2020 Planner and Journal

Untitled Design 27How is it already 2020? A new year, a new decade, a chance for a real fresh start and outlook. I find that one of my favorite things about the new year is a chance to break out some new stationary and planning. I’ve kept no secret my need for paper and writing. The act of physically writing my schedule, to do list, important notes, etc…it keeps my mind sane. I tend to accomplish more and remember things better as well.

2019 was an incredible year, but was also incredibly busy. It was the first year in my adult life that I wasn’t working in some form and that was a big change. This post isn’t necessarily about that (but I can do a post about that if you’d be interested?), but I did find that my planning needs changed drastically. I found that I wasn’t looking at my time in a daily manner, but rather in a weekly and monthly fashion. Using a daily planner, things were getting lost in the shuffle, and I felt just a general state of disorganization. So I switched.

This year I am using a Monthly/Weekly planner that I customized to fit my own needs. I used a company called Plum Paper, which you can find HERE, and purchased the weekly layout. My favorite part of these planners is that you can customize EVERYTHING. From what holidays and dates show, to when the weeks start, and the weekly breakdown.

Every month starts with a monthly highlights page, which I have sparingly used. This page has a spot to put birthdays, important dates, goals, and for me, my spending at the bottom. The next page is blank and I use it to track what books I’ve read that month and my rating. Then comes the monthly layout. I wish the boxes were a smidge bigger, but this works perfectly well.

Each week is given two pages. The days on the right side, and a page of “stuff” on the left. I have my weekly pages set to start on Monday (as I really got used to that in the Hobonichi set up) and I find that this is JUST enough room. If anything I try to leave these day layouts to appointments/meal plans/any specifics for that day. For all the rest of my “stuff” I break it down into two columns: weekly priorities, weekly tasks. Every week I have priorities in terms of blogging, writing, posting, etc. and every week I have the same tasks that I do in terms of cleaning and just self care stuff. These two columns break that up and allow me to know what I need to do in the course of the week, rather than just transferring tasks from day to day.

In the back of the planner I do have a meal planning kit that has a meal list breakdown, shopping list section, and quick reference information. I’ve already done really well with meal planning, but I’m hoping to streamline the process even more if I can.

IMG_8574I’ve also decided to give a commonplace notebook a shot. I am not really sure how this is going to work (as it is so much easier to just pull out my phone and jot a note down), but I really like the idea of a commonplace book. A commonplace notebook is exactly what you would think of, it’s a notebook that you always have on you and that contains anything that comes to you that you need/want to remember, whether that’s important dates, appointments, quotes, whatever. I’ll keep you posted on how this goes. I’m using this absolutely beautiful Paper Blanks Flexi Notebook for that purpose.

 

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Finally, I have a new journal for 2020. I was off and on in my journaling over the second half of 2019, doing really well with it until about September/October. I am trying to be a little bit better with this this coming year (as well know how important writing is for me) and I’ve been really wanting to use this journal since I bought it. It’s a beautiful Italian Leather (maybe pleather?) bound journal with a tie string. It’s got some lettering all throughout the cover and I’ve found it to be a really nice journal to write in. Journaling and Planning go a lot better when you actually like what you are writing in.

 

So that is what my 2020 looks like in terms of stationary! Are you a stationary lover like me? What does your planning for this year look like?

Planning Big Trips

Untitled Design 5Today I am going to talking about something that we have done and will be doing in the next month and that is planning big trips. We have taken summer vacations for three years in a row now with our little family to all different destinations (Maine, Canada/New York, United Kingdom) and are planning a Christmas/Winter getaway over the next few years too. There is a definite difference in planning between planning these bigger travel events than with planning Weekend Getaways. Not only are these usually further distances away, but they are usually intended to be to see more and do more. I have talked about long weekends (HERE) so today, I’m going to talk just a little bit about how we plan our longer trips.

I’m going to be using our Summer Holiday as an example as I work through this post which you can read about in these posts: Calais and Dover, London, Edinburgh, Inverness, Bastogne, Luxembourg, and Heading Home.

The first step is determining where we want to go. This is actually one of the most overwhelming bits as there are a lot of travel options. We have a very large list of places we want to go while we are over here in Germany, and are adding more to that list every day, and we split that into two categories. These two categories are places that we want more than a day or two and places that we don’t need much time in. So, we knew that we wanted to have a decent amount of time to explore London and Scotland, and since those are neighboring countries and it made sense to take one longer trip to visit both, than two or three “shorter” trips. The same will be for our future trip to Italy. Italy is a country that we want to spend a longer amount of time in to see more to the country, rather than taking a few 4-day weekend trips to. If we can combine spots, we will combine spots, but more on that later.

So, we know where we want to go. The next step is deciding how to get there. Here in Europe there are a couple different options: driving, flying, or train. There are pros and cons to each option, and we tend to weigh kids, luggage, timeframe, and cost into our decision. Flying is something that we will probably be doing more in the winter months as it starts to snow, and the roads get a little more treacherous. Trains are something that we are having to hold off until the boys get a smidge older, Andrew is just a little bit too young to really understand. Driving usually seems to be a…”dull” and longer option (although we like it), but you also can control your timeline a little bit more as well as your luggage situation. The other benefit of driving or taking a train is the ability to add more stops to your itinerary which may change your mode of transportation.

Perfect Segway into our third step, which is mapping a route. This goes hand in hand in some ways with how to get there. This also happens to be one of my favorite parts of the planning process. There are two ways to do this, depending on what you prefer: electronically or physically. What you will want to do is map out your trip. We start with our main points. For our Summer Holiday we knew we wanted to go to London, Edinburgh and Inverness. Those were our main spots. We also leaned towards driving due to cost, ability to control our schedule a little more, and the ability to see a little more. So, we pulled out a map and started to look at different options. You are actually able to do this electronically on Google Maps (plan a trip) which we have done, but you can also do this on a physical map, which I prefer. Looking at a map we kind of eye balled our distances and eye balled what countries we would be traveling through or bordering up against in this travel. We knew that we would probably have to stay a night in Calais and potentially somewhere between Inverness and Dover and then again Calais and home. We also tried to look if there was anywhere that we wanted to stop on our route, which was how we managed to visit the American Cemetery at Luxembourg and the War Museum in Bastogne (also Dover, but that would have been too obvious not to miss). Look at your destinations and if you are driving or taking a plane is there anywhere on your route that you want to stop? How much time do you want to spend in this location? How feasible is this?

So, we know where we are going, how we are getting there, and what stops we want to make roundtrip, it’s time to find a place to stay. This is more my husband’s forte than mine and he typically handles all of our accommodation. I’ll give you an idea though from what we’ve talked about and the little bit that I have seen/tried to do. Depending on where we go we will either book a hotel or an Airbnb. We prefer Airbnb’s as we can typically get a little more bang for our book, a little more space to stretch out, and some version of a kitchen for us to put all of our snacks and such. The only time we really stay in hotels is in bigger cities where it just makes more sense (London and Berlin). We filter our searches on Airbnb based on location and just map where the locations are to where the things are that we want to see. We like to use Public Transportation as much as we can when we travel to new spots, so somewhere nearby either a station OR walking distance to what we want to see is perfect. I wish I had more to say on this one, but I really don’t. We just hunt through Airbnb, our Credit Card company, and then Trivago and sites like that.

Finally, the optional fifth step: planning activities while you are there. This is completely dependent on what kind of traveler you are. When it comes to big trips I have a little bit of an itinerary problem in that I like to have at least one or two ideas for each day. I don’t plan to the last minute, but I do like to have a bit of a plan going into these longer trips. For London, we had planned on one day of just walking London seeing all the sights, one day at The Tower, and one day at the Globe and any last-minute idea’s that we had. This allowed us to have a little structure, a list of things we wanted to do, but still have a little flexibility with the kids. At the very least I would suggest just looking into and maybe making a list of different things to do, you don’t have to come up with any schedules or anything like that, but at least an idea of what to do and when is best to do it ahead of time will be a help.

And that is it! That’s how we plan our longer trips. Do you have any tips for planning long holidays? Let me know down below 🙂

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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

What If You’re Not A Morning Person

You hear it all the time, the most productive people are morning people. You will succeed in life if you are a morning person. Get up earlier, get more done. If you’re not a morning person, here is how to become a morning person (oh Hi- I’m guilty of doing that one too, here’s my post if you want to read it).

I’ve been guilty of being that person too. I PERSONALLY feel that I get more done, feel more together, and just feel better, when I get up early and have an earlier start to my day. Part of this comes from having two very young children, close together in age, that are always exploring and needing attention. Once they are up, and until they go down for naps, most of my attention is on them. I also work and run two blogs, so this means if I want to workout, do my hair and makeup, etc, I have to be up before them doing that. I have found that FOR ME this are essential to my overall well being.

Here’s the thing though, in all of our hurriedness to get everything done, get to the top of the chain the fastest, and to be viewed as a success, we have forgotten that we are not all the same. We are not the same person, we do not share the same interests, we do not work the same way, we do not all thrive under the same instances.

So, I am here to tell you to forget everything that I have ever said about being a morning person. Actually, if we want to be a Morning Person (because you want to try it, or feel like you would be better getting up earlier), then go back and read that blog post and give it a shot. Don’t feel like you have to though because, honestly being a morning person is not a necessity to being successful. Let me repeat: BEING A MORNING PERSON IS NOT A NECESSITY TO BEING SUCCESSFUL.

 Did you catch that? Maybe go re read it? Got it? Ok. Now, let’s talk about what is a necessity to being successful. TIME MANAGEMENT. If you know how to use your time properly and appropriately to be at your most productive, it doesn’t matter what time you get up or what time you go to bed. Time Management is your best friend. It is what allows you to be productive, to feel like you’ve got your “life together” and what allows you to be successful in what you are doing.

I’ve touched on Time Management before…kind of. I don’t have a full post devoted just to Time Management (but stay tuned, it’s coming!), but I’ve talked about Routines (HERE), Priorities and Prioritizing (HERE), as well as my own planning (HERE). However, that being said, I do have a post coming this next month talking all about Time Management and putting my thoughts from those three separate posts into one easy post for you!