For my whole life, I’ve really struggled with actually staying on track with my planning.
The thing is I'm not alone. I find a lot of people start out the year with reallllllly good intentions to stay organised but don’t last the year. I get that.
I’m what we call a hybrid planner, I have 3 kids under 7 and currently I struggle to carry around a physical planner (I’ve done this in the past, but when I’m in the baby season, I find it hard because my hands are usually full of humans.)
I use my phone for things like doctors apps, hair appointments and reminders of things and my listmaker and my notebook to get my work life sorted. The final piece to the puzzle for me is keeping the kids organised and MC (my husband) and I on the same page for “family” things.
Enter: the large format wall planner + bulk planning system.
For us, our phones don’t cut it on their own and MC won’t open my diary and check it every day andddd I refuse to micro-manage every morning. We’re a team but we have to work in the same lane. So, below are my tips and tricks for easy planning.
Use stationery you actually like
This one seems really simple, but honestly - if you like your stationery, you are far more likely to want to use it. If the paper is nice, the cover is pretty or the layout is just perfect for you, chances are you'll enjoy writing in it and therefore use it more frequently.
Allocate a pen to your planning
Now, this one is a seriously good hack. First thing is to allocate a pen (that you like) to your planner or planning system. I like a few coloured pens but a single pen attached to my calendar means that I don't have to "look" for a pen the moment inspiration (read organisation) strikes. There's no mental leap from "oh I need to write this on the planner" to "uh, where's a pen". It doesn't matter what pen you use, really - but lots of our team prefer to use erasable pens as they are.. well.. erasable. Personally I like a staedtler fineliner but you do you.
ps. a pen loop means the pen is actually attached to the planner and that's a game-changer in my opinion.
Bulk Plan + set reminders to bulk plan again
Okay, so here is the actual hack - bulk planning. Instead of trying to plan out each week (and forgetting every second or third week), allocate 20-30 minutes at the beginning of each month, or term to bulk plan the next chapter. If you work in school terms, plan the whole term. You need to put in as MUCH information as possible.
Add in: uniforms, birthdays, after school activities, family visits, holidays, vacation care and after school care bookings, date nights etc etc
As MUCH as you can possibly get out of your brain is the best. Write it all in and then schedule your next bulk planning moment. The key is the alleviate your week to week mental load and put it allll on paper in one go.
I do 4 bulk planning sessions a year - I think that's pretty neat.
For my full school planning system with detailed outlines and images head here.
Add a weekly check-in to an already existing routine
Now you've done the bulk of the work, all you need to do is refer to your calendar and add in the extra items that pop up. Look at something you already do each week (like make coffee or place an online order of groceries) and attach a "checkin" with the calendar. In my family, our eldest gets up & while she's eating her breakfast, she refers to the calendar to find out what's on for her day.
My husband and I will check it while we're having coffee and I usually take an opportunity to update the cal if I need to here.
My daughter will also add to the calendar if she's noticed something I've missed.
Make it fun
Seriously, add stickers, highlighters, happy dances - whatever you need to make planning fun instead of a burden. My calendar often looks a bit hectic by the end of the month, but it works and we alllll benefit from it.
Honestly, this is a way of life for me now and if I don’t do these techniques, our mornings are chaos, my brain is confused and I fall off the organised bandwagon somewhere around March and never get back on again because it’s just all too hard.
I’ve realised that I’m not good with consistently staying organised so my hack is to do it less but more condensed.
All planning is personal, so you've got to make it work the way it works for you but use this is a guide and let me know if it helps ♡