How To Keep A Functional Planner

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How To Keep A Functional Planner

We might live in a digital age, but in the past few years there has been a HUGE resurgence of paper planners. I rely on my paper planner as the Bible for my life and schedule and have yet to find a digital equivalent that even comes close. But I was starting to feel overwhelmed with decorating and setting up my planner, and suddenly it wasn’t a great organizational tool anymore. If you want to get your life organized and find a functional planning system, I’m going to show you how it’s possible to have a fun planner that stays simple!

If you have delved into the world of paper planners, you no doubt have seen how big of an industry it is. People don’t just jot their appointments in or check off their to-do list, there are elaborate sticker and stamp layouts, bags to carry the planner in, a plethora of pen choices, and interchangeable covers. Many people keep their planner like a mini scrapbook, and its an amazing creative outlet!

Erin Condren Life Planner

I got my first Erin Condren planner 3 years ago and I was hooked. The paper is high quality, the designs are cute, and the layout is intuitive. Once I became self-employed my planner was even more indispensable because I used it to track my salon appointments as well as personal life. I delved into the world of stickers, and stamps and decorating and found it to be a creative outlet as well. But before too long I found myself skipping entire weeks in my planner. I didn’t have time for elaborate layouts, and the business of the look overwhelmed me.

functional planner

During this time dabbled in bullet journaling, which has aspects I really loved, but it just wasn’t a good fit for my main planner. I knew the Erin Condren was the best format for me, I just needed to figure out how to make it work. Finally, after a year of dabbling and experimenting, I have planner peace! My planner is fun, useful, and most of all functional. I have found a great balance between decorated and simple, and I am excited to share it with you.

Monthly View

functional planner

One of the major changes I have made to my monthly calendar is moving my personal finances OUT of it. I have posted before about tracking my budget in my planner, which was working great. That is until I became a self-employed hairstylist and started tracking my appointments on the monthly calendar. I recently decided to move my finances OUT of my main planner, and into their own Erin Condren Monthly Deluxe planner. This has made all the difference! Not only do I have more room to be detailed about my budget, the monthly view in my regular planner is so much cleaner. I write my salon appointments in erasable Frixion pen because you never know when someone will need to move.

Weekly View

functional planner

The weekly view is really the heart of my planner. This is where I track my daily to-do’s, everyone’s work schedules, meal plans, and notes. I wasn’t happy with a ton of stickers on these pages, but I also wasn’t happy with none. I have found a few functional stickers to be a perfect happy-medium. Some weeks I add a sticker to the top of the boxes, and some I don’t. I use a sticker to track my water intake, as well as what we are having for dinner each day. Sometimes I use simple labels to track things like appointments so they stand out as well.

functional planner

I like to use icon stickers to track things like shipments I am expecting, or chores I have completed. In the sidebar I like to track books I am reading this week, and this is also where I note weekly to-do’s that aren’t specific to a day. Sometimes I add a quote in the thoughts box, and sometimes just a sticker. All of the stickers you see are either from Erin Condren or I made them myself. I swap between Pilot G2’s and Inkjoy Gel Pens for these pages.

Note Pages

functional planner

I think the note pages in a planner are often seriously underutilized. I use these pages to track goals, to track my debt snowball (this will be moving to my financial planner), and to keep track of the usernames of my online accounts. You can use these pages just like a bullet journal spread to track collections or even journal memories. 

If you love the idea of using a paper planner but are discouraged by the elaborate layouts and decorations, don’t be! My planner is fun to use, creative, but simple! And it has been an amazing organizational tool that has helped me be the most productive I have ever been. If you are interested in getting started, used my Erin Condren referral link to get $10 off your first planner! There are some great sales going on now, so you get a lot of bang for your buck!

Do you use a paper planner? I hope this has shown you how simple it can be to keep a functional planner.


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Hi! I'm Melissa!

Melissa is a former hairstylist of 20 years who has a passion for living a simply creative life. She loves inspiring others to pick up a planner and get their lives organized, to clean out a closet and minimize their clutter, and to clean up their physical and mental space to lead their most fulfilled life. She is newly single, a mom, soon to be grandma and crazy dog lady who constantly rewatches The Office.



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