5 Simple Ways to Maintain a Paper Planner

If you’ve already started your paper planner research you’re going to find some super intense camps. Folks arguing Erin Condren vs. Passion vs. BuJo… it can actually get quite intense and be pretty intimidating. And don’t even get me started on Pinterest boards. People turn their planners into literal pieces of ARTWORK, and it can very overwhelming.

If you have all those artistic bones in your body and decorating your planner every week is a form of meditation for you, than by all means go for it. But if you’re just an average Jane like me looking to make sense from the chaos of your life… I am here to help. Here are five simple steps to getting a paper planner, actually using it, and maintaining it!


1. What do you need a planner for anyway?

First step should be to really think about why you need a planner. Are you looking to manage your side hustle better? Do you have kids and need to see their days side by side? Do you own your own business? These things matter when picking out a planner.

If you’re looking to methodically knock out new goals, Passion Planner is probably your bet. If you’re a teacher, one of Erin Condren’s lesson planners is probably for you. Before you do any research think about your own needs. Maybe even think of the sections that would make your life easier.

For me, I prefer having a daily task list, rather than specific times carved out throughout the day. But you may be different. And if you’re feeling really frisky, try a Bullet Journal (or BuJo) which I started doing this year for the first time. Using a BuJo essentially means you are using dotted graph paper to create your own templates from scratch. Every week I draw my schedule. So far, I’ve been enjoying it. If a format doesn’t work for me, I just change it the following week!

I used Passion Planner for many years but finally felt strong enough to go it on my own with BuJo, and create the sections that work for me. After all, there is no wrong way to plan, other than not planning at all. (Oh wow, something actually quotable coming from the blog, yay!)

2. Start With the Facts

Just like solving a crime (at least I think that’s how you do it), start with your facts when planning for the first time. You can get crazy with colors and pens and everything later.  When do you go to work? Do you need to write your shifts in? When is your doctor’s appointment? Fill in the basic things you know today. Depending on what planner you get you may need to fill in a monthly or yearly calendar, fill it in with what you know. A vacation, birthdays etc. Then start with your first week, nailing all the easy stuff.

As you’re doing this you’ll realize how much random stuff you store in your brain! Storing that stuff takes up brain power. Write it all down and you will feel the weight being lifted. (Such an awesome feeling!) You’ll have the focus to do other things and you no longer have to keep track of 15 slips of random paper or notebooks. All your lists and to-dos are now in one place. Hooray!

Photo by Hey Beauti Magazine on Unsplash

3. Fill In the Rest as it Comes

Don’t get carried away filling out the planner right away. I know it looks pretty bare upfront, but you will fill it over time. You’ll have bills to pay, new friends to meet, old friends to call. All of these things will come up as they always do, write them down then.

I remember when I first started trying my Passion Planner, I’d scramble to fill up my weeks with goal oriented items and to-dos. Then the days would come and I’d realize how much I had misjudged and overwhelmed myself. Let your days and weeks take shape. You can certainly nudge them along, but don’t get crazy.

4. Use Your Planner as Your Main Source of Information

This may feel off at first, especially as so many of us maintain calendars online with our e-mails, but you gotta trust me and trust that planner. If your girlfriend sends you an invite on Gmail for a girls’ night, write it down in the planner, too.

If you are doing a BuJo like me, where you don’t have weeks ready to go in advance, sit down and do a calendar review at the beginning of each week. I go through my Google calendar and write down every event there into my planner. I transfer everything. When they match, I’m done! It allows me to carve out my side hustle work around my regular day job and social commitments.

Photo by Hey Beauti Magazine on Unsplash

5. Make Awful Mistakes

I know it sounds corny but go into planning with an open mind. It is going to take time to come to a rhythm that works for you. Planning is different for everyone, and while you can pin inspiration all day long, at the end of it, you’re still responsible for the methods you select and making sure they work for you.

Do your research but also always go back to number one on this list: What do you need the planner for anyway? Keep answering that question with how you keep it. If you forget to write something down – learning experience! If you’re messy – who cares? You don’t need to share it with anyone but yourself. And, if you’re like me, a paper planner will help you with your handwriting. Be okay making the mistakes and find your own rhythm.

I hope these steps help you to feel confident in starting your journey with paper planners. Let me know if it was helpful, and what else you’d like to see in the future as it relates to goal setting and paper planners. I have more to share!


Caring is Cool: A Letter to Myself At 14

Dear Amanda-at-14,

I just want to let you know that caring about stuff is okay. In fact, caring is pretty cool. I know how much easier it is to pretend like you don’t care, because if something goes wrong no one has to know that it mattered to you. I know how much you hate to fail. But the risk of everyone knowing that you’re hurting is worth it, because caring will allow you to experience the world in a much richer way.

You will care deeply about people who will betray you, who won’t support you, and who will make you feel less than. It will be hard to get their words out of your head and sometimes they’ll get louder. But…

You will care deeply for people who will always be there, who will never let you down, who will let you make a mistake or two every once awhile. It is when you meet these people and love these people that you’ll see just how important it is to care.

You will lose people because you didn’t show them you cared. Open up your heart just a little more sometimes.

You will learn to take care of your body and you should never forget that accomplishment. Moving your body and eating good stuff isn’t scary, it’s freeing, and you’ll find a different, and really cool, part of yourself on gym floors, and early morning runs, and yoga mats. She’ll make you happy even on grey days.

Sometimes you’ll find that you care too much and you’ll be really hard on yourself. You have the tendency to overdo everything. Try not to do this with caring. Don’t lose yourself in other people, don’t stress about everything you have to get done, don’t worry about missing a workout. In that way you should remember how you feel now, at 14, when mistakes don’t feel so serious.

I know you’re afraid right now, that you’re going to a school where everyone seems perfect and smart and beautiful. You are too. I know that’s hard to believe but stick it out, do your best, care about stuff and in a couple of years you’ll find that no one is perfect and you’re just as great. You got this.


How Do I Build a Meaningful Life?

My first post after a long hiatus and I find myself deeply changed but not yet able to cope with those changes, or what they mean, or how they will alter the course of my life. What I am trying to learn, what I think we all wish to ultimately achieve in one way or another, is the ability to live in each moment. To be able to grasp the problems of our now and change it. Not to fret about the future or dwell on the past, but to handle what we can in our given moment with our given strengths and learned tools.

My now is that I find myself single. I find myself single and in New York City. I’m suddenly a television show. I’m suddenly a different person. I’m suddenly alone. I’m suddenly navigating single-dog-parentdom. I’m suddenly bleeding cash. I’m suddenly moving. I’m suddenly sudden.

I’ve approached this before. My personality and how I am happier when I am making others happy. Happier when there is a need for me. These days, there is little need for me. My dog, who is now definitely and without hesitation MY dog, Ajax, needs me. And I need me. That’s about it. And that’s hard for me.

The optimists say to look at this as a moment of rebuilding. I have a chance to completely change my life. I have the chance to add and remove at will. I could go anywhere, I could do anything, I can finally, finally, build my meaningful life.

But how do I get there?

I’m compelled to bring up Bridget Jones’ Diary. It has always been a favorite movie of mine, and one that I watch once or twice a year. I actually do prefer the film to the book, which is rare for me. It has always spoken to me, regardless of my relationship status, because at its root, aside from the love triangle and dashing men, it is a movie about building a meaningful life. It’s about creating a life that you love. And sometimes that doesn’t look like someone else’s life.

In fact, it isn’t supposed to look like anyone else’s life at all.

It’s supposed to look like mine. Yours is supposed to look like yours. How am I just learning this? How far deep has my head been buried under the sand?

I’m trying to dig out. After a vacation and indulging in many nights out with friends who nod their heads and celebrate my life and my choices, I’m here now. Back to my words, back to the keyboard, and back to discovering what it is that I was meant to be doing here on this planet. It’s hard to find myself back here again. Because where I once wrote from a joyful heart, I now write from a lost one. Like Esther Greenwood’s heart beat “I am, I am, I am.” I feel mine asking, “Am I? Am I? Am I?”

So it’s time to build my meaningful life. To throw away and add at will, to see what happiness is, to test the waters of many different things. To share with you what it’s like to start anew at 27. Whether I am ready to do so or not.

It’s easy to want to hide from the news that I am single. And I have been. Because it was so many threads unraveling from a very big blanket. It took a little bit of time, but the whole blanket finally unraveled. It’s still hard to explain and scary to share because I don’t want to be accused of airing dirty laundry. For some reason I still want to protect him, his reputation, his own meaningful life.

But then I realized there is a difference between dirty laundry, and what are facts of life. Facts of MY life. And those, I can share. Those I can tell you all about. My life with a blank slate. A slate that I’ve been eyeing for weeks but that I’m not quite sure I know what to do with it. What to say about it, what to write on it. I imagine it will come to me. It has to. It has to. It has to.

Because maybe that’s where I’ll find something that makes me, and only me, happy.