If You Give a Girl a Planner: Daily Life

If you give a girl a planner, she's going to ask you for a pen, some stickers... and maybe a notebook to go with it. I'm so obsessed with all things paper! I love trying new things and then blogging about it. So, for the next few days, I'm sharing my 2020 planner lineup. I'll talk about what I'm using for my daily life, personal goals, reading log, and bookish notebook. Today's post is all about what keeps my life organized and on track: my daily planner.

The last time I blogged about my planners, in 2018, I'd fallen in love with Happy Planners and used them for my gratitude journal, my life planner, my blogging and bookish planner, and my reading journal. But in the summer of 2019, I realized that my life planner started to feel like a chore. I was frequently writing in it after the fact, and it became more decorative than functional. So, I knew it wasn't working for me anymore. I changed to an academic year Simplified Planner. From August 2019 - July 2020, I used their weekly planner. I never posted about it, but it was exactly what I needed. It was simple, functional, and beautiful. And the weekly format had plenty of space for occasional appointments, a handful of daily to do's, and a little blog planning.

For 2020-2021, I picked Simplified Planner's Dapperdesk. I'd wanted to make the switch to a daily planner for a while, and it finally felt like the right time. So, let's talk about why I chose it and how I feel about it!

Simplified Planner's Dapperdesk line is their most minimal offering. It is bookbound, like their weekly planner, which works better for me as a lefty than their spiral binding. It covers 12 months – I have the academic year, but the calendar year is available, too. The cover is leatherette, and I love the gorgeous gold dot pattern that I chose.

The inside is their classic daily layout with a few changes – no color, no tabs, all the monthly views at the front, and a full page each for Saturday and Sunday. I wasn't sure I really needed one full page per day, which is one reason I used a weekly last year. I wanted to see whether it felt like enough space and figured that was easier to commit to, especially because my baby was due about halfway through the academic year. It turned out to be exactly what I needed at the time. But for 2020-2021, it was time for a daily. Here's why I chose the Dapperdesk:

+ Classic, minimal look
+ Functional layout
+ Lay-flat book binding (no spiral!)
+ One day per page
+ The in-between size (bigger than their weekly, more portable than their daily)

As I mentioned above, the Dapperdesk doesn't have any tabs and all of the monthly views are together at the front. These were the only two features I was nervous about beforehand, but neither one has annoyed me in my first three months of use. I use the ribbon bookmark to mark the current day, and a small gold Post-It page tab (seen above on the upper right side of the page) to easily flip to the monthly view.

On the monthly spread, I typically write down appointments or events that are happening at a specific time, like my in laws coming over for a Saturday family breakfast. Sometimes I'll add in a more general event, like an adventure to the park with my boys. In the Notes column to the left, I write down birthdays and whatever the washi tape represents. Unlike with my Happy Planner, I rarely use decorative stickers in my Dapperdesk. I do some simple color coding, and use stickers and washi tape when it serves a purpose. Simplified Planner's color-coding stickers come in nine colors, and I've assigned each one a category:

+ Navy: My little boys
+ Green: My husband, Nick
+ Light Blue: My blog
+ Teal (two shades): Meal planning
+ Yellow: Eating out
+ Light Pink: Travel / Adventures
+ Medium Pink: Release (book / music / movie)
+ Dark Pink: Myself

When I use washi, it matches up with my color coding. So, in the photo above, the green is Nick's travel schedule for work and the light pink is our family trip to the mountains. And that's all I do on the monthly view!

The best thing about a daily planner is that every day is a fresh start. I never feel like I have to stick to a specific format or regret the placement of a sticker. Just turn the page and try something new tomorrow! I've tried several different things so far, and this is just a peek at one spread. Here's how I'm using the different sections of the page:

+ The hourly column: I usually write appointments or events occurring at a specific time: pest control coming to our house, errands we run, or adventures we go on. And I'll add a dot sticker to a line if an event fits into one of my categories, like a navy dot for my baby's Well Check. Some days this area is completely blank, and that's okay.

+ The to do list column: I almost never write on every line. I don't want to pack that much into my day! In bed each night, I usually spend a few minutes reviewing and prepping in my planner. I'll check off that day's tasks, carry over ones that didn't get done, and add anything new that I already know needs to happen the next day.

+ The Notes section: This is where this planner really wins, in my opinion. You can do anything you want here! I'll meal plan, as you can see in the photo above. I use a little sticker to make note of when I finish a book. I'll write down cute things my big boy says, the baby's milestones, the blog post I published that day, things I want to remember or look up... and so much more. And instead of keeping a separate gratitude journal, I write down one thing that made me happy each day. It's a little bit like having a planner and journal in one, which I love. 

But what about things that can't assign to a specific day? That's when I add in a sticky notes! Sometimes I'll write down a few goals on a sticky note and just move it from day to day. In the photo above, I used a sticky note to pre-plan some extension activities for my son's virtual preschool. His teacher has put a lot of work into making this year special and fun, even at home. But one of my recent goals was to be more proactive about extending his lessons into our daily rhythm. On Sundays, I'll write down his letter, theme, and Bible story of the week along with relevant books we own and could read + extra activities/crafts. Then I can reference it anytime we need something to do, want to reinforce a specific lesson, etc. For Letter D, We went on a Dunkin Donut Date for Letter D and played Find & Seek for Letter F. You get the idea! The planner is just the tool that keeps me organized.

The Dapperdesk planner has 17 notes pages, compared to 31 in the weekly and 4 in the daily. So it's right in the middle, which has been the perfect amount for me (so far). Last year, I barely used those blank pages in my weekly. But this year, I was determined to put them to better use! I looked at my favorite planner account – @plannerstateofmind – for inspiration and then got to work setting it all up. Here's how I'm using my pages:

+ Color Coding Guide: Quick reference for my colors + categories
+ Contact Information: Frequently used addresses and phone numbers
+ Planning Ahead: 2021-2022 appointments past when the planner ends
+ Routines (Daily and Weekly): My daily and weekly household chores
+ Routines (Monthly): Monthly routines for the blog, my planner, photos, etc. 
+ Lessons Learned: Write down what worked and what didn't work
+ Things I Want to Buy for Myself: A wishlist for myself + our house
+ Things I Want to Buy for Others: Gift ideas for my family and friends
+ 20 in 20 Family Bucket List: The same list I shared on the blog
+ 2021 Family Bucket List: A spot for our 2021 list, once I've made it
+ Things for Our Family to Try: Local adventures, activities at home, and places to visit
+ Memories and Milestones: Highlights from our year
+ Goals I Want to Accomplish: Projects I want do, habits I want to start, etc.
+ Celebrate the Wins: Goals I've checked off my list and progress I've made
+ Ideas for So Obsessed With: Brainstorming blog posts
+ Two blank pages: For whatever strikes my fancy!

If you're curious, here's a full flip through of the Dapperdesk planner:

Now that you've gotten to see inside, here are the accessories I typically use. They're mostly just functional: 

+ Simplified Planner stickers, including:
    - Flag Labels
    - Happy Icons 
    - Flags
+ A few FayeCreates stickers
+ Some honeyinked icon stickers
+ Thin washi, like this pack from Recollections

Well, there you have it: my 2020-2021 planner for daily life! I'm loving it so far, and I think my only con has to do with the cover. As much as I love the look, I'm still a little worried the gold dots will wear off the longer I use it. And I've noticed one or two spots where the leatherette has gotten a little scratched off, like the time I caught the edge of the planner on the pouch's zipper. Other than that, I love everything about it so far!

If you'd like to try Simplified Planner, you can get $10 off your first order with this affiliate link.

Do you use a paper planner? Tell me about it!
And check back tomorrow for my Powersheets goal planner.

1 comment

  1. I love how much simpler this planning system appears to be! I actually stopped using Happy Planners as an actual planner for much the same reason, and I've been using a very simple and straightforward system in my Papier planner. And it works really well for me! I love finding a new planning groove and it definitely sounds like you've hit your stride with yours ;)


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