Tag: planning

Day Designer Flagship Planner – review

February 25
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I’ve been a fan of Day Designer products for years, but I had never owned one of their flagship products, just their Blue Sky for Target line. (Love those.)

This year I finally got around to purchasing one of their flagship daily planners and I love it. These planners come in both regular and mini size and I went ahead and got the mini. Although smaller, it is not too small and is big enough to work well both at home and in the workplace.

One of my favorite things about this planner is the cover. It is a simple yet elegant marble. Other options include classy stripes and florals.

This is a daily planner with a schedule and a to-do list. This is great for busy people who want both to list as well as mark out their day. I am thinking about trying out Time Blocking, so this planner would work great for that.

Each weekday also includes a place to write down your top three tasks for the day, what is due, money, dinner and a reminder. There is also a space on the bottom for notes and a daily reminder. Important holidays are also marked to help you remember.

The weekend is shown on one page with just a daily schedule for each day. This works well to schedule your busy weekend, but not to plan it as much.

I love the gold tabs on this planner, perfect for finding what you want, when you want it. It also comes with a clear plastic bookmark that you can use to mark the day to make flipping directly there nice and easy.

My favorite thing about this weekly view is that weekends are lightly shaded so that when making plans you don’t accidentally schedule a work meeting on a Saturday. The shading helps me keep track of where in the week we are.

This planner also comes with some planning sheets to help you realize your goals and focus for the year. This is always helpful when starting out. One thing I particularly liked was where you could kind of rate yourself in different areas of your like to find both where you are doing great, as well as where you might want to focus some time for improvement.

One of my favorite things about Day Designer is that they have a blank copy of their planner page online for free so you can test out their style and see if it works for you. Find their entire free printable library here.

This planner is the 2019 daily option. Right now they are on a pretty good sale as the year has already started, but if you wanted to wait, new 2019-2020 academic year planners will be out soon.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate for Day Designer. I paid for this planner with my own money, but if you choose to purchase one via a link on this page I will receive a small commission.

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Using a digital calendar

January 28
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If you read my post about my 2019 planner plans, you would have learned that for the first time I am adding a digital calendar to the mix. I have always been a pen and paper kind of girl, but lately I’ve been looking for an easy way to have all the details at my fingertips all the time. To achieve this I have started using Google Calendar to create a calendar that I have access to at home, work, and on the go. With it, I can leave my work planner at work, my home planner at home, and still know what I am doing and when. Will this replace my planners? No. I love my planners for to-dos, notes, and more; the Google Calendar is just a place to save information and dates so my schedule is always easy to find when making plans.

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So how do I use it?

I love that Google Calendar is available in both the web and on my phone. I keep a tab open on both my home and work computers with the calendar so I can quickly add work and personal events as they come up. This is linked to my phone, so when I am out and about I can quickly check my phone and see if I am available for an event or get-together.

I am changing the way I record events and appointments a little bit. Before, I would wait until I was next to my planner and then add events there. Now, as soon as I receive an invitation in the mail or schedule a meeting, I add it to my digital calendar. Then when I sit down with my planner on Sunday I add all events for the week there. This had led to me skipping using the monthly layout in my personal planner which is working for me. (Now I use it for blog planning.)

The other upside of this is the sharing options; with Google Calendar you can share calendars with others. Right now I am not using this feature, but in the future I’d love to set this up to share with my husband. This feature would also be great for parents of teenagers.

 

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I started this venture using the iCal app on my phone with the google calendar synced, but I have started using the actual Google Calendar App to access my calendar on my phone and I love it. This app gives a full view of the month and the events whereas the iCal App just shows dots on days you have calendar items. I am also considering trying out Fantastical which is a paid app ($5) that is said to be a much better calendar interface along with an great watch app.  I will report back once I have tried that one out.

I know many people have been using phone and digital calendars for years, but I wanted to take a few moments to share how I have integrated this style of “planning” with my planner. I know this sounds super simple, but it is new for me and really working well.

 

Do you use a digital calendar?  Which one? How to you integrate that with your planner?

using a digital calendar

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2019 Planner Guide

December 23
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Still looking for a planner for 2019? I’ve got you covered. Even though it is last minute, there are still tons of great planners out there, and even if you receive it after January 1st, it is fine, you can start planning any day.

First you need to decide what kind of planner you need. Most of my readers are interested in weekly and daily planners. Read a little bit about each of these here and then decide on what you feel is best for you.

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Weekly:

Weekly planners are great for people who like to plan out their week, see the entire week in one view, and mostly use their planner to to record appointments, events, meals, and some tasks. There is not a lot of space for notes, but you might not need notes in your planner. Like stickers? These planners are easy to decorate and super cute. See below for my favorite options for 2019.

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Daily:

Daily planners are great if you need a lot of space to write. Most daily planners have a section for your daily schedule to write down meetings and appointments as well as a section for notes or a long to-do list. One of the downsides of this planner format is that you don’t get to see the entire week in one view. Although you can for sure decorate a daily planner, most users are more focused on their to do list than stickers.

 

Have you decided on which one you need? Here are a few of my favorites for each:

 

Weekly:

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The Happy Planner is one of my favorite budget-friendly weekly planners. Grab one for 2019 here. One thing I love about this planner is that it uses the disc system so you can add, remove, and move pages at will. To see how I use mine click here.

Looking for something with a coil? The Erin Condren Life Planner is for you. This classic weekly planner is sturdy, bright, and super popular. Although these are a little more spending, you can get $10 off yours here.

Looking for something ASAP? I have created a list of weekly planners available on Amazon with two-day prime shipping. This list includes Moleskin and other brands. I have not used these planners, but they have good reviews.

 

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Daily:

One of my favorite daily planners come from Day Designer. These daily planners are coil-bound and super elegant. (Especially the marbled cover!) Their flagship line includes planners that will last the year and look great on your desk.

Looking for something a little more simple? Check out a Simplified flagship planner by Emily Ley. These planners are similar to the Day Designer but a little more simple and in some more fun prints. They also sell weekly planners that are bound like a book.

I am currently using a daily planner from Agendio. These planners are fully customizable so you can select when it begins and what sections are included. You can even add dates to a calendar so they are printed on the planner itself.  See more about mine here. Oh, and did I mention they can be bound, coiled, or sold as inserts? WIN

NOTE: These three brands sell weekly planners as well, so if you’re looking for a great week, check them out as well.

 

So I hope this little roundup has been helpful. If you have more questions or what to show off your choice, tag me in a photo on Instagram! I’m @amberdownsblog

 

Note: Affiliate links are in use on the post. I may receive a small commission for purchases made. This does not affect your price or my opinion of these items. 

 

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My 2019 home planner

December 16
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Note: Affiliate links are in use on this page. I have linked to Amazon whenever I can because their prices and 2 day shipping is great. I will receive a small commission from purchases made from these links but that will not affect your price. 

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Well friends, it is time to share my finished (for now) 2019 home planner. My home planner is what I use for my personal life and some blog information. I use this planner for meal planning, grocery lists, keeping my husband’s schedule, special events, and more. I like to think of this planner as a tool for keeping this part of my life sane. I also include important work events in this planner so that in the mornings I am ready for them before I leave the house.  This planner sits on my desk at home so I can glance at it in the morning as well as in the evening and do my best to keep on top of the crazy in life.

I have been using the Happy Planner for this use for several years now, but when the 2019 planners came out I was not in love with any of them. I was going to change to a different brand until I ran across the “Super Mom” planner layout. This non-traditional planner layout really made sense to me for my uses, but was filled with a ton of “mom stuff” that does not apply to me. I shared about that on Instagram and my followers informed me that there was a non-mom “dashboard layout” extension pack of this planner layout so I went and grabbed that up. Note to self, I need to go grab another one. 

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After I got the extension I realized that I could make this planner into a new form that really could work for me. I like to keep notes, plans, goals, and more in my planner so I might as well carve out a real space for them.

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So for this planner I created following sections:

I wanted this planner to look and feel classy and professional so I purchased silver metal discs and a black cover. Although a little more pricy, these pieces will hold up for the entire year and beyond. I still have my teal cover from a few years ago and it looks great. And of course, I always keep my punch around so I can add whatever pages I’d like to my planner.

I also grabbed these cute travel inserts and meal plan pages to incorporate into my weeks as needed. I used plastic dashboards as dividers for the sections as they are nice and sturdy and I liked the tabs on top.

Although 2019 has not even started, I have been gravitating to this new planner for note taking. I love that I now have a great place to write and store these notes for future use. I can for sure see that this planner will be an integral part of my 2019 and will look super classy sitting on my desk.

Have you picked your 2019 planner yet?

 

Note: Affilate links are in use on this page. I will receive a small commission on purchases.

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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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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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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 favorite planner stickers

September 3
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Please note: This is not a sponsored post. Affiliate links are in use.

There are a lot of companies out there making planner stickers these days.  At first they were few and far between, expensive and online only. Now it seems you can get them everywhere. By far my favorite planner stickers are the Happy Planner Value Packs.

You get your monies worth. These packs retail for about $20 but often times you can get them for less on sale or with coupons. Each pack comes with 30 sheets so this is less than a dollar a sheet at retail price and even less when they are on sale.

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I love cute stuff as much as the next girl, but I want stickers that help me make the most of my planner. When I use stickers in my planner I want to mix both function and form. I like to keep two types of sticker books at hand, cute ones, and fictional ones.

 

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If you have a Michaels nearby that is great, but if not you can pick up a set on Amazon with free prime shipping if you’re a member. I hate waiting for stuff, so I love how accessible these are. By just having one of two of these around I can make a super cute layout that really helps me make the best of my week.

 

Have you used these stickers? What did you think?

 

 

 

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