The Six Ways I Use a Paper Planner To Keep Organized

The following is a guest post about how to use a paper planner from regular contributor, Kristin at The Gold Project.

In my last guest post here, I shared how to decide on a paper planner. Picking out the planner is important, but you need to know how you will use it to make the best decision. From my experience, no two planners are the same. The monthly calendar may be set up different. The weekly spread may be in a vertical layout, or it may be in a horizontal. Or, it may not be laid out like that at all. So, you need to know how you will use the planner in order to figure out what brand and style works best for you.

The Six Ways I Use My Paper Planner to Keep Organized at I'm an Organizing Junkie blog

Honestly, it took me awhile to fully recognize how I was going to use my planner the most effectively. I remember opening up my first Erin Condren life planner. It was very overwhelming. Before that moment, I just used a basic academic planner. The Erin Condren had all of these notes pages, pockets, and the weekly pages had a lot of extra boxes and space.

I was very intimidated! I can say that I didn’t use that planner much that year because I was very unsure of how to use it.

Fast forward five years and I now have my planner style down. I am still using an Erin Condren life planner as well, but I have switched from the vertical to the horizontal layout.

So, how do I use my planner?

I will start by saying, I am a one planner girl. I do not have multiple planners hanging out at my house. I don’t swap from one to another. I use the same planner for everything.

The Six Ways I Use My Paper Planner

Daily To Do Lists

I am an individual that lives by a to do list. Every single day, I write out a to do list and I work hard to complete everything on it. It keeps me focused and reminds me what I need to be working on throughout the day. Plus, I am extremely forgetful and the list helps.

When I accomplish a task on my list, I will either mark through it with a pen, check the box next to it (if there is one), or highlight it. And, there is really no reason why I choose one over another. If a highlighter is close to me that is what I will use.

The Six Ways I Use My Paper Planner to Keep Organized at I'm an Organizing Junkie blog

Appointments, Meetings, Practices, and Special Dates

These are usually the first things that get written down in my planner. I will write them down on my monthly spreads immediately, then add then to my weekly spreads once that week arrives. I will refer to my monthly spread when writing my tasks and to dos each week.

The Six Ways I Use My Paper Planner to Keep Organized at I'm an Organizing Junkie blog

Memory Keeper

This is a pretty new way I am using my planner, and it is definitely my favorite. Back in the summer of 2016, I finally broke down and purchased a Polaroid Zip. I was on the fence about it for over a year, but decided to purchase it and give it a shot. I am so glad I did because it has transformed my planner. My planner is not only a planner now, but a memory keeper as well.

I will print out photos twice a week to add to my weekly spread. They are usually photos that I have shared on social media that week. Plus, my blog post thumbnail pictures.

Now, my daughter even enjoys going through my planner to see what photos I have used each week.

The Six Ways I Use My Paper Planner to Keep Organized at I'm an Organizing Junkie blog

Blog/YouTube Schedule

I am not a spontaneous person. Just about everything that I do has to be fully planned out. I wish I had a little of that “fly by the seat of your pants” type of personality, but I don’t. Therefore, I write down and plan any and all blog posts and videos. Many times, I will have them planned out several months in advance.

All of this is written in my paper planner. But, nothing is set in stone until the post is written or recorded. I will write things on sticky notes until I reach a certain date. Then, I will mark the topics in my planner.

Keeping a schedule allows me to plan accordingly. I know what things need to be prepped beforehand and what things need to be purchased, if any.

The Six Ways I Use My Paper Planner to Keep Organized at I'm an Organizing Junkie blog

Gift Tracking

My husband and I start super early shopping for Christmas presents. We not only have Christmas, but many of our family members have birthdays during the holiday season. So, we are also shopping for birthday gifts.

I keep track of the presents that we plan on purchasing every paycheck in my planner. So, when payday rolls around, I know exactly what gifts need to be purchased.

The Six Ways I Use My Paper Planner to Keep Organized at I'm an Organizing Junkie blog

Monthly Goals

This is the newest way I am using my paper planner. I have only been doing monthly goals since the beginning of July when I started using my new life planner. This time around, Erin Condren changed the notes page that is included before every month. The page has 4 circles at the top of the page. I have decided to make those circles my top 4 goals for the month. I am thinking big picture type of goals too. Not something like, take out the trash.

The Six Ways I Use My Paper Planner to Keep Organized at I'm an Organizing Junkie blog

How do you use your paper planner? What other planner related posts would you like me to share?

My name is Kristin and I am a middle school career education teacher by day and a mommy/wife/blogger by night. I am married to my high school sweetheart and we have two loving children. We recently made a life-changing move to Arkansas, so our new house is always under construction. I get excitement out of finding new creative, functional, and cute ways to organize things! I also enjoy writing and documenting life as it happens. So, I put these loves together and created The Gold Project. With the help of my husband, I am attempting to turn our house into a home. So, check out this special place of mine and take this journey with me!


Filed under: Calendars/Planners, Guest Bloggers, Kristin, Schedules


15 Responses to The Six Ways I Use a Paper Planner To Keep Organized

  1. 1
    Anita says

    I’m a Happy Planner girl. I call my planner my “brain”. I use it for everything. All my to-do’s, bills, appointments, work schedules, cleaning lists, meal planning. All the things.

    I also have and use two traveler’s notebooks. One is my “self care journal”, the other is my monthly listing challenge and brain dump journal. None of them go with me when I leave the house at the moment.

    I only started using a planner in November 2016, but I’ve never been more organized and happier than I have been since I’ve had one place to keep track of everything instead of having multiple lists and stacks of papers to try to keep track of.

    • 1.1
      Kristin @ The Gold Project says

      That makes me so happy to hear. I have heard great things about The Happy Planner. And, you can get so many sticker books and things to go with it.

      I also call my planner my brain on paper. It certainly sets my mind at ease having everything written down.

      Let me know if there is any planner related post you would like me to do.

  2. 2
    Kerry says

    I’m a die hard paper planner girl – I want to move to a bigger version, but I CANNOT leave home without my planner. What do people do who use a larger format but don’t want to carry the whole big thing around with them??

    • 2.1
      Julia says

      Hello! Maybe take a pic of the pages you need while out. Or copies to add to while out then transfer when home. Or cut and tape to page in book the new info. Thats just what I thought of. My dilemma too.

    • 2.2
      Kristin @ The Gold Project says

      If I don’t want to tote my planner in and out somewhere, I will leave it in the car and write down the specifics on a small notepad. Actually, that is usually what I do. I don’t carry it when shopping, but it is always in the car.

  3. 3
    Lucie says

    I used to find it a little weird to use a planner as a memory keeper, because I always associated it with planning so putting myself in the future. But I started using it to record special moments and simple things and it actually works so great!!!

    Thank you for putting those points together so well!

  4. 4
    Petula says

    I briefly tried using my tablet and cell phone as my planner, but I need to see my weeks laid out and be able to quickly flip and reference. Right now I’m using the Happy Planner and I love all of the stickers and do-dads I can add. I have the larger one and I think I may try the smaller one next year. The larger one is so heavy and bulky …. it’s a little cumbersome. I’ve tried different ones over years and have learned that the monthly view doesn’t work for me. I don’t use it at all, but it can’t be removed because normally it has something on the back.

    I consider myself a planner addict. I recently saw some new 2017/2018 ones and I had to talk myself out of purchasing one. They were so cute, but I have a goal when it comes to my planner usage.

    Oh, like you, I add photos as well. I’m not as consistent with, but I love how it turns the book into a journal! I use Sprocket to print my photos.

    • 4.1
      Kristin @ The Gold Project says

      How do you like the Sprocket? I have had people ask me about it, but I don’t have any experience with that one.

  5. 5
    kathy b says

    I love this post. I have to look into the Polaroid ZIp. I have too many lists/notespads/calendars. I ld love to get a paper planner for it all, but I need one that will fit in a smallish purse. I like to carry it with me. Any thoughts on small sized. Thickness doesnt matter. 🙂

    • 5.1
      Kristin @ The Gold Project says

      Do you like traveler’s notebooks? I have seen many people switch to one of those because they come in a variety of sizes.

  6. 6
    Vicki B Friedman says

    I tried to be a paper planner girl, but I just didn’t like the idea of carrying something around with me all the time. I’ve always used “Notes” on my iPhone to put my “Things To Do” list, and used the calendar part of my phone for appointments, etc. Maybe the reason I didn’t like the paper planner idea is b/c I was just so used to using the Calendar and Notes section on my iPhone and not having to tote anything around. I love love love your idea, though, of adding photos!! What a great idea. I’m a scrapbooker, so I LOVE that idea!

    • 6.1
      Kristin @ The Gold Project says

      Thank you so much. I have tried to use my iPhone for planning, but I just can’t do it. The same for reading. I can’t read on a Kindle either. Something about having the actual paper in my hand helps me for some reason.

  7. 7
    Sylke says

    I’m a very functional planner girl that uses a Filofax Compact organizer plus a near A5 Bullet Journal. Based on a previous job role as a technical helpline rep for Blackberry my familiarity with that professional smartphone was at the start point of selling consumer smartphones. So in 2008 I tried the electrical way of planning, coming from a paper planner but also found out that my brain does not link to fading visual images, small screens and fonts, alerting sounds and flashing reminders plus typing instead of hand writing of notes. Consequentially, I returned to paper planning, that was less invasive but more effective for my memory. I still use a smartphone for communication, online shopping and information retrieval, but my planning notes always go onto paper. The exception being Outlook time and task scheduling at the usual work place at which I also use a paper planner. Call it a happy fusion if you like 😉

    • 7.1
      Kristin @ The Gold Project says

      You are just like me. I am actually sharing a post about why I don’t use an electronic planner on Thursday. We just don’t mesh well. LOL!!! 😉


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