4 Tips For Staying Organized Using A Paper Planner

If I've said it once, I've said it a million times: I love paper planners!  I received my first one in 7th grade and I've been hooked ever since.  But it wasn't until I got into high school and college that I started buying planners that were both pretty and practical.  I mean, it's so much more fun to stay organized if you love what you're using to keep yourself organized, right?

About the same time as I got my first paper planner, the fancy schmancy PalmPilot was becoming popular for kids my age.  Do you remember those?  Everyone wanted one and you were counted lucky if your parents bought you one for your birthday or Christmas.  But as for me, I was never interested in one.  I loved being able to look at my whole day or whole week or even my whole month and see exactly what I had going on.  It just made sense to me to put it on paper, plus it was a whole lot prettier.  You can't doodle your crush's name using Gelly Roll pens on a PalmPilot! *wink*

Even now, 17 years later, I've had people (like my husband) ask me why I don't just do everything digitally.  Dump the planner and use the apps on my phone.  I've actually tried different apps and systems, but nothing compares to my good old fashioned paper planner and pens.  Call me a creature of habit, but nothing else helps me stay organized the way a paper planner does.

If you feel the same way and are part of the paper planner fan club, head on over to Time Saving Mom to see how I personally use my planner to keep my life organized. (see note below)  Plus, I'm sharing 5 of my favorite brands for pretty planners to get you excited to stay organized in the coming year!

**UPDATE 12/17/16**

Amanda has decided she is no longer going to be running the Time Saving Mom blog so that she can focus her efforts in other areas.  She offered to let me move my content from there to here so that nothing would be lost.  Below is the post that originally appeared on Time Saving Mom on December 12, 2016.

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17 years ago, I received my first paper planner.  I was in 7th grade, still learning how to navigate the halls, find the right classroom and remember my locker combination.  I was in a new school and feeling a little nervous about all the new changes and experiences I was having.  My mom had just gotten remarried and we were living in a new house.  It might sound silly, but having a planner really helped me feel a sense of control in  my life when I didn't feel like I had a lot of control in so many other areas.  Being able to organize my time and obligations in this way helped me stay grounded and created a calm space in my otherwise crazy life.

I am, by nature, a planner and organizer.  (If you read my interview post on TSM, I talk about it there.)  It comes easily to me and I often have people ask me how I'm able to keep things organized in a way that sems beyond their reach or understanding.  I tell them that I don't do anything fancy--I just have a planner and I use it.  Granted, I've had a lot of practice over the years perfecting a system that works for me, but I truly think that anyone can use a planner successfully if they put their mind to it.  I think one key to this is finding a planner that you like and makes sense to you.

Today I'll be sharing 4 tips on how I personally organize my planner to give you some ideas and a jumping off point for your own planning.  Plus, I've picked out 5 brands of pretty planners that will (hopefully) help motivate you to stay organize in the coming year.

Keep Your Planner Visible  If you want to remember something, one of the best ways to do it is to make it visible.  Put it in a place where you know you'll see it.  This is why we're told to put our goals, positive affirmations, quotes or anything else important some place like the bathroom mirror.  We know we have to go into the bathroom at some point during the day and we'll see it.  Same thing goes for a planner.  I keep my planner in my kitchen next to my computer and pens.  A lot of my time is spent in that area of our house, so it makes sense to keep it there.  If something comes up that I need to write down, I know exactly where my planner is and I have pens readily available to make note of it.

Use Color Coding  When I first started using a planner, I just wrote everything down one right after the other.  It took me a little time to figure out that using different colors for different things helped me stay more organized because I was able to see exactly what I needed at a glance.  I've used both highlighters and colorful pens to keep things fun and help me stay organized: one color for appointments and things that are static (example: preschool for my daughter), another color for my to-do list and another color for anything that doesn't fall into one of those two categories.  I recently changed to a new planner, so I don't use color coding in terms of different pens, but I use stickers to help bring important things to my attention.

Plan Out Your Week Before It Starts  Each Sunday night, I pull out my planner and pen and plan out my week.  I'm able to view my entire week at a glance which gives me a starting point for what the week looks like.  I start with the non-negotiable items, such as appointments, meetings, preschool, and fill those in first.  Then I look at what needs to be accomplished that week and determine what has to be done on a certain day but maybe not a certain time.  Lastly, I add in flexible items that can be done at any time, trying to space out my time throughout the week so I have flexibility if anything else comes up.  When I start my week off this way, I feel more prepared and ready to face whatever is ahead.

Make It Fun  The last tip I have is to make it fun!  Gone are the days of boring planners with a solid colored cover and no pretty designs or colors inside.  I honestly believe that paper planners are here to stay because they are so much fun to use!  When I mentioned color coding above, I said that I use pens.  These are just pens you accidentally steal from the bank.  They are cute, fun, bright colors and a little higher quality.  I personally love these felt tip pens.  I even like to use double sided scrapbooking markers.  Just using something that is a little nicer makes me happy and more likely to use it.  I also love these and these stickers, which I use in my Happy Planner right now.

As promised, I'm including my 5 favorite brands of paper planners below.  Check them out and see which one you like best and order it!  Make a new goal for the new year to get organized and start with a pretty planner.

The Happy Planner  This is the planner I am currently using.  I got it when I went to Pinners Conference at the beginning of November and it is so much fun!  It's like a cross between scrapbooking and planning and definitely falls into the pretty and practical category.  I use stickers to help me color coordinate and draw my attention to certain items.  I love the week at a glance, the motivational words scattered throughout and how easy it is to personalize.


Sugar Paper  This is the planner I just finished using.  I love the cute and simple covers they have to choose from and they are also thick and super durable.  The smaller 5x8 size is perfect for throwing in your purse or bag.  The inside is pretty basic but there are lots of lines for each day which I really like.


Blue Sky  I've used this brand of planner many times and love it.  The covers are fun and the inside has color and pattern as well.  It is also pretty basic in terms of how it's set up but very easy to use and see what you have going for the current week.


Orange Circle  I've never used this brand, but just look how pretty it is!  I love the colors and designs they have available, plus they have inspiring quotes throughout to help motivate and uplift you.  We all need that!


Bloom Daily  This is another planner I've never personally used, but I just love the designs they have available.  Included in their planners are places for you to write down your monthly goals, as well as end of the month reflection questions.  A fun and unique planner for sure.


I hope you found my tips helpful and that you found a planner or two that you are interested in.  Paper planners are so fun and I love how you can use them to create a system that works for you and keeps you organized.  

What planner was your favorite?  What helps you stay organized?

24 comments

  1. I agree that paper is easier to see your tasks and stay organized. I will head over and check out your tips.

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    1. Isn't it funny how different people need different tools to stay organized? Paper planners just make sense to me.

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  2. I love paper planners! Everyone at work makes fun of me, because I would much rather hand write notes than type them!

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    1. I'm the same way! I remember when I was in college and I had one teacher who wanted us to take notes on our computer and submit them every week. I always took mine on paper first and then transcribed it later because it was so much easier for me.

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  3. I am a paper planner kind of woman, myself! I love your points as to why you prefer paper planning. Writing things out on paper seems to free me of so many thoughts. I do not find that release as easy with a digital planner.

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    1. So true Erin! I feel like when I write things down I can almost forget about them because I know I can come back later to them.

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  4. I love paper planners too! I veered away from them for a year or so (or rather tried), but found that it was far too difficult for me to use electronic versions so I reverted back!

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    1. Yep, I don't know what I'd do without my paper planner! Digital just doesn't do it for me.

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  5. I'm old school as well and have to use a paper planner as well as one of those big calendars on my desk! It just helps me to write things down!

    lindseylatelyblog.blogspot.com

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    1. It's just so much easier to see everything all at once! I might be weird, but I love the look of a color coded calendar!

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  6. Your planner ideas are so good. I need to do this especially the part about planning out the week ahead of time! I love how cute you make it look too. :)
    xo, Nicole

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    1. Thanks Nicole. I always feel so much more ready to face the week when I take the time to write down and organize my time.

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  7. I'm in the same boat... I LOVE holding a planner in my hand and have the ability to write, scribble, and doodle around it! My favorite is Bando because the paper is thick enough that pens don't bleed through. xo

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    1. I haven't heard of Bando, but I'll have to check it out! It drives me crazy when my pens bleed through.

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  8. I love my paper planner...I am a paper/pen kind of person. My husband says that's for the olden days but just something about holding my planner I love

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    1. Same here Jasmin! My husband is all about doing things digitally and doesn't get the appeal of a paper planner. Although he does admit that writing things down is helpful (probably because it engages a different part of the brain).

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  9. My favorite planner currently is the Mormon mom planner you can find them at the quilted bear.

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    1. I have a lot of friends who use that as well and really love it.

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  10. I will always love real book and I will always prefer paper and pen to electronics :)

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    1. Same here! I love sitting down and reading a real book. Kindles just don't quite do it for me. ;)

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  11. I'm with you, I LOVE my paper planner! I've been using Franklin Covey for years and I don't know what I would do without it!

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    1. Paper planners are the BEST! I think the key is to find something that works for you and stick with it. Makes life so much easier. :)

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  12. I love paper planners and I actually just won one for 2017 on another blog. I can't wait to get it! ;)
    Thank you so much for sharing your tips.
    Merry Christmas!
    XO, Vanessa

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    1. How fun! I hope you love it and have success using it. :)

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