Category: Planning

My new all-time favorite pen

September 4
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Lets be honest, I usually just grab the pen that is closest to me. I am the worst about keeping a pen near me and I also leave mine wherever I am. Because of this, I usually find myself using whatever random freebie pen that I find. Although they are not perfect, they get the job done. This was all fine and dandy until about a week ago.

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Last week someone stopped by my workplace and brought sample Pilot Frixion  Erasable pen for the office. Never one to say no to free stuff, I grabbed mine and tried it out. OH MY GOODNESS. This pen/pencil/piece of perfection was a life changer. The darn thing writes like butter, erases like magic, and does not bleed or show through pages. They are so good a coworker and I messaged each other about them and both ended up buying ourselves a pack off Amazon.

So I got the ten pack off Amazon because I wanted several colors. Two days later these babies showed up on my doorstep and the fun started. I am using these in my planner so that when I change my plans I can use erase instead of crossing out my changes. The erasers work so well that you can hardly tell there was anything else there before.

I went ahead and tried out each of the pens and then also erased with them so you can get an idea of how good the are are erasing. I have used “erasable” pens in the past but was never really happy with any of them. These erase pretty darn well.

Here is what the back of the page looks like so you can get an idea of the bleed through which is basically nothing. There is some markings that show through so I will try to not press as hard with the pens.

 

Have you tried these out? What did you think? Also, do you have a favorite pen that you think is BETTER? Let me know here or show me on Instagram.

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ThriveSteer Planner

August 23
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Created by a therapist, the ThriveSteer planner is designed to be a planner and a life coach all in one. This planner has a strong focus on both helping you plan your day as well as helping you create the vision for the life you want to live.

Before the “planner” starts there are several pages of activities to go through. These activities help to sit back and think about what you really want from your life from six core values.

These values are:
Strategy
Congruency
Synergy
Courage
Inspiration
Transformation
To learn more about these areas visit the ThriveSteer website.

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After you understand the core values, the planner has prompts about many areas of your life. Through these prompts you will learn more about what you are really looking for from life as well as create pursuit statements that will help focus your actions over the next year.

The planner then walks you through the steps to make one goal for the year and helps you plan how to get to it. At the end you will have a chance to review what you’d worked on and you should leave the beginning of the planner with a strong sense of what your real goals are as well as how to get there.

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The planner portion itself it fairly simple. Monthly pages are tabbed for easy access and weeks are put together in a simple hourly vertical layout. Both have areas where you can mark the core value you want to focus on as well as space for reflection.

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At the end of each month there is a two page Monthly Follow Up  where you can reflect on the previous month. There is also a quarterly and year end review as well. These include prompts that will help you decide where you were successful and how you might need to change your pursuit statements to better meet your needs.

Overall, this is a high quality planner with unique insight that I have never before seen in this format. The paper is strong and I love that it comes with two bookmarks and a band to keep the whole thing together.

 

If you are looking for a planner that focuses on wellness and goals this one might be for you. Find out more at ThriveSteer.com 

Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own and I was given a free product for review purposes. 

 

 

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Agendio Planner

August 9
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If you remember, last year I tried out the new Agendio planner. This is a fully custom planer that is printed just for you. You get to pick the layout, sections, colors, headers, and even add events and tasks. That planner is about to end and I loved it so much I ordered another one for this year.

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I use this planner for work and I use it in an A5 binder so that I can include other papers and inserts in the planner. (Look for A5 binders at Filofax or Michaels.) You can also have yours made with a coil or in a book form. These look nice and professional.

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I have been using a daily planner layout for a few years now and what I always notice is that I don’t use the hourly column.  In my field I don’t have tons of meetings or appointments, and the ones I do have are often the same each week.  Because of this I changed the layout of my planer to just have a small “today” section to record my appointments for the day and then a “tonight” section to jot down evening plans.  Of course, if you need the hourly section, go for it! That is what I love about this planner, you can make it work for YOU.

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Although I love a daily planner for work, you can also create a weekly planner if that is more of your speed. Vertical, horizontal, whatever you want. I saw some where they had the days on the left page and then the right side was for notes and such for the week. Kind of perfect really.

Once you’ve decided on a layout Agendio lets you add in important dates. You can choose from holidays, moon cycles, religious holidays for several religions and more. You can also add your own holidays like birthdays and anniversaries.  Agendio will remember them so you can add them in next year.You can also add reoccurring events like due dates or meetings. A super easy way to ensure things get done.

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One of my favorite parts of this planner is that you can set it to start whenever you want. So many times people decide they need a planner in like April and like no planners start in April so they have to buy one they only have use or wait until Academic planners start in around July.

Want to see my Agendio planner from last year?

Reminder: links in this post are affiliate links. I receive a small commission on each sale which helps me run this site at no cost to you.

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Happy Planner Garden Planner

May 23
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One of my favorite aspects of home ownership is having a yard of my own. A space where I can create and nurture life and spend time outside. Although I have been a homeowner for several years now I had not taken the plunge into vegetable gardening until the spring. Vegetable gardening is a little different here in Florida. Our soil is bad, our temperatures are sweltering, and the bugs are everywhere. Because of this I held off on growing vegetables for so long. Finally, after seeing friends be successful I started my own little garden.

It is not much yet, I am just growing some beans, squash, cucumbers, and sweet potatoes; but it is a good solid start. This is kind of a trial run for the fall. In Florida, fall/winter gardens often have better luck as the temperatures as much more mild. My plan is to take what I learn from this season about my land and soil and use it next month.

While planting my garden I realized I needed some way to keep track of what I planted, when I planted it, and what actions where taken regarding watering, fertilizing, and weeding.  This is when it dawned on me that using a Mini Happy Planner to record my garden would be perfect.

The planner is used as a cross between a planner and a journal. I can mark when I want to plant and fertilize so I don’t forget, as well as journal how my actions, the weather, and outside factors influenced the yield.

I have also added grid paper so that I can make a diagram of my garden. I use a few varieties of seeds as well as planting methods so I wanted to be sure I remembered which plants were which in the end. This will also help in the future to see what spots work best over time as well as if I need to remember for crop rotation.

I will be keeping my punch handy so that I can punch used seed packets and keep them on hand. I also included a pocket for other literature and receipts. (Did you know many garden centers accept returns on dead plants if you keep these?)  You never know when you need to go back and see the “rules” for the plant.

Have you ever made a garden planner? How did it go? Also, please share your favorite gardening tips, especially for Florida!

Teorizanthes Apparel!

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Knowing yourself and knowing your habit type

May 2
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Wow that feels like a long title, but this is something I have struggled with I know many of you do to. I love planning out my day and week and allotting tasks and to-dos, but sometimes when the day or time comes I find that I lack the simple motivation to make it happen. Sound familiar? Good. You’re human too. Today I want to share a little bit into my struggle, as well as a resource to help.

I have again and again failed at following through with my plans. You know all those people who show up at the gym on January 1st? That is me. I plan out a great week and schedule and then by Wednesday I stop following it.

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I finally had a light bulb moment when I read Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. Rubin categorizes everyone into the following four habit tendencies; upholder, obliger, questioner, and rebel. Everyone more or less falls mainly into the categories which by understanding them can start to understand how we make and keep positive habits (for me, getting plans done.)

 

Here are the four tendencies:

Upholder: This person says she is going to do something, so she does it. She is accountable to herself and does it for herself. She probably stopped reading this post because she does not have this problem.

Obliger: This person may skip out on a habit (like going to the gym) unless the promised someone else that they would. She might neglect to follow plans that are just for her, but will totally make sure anything that she promised to anyone else gets done, like prepping meals for her husband. (I fall into this category.)

Questioner: This person has a hard time with things unless they understand why doing it is good as well as what the benefit is for them.

Rebel: These people resist expectations from themselves and others. Also, they probably don’t own a planner or read this blog.

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Once you understand where you fit you can start to find ways to make your plans work for you. As an obliger, I found that being accountable to others makes me work my best.  My best personal example of this is that I wanted to wake up earlier in the mornings, but was having trouble because I didn’t have to get up, I could sleep in and it would not hurt anyone. My husband leaves for work about an hour before me and I wanted to get up with him. I also wanted to make us both smoothies to take to work each day. I spoke to my husband and told him my intentions to get up and make smoothies and asked him to help me do this by reminding me if I was still in bed to make smoothies. The next day, without his reminder I was out of bed and at the blender. I wanted to do what I had promised him.  I use the same system to keep myself on track. I tell him what I intend to do and he will come back a few days later and ask how I did. To the outside eye this could come off in a slightly controlling way, but I have asked him to keep me accountable. If you’re an obliger, find someone to be accountable to and ask them to help you. When you do something for someone else you will be more likely to follow through.

Please read more about these types, it really did help put everything into view for me. Rubin has two books Better Than Before and The Four Tendencies. I suggest reading both, but if you don’t have time at least check out her website.

BONUS: Understanding the tendencies as well as how your family scores helps so much in understanding where they come from in things. My husband in a Questioner. Knowing this, I know that if I ask him to do something without giving him the WHY he will just drive me crazy with questions. I now explain why I am asking him to do something while I ask so he understands the reasoning and is more willing to comply.

While I don’t have any one great tip, I honestly believe that looking into your tendency will help you know yourself the best.

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My wellness planner /meal tracker

January 15
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When Me and my Big Ideas (the Happy Planner people) released the new items for winter 2018 there were few items I felt I immediately needed, however as time passed I started to think that maybe the wellness extension kit was for me. I kept checking my Michaels stores to to see if they had it but I never found one.

I have noticed that when I do not have meals, snacks, ect planned out I tend to either binge on junk or just not eat and I then I end up in a grumpy mood and just kind of over everything. However when I eat well I feel so much better emotionally.  I have also noticed that I have gained some weight over the last year. My job is more sedentary than ever and we eat a lot of food. Between the new job and just being a lazy person I am not doing the best I can for my body. I want to be proud of myself and the way I look and I just don’t feel I am there.

My goals with the new planner is to plan out my meals so I know the night before what to bring for lunch and snacks as well as what I need to take out for dinner. Generally, I am pretty good about dinners except the nights that my husband isn’t home. So, I am actually going to have a plan for those nights. wether it be a leftover option or something easy to make that I will actually enjoy. I want to point out that I am not “dieting.” There is no restriction here, but more of a tracking system to plan what I will eat and keep track of what I have eaten. This will also help to go back and see how foods affect my moods. Fun, right?

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So on my last attempt to find the wellness extension I randomly picked up a small recollections fitness planner. (Have you seen the 2018 recollections spiral planners? They really stepped up their game.) Anyways, I loved that it tracked water intake and was super cute. I then walked over to the Mambi products and saw the mini fitness planner. There were only like 5 planners left total and one of them was mini fitness. What a win. Anyways, it had a place for meals, snacks, activity, water intake, and calories. Although I did not need all of these sections, it really seemed like the best option so I grabbed that and the mini fitness sticker book.

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Anyhoo, after reviewing the wellness extension online and comparing it to this mini I think I ended up with something that will work better for my needs. It tracks all my meals, exercise, and water and can be carried in my bag whereas the extension pack was just going to stay with my home planner which does not go everywhere with me. The fitness planner does track calories which I will skip as I do not collect that information. I am a little disappointed that the wellness extension did not include more, I feel like it was more of a regular planner with an emphasis on wellness/self care instead of a planner just for that. I guess that would work for some, it is just not what I was looking for for me.

Photo of the Wellness Extension from shop.meandmybigideas.com

Photo of the Wellness Extension from shop.meandmybigideas.com

I will also be tracking my steps in this mini planner. I have used a jawbone in the past but did not want something bulky on my wrist so I bought a Jawbone up move so that I can clip it into my top, pocket or bra to track my steps on the sly. Bonus: These are less than $15, what a great deal. My *goal* is 10k a day which is where I was back when I was a busy Children’s librarian running around in the summer. I know I will not hit it every day, but I want to try. This may mean walks before or after work or taking

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I also bought a new scale to track my weight. I have never personally owned a scale as I do not take much heed in what it says, but I want to have a way to track progress a little more. I purchased this scale for under $12 on amazon and it works great. It can connect to apps but I did not fuss with that because who needs their phone and scale to talk, really.

So this is where I am at right now. I just bought all this yesterday so it is new to me but I think it is a step in the right direction. I will share more in a few months once I get a better feeling for what I am doing. Until then if you have questions ask me here or on Instagram.

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Reading goals in 2018 + planner printable 

January 1
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For 2018 I am going to finally do the PopSugar Reading Challenge. I’m sure most of you have heard of this but basically it’s a challenge to read books outside your usual genre. The prompts are fun but also very open so you have lots of options based on your individual preferences. As I mentioned in my 2017 reading round up, I am also going to try and read more classics this year.

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My favorite part of the PopSugar challenge is that they made a printable checklist to mark the books. I printed this out on cardstock oat 80% and placed it in my medium (classic) Happy Planner. If you have a big Happy Planner you can just print it at regular size. If you have another planner feel free to play with sizing to get it to fit. If you are having problems with sizing I have the best luck printing in Chrome or open with adobe reader.

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I do not plan to track my books in my planner this year. I use Goodreads to track my reading. Every year I also do their reading challenge which is based on reading your goal number of books. This year I am leaving my goal at 60 books. This has been my average for the last few years and I feel it is a good place.

I do most of my reading via audiobooks on my commute and around the house. I do enjoy reading ebooks as well, but I often prefer to use my free time to work on projects around the house rather than sitting and reading. It is just how I like to use my time.

Will you be participating in either of these challenges? What is your goal?

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New Happy Planner accessories

December 27
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So today Me and My Big Ideas (the people who make the Happy Planner) are releasing new planner products. Although there are no new planners, there are tons of new inserts and stickers.  If you want to see everything check the videos here. Below I will go over the aspects of this release with screenshots from the YouTube video. Items are linked to Michaels and will be in stock soon online.

So the product I am most excited for is the new sticker rolls. The idea behind these is that they took the most popular stickers from the value packs and put them into one easy to access kit. Also included in the stickers release is mini stickers. These are all super cute mini stickers for all sorts of stuff. My favorite part of this kit is that they are not sized for the Happy Planner so they can be used with whatever planner you’d like.

Sticker roll options: Click the link to see info and purchase.
Wellness, appointments, faith, travel, checklists, mom, schedulefood, fitness, and home,

New sticker value packs: Mini, productivity, and budget.

To help turn your planner into a more general planner/notebook/life kit MAMBI has released tons of new inserts. These can be added wherever you’d like in your planner.

My favorite of the new inserts are the mini trendsetter/goal getter(hourly) expansion packs. These are great for someone wanting to try out one of these newer planner styles without committing to an entire year. I am currently using the Goal Getter planner so if you’d like to try it as well this is a great option. Also be sure to check out the Fitness and budget expansions as well if those are areas you’d like to focus on.

The last aspect of this release is the extra pages inserts. We’ve had these types of inserts for some time now, but these are just kind of better. First of all we have new pastel filler paper. These come in lots of color options like neon as well as some with a gold foil header. These are SUPER adorable. These come in regular and BIG sizes.

Besides the full page inserts there are also half sheets. The half sheets have a notes option, a weekly menu plan, and weekly half sheets. There is also an expense tracker that looks super useful for those working on budgeting or if you need to track expenses for work.  The half sheet daily inserts are great for those random busy days.
These items will start appearing in Michaels stores December 28th. Michaels puts out new products as they change for the season so they will be put out when staff have time. If you find items in your store tag me in photos on instagram! I’m @_amberdowns!

All items will also be available in the mambi shop on January 8th.

 

HP winter release PIN

 

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My planning plans for 2018

December 15
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It is December which means it is time to start talking about 2018 planners. Excited? I know, right! For the fourth year in a row I will be using a Happy Planner as my main planner. This year I will be using the Happy Planner Girl Goal Getter planner option. This planner is a little different than the other Happy Planners in that each day is set up in an hourly fashion. I have gone back and forth about this set up but I think in the end I will like it. I will share another post next week explaining how I will set this planner up.

For work I will continue to use my Agendio planner. This company is still fairly new on the scene but is pretty amazing. They allow you to create your own custom planner. They offer daily, weekly, and monthly setups and you can start in any month. You can order your planner bound or in an A5 format like I have both punched or without holes. Agendio does not sell planner binder right now so I put my planner in a 6 ring planner blinder. This is a great vegan option.

Some other great options include:

The Day Designer- These ladies make lovely spiral-bound and A5 daily and weekly planners. Like, now that I am looking at them again I want one again.
Erin Condren Life Planner- A spiral bound weekly planner similar to The Happy Planner. Tons of custom covers

The Happy Planner Mini– A small personal size planner perfect for not-so-busy schedules and perfect to fit in your bag.

Kikki planners– These come in multiple sizes with beautiful leather cases. They are A5 so you can buy refills for your planner case.

Kate Spade- I love Kate Spade and although they are not know as a planner company they make beautiful planners and paper goods. The planners are also surprisingly reasonable.

 

What planner are you using for 2018 and why?

The Happy Planner Girl- Goal Getter planner

November 5
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So Me and My Big Ideas recently launched The Happy Planner Girl line of planner products. This line includes planners and accessories in four different themes. These planners all retail for $29.99 and are available online, at Hobby Lobby and Jo-anns.

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Glam Girl–  More of a girly setup with teals and pinks with a lined vertical layout. (Love the lines!) This planner would be perfect for a beauty blogger or makeup lover.

Daydreamer– This planner is filled with pastels and has a zen feel. Lots of florals and chill inspirational quotes are all over the line. The planners feature a horizontal layout.

Trendsetter– More of a girly setup with teals and pinks with a lined vertical layout. (Love the lines!)

Goal Getter- This planner includes goal setting pages, neutral colors, and hourly days in the weekly view.

Each line includes classic and mini size planners and the best part is that these planners are DELUXE planners and include brand new metal discs. Exciting, right?

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So, like I said I decided on the Goal Getter planner to use as my 2018 home planner. This planner is geared to people with busy schedules with an hourly setup and extra goal planing sheets.

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Ok, first of all, can we talk about this marble? It is perfect.  I just got a marble phone case and I love that it will match. I am even thinking about using the marble on the outside cover instead.

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So let’s get right into it. One of the things that drew me to this planner was the goal setting pages in the front. They are not super intense, but feel like a great way to sit down and reflect/look forward at the beginning of the year. I am already looking forward to spending time thinking about how I want to form my 2018 and these these sheets are perfect.img_3980

Now we are on to the months. Where in the other planners this area is used to write down birthdays/special dates/ect, the Goal Getter planner uses this space to revisit those goals and see where you are. A great way to stay on track during the year.

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The monthly view brings us back to something we are used to. Nice and simple grayscale which is my favorite. That way you can customize the planner and color schemes to your own needs and wants.

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So next is the weekly view. Like I mentioned before, this one has an hourly system which is new to the Happy Planner. I like how there is a space for general to dos or priorities on the top. I am still thinking about how I will use this planner, but am coming up with some ideas. Because my schedule is fairly set I don’t write my work schedule in my planner, however my husband’s schedule is a little more irregular so I always write it down so I know when to expect him and such. So instead of writing it just with a bullet point sticker I think I will go to the hour he gets off work and write it there.  The same with dinner, I will write it in at the time we plan to eat. This will help give the days a more linear feel which will help with busy days.

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The day only goes from 7am-7pm which will work but does not encompass my entire day. However, generally I don’t have multiple evening events so I can just write the evening plans on the 7pm slot and keep dinner in the 6pm.

 

So one of the most popular aspects of this new planner launch is the metal discs so I went ahead and took one out from this planner and one from a regular planner and compared them.

The discs are aluminum and seem the be the actual color, not painted. This is great as the paint on the plastic discs sometimes chips and with these discs it will not. Also, weight wise the discs were fairly comparable so you don’t have to worry about the new discs weighing you down. As far a durability I was unable to break or bend the disc with my hands, however you will see from the photo that my comparison disc did break, actually while I was removing it from a planner for this use.

As of now I have not heard of the discs being sold separately, but that does not mean it won’t happen in the future. At the least if you grab one of these planners now you could put the metal discs in another planner in the future which is great.

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. All printables are free. Enjoy!

 

Need a punch? I have this one and love it!
The new Happy Planners are out! Grab one here!.
Looking for sticker paper? I buy this one from Amazon.
I cut my stickers with a Silhouette Cameo electric cutting machine.
On a budget? Try the Gyro-cut to cut your stickers.
Looking for more? Check out my archive of free printables.