We all have busy lives. It seems that no matter how many things we check off our to-do list, three more things pop up to replace it. Especially if you’re a mom. Whether you stay at home, work, homeschool or do any combination of the three, you have at least double the amount of work as anyone else. And that is because you are not only managing your own personal life but that of your children as well. Not to mention, the home.
We need to get organized in order to get it all done or even just to keep from forgetting something important. So how can you keep track of the ever-growing number of responsibilities?
There are two main ways to get organized – paper planners and digital planners. Today I’m going to focus on paper planners. If you like to write things out yourself and to have a physical book to flip through, this is the way to go. And you are not limited. There a number of different options.
Now I mentioned in my post Staying Organized for the Busy Mom that I am a huge bullet journal fan. I’ve found this tool to be extremely useful in keeping my life on track. Especially because it is so easily adaptable to my ever-changing life.
- You adapt it to your life.
- It can be as simple or as complex as you need it.
- You can decorate it or doodle in it to make it your own style.
- It is very economical. A simple composition book and a pen are all you need.
- If something isn’t working, you can switch it up without starting from scratch.
- It is extremely hands-on. You have to create every entry from scratch.
- Before you can organize your life, you have to organize your page.
- Things are not necessarily grouped by subject or theme. Meal-planning, to-do lists, and even calendars can be found all over the place.
- It can be time-consuming.
- It can get pricey if you buy the best notebooks, pens, stickers and other accessories.
If you have yet to try bullet journaling but are intrigued and unsure how to start, I highly recommend Brainbook: Bullet Journaling Your Way to a More Organized Life by Kalyn Brooke. This is the tool I used to get started and it was invaluable. It walks you through step-by-step what you need to do from the beginning. This book (and the bonuses that came with it) answered all my questions so that I could start immediately with stuff I already owned. And I just took off from there. It is a great tool for getting organized.
However, if you are not big on creating your own calendars and you want some of the flexibility of a bullet journal, you can always buy digital planners. They usually come in PDF format and you print it yourself. Some people may consider these digital planners because the files originate on the computer. But I include them with paper because nine times out of ten, you are going to want to print them out before using them.
- You can organize the pages any way you like.
- Everything is designed for you so it’s pretty with minimal effort on your part.
- You can find any size you wish. Print it on 8 1/2 x 11cm or half-size or even travel size.
- It can be economical if you buy an undated planner. Then it can be used over and over with only the cost of the printing each year.
- There are so many choices available.
- You may not find the planner that offers everything you need.
- It can be time-consuming if you do the printing and binding yourself.
- It can be expensive (printer ink, am I right?)
- You are often limited to the pre-arranged pages.
- If you put it in a binder, it is not very practical for schlepping around.
I really like this option as well. It has the flexibility of a bujo (bullet journal) without being so time-consuming. If this is more your style, I have some recommendations as well.
The Beyond Blessed planner is beautiful, chock full of goodies with the bonus that it is created for Christian women with Bible verses scattered throughout. I also really love the planners by I Heart Planners. There are so many different designs and pages to choose from that I’m pretty sure you won’t be able to come up with a page idea she hasn’t already created.
And if you like the idea of a bullet journal but know you’d stick with it better if it was already printed out for you, I’d recommend the Wannabe Bullet Journal. These planner pages are simple yet practical.
This type of planner is more for the busy mom that has neither the time nor the desire to do anything other than plan her actual tasks. Before I fell in love with bullet journaling, this was my preferred way of organizing. These can be bought just about anywhere and you can change them every year if you so choose. Before kids, I would buy the yearly calendars starting in January. But once I had kids and our lives began to revolve around school calendars, I switched to the calendars beginning in August. It just made more sense.
- It is not at all time-consuming, comes pre-printed and bound.
- There are a plethora of options.
- It can be economical if you choose simple versions.
- There are multiple sizes to choose from.
- You can find sections you would never consider in your own (for example, I once had a planner that gave me a list of the fruits & vegetables in season each month).
- You generally cannot rearrange the pages to fit your preferences.
- You are limited to the space given.
- You are limited to the design choices given.
- It can be expensive if you want a planner with everything and the kitchen sink.
- And it still may not have everything you need.
Since I never really used these before I moved to France, my recommendations are all French agendas. But if you are curious and want to check them out, here they are. I like the Agenda Montessori de la famille even though I’m not much of a Montessori follower. But the layout is fun and gives some great tips for kids (though all in French, of course). It is, however, a bit pricey. There is also the Agenda familial 2019 which is also in French but is quite fun and has a pretty good layout as well for keeping track of the whole family.
All three of these options are valid tools in helping a busy mom get organized. They all have the benefit of being portable and available anywhere you go. There are multiple options for each which allows you to personalize them (some more than others). And they can easily be found for purchase. However, they also take up space.
Because it is a physical product, when the year is over (or the book is full), they have to be disposed of. If nothing too personal is in the book, it just needs to be thrown out. However, more often than not, you will have some sensitive information that you don’t want just anyone getting a hold of. This means you have to shred it or find some other means of destroying it before throwing it out.
In some cases, you may want to keep them. This is especially true of the bullet journal where you may put useful or sentimental information (like a category for the Things Your Kids Say). This, of course, means that they take up physical space in your home and can add to the clutter.
Regardless of your choice, using paper planners can be extremely helpful in getting and staying organized.
The team at Ultimate Bundles, one of my favorite resource centers ever, recently offered a brand new bundle to help you get organized and stay productive. And because it was such a great success, they have decided to keep it available even longer. Three of the resources I listed above are available in this bundle, the Beyond Blessed Planner, a planner packet from I Heart Planners and the Wannabe Bullet Journal.
Included in this bundle is over $1500 worth of resources from these categories offered for less than $50 all together:
- Time Management (5 products);
- Daily Planners (9 products);
- Goal Setting (5 products);
- Goal Planners (8 products);
- Home Management ( 3 products);
- Home Management Planners & Printables (7 products);
- Mindset & Self-Care (5 products); and
- Productivity at Work (6 products).
If are interested in learning more, visit the Ultimate Productivity Bundle page for more information.