Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Only Planner You Will Ever Need

I'm talking about the Passion Planner. It is a beautiful, well-made, planner that keeps me organized, and helps me achieve my goals.

First, let me explain why using a paper planner works for me. The primary reason: I remember things better when I write them down. Another reason is that it's fun to look back and see how you spent your time over the previous year. It's a good tool for evaluating changes you need to make to spend your time better the next year. It's sort of like a journal for me (I have to have a planner with blank note pages in the back for all my poem/story ideas, cool quotes from books/movies/songs/etc.).

The Passion Planner is all of these things and more. And the Passion Planner's focus is to help you achieve your goals.

Last year, I used my Passion Planner to plan my wedding. It was perfect for wedding planning because it has monthly and weekly to-do sections. So I could go through the planner and for each month, write down the wedding-related tasks/projects/errands I needed to accomplish. Then, I broke those up over the weeks within that month. Planning this way helped me feel [a little] less overwhelmed because instead of looking at a to-do list a mile long and not knowing where to start, I only had a few tasks to accomplish within a month and just a couple each week. I wasn't looking at a list that included things that needed to happen first (like "Pick Venues") right along with things that needed to happen last (like "Get Marriage License"). It made the long, long list of things to do much less daunting.

I've tried color-coding things to make it pretty, but carrying around 10 colored pens in my purse is just not practical. So this year I'm sticking with 3 (at least for now): Black for pretty much everything, Red for upcoming bills, and Green for paydays. In addition to wedding planning, I used this planner last year to keep track of each one of our bills, what date it was due, and how much was owed. I'm doing that again this year, but since my main goal is actually paying off debt this year, I'm also probably going to list all our debts on a page in the back and cross them off as we pay them off. 

Another reason I love this planner is that it has To-Do lists (my fave, seriously), and they are divided between Personal and Work, which makes this great for keeping track of personal and work tasks all in one place. I've had separate to-do lists before and it just gets confusing and I forget things. Having everything I need to get done listed in one place ensures that I will actually get things done. 

In addition to monthly layouts (which I don't use a ton), there are weekly layouts with each day broken down into half-hour increments from 6am to 10:30pm, so you can write in anything you have scheduled or anything you want to get done at a certain time. If you schedule it, you're more likely to get it done. The Passion Planner also has a weekly and daily focus section where you can put your most important priorities for the day/week. Mine usually revolve around exercise or eating healthier, but my focus this week is to open our bank accounts (checking and savings) with a new bank and to continue my job search.

Passion Planner also includes a lot of space for reflection. For each week, there is a "Good Things That Happened" section, so you can write down (and look back on) any good things that happened. I love this section because it reminds me to focus on the good things and to find things to be thankful for. There's always at least one thing I can write down even if I've had a really bad week! So far this week under my "Good Things That Happened" section, I have Farmer's Market and Katy Trail (two places I've visited and loved so far this week). 

At the end of each month, there is a Monthly Reflection. It asks questions such as "What was the most memorable part of the past month? Describe it" and "Review your planner for the past month and assess your priorities: Are you happy with how you spent your time? If not, what steps can you take this next month to adjust them?" It's a great time to look back on the past month and really evaluate whether you made progress toward your goal and if not, you can focus on what steps you need to take to make progress next month. 

My Passion Planner has everything I need to achieve my goals this year and I highly recommend it to anyone who is trying to achieve a goal or goals this year (or is planning a wedding!). 

Do you use a paper planner or an e-calendar? Which do you prefer?