January 16, 2014

Streamline: Planner Problems


For some reason once the holiday season was over I expected myself to be back on top of everything. I blamed the business of our schedule on Thanksgiving and Christmas and all the social events that accompany them. I felt like my current calendar system might just not be working because there was just too much. Last week I told myself that it was all the appointments and meetings that were put off until after the school break was over that made me feel like I wasn't on top of things.

This week is forcing me to look at the real issue though. I can't keep blaming this feeling on there being  too much to do, because frankly, this is my life. It's busy. Appointments and meetings are going to keep happening. My children will keep getting homework projects and paperwork that I need to send back to school. This is what life looks like with young children and the commitments my husband and I take on outside work/home. For the most part these are things we want to do or have to do (There's no skipping hair color appointments anymore-hello gray roots!) 

Cooking has taught me that if something isn't working the recipe needs to adjusted. Add a little more seasoning, adjust the ratio of milk to flour. It's time to start adjusting how I organize myself/stay sane. If the system works, I'll keep it up and then stay sane. If it doesn't fit my life at the moment, I fall off the wagon and end up stress eating brownies out of our freezer because, well…chocolate! 

I'm going to try to re-integrate my meal planning and family scheduling a little better. It kind of fits with my plans to streamline things this year. Bear with me over the next month because I'm going to figure out how to make things run more smoothly and document it a little here. Consider it a mini-blog series! 

So here are the scheduling things that need work (at this moment):

Meal Planning
Family Calendar
Blog Calendar

Normally we meal plan once a week and I try to match up what events we have in the evening with the meals. We post the meals on the chalkboard in our kitchen so that I don't forget (yes, I know) what I planned to make. Now that pretty much every evening has an event for somebody in the house I've been trying to cook in the middle of the late afternoon homework rush and that gets complicated fast.

Our family schedule gets input into both the Cozi app on my phone and a white board calendar on the wall. This system was working great until both kids ended up in evening activities and now there really isn't enough space on the board to fit everything and still read it.  


The last paper planner I had was The Busy Body Book which I adored, but they went out of business. Each week had a two page spread. The left page was set up for notes and to-do lists, and the right page had the days in a vertical column. Then there were 5 other columns to label with whatever you needed-one for each family member, work vs home, meal plans, etc. It was FABULOUS. 

So the first order of business is to find a new planner. Do you have one you love? Please comment if you do! I'm going to do some research this weekend and I'll post a roundup of possibilities next week. Over the next few weeks I'll share what's worked and what hasn't in terms of meal planning and handling the paperwork craziness. It's always nice to be accountable to someone and I'm betting that I am not the only one having problems getting back into a groove this year so maybe it will help one of you too!

Feel free to share your favorite planner/calendar/general organizing tips in the comments! The more ideas the better!


  1. To save room on the big calendar on the fridge it's color coded. meals are a color, I'm a color, hubby is a color, etc. no names or explanations to crowd in. I don't use a paper planner anymore (it's all my phone) but when I did Franklin Covey was the best! And now they're high tech too. I also keep the grocery list on the fridge (mines a white board, my mom does paper) and J and I both know to put stuff on there when we run out or are getting dangerously low. All I have to do is anything specific from recipes when I meal plan and my list is done.

  2. I use Google Calendar, which I sync to my iPhone calendar. I print it every week and put it in my household binder. I also print a daily calendar page each morning and fill it in while drinking my first cup of coffee. It gets populated with things I'm carrying over from the previous day's page, things from my Google calendar, and things I want to accomplish today.

    So far it's working. I started Jan. 1. I've found that the planning process is so relative to the person doing it. And that it needs to be tweaked a lot to find exactly what works for you!

  3. Thanks! I never had much luck with my iCal, but I didn't try really color coding there, just on the big calendar.

  4. Color coding worked for us for a while, but the kids have had so much going on lately that there literally just isn't room in the squares to fit it all in! We use our kitchen chalkboard for meal lists and grocery lists, though I haven't gotten the hubby to remember to put stuff on there yet! Good ideas!

  5. I currently have about six different calendar systems going, and I just cannot find one thing that covers it all. I have a weekly family calendar on the fridge, a monthly paper calendar, two calendar apps, and a weekly planner/notebook thing. Oh, and a wipe off board. If you find something fabulous please share! I could use some streamlining.

  6. In a way, I'm really glad that I'm not the only one who has a bunch of calendars going just to keep everything together…although I was hoping there might be a magic solution that I could borrow from someone else :) Sounds like I can't get out of the hard work after all!

  7. I'm with you. I seem to have outgrown my system and I'm in search of a new one. Let me know if you find something. I'm curious!

  8. I am very excited about this series! I am struggling to find some new systems that work with my life, now. I actually bought a paper planner this year for the first time in ages. I'd been dreaming of an Erin Condren planner but they were a little too pricey for me, so I was excited when someone recommended Plum Paper Designs on etsy. They make a similar product (family planner) with personalized week layouts in a 7x7 grid where you choose the categories that they print down the left hand side of the page. I chose one box for each person in my house, plus Home, Fitness, and Meals. (I can't remember what I plan, either!)

  9. I just looked up the Plum Paper Designs and they look great! Thanks so much for the suggestion! I'm so glad that I'm not alone in this struggle to find a system that works. I've been trying a few small changes to what I already had set up and they are helping, but not quite as much as I had hoped. It's tough to find something that keeps working through all the different situations you can find yourself in in one year!

  10. I will! I'm trying a few things now but haven't found "the one" yet. I'm getting there though!


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