Often around this time I get a case of the Winter blues. The weather changes, the days are much shorter and I feel that transition between the seasons deep to my core. I’ve talked about this before here, and more recently here. However, if there is one thing I LOVE about Winter, it’s the New Year! I love New Years. It’s like the slate of the year past is wiped clean and you get a brand new start. As a planner, list maker and general organizing freak, I love it, because I get to set new goals, choose my word for the year and I get to plan the year ahead. In fact each year I put a note in my planner for November to “buy a new planner”. Sadly, this is something I really look forward to. My planners for 2016 came this month and I thought I’d share my 5 essential planning tools for 2016!
Disclosure: It’s always my policy to make you aware, I received the small Tools4Wisdom planner for free, I loved it so much I bought the bigger one out of my own pocket! Also this post may contain affiliate links, meaning I earn a small commision on sales made through those links. Which means I may earn enough to pay for my 2017 planner!
So the folks at Tools4Wisdom recently sent me their new 2016 planner to review and I was delighted. Have I mentioned that I love planners? Serious love affair for a good planner. Now, note that sentence: a GOOD planner! I don’t do your dollar store planner. I want all my needs met in one planner. I want somewhere for my daily appointments, a monthly calendar, somewhere to set goals, notes, to-do lists, menu planning, and notes. Yes, I know, I’m needy. But guess what? The Tools4wisdom planners do all that!
This planner is 8.5″ x 5.5″ which is classes as purse/handbag sized. I don’t really use either of those but it fits nicely in my gym bag, lol! It has space each month for priorities (to-do), monthly goals, reflections, daily goals/to-do, daily schedule, notes and one thing I loved about this smaller size planner a small box on the bottom right of each weekly page for Gratitude Thoughts. Yes it’s even a gratitude journal! Talk about 2 in 1, this is a 6 in 1 planner!
All this in one small planner? Yes it’s possible, the folks at Tools4Wisdom know how to make a planner! If I were a total pen and paper person ONLY this small planner would have been great, it has a TON more features than other planners and it geared for reaching goals. However, yes here comes the but… I generally don’t carry my planner around so the small size didn’t appeal to me, plus it was missing a couple of things that would make it “perfect”:
- Monthly tabs for ease of use
- Month at a glance calendar
- full daily schedule (the small planner only goes from 8am-5pm – which would make it GREAT for school/college kids or teachers!!! Perfect teacher holiday gift!)
So I like it, and it’s useable, and around 90% perfect…. what’s a girl to do?
Buy the bigger planner! Yep I loved tools4wisdom planners so much, I went on Amazon and ordered their 8.5 x 11″ planner and paid for it out of my own money because it freaking ROCKS! The front section has a space for yearly goals, and even some help in areas to improve your life, and help planning your goals with a section of sheets on breaking down your BIG goals for the year. Each month has a section for your monthly priorities (personal growth/work related), then there is a space to break down your goals into chunks and evaluate WHY these goals add value to you. Then there is the month calendar at a glance the smaller planner was missing.
This is where I pencil in my blog posts for the month. Space on the pace for notes & ideas which is useful! Also note the monthly tabs! Planning something special for April? Just flip the tab to the month rather than browse through all the pages, love it! Then the pages that follow are for the weekly schedule. Double page spread per week with the weekdays running from 6am-10pm (smaller boxes for the weekend, which I actually don’t mind now I don’t work the weekends). Each day has a daily goal at the top (your “must do or somebody dies” goal goes here). The lower part of the page is for To-Do’s, separated by top priority, secondary priority and other, with ideas at the bottom.
Personally I use “Other” for menu planning! I know, genius Di! There are two, one each for lunch and dinner. It’s like it’s made for menu planning too! The “Ideas” section at the bottom, now has my workouts for the day penciled in, because failing to plan is planning to fail. Then “Goals for the week” on the right is all the things that NEED doing that week taken from my master list on the monthly goals page. Seriously planner love right here! But the BEST part? This is the cover…
If you are a regular reader you’ll know we recently got back from Hawaii, where we had an amazing vacation, and I totally wish I could still be there. Seriously! I keep checking the vacation condo we stayed in wondering when we should go next year. Not kidding. So when I was choosing between 1 of the 15 cover options I saw this and just knew this was the one. Perfect right? It also goes with a word I’m considering for 2016 which I’ll be sharing in December.
5 Essential planning tools for 2016
When I got my new planner for 2016 I sat down with my usual tools and thought “hey maybe people need to know what I use for planning my life” because I’m totally into scheduling and planning like it’s an artform. So here are MY 5 essential planning tools for 2016:
- Planner: I’m totally 100% serious when I say this planner by Tools4Wisdom is: the-bomb-dot-com! Love the goal planning pages, mind map pages, monthly goals and to-dos, month calendar, weekly schedule, to-do’s, notes, menu plan spots, and more. Everything I could want in one planner. Seriously, can’t think of anything else I’d need. They even have some printables on their website.
- Mechanical Pencil: I’ve been in love with these pencils for a while but then I found the Papermate Clear Point and it became an obsession. I have 4. (Ok I’m lost 1, and gave one to a friend, so technically I have 2 now, but I have no idea where my purple one is so maybe I need to buy another set?) These are AWESOME, like seriously! The 0.7mm lead is perfect weight for the pages, but the best part is the eraser. The top rotates for a LONG eraser, no more of those tiny little crappy erasers that last a month till they are done. I’ve been using this one ALL YEAR and it’s not even 1/4 worn down!
- Post-Its: Every organizer’s dream is post it that fit their planner and these 2 x 2″ square post-it’s fit PERFECTLY in the weekly planner section. Rather than have something I need to erase if I am unsure of the date yet I’ll post a post it on the day in question “go to disneyland?”, “take day off” or “Do CPR training”.
- Tabs and Flags: I love these suckers! The tabs I use as a “This Week” and “This Month” for the planner so I can go directly to the week/month we’re on. Also they are useful around the home office. The flags mainly highlight ‘in flashing neon lights’ important events without using a highlighter because as stated I only use pencil in my planners!
- Google Calendar: Ok the only thing I could find to represent the google calendar was the iPhone, because it’s what we use. We have each other synced to our calendars so we know whether we are free on certain dates etc. Also Bob knows where I am with clients and classes etc, so it’s a good safety feature for me too. My google calendar is also color coordinated according to task (clients are red, Golds Gym classes are yellow, yoga studio is lilac, general is teal and Bob is green. So I can see at a glance according to color what events are coming up!
Do you use a planner?
What are your essential planning tools?
Ana De Jesus
I have a notebook that I use as a planner and it is great I jot down my ideas for each weeks blogposts a week in advance plus plan out my social and work calendar and what outfits I will be shooting and ideas for future outfit combos and location. I do a lot of research into planning locations and outfits.
Oh you can tell! Your photo’s are gorgeous! You pick some great locations too, wish we had more stuff like that here. I need to get location hunting!
Kids Are A Trip
I still use a planner. 2 of them in fact. One for work, and an EC for personal use. Then there is the dry erase one for the family. It’s exhausting! I would love to streamline because it is exhausting!
Yep it’s crazy then trying to collate everything as it’s all over the place!
I do have an EC planner. It’s the first time I have ever bought a planner and I think it works for me. I love a lot of these items you mentioned.
Last year was the first time I invested in a ‘good’ planner and they are SO worth it!
I used to use my planner everyday multiple times a day, and since we moved in August I can’t even find it and am pretty sure its still packed. I need to get it back, I keep forgetting everything!
That’s how I get. If I don’t use it, my focus goes out the window!
I am trying an Inkwell Press planner in 2016. I also have favorite planner tools!
Hope it works for you in 2016!
I also make sure I have these tools before the new year starts. I can’t function well without a planner.
Esther @ The Cuteness
I love my planner! I use the Day Designer and it’s pretty big and bulky, but it gives me plenty of space for to-do lists, which is the part I use most. When I write down my daily to-do’s versus putting them in a note in iPhone, I get so much more done.
Me too! I have tried iphone apps for to-do list but they just don’t motivate me as much as drawing a physical line through a completed project!
No matter how hard I try… I just can’t let go of the paper planner. I love the interactive element, I can usually open it faster than a phone app and I just love adding colorful post-its! lol
YES! We are kindred spirits. I love the tactile element of paper.
Oh oh oh I LOVE planners! I’m a big fan of Erin Condren planners but I love how this one has spots for goals for the whole week!!
This one just seemed to have everything!
Deb Clem-Buckert (@debclembuckert)
I don’t use a planner anymore, I do everything electronically. However, I love those tabs to help my daughter with homework.
Oh for sure they’d help! I know what you mean though, I LOVE google calendar and I tried doing my to-do list on my phone app but I just can’t get into the habit. Plus there is just something about the satisfaction of physically crossing out something off that list… lol!