Planning Points Feed

Post-Its, Planning and Very Full Plates!

IMG_6962

Hello my friends, and happy Sunday! I hope you are all doing well. ๐Ÿ˜Š

I've posted about planning here for many years now (13 years next week in fact!) but that in no way makes me an expert on the subject. I often struggle with time management and staying on top of it all - especially when I have a lot going on and/or our status quo is changing. But it is a topic that keeps me thinking and strategizing and striving for improvement - so today I'd like share a (hopefully) helpful idea for when you're feeling overwhelmed by all the things for which you are responsible and are perhaps struggling to keep on top of it all.

For instance, right now I feel like my current planning system is just not adequately meeting my current planning needs - and so I've been shifting back and forth between one planning platform and the next. At times, I'm juggling several planners (all meeting different needs) and at other times I try to rely on one single planner to meet all those same needs. Hoping that by simplifying my planners I will somehow simplify my life ...

If only it were that easy, right??

So I decided to take a deep breath and step back and take a look at just WHAT ALL I am attempting to manage. I've done this before so this might look familiar to some of you. It might seem like overthinking things, but I find the exercise truly helpful when I'm feeling a little off balance. It's a bit like a brain dump for planning ... getting it all out there and then looking at it all with (hopefully) new eyes.

Now, as most of my readers know, I am the mother of four sons and each of them are in completely different stages of development and have widely varying needs. Our oldest (23) is out of college and juggling the new demands of adulthood, while our second oldest (19) is a freshman in college and adjusting to a more independent lifestyle plus more challenging studies. Our third son, Earlybird (17), has autism, and has been homeschooled all his life with the support of a wonderful in-home ABA team these past five years ... but this very week - tomorrow in fact - we are putting our Earlybird in school. Yes, I just wrote the "s" word, and yes, that's the big change I've been alluding to in recent social media posts!

Certainly this new educational "adventure" will be the topic of an upcoming post, but I can tell you all that this is a good thing, and that we made this decision very mindfully and cautiously. We are still homeschooling our EB, but he will be attending our local high school for a few hours each morning so he may take part in a special needs life skills program. We are praying this will be a good fit for our boy whose needs have changed and increased in recent years and will only continue to become more challenging in the future. It is our dearest hope that we can find support, community and guidance for our son as he nears and enters adulthood.

Every parent has to face the hard truth at some point that we can no longer "do it all" for - and be everything to - our child, but this is perhaps especially so for a special needs parent. This realization in part is what led us to explore other options for EB ... but I'll get into more details in that forthcoming post. I just wanted to mention this new development because it's a big part of why I feel I am at a point where I need to re-evaluate my routines and take stock of all my plates in the air! Kids change, parents change - and our planning must always be flexible!

(Note: Of course our homeschooling continues not only with Earlybird, but with our youngest son, Little Bear who at five is still in the midst of his kindergarten year! I am in the process of taking stock of where he is at and what our educational goals are for the spring and summer. In September he'll begin first grade at home.)

But back to the post-it notes!

Now, this activity might not work for everyone, but for me, it's a good way to slow down and simplify. I start with the very basics of planning and that is by asking myself ...

Just WHAT ALL do I need to PLAN?

IMG_6969

I love using post-it notes when I'm working out a project of any kind. The tiny ones (like these) are especially helpful for organizing individual steps or ideas.

Here's a brief rundown of my method:

IMG_6969

This will be different for everyone of course, but here's how mine shaped up:

IMG_6969

Categories:

  • personal matters
  • family matters
  • bloggy business
  • household matters
  • to-dos (and projects)
  • time management (calendars, agendas)
  • financial and security issues
  • routines and house cleaning
  • homeschooling (education)
  • nature and faith

I then started thinking about all the things I need to focus on and how pressing they might be. Big or small, I wrote it down, and here's how my post-it page ended up ...

IMG_6962

As I outlined three pictures above, I tried to group the post-it notes according to how often I need to access each kind of information. So the notes on the far left are things I need to think about or look at the most often (every day), while the next column to the right is for items of a more weekly nature and so on.

Now, this is as far as I got, to be honest! But I wanted to post while I had some time today at my computer. ๐Ÿ˜Š

My next step will be to add more post-it notes as I think of other activities/responsibilities. As strange as it may seem, sometimes it's hard to think of all these categories! I think we parents often go on auto-pilot when it comes to caring for our home and family but when we stop to think about it, there really is a LOT to manage. For example, most of us enjoy travel and fun family outings, but without a little (or a lot) of forethought and planning, this kind of activity is not bound to happen - at least not in my family!

(Feel free to use my ideas pictured here but also check out Pinterest for more ideas. Use a search time like "home management binder" or "planner contents.")

Next I will be figuring out WHERE DO I KEEP ALL THESE PLANS?

Which of these post-it notes work best together and what kind of platform would serve each type of planning best. Binder, folder, bullet journal, formal planner, phone ... there are so many platforms to consider.

Ideally, I'd like to keep my planning system as streamlined as possible. Currently I seem to have too many parts in play! (And this is, of course, impacted by my *ahem* ongoing planner addiction. I know many of you can relate to this struggle!)

Once I have my platform(s) in place, I will give some thought to planner maintenance - aka WHEN DO I DO ALL THIS PLANNING?

It's great to put things on paper, but I need to find time in my schedule to actually do all this planning!

Where in my daily routine do I make time for writing in my domestic diary, jotting down nature notes, reviewing lesson plans, looking over our family calendar, popping onto social media, sitting down to think and pray?

What day of the week do I devote to meal planning? Budgeting? Catching up with correspondence? Going through my "slush pile?" 

I'll check back in as I make progress on this project so I hope you'll stay tuned! I'd also LOVE to hear from you and how your own planning "system" is working for you these days. Have you found something that works really well? Are you dissatisfied with your current planner(s)? Are you feeling overwhelmed by all the "to dos" and "to remembers" in your life? Drop me a note if you have a moment and we'll catch back up in my next post - you can leave a comment here or send me an email at drhanigan AT gmail DOT com.

And yes - I'll be back to tell you more about how Earlybird is doing on his new "learning adventure" ... please keep him in your thoughts and prayers if you would!

For now though, thanks as always for stopping by and have a great week, my friends!

See you here again very soon ...


Blending Curriculum + Seasonal Lesson Plans

IMG_6073

As I mentioned in my last post, I have not been using my Erin Condren teacher's planner on a regular basis this year. It is a beautiful planner to be sure, but sometimes it's just a little TOO much planning for me, if you know what I mean! Some weeks I appreciate the freedom of working off a big "brainstorm" list - no plans set in stone, just working within our own happy weekly rhythm. And honestly, some weeks I just don't have enough time to fill in yet one more planner!

All that said though, I feel like our homeschooling has been off-track since the holidays - those big lists aren't translating into productive days - so I thought perhaps I'd return to a more structured planning format and see if that gets our weeks running a little more smoothly.

So since it was a very pretty, sunny weekend, I took pictures of my lesson planner as I worked, and popped over here to share! I also am including pictures from my seasonal bullet journal where I began our weekly planning with a little seasonal brainstorming!

(Reminder - we are doing kindergarten this year with our youngest (5yo Little Bear), while our 17yo Earlybird (who has autism) joins in (with support from his ABA therapist) as he can. Big news on the EB front however, there are some very big changes for our boy coming up in a few weeks and I will share more on that very soon!)

Ok, here is my planner spread, alongside our battered and beloved Oak Meadow Kindergarten syllabus. (I think it's about 15 years old!) As you can see in the top picture, as I worked here at the kitchen table I was joined by the ever-helpful (yet, napping) Archibald Fred.๐Ÿ˜ธ

IMG_6073

Left-hand side of the spread ...

IMG_6073

I love how this planner shades its pages in correspondence with the month - eg., blue for January, pink for February and then green for March, etc.

Right-hand side of the spread which I "gussied up" a bit with some stickers. I don't usually do this but since I knew I was going to post my spread this week I was inspired!

IMG_6073

I do love seeing all those plans all neat and tidy. The lined boxes and smooth paper make for a very nice writing experience. As the week goes along I will check off lessons as we complete them, โœ… cross things off that we skip โŽ and put an arrow next to those items we'll push forward.โžก๏ธ

Close up of how nice the blocks look all filled in!

IMG_6073

As you can see, I also like to incorporate seasonal homeschooling activities into our weekly plan. This week's theme is "winter citrus," and I hope to balance our Oak Meadow lessons with some activities that let us explore this particular theme.

Here are some pics to show you how I organized those ideas late last week ...

IMG_E6016

1. Gather resources: storybooks, recipes, verses, playthings, craft materials, snack ingredients and instructions.

IMG_E6016

2. Make and organize photocopies for activities.

IMG_E6016

3. File photocopies into weekly lesson plan folder.

IMG_E6016

4. Write out seasonal ideas in my "Deep Winter" bullet journal.

IMG_E6016

5. Request books we'll need from the library. (I did this late last week. Orange in January is "in transit" as I type!)

Once I had my seasonal homeschooling ideas in order, I checked our schedule for the coming week and any "events of note." Then I
looked through our current Oak Meadow lesson, identified individual actions and jotted them down on small sticky notes. 

(I know this seems like maybe a bit of extra work and even a waste of paper, but it really helps me fill in my planner when all I have to do is sort those sticky notes!)

Referencing both the citrus ideas and OM lessons I then filled out the EC teacher planner.

And then I took pictures, natch, and threw everything in my teacher tote. Next week I will launch into our plans and do my very best to keep up with them!

๐Ÿƒ๐ŸŠโ„๏ธ๐ŸŠ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿƒ๐ŸŠโ„๏ธ๐ŸŠ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿƒ๐ŸŠโ„๏ธ๐ŸŠ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿƒ๐ŸŠโ„๏ธ๐ŸŠ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿƒ๐ŸŠโ„๏ธ๐ŸŠ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿƒ๐ŸŠโ„๏ธ๐ŸŠ๐Ÿƒ

Well my friends, as always I thank you for stopping by and hope you are all doing well! I have a tour of my "planning spaces" coming up ... as well as a peek at some of my plans for our early spring living and learning, so for now I will say goodbye ...

... but hope to see you here again very soon!


Planner Goodies: Using a Spiral Snap with my DD

IMG_7590

Hello my friends, and Happy Tuesday! I hope your week's going well so far. :)

Today I'd like to show you a neat planner gadget that I've just started using in my Day Designer - it's called a "Spiral Snap" and it's available in sets of four for $5, sold by Anchor Lime Design. What these "snaps" allow me to do is display all kinds of information ... right in the middle of my daily planning spread! Now, truth be told, I'm not always "in the know" when it comes to planner goodies and hacks, but I'm really happy I found these clever little things. I think they have endless uses: lesson plans, menu plans, shopping lists, habit trackers - you name it!

Here's a look at a Spiral Snap before inserting it into my planner:

IMG_7620

IMG_7620

So as you can see, these are simply plastic strips that are punched along one edge in order to fit (or "snap") into the coils of a planner. They feature a length of adhesive tape which will securely hold any kind of paper item you'd like. You can easily pluck the Spiral Snap out of the coils as you turn the pages in your planner, thereby moving it along as you go forward, day to day. 

Another great feature? The adhesive is reusable, so as long as you remove your paper items with care, you can re-use your strips multiple times. 

Ok, clearly this is a really neat planner goodie! Now, here is how I'm using it ... :)

I have two stacked in my planner, one for monthly notes and one for weekly routines.

IMG_7590

This top page is made with a sheet from a "March" note pad made by Susan Branch. I have a pad for each month of the year and they are absolutely charming as you can see! On this sheet I listed out our March home learning goals/plans ...

And I'm even using the back side of this sheet!

IMG_7590

Here I listed out March "Events of Note." So it's kind of like a monthly calendar, only vertical! 

Now you might be asking yourself, doesn't she have all this information listed out elsewhere? And well, that's a fair question ... one to which I must sheepishly answer, yes. But I do love having this pretty piece of notepaper here - it's quite inspiring, in both looks and content, and allows me to keep the "big picture" in mind as I hone in on my daily plans.

Now, underneath those monthly notes, I have a second Spiral Snap ...

IMG_7590

... and this one is holding a weekly routines list. I gave a thought to using this sheet as a current agenda, but since I already have - not one, but two - dedicated week-at-a-glance planners in action (as detailed rather obsessively here), I decided use this as a general reference.

A closer look:

IMG_7590

This sheet is from a set of planning pads made by momAgenda. I bought it a while ago on Amazon but could only find it listed currently at the momAgenda website. (Anyone here use momAgenda planners? I did for a couple of years and they were lovely.)

I used blue ink here for my housekeeping tasks, and black ink for our weekly homeschooling rhythm. It's all pretty basic information (things I've written out enough times I'm certain I know by heart), but still nice as a reference when I go to plan out a new day's page.

As for the backside of this sheet ...

IMG_7591

I thought it would make a handy spot for ongoing to-dos. I used a few post-it notes for this ... you all know how much I love post-its!

IMG_7590

Now, the sheets I used are made with rather thin paper, so they do seem a tad fragile. So I'm careful when I turn them but not overly concerned. If I were going to make up my own sheets for these Snaps I'd probably try using cardstock instead to give it a bit of heft. If I did make one up, I'd also like to add a "topper" of some sort that could serve as a bookmark or page-finder. I'll probably fiddle around with some of my scrapbooking paper and random planner supplies when I have a chance.

Ok, full disclosure - I've only just started using these Spiral Snaps and so far I'm finding them quite fun and helpful - a real novelty! I'm not yet in the habit of moving these lists along with me as I turn the pages in my planner - I sometimes forget and then have to retrieve them! - but I think that will just be a matter of time. 

So that's that! I'd love to know if you have something like this in your planner and if so, how do you use it?

Well my friends, I hope you enjoyed this little peek into my planner today. I have a couple of new posts in the works and will do my best to get them up in the next week or so. Until then, take care of yourselves and your loved ones ...

I'll see you here again very soon!


My Homekeeping Planner Pagefinder

Hello again, my friends! I'm back today with another quick planning post - just a few things I've been sharing on Instagram as part of the #planneraddictpotd challenge. Yesterday's prompt was to show your planner "dashboard," and so, here is mine!

IMG_4384 (1)

Now, I really don't have a true planner dashboard as I think it was meant for this challenge, but I figured my homekeeping binder page-finder kind of fit the bill! In this binder I keep information related to our household and my "job" as a homekeeper. So I guess one might call this my homekeeping planner.

What do I keep in this binder/planner then? Well I have three main sections:

1. My DOMESTIC JOURNAL, which is simply a place for jotting down any ideas re ~ our home, garden, the kids, weather, etc. Pretty much any random thoughts that pop into my head. (You could call it a brain dump I guess, but I'm not too fond of that term!) Anyhoo, I've blogged about this journal many times before so I won't go into great detail right now, but in addition to my handwritten notes, I also tape clippings here from various sources - mostly magazines and newspapers, but sometimes I print things out I find on Pinterest to add to my journal. (Which kind of defeats the purpose of "pinning" I guess, lol - but I am such a paper gal I find I prefer this kind of visual instead of just looking at something on my computer.) I keep the current month's papers in here and then archive them before a new month begins. As you can see on the left, my journal cover page is a piece of scrapbooking paper. This is the backside of the January design from Graphic 45, "Time to Flourish." I switch these up at the beginning of a new month as well.

2. My MONTHLY HOMEKEEPING CALENDARS, which sit behind the journal. Remember the master cleaning calendar I created a few years ago? I am in the process of transferring all those tasks to these handy monthly calendars. Yes, it's a bit of a chore (no pun intended!) but I like to see my tasks listed out in this way. Makes it easier for delegating, too!

3. My HOMEKEEPING TABS for storing information relating to what I like to call the domestic arts: routines, natural cleaners, home remedies, garden crafts, etc. I love these pretty pastel tabs made by Martha Stewart and found at Staples. (Amazon has them too but at a much higher price!) I haven't labeled my tabs yet because I want them to be super-neat and haven't decided if I should write directly on them, or perhaps use printable labels of some sort.

Ok, here's a closer look at my dashboard/page-finder:

IMG_E4379

To make this I used some pretty scrapbooking paper with colorful pineapples (the Colonial American symbol of hospitality) and trimmed/punched it to fit my binder. I added an adhesive tab at the top ...

IMG_4378

To make the dash more useful, I added a printout of our weekly routine: homeschooling & housekeeping rhythms listed by day of the week. I then add little sticky notes to remind myself of current tasks to add to my housekeeping agenda.

Now, does all of this mean that I get ALL of it done and keep up with all those tasks every week?

 

๐Ÿค”

Well, no. But I do think this helps! I keep this binder open on my kitchen counter all day so I can easily jot/tape down a thought/clipping as I think/find them. So in that way this "dashboard" is very much a launchpad for my planning!

IMG_4369 (1)

IMG_4376 (1)

Do you use a dashboard and/or page-finder in your planner (or binder as the case may be)? I'd love to hear about it - let me know below if you have a moment! :)

I'm still working on that "planners-in-action" post for - hopefully - later this week. I wasn't up to my usual planning the past week as we all succumbed to the stomach flu! Things seem to be getting back on track now though so I should have some fully utilized planner pages to share soon!

Hope all is well with you all! Enjoy your Tuesday, my friends ...

See you here again very soon!


Planner Points: Tweaking A Daily Format

DD hacks 1

Hello my friends and Happy Tuesday! I hope you're all doing well. :)

I was waiting for a sunny day to do this post because my pictures come out so much better when taken in bright, natural light - but the skies above are just not cooperating! Yes, it's drizzly, dreary and downright raw here in New England this week - and this is crazy weather for the end of July! (Crazy that it's the end of July, period, right?!)

Anyhoo! I decided not to wait, but to go ahead and take my pictures, and just get on with this draft! :)

What I wanted to show you all today is how I'm tweaking my Day Designer daily planner with a couple of "hacks." I'm part of a Facebook group that discusses our love for Day Designers (named, rather aptly, We Love Day Designers) and there's a current thread discussing the challenge of keeping track of one's week when using a daily format. So my answer in that thread was a little convoluted (I know, shocker) because I had a whole bunch of thoughts on this topic! And, as I've blogged about before, I do have separate weekly planner(s) that I use in combination with my daily planner. But because most people don't like to use more than one planner at a time, I brainstormed a bit about how to combine these two needs - to tightly focus on one's busy and full day while still keeping an eye on the bigger "weekly" picture.

So here's where I got to indulge my obsession with addiction to passion for post-it notes ...

DD tweaks 6

Post-it notes to the rescue!

First I addressed the concept of the weekly to-do list ... which includes those items that need doing soonish, but are not necessarily tied (yet) to any given day. Generally speaking I make up this list on Sundays by referencing my monthly calendar, the previous week's to-do list as well as my weekend planner (or P.O.W.). What's coming up? What didn't get done? What does the rest of the family have to say on the subject?

To keep that list handy in my Day Designer, I use a very basic, lined post-it note stuck to the bottom of the daily to-do column. When I fill out that column I refer to this list and choose only those tasks that can or should be done TODAY. I move the list along to the next day each morning. (It saves a lot of rewriting!)

Now, as for a weekly agenda - an overview of the week's appointments and activities - I display this small planner on a stand in my kitchen:

Week at a glance planner

A week coming up next month ... I like how it has the whole week on one page!

But for easy reference when using the DD, I again turned to post-it notes!

DD tweaks 4

At the bottom of each DD page there is a stretch of space designed for "notes" and "gratitude," and to be perfectly honest, I don't really use this space very often. So I thought this might be a good spot to create a compact (but highly visible) week at-a-glance!

I used the 1/5 x 2in. size notes in multiple shades so the individual days stand out. (And yes, I have that kind of post-it note collection - lots of colors and sizes on hand at all times!) I carefully layered the notes on top of each other in order to fit as many as I could and together they formed a kind of long adhesive strip. (I trimmed  the last one to size). I was able to comfortably fit six notes here and so the last note represents both Saturday and Sunday. Now, obviously there isn't room for a LOT of planning on these tiny scraps of paper, but certainly enough to list your basic schedule for the week! And the whole strip lifts pretty easily as one piece if you do it with care, and then it can be moved to the next page each new day.

(Full disclosure - I don't actually use this "hack" much since, as I mentioned above, I have other weekly planners as part of my planning repertoire, but I wanted to show this idea here - and over on that FB thread - in case it might be helpful to someone else.) 

But speaking of weekly planners - a topic for my next post - I wanted to give you all a little peek at my current planner project:

Homeschool planner 1

Woohoo, love making new planners! :)

So what I'm doing here is combining my weekly planning sheets with some lesson planning forms I've made up along with those pretty vintage scrapbooking papers I love so much - into one big (but hopefully not too big) homeschooling/housekeeping/seasonal living mom planner. :) Once it's complete I'll have it all bound at the copy shop - and while I'm still ironing out a few details (my printer is being a pill), so far I am very happy with how it's turning out!

Ok, getting back to the Day Designer ...

Here's a little time-zoning trick I've taken a liking to ...

DD tweaks 2

One thing I love about the Day Designer is the structure of the daily page. I really appreciate how it breaks down the day into hourly increments with evenly lined spaces. (I feel it keeps my writing a little neater and more uniform!) That said, I also like to think of my day in "chunks" if you will ...

There's super early morning when I'm having my coffee, before (most of) the boys wake up. (5-8)

There are the early morning hours after the boys get up and before Earlybird's therapist arrives. (8-10)

There is the daily therapy session. (10-1)

There is the early and mid afternoon - after the therapist leaves but before we need to wrap up the day. (1-4)

There is the late afternoon - or "tidy time" as I call it when I neaten the house and prepare supper. (4-7)

Then finally there is the time after supper ... but before bed. (7-9)

So what I did here was to use a highlighter to differentiate each time period along the side of the agenda. I then color my task boxes in order to assign each to-do a time zone ...

DD tweaks 3

I do this once I've written out my daily to-dos and it gives me a chance to thoughtfully (and hopefully realistically) choose WHEN I can fit in those tasks. For example, some things are easier to get done when the therapist is here (eg. phone calls) or very early before the boys are awake (laundries, for instance). Some things - like the shell craft for St. James's Day - would be something I'd do with the boys after lunch, whereas registering Crackerjack for an upcoming SAT exam is marked in lavender because Bill will be doing that with him after supper ...

You know, I'm really loving this "hack" because not only is it a great organizational tool, but it adds a bit of pretty color to my Day Designer page, too! (Same with the post-it notes.) Because - true confession - I really haven't caught on with the sticker and washi planner craze, lol! And I know it's all the rage, and it is pretty for sure, but it just seems to take a lot of time and sometimes I think it it looks a little cluttery ... not that that's a real word, lol, but you might know what I mean! With a dash of highlighter and some pastel sticky notes I can add some color (and a bit of cheer) without distracting myself from the bare bones of my timetable and to-dos!

DD hacks 6

Actually, this page is quite cluttered, lol! But just enough to have purpose, I think ...

Bottom line - I love my Day Designer! My head is lighter and my days are a little more productive because of this neat and versatile planning tool! I love it as it is, but it's fun to tweak it and try to make it as efficient as I can ... hey, anything that let's me indulge my extravagant office supply habit, right? ;-)

Oh! One last thing to mention - wait, make that two - and maybe I've mentioned them before, I can't remember - but I use an old Franklin-Covey system "trick" in my Day Designer by marking each checkbox when there is action on a task. So if I have started or am in the process of doing a task I place a dot in the box and when I complete it I check it off. If I don't complete it, I use an arrow to indicate that I'm moving it forward. I also add a little circled initial next to to tasks that are someone else's responsibility. Bill got a couple on today's list as you can see! :)

Well my friends, I'd best be off now as I'm moving quickly towards that blue zone and we haven't made our shell craft yet! (And the troops are getting restless behind me I can tell!) But I hope you are all doing well and once again, I do apologize that my posting has been so slow lately. I hope to pick up speed soon though and if you visit Facebook or Instagram (or Pinterest for that matter) please do look me up! I post in those places pretty regularly because I can do so fairly quickly (and from my phone). My next blog post should be just a week or so away ... I am going to talk about the DIY planner I showed you above and how I plan a new homeschooling year for my family. As you can imagine I have a LOT to say on those topics!

But for now I wish you well and hope you're all having a nice summer. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ...

I will see you here again very soon!