Which planner is the best one can be a loaded question. I have friends that love their planners and spent a great deal of time finding the perfect fit. There is the Happy Planner, Erin Condren, and The Old Schoolhouse Digital Planner. There are hundreds of different planners out there and this time of year it seems they are being featured in e-mails everyday and are all over the stores as folks get ready for the new year. Everyone has different needs and I don’t think there is a one size fits all solution to planners but I’ll share what has been working really well for me over the last several years. This plan has really helped me to move passed the frazzled and forgetting stage that I was in from lack of planning.
First, I want to clarify that I am talking specifically about my personal planner not our homeschool lesson plans which I keep separately on the computer (my template is located in our free resource library). I needed a planner to keep up with where we need to be and my long list of to-do items. I have tried several different planners but found that I would forget to have them with me when I needed to schedule things and my husband never knew what was supposed to be happening. I needed something that was easy to transport and easy for my husband to see.
Like most people today, my phone goes with me most everywhere I go and it comes ready with Google Calendar. I have found that a shared google calendar is the best way for me to track appointments, events, deadlines and other important dates. Some e-mail services will even link to the calendar and auto-populate dates. I even use it to remind me to bring things on a certain day or to make phone calls. This solved a big problem in our family. Since my calendar is almost always with me and my husband can also use the calendar we don’t double book our days.
While google calendar solved my calendar problems, I didn’t want to put my long list of to-do items on it everyday and there were other times I needed to take notes and have information that didn’t conveniently fit into the calendar. In our house the solution to this is called, “the brain” because it functions better than my brain to help me remember things. It is simply a small lined journal that I keep to write notes and make daily to-do lists. At first I just used it front to back but I did find that at times there were pages I needed to be able to reference more often so this year I added inexpensive sticky tabs to give myself sections.
I set up the bulk as a section for my daily lists, but I also had sections for blog planning, and one for each of the organizations (4-H, Trail Life and American Heritage Girls that our family participates and helps in planning). This allows me to more readily find the annual plans or event notes for an organization while still allowing me my normal daily lists. It also keeps it very simple and easy to use. The tabs I chose can also be moved around if I figure out that the sections are not working like I originally planned.
The last component of our planning is a large monthly calendar (or for a more colorful option check out this one) that hangs in the laundry room. Any important family dates go onto that calendar each month so that the children can see what is happening and have a way to track things. I simply look at my google calendar and write down any applicable events. As they get older they are experimenting with their own calendars and planning, but this gives them a central place to see what is happening that week and month.
The fancy planners with lots of features work best for some people but if you are feeling overwhelmed or don’t feel like you are keeping up with everything that you need to keep up with, I recommend giving this method a try.
New Year’s day is often a time for setting new goals and planning, but you can start anytime with this method. Since the google calendar is free and always there and the lined journal doesn’t have dates you can start at the beginning any day you are ready.
For myself and my family, planning and having things on an easily accessible calendar has made our days more smooth. We are much less likely to double book or forget about an obligation. It also makes it easier to look at our schedules and make sure we have enough “white space” to account for much needed down time and those unexpected things like illness, car trouble, etc that always seem to happen (we are still working on leaving margin, if that is an issue for you I recommend the book The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst). I’d say that the best one is the one that works for you and you are willing to actually use.
I need to tell you about this awesome sale that starts today at The Old Schoolhouse. This bundle is incredibly discounted and this week only when you purchase one you get a second free set to give to a friend. This would make a great gift for a new home school mom, a mom going through a tough time or just someone who you want to bless this year!.
Friday Deals and Freebies
Educents has some great sales on educational gifts, toys and even a minecraft coding program that is on sale for $49 (down from $249)
My Snowman Paul is free on Kindle (as of posting Amazon changes prices frequently so always double check before purchase).
Masterbooks is having a sale this week as well. Prices are discounted 20-30% and with code MerryChristmas you can get an additional 20% discount. We love their math program and use America’s Story to supplement our US History.
Need a good way to organize all of these great printables and have access to them when you need them? Try a free Dropbox Plan.
Amazon Prime 30 day FREE trial. If you do not yet have Amazon Prime this is a great time to try it for free for 30 days! Get your Christmas shopping done with free shipping, enjoy Christmas music and more.
Apologia is running a $5 shipping special and other sales throughout the month.
$10 Sign-Up Bonus for Ibotta and they are doing some major savings and rebates starting today. Great way to save money on the things you are already buying.
$40 off your first HelloFresh Box
If you are looking for some maps to help extend your geography check out these from Knowledge Quest Map Trek (including a free sampler).
Homeschool Buyers Co-Op is offering a great deal on Discovery Education Streaming right now. 60% off and bonus Smart Points redeemable for other products. We have used this in the past and enjoyed it.
Two Free Audio Books with an Audible Trial and if you aren’t sure what to start with I’d suggest checking out the Green Ember or The Penderwicks for good family choices.
Also check our free resource library for two new Christmas freebies, Christmas Traditions and a Christmas Bucket List. We have also just this week added a planning guide for helping children focus on giving to others.
When you sign up for our free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.
This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.