I’ve got one for blogging (different topics, rough outlines, overall thoughts and goals), and then an actual journal. I want to try and lump everything that doesn’t fall into the book or blogging sphere into my actual journal, whether that be ideas for stories or personal entries. I don’t want to go back a few years ago when I literally had about 10 different notebooks I was using- that was a little too much. It sounds complicated, and it may be a little over complicated, I’ll find out as the year goes on. I’ve got a couple journals lined up for the first few months of the year and then I’ll purchase as needed. I plan on doing a lot more writing this year than I have in the past.

So that is my set up for 2019! Are you a pen and paper person or do you plan/write digitally?

Time Management : My Daily Breakdown

I’ve been talking about Time Management for a couple of posts now and wanted to give an example of how I apply what I’ve been talking about to my own days/weeks/months. It may seem complicated, but it actually isn’t. I just treat most of my tasks as “jobs” that I have to complete everyday. I also do have a part time job that I work the same hours for everyday. I find that I need to have a bit of structure to my days as I work from home and so this is what I do.

To start with: I use a paper planner (insert gasp here). If you’ve been following along this past year, you will know that I am a pen and paper kinda girl and prefer to write things down. It’s a kink in my brain that I just remember and feel more organized when I can write something out. I personally use and love the Day Designer planner system. There is a spot for me to mark out my time during the day, along with a daily to do list, top three priority list, and a couple other little boxes. I’ve got the perfect amount of room. I’ve used the Flagship for 2018 and loved it, although I am thinking about getting a mini for 2019.

The first thing I do is write down my to do list. I color code everything based on what it is for. Each color represents something different, household chores, appts, blog, business, work, etc. I put EVERYTHING on my to do list. Not because I need reminded of it, not because I want to feel “busier” than I am, but simply for the satisfaction of having checked it off. I won’t forget to dust the Living room on Tuesday by any means, but I like to keep track of everything that I am doing. It’s also key when you are first trying to develop a habit, or get back into a habit. I will also mark down in the notes section when a package is supposed to be delivered as our post people don’t ring the doorbell when they deliver…we’ve had packages just sit in the rain all afternoon because of this.

The next thing I’ll do is block out my times every day. I may be a little crazy about my time, but my days are usually planned to a T. I work weekdays in the afternoon for my job, so my mornings are spent with my children, writing, doing household chores, at appointments, whatever else. I’ll notate if I have a blog post or video going up that day, what time it will be at, as well as any appointments. This gives me a pretty good sign of what my actual day is going to look like and helps me narrow down my top three.

The final step is determining what my “Top Three” are for the day. I don’t always do this, but if I’ve got a lot going on, and am not sure if I will realistically get to everything on my to do list, I”ll mark down what I think I need to prioritize. Some days my to-do list becomes a list of other things (such as future posts I want to do, different things to order), things that don’t need to necessarily need to be handled that day, but that I want to remember for a future day. So, having the Top 3 can focus my mind when I do get a chance to work on items.

Once those three steps are complete I’ll briefly look at my day again and mentally block times out to accomplish what I need to accomplish. For example, I typically write my blog posts mid morning (like 10ish), while drinking my second cup, so I’ll try and make sure any cleaning I need to do is done between breakfast and mid morning. Since I work all afternoon on weekdays, any top 3 items that are non work related have to be done before 1pm and I’ll take that into account (as I don’t necessarily write everyday).

Most days I am able to cross everything off my to do list by using this system and most days I feel really productive! Of course, there are days that it doesn’t happen. I am living life and some days we just chuck the to do list and play all morning instead or I’ll spend a morning reading. That is ok and because of my time management, I know that I can make up anything missed on another day.

How do you do your Time Management? Do you have any tips or tricks?

Real Talk : Time Management

Earlier in the month I said that you do not have to be a morning person to be successful, you just have to be good at Time Management. I stand by that statement and today we are going to jump into a brief (ish) rundown of Time Management. If you think, “Mia, the year is almost over, why are we just now talking about this?”. Well, a)it’s never a bad time to start something new, and b)if you are wanting to feel more organized or productive in the new year, this is the perfect time/place to start.

Time Management is not some crazy, complicated, scary concept. It is just simply knowing how best to use your time. Knowing when you work the best and how to use that knowledge to your advantage. You don’t have to go any further than that. In fact, I’ll bet that you already do some sort of time management already and don’t even realize it.

Do you know that you write best in the morning, therefore spending your morning responding to emails, writing posts, or writing in your journal? Do you know that your brain functions better in the afternoon/late evening, therefore spending your morning doing the more aimless tasks (cleaning, laundry, etc) and then concentrating on work related items in the morning? That’s basic Time Management. Not so complicated, huh?

Time Management can also be taken a step further by setting limits on things that you need to accomplish for the day. This isn’t as complicated as it sounds and it is actually what I do for my weekdays to ensure that I can accomplish everything that I want to throughout the day without feeling overwhelmed, overworked, or like I’m spinning my wheels and going no where.  I usually set a limit, for example respond to emails/write posts for an hour and a half mid morning. This allows me to have a set time limit, gives my brain a chance to focus on what I am doing, and I find that I get quite a bit done in this time period.

I’ll give a brief run down of what I do in a separate post (stay tuned!) but first I want to touch on the easiest, simplest form of this and how you can apply it to whatever you are doing, from being a stay at home mom to the workplace.

There are two key ingredients to Time Management, the first is what we’ve already talked about. Knowing when your brain functions the best. Morning or Afternoon, it doesn’t matter. If you know when you feel at your best, then you can work around everything else.

If you are someone who just works better in the afternoon, that is fine! You’ll simply want to adjust your task list to be a little afternoon heavier, focusing the items that will take the most of your attention to the afternoon, rather than the morning. If you are someone who is bright eyed and bushy tailed first thing in the morning, then you’ll want to put any tasks that will take a good amount of your focus to the morning.

The second key ingredient to Time Management is going to be your priorities. Knowing what is at the top of your list on each day is key to success. I’ve talked about Priorities HERE. Within those priorities, you’ll want to have a general idea of what is going to take the longest, what will be the hardest, and what will require the most of your attention and focus. You’ll want to look at your first ingredient, when you work best, and lay out your priorities for that time.

If you work a 9-5 job, in an office, you may not be able to re arrange things completely (for example if you are a Night Owl, that probably will not work with your job), but you can still apply the same principles to allow yourself the most success in getting everything done.

If you are a Stay at Home Parent, you can still apply the principles of Time Management to your every day tasks and chores. Spending your “most productive” hours starting any tasks that need handled and playing/being with your children.

For example, let’s say you have a to do list of 5 items, 3 of them involve your immediate attention (aka due today or tomorrow) and 2 will take a good amount of focus and time. Those 3 assignments are your priorities and the 2 that will take the most focus and time are the ones that you will want to do when you are at the height of your brain function.

Not so complicated huh? Time Management at it’s simplest is just laying out what you need to do, figuring out when you work best, and then implementing both of those items together.

Let’s Talk About Planning!

I am such a pen and paper kinda girl – I always have been. There is something so calming to me about writing down what I need to do, ticking it off when I’ve done it, and just having notes to reference throughout the day. I find it really helps me stay sane when life can be crazy and it lets me keep my tasks and things that I want to accomplish straight.

I’ve had a planner for a long time, but never really found a planner that truly worked for me. I’ve had to just kind of work around what I’ve been using or have a notebook of some sort in addition to my planner. Those are all options, but I’ve been constantly trying to find or try something new.

This past year I have been really interested in consolidating. I really only want to be using one or two notebooks and my journal rather than spreading everything out through a planner, business notebook, journal, and brainstorming papers. I reached a point early this year that I just felt like nothing was really working for me and it started to bother me. I started doing some research.

I’ve known about bullet journaling for quite a long time, but I’ve never really considered it due to time constraints. I wanted to try it out, but felt a little daunted at the fact that I would be creating a planner, calendar and everything by myself from scratch. I didn’t realize that in reality that was the best thing for me.

Over the next few posts about Bullet Journaling I am going to share several things from what I use to create my Bullet Journal, some of my favorite pages, as well as little tips that I have realized as I have gone a long.

If you are curious to get a good overview of Bullet Journaling you can check out Ryder Carroll’s website HERE and see what it is all about. I will say- don’t get overwhelmed by everything that is listed and explained on the site. You don’t have to have a fancy key system or anything like that, but it will give you a good overview of what Bullet Journaling is.

Let’s Talk About Planners

I’ve always been a bit of a planning/organizing freak. I’m a scheduler by nature and like having my routine and planner in order. I start to have “problems” when I feel disorganized and a “mess”. I like being able to schedule things out and have our routine. It’s how I work best. I find what works for me and then I stick with it. Obviously there are times when our routine changes and new things arise constantly with a young boy, but being able to have some place to start helps me out immensely.

In order to help me out, I have a paper planner and a couple of notebooks on my desk. I am still looking for the “perfect” planner for me, but I have found the layouts that I like to have. I need to have a monthly and daily layout. I like to look at the big picture of my month and then break everything down on a day by day basis. I was never a big color coder-I felt it took too much time and go too “busy”-but I have found that these days, it’s a huge help. I can easily see what is going on, who is doing what, and what needs to be posted when for work. While I have gotten more adventurous with my color coding, I still am opposed to using stickers. My planner is more of an office tool and I have a separate memory notebook that I use for more of that type of stuff.

I really like to be able to have my day laid out with the time. It allows me to track some things between my work schedule, my sons schedule, as well as when posts go live and meals. I also like that there are separate spots where I can mark down my to-do’s as well as little things needed from week to week.

I’m not really going to touch on notebooks in this post (that will be separate), but I do have 4 that I use regularly. One is for my business, one is for my job, and then two that are personal. Of the two that are personal, one is a “diary” of sorts and the other is my memory book. It has all sorts of goodies in it from big moments in my life and little bits and bobs that I receive. I love being able to look in one notebook that and see all sorts of memories, from meeting my husband, to finding out we were pregnant, to opening up my business. I digress, this will be a separate post, I promise.

Overall, while it may seem like a lot to do and that things could be simpler, this is what is working for me right now. I feel much calmer when I can see clearly what is going on with life! What works for you? Are you a color coder? Sticker person? Or do you scrap paper planners all together and use an electronic calendar? I’d love to hear!