I’m an incredibly Type A person.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
I thrive on structure, and the word “spontaneity” is not in my vocabulary. If you pull me away from my routine, I will likely die.
OK, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. But, I’m a very organized person and I cannot function without some kind of list, somewhere, detailing my appointments and tasks.
I’m very, very busy. I’m not saying this to #humblebrag, but saying it because I know so many of my fellow 20-something women are in similar positions. The 9-to-5 barely exists anymore. So many millennials not only have a day job, but also keep busy with side hustles, freelance contracts, entrepreneurial plans, side consulting jobs and personal branding projects.
Plus, yunno, remembering to feed ourselves and shower daily. Let’s not even approach the marriage-and-kids idea at the moment.
In college, I used a basic weekly planner with an hour-by-hour breakdown. I completely filled up every. single. page. with scribbles about what classes I’d be in, when my exams were, what time my work shift were scheduled and what homework I had to complete.
Then, after college, I started my job as a newspaper reporter and went digital with my iPhone. I didn’t have a lot of general “to do” type tasks, and mostly just had to keep track of interviews and appointments I had set up, so this worked fine. I put an appointment into my calendar and then got an alert before my appointment. Easy.
I kept using that same system when I first started my social media job here at the Trib, but the longer I used it, the more I realized it wasn’t working. While a calendar system worked when I was balancing meetings, it hasn’t been quite so efficient now that I’m balancing tasks.
I quickly realized that I needed a new solution. I had started using a legal pad at work every day to write down what posts I needed to schedule and the tasks I needed to accomplish. I quickly and easily streamlined that process with daily social media scheduling sheets. These have been a lifesaver.
With work-specific organization out of the way, it was time to tackle everything else. I kept using the calendar and started putting my to do list into my iPhone’s Reminders app. It was OK… but I didn’t have anywhere to write down my meal planning or outfit planning, so I started writing that down in the “Notes” app. I was using three entirely different apps to manage one thing: my life. It just wasn’t working.
So… I compressed everything. I started using the “Notes” app on my phone to write down — every day — my appointments and tasks. It was…
a clusterfuck not very efficient.
Ugh, right? I got so lost in all the text and the poor layout that I (more often than not) ended up just ignoring it completely and trying to remember everything I had to do off the top of my head. Looking at it was just so daunting! I looked at apps to manage everything that my Reminders, Calendar and Notes app handled, but couldn’t find an app that I really enjoyed… so I kept updating my Notes app with everything.
More often than not, I would end up just copying my entire to do list down onto a piece of loose-leaf paper and crossing things off with a Sharpie as I accomplished them.
Then, the notebook-and-Sharpie routine became the norm. I started carrying a notebook with me to-and-from work every day and each day I would start a fresh page on which I would jot down my to do list.
At that point, I had an “aha” moment.
I needed a physical planner again!
So, I started looking. I don’t know if any of you have ever explored the #planneraddict community, but it is v overwhelming.
I started making a list of the non-negotiable things I needed in a planner.
- A timeline in which to write daily appointments.
- A large number of lines for tasks.
- An area to write out designated meal plans for the day.
- A general space for notes and reminders (ie: outfit plans, bills due, birthdays, etc.)
I decided that a daily planner would be the best option, and I narrowed it down to a few.
- Stil’s Daily Design Love Planner, $50-60. At about 7-by-8-inches, it isn’t overwhelmingly huge. It’s undated and covers six months of the year, so the cost-per-month is $10. It has designated boxes for morning, day and night, lines for tasks and a general box for notes. Also, the weekly planners aren’t bad either, plus there’s a pay-what-you-want option.
- Pros: Absolutely gorgeous. There are two covers to pick from, and both are classic, minimally-branded and a touch girly. Designated space isn’t fully dictated, so the user can decide how it should be set up.
- Cons: There aren’t any lines in any of the boxes. I can’t write in a straight line, so this drives me crazy! However, this might be ideal for those who like to use stickers or doodles to organize their days. Also, there’s no designated space for meal planning if you like to get more in-depth with your food plans.
- Purple Trail daily planner, about $40-$50. There are actually two sizes to this one! It can be customized with a hard cover or a soft cover. It’s very customizable and you can order inserts for just about anything you can think of. You can choose your own start date, and there’s space for tasks, a checklist, a morning-afternoon-evening schedule breakdown and notes.
- Pros: This is so incredibly customizable that it would be hard-pressed to find someone that couldn’t function with some version of this planner. I love the idea of having inserts added.
- Cons: The layout is way too busy-looking and I’m not a fan of the overall aesthetic. Also, the to do list isn’t lined. There’s no general space for meal planning, which is really something I like having.
- The Simplified Planner, $58. Emily Ley’s creation is 7-by-9 inches, so again, it isn’t overwhelmingly huge. Right now, the academic planners are available, but in a few months, calendar year planners will be listed. It has two columns and features space for an hour-by-hour breakdown, to-dos, meal planning and general notes.
- Pros: Also gorgeous! There are four covers to pick from and all are fun and girly, though I’m not a fan of the giant logo square on the front. I like that there isn’t too much that’s been done with the inside, so you can use it as you need to. It has pretty fonts and a very minimal layout. Also, even though weekends share a page, there’s still plenty of room to write down appointments and tasks.
- Cons: The “dinner” and “notes” portions aren’t lined, which would bother me a bit since I can’t write in a straight line. Also, some of the Sunday to-dos are already filled in. Granted, they’re general things like “tidy up” and “meal plan,” so they don’t bother me since I do these things on Sunday anyway.
- Day Designer (Flagship), $59. This planner is about 9-by-10 inches, so it’s a little bigger than the Simplified planner. It has a day-per-page layout with space for hour-by-hour appointments, tasks, notes and a “daily gratitude” area. It features a “top three” tasks list, and a section at the top for “due, dinner, dollars and don’t forget.”
- Pros: I love love love the idea of having a little area at the top for bills that are due, birthdays, fitness goals for the day, dinner plans, reminders for when friends are in town, etc., and that’s probably what I would use these for. I also love the covers and the overall layout. It’s very clean and minimal.
- Cons: Why don’t I have space to write down my weekend tasks? Saturday and Sunday share a page, which I don’t mind so much, but each day only has space for three tasks. This is mind-blowing to me. This planner was designed with busy women and entrepreneurs in mind… and so many of us accomplish things on our off-work days. Our to do lists don’t stop for weekends! As much as I loved absolutely everything else about this planner, this one little design flaw basically renders this entire planner useless to my life.
- Day Designer (Luxe A5), $89-$139. This is a binder-type of planner, so it’s more customizable than any of the above options. There’s an option for undated pages, so you can buy them blank and date your own. And also maybe give Saturday and Sunday the space they deserve.
- Pros: The level of customizability is awesome because it’s a binder. I like the layout of the Day Designer A5 pages better than the Flagship. Everything is lined, and there are icons for the upper right-hand corner information instead of words, which I liked. There’s designated space for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks as well.
- Cons: The price. That’s a pretty hefty cost for a planner, even if it is really nice. However, you could always just buy the inserts, and pick up an A5 binder from elsewhere to save some money. Also, I’m just not an A5 person. I prefer everything to be pre-bound and ready to go so I don’t accidentally forget Leap Day or something.
After weeks of antagonizing, (OK not really but close) I ended up going with the Emily Ley Simplified Planner.
The 2016-2017 version started on August 1, so I’ve only had about two weeks to get into using it. But, so far, I love it.
And, my brother’s girlfriend Kayleah (one of the nicest people ever) sent me a cute package full of planner stickers to use as soon as I posted a photo of my new planner on my Snapchat story! How sweet is she?
If you have any tips or tricks for staying organized, let me know in the comments. I’d love to learn some new things from you guys.