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It took a long time for me to find the best way to organize my life. Everyone around me relies on some digital calendar platform, but that just didn’t work for me. I am proud to be a paper planner kind of gal! Over the last five years, I’ve evolved from Dave Seah’s well-designed and totally free Emergent Task Planner, to bullet journaling in the classic Leuchtturm 1917, to this final iteration using Tul’s disc-bound system.
Through using Dave Seah’s Emergent Task Planner (ETP), I learned the importance of identifying three main priorities per day, and committing to getting those three things done. I’m the kind of person that always goes for the low hanging fruit, quickly knocking easy tasks off the list. Unfortunately, what inevitably happens is that harder tasks keep getting pushed to the back burner, and they pile up and eventually overwhelm me. By committing to three tasks per day, I force myself to address what’s most important, not what can be done quickly. I probably would have stuck with the ETP, but I wanted a bit more creativity, and I get a lot of satisfaction out of checking little boxes. From the ETP, I evolved to bullet journaling, so that I could create my own layouts. That was a lot of fun, but time-consuming, and every time I ran out of pages, I’d have to re-do some layouts in my new journal, which felt like a chore. So I did my final evolution into my Tul planner, and that was it for me! A disc bound planner system is continuous and flows with time. It’s not limited by the number of available pages. Plus, I’m able to keep the layouts that I love without having to re-do them every time I ran out of pages.
So here’s a peek at my planner. First, my monthly spread. I designed this myself, because I am apparently weird and like to start my week on Mondays. If you’re weird like me, feel free to use my spread as well. Just click here and print it out: Monthly Spread. There’s also room for adding doodles and washi tape, which makes me happy! Another great thing about using a disc bound planner is that you can print out anything you want, and use a special hole-punch to get it in your planner. Every month, I track tasks that need to be done, and these tasks get migrated to daily pages.
For my daily pages, I use TUL pages from Office Depot. But, I confess to hacking them a bit. I copy them so they’re double-sided. If they made double-sided planner pages, I’d buy them instead of hacking them. I don’t feel so bad, because I use TUL for the planner cover, discs and graph paper. I also like to use washi tape on daily pages, to add personality and color, and I especially enjoy using days of the week stickers. I keep about five weeks worth of daily pages in my planner: pages for the three upcoming weeks, and pages from two weeks prior.
I also rely on my planner for budgeting. I track what bills need to be paid every month, and I also note what the interest rate is on various debt, so that I make better decisions on what to pay down each month. My next goal is to put this into a printable format, because I’ve been doing this exact layout for almost two years now, and my liabilities don’t really change much.
This past year, Jeff and I committed to taking better care of our home. Our house was built in the 1920s, and it’s definitely got good solid bones. But taking care of regular maintenance things like the water heater, the furnace, the garbage disposal, all those details kept getting lost. So we made a calendar of what needs to be done when, what remodeling projects we want to tackle, and I migrate these tasks to my monthly spread.
I’ve really enjoyed this process, because I don’t feel like life is insurmountable any more. I was always really good at getting stuff done for work, but never good at getting stuff done for myself. Moving to this system has truly been a life-changer for me! If you’ve got any planner tips or advice for me, I’d love to hear them!