At a time in my life when I desperately needed to get it together, a well-intentioned friend gifted me a planner.
Oh boy was it pretty. And colorful. And busy. And big!
It had pages for everything you could possibly ever think of to plan for and keep track of, from what I was going to eat for breakfast for the next year, right down to what I was going to buy my dog for Christmas (I don’t even have a dog!).
I was not inspired at all.
I became so overwhelmed by all the charts and graphs and fill-in-the-blanks that I never used it. (Sorry planner. It’s not me. It’s you.)
My least favorite part of the planner? It was a huge time sap.
Things that reoccurred every week had to be filled in every week.
Things that reoccurred every day had to be filled in every day.
Writing out the tasks became a tedious task in itself.
Oh, the redundancy!
Oh, the senseless waste of time!
I love to be organized, and my children outnumber me, so I am always forgetting things if I’m not.
But this planner was just over-complicating things.
The solution? editable PDFs and Dry-erase friendly sheet protectors.
Behold the simplicity:
A Weekly Planner Page that Saves you Time
The first piece of paper in my arsenal is a weekly planning page. This is an editable PDF file. For the unacquainted, this means you can open it up with Adobe Reader (which is free) and type in anything you want in the form fields. The beauty is you can put in your recurring tasks only ONCE. Then you can hit save and print out your sheet over and over again. The benefit is that you will never have to write down “Water the plants” on Wednesday EVER AGAIN. Win. And now, instead of avoiding an overly complicated planner, you are actually planning out your week and not forgetting stuff. Double Win. There is also a place to write your dinner menu plan and track water intake. Organization Bonus! Plus, they come in two different styles. You’re Welcome.
Recurring Bills Dry-Erase Sheet
The second sheet is to keep track of recurring bills. Instead of writing them into a calendar or bloated planner, you can put this sheet behind a heavy-duty sheet protector and tape it up in the kitchen cupboard or other high traffic area. Then, when you pay a bill simply check it off with a dry-erase marker when it gets paid. At the end of the month, wipe it all off and start again. Couldn’t be easier. For an updated post on how I organize with this sheet go here: Organize Passwords and Bill Pay at Your Desk.
This is an editable PDF too, so you can type in your info and save it to your computer, then it is super quick to update your information and print it out again. If the due date of your bill varies each month, just put in a general range (12th-16th, for example) so you can make sure you pay before it is due, like so:
To Buy and Notes page for Reminders Dry-Erase Sheet
The third sheet is for those times when a thought suddenly crosses your mind like “we are running low on oatmeal” or “I need a haircut.” You can write these on a “To Buy/Notes” page. I keep this in a heavy-duty plastic sheet protector next to my recurring bills sheet in the cupboard. I use it to write reminders to myself on the notes section and they stay there until I fill in my weekly planning sheet (usually on Sunday evenings). Only then are they added to a daily to do list. This way, the things I remembered last minute that need to get done (but are not time-sensitive) are not forgotten. And they are not going directly into my current weekly planning sheet and making me feel overwhelmed. They will get my full attention next week.
For best results, I recommend using a heavy-duty sheet protector, thicker cardstock, and dry-erase markers. I also recently added a strip of clear velcro tape to my pen to stick it to the list itself so I can find it in a jiffy. I use the velcro tape on a ton of projects and I love it. It is very versatile and handy to have around.
Categorical Shopping List
Fourth is a master shopping list. When you menu plan, grab a blank one of these bad boys and write in all the ingredients needed to make the menu. Plus, add in all the things from your “to buy” list in the cupboard and wipe that sheet off before heading to the store. This is an editable PDF so if you want you can type it in instead of using pen and paper. The best thing about this shopping list is that it is organized by category so you spend less time in the store. Learn more about how to save time grocery shopping here.
Password Master List
Last, but not least, a sheet for passwords. Keep it by your computer so you don’t have to change your password for every account you inevitably forget the password for. This is also an editable PDF so you can save it to your computer- makes it easy to change when you need to update. Not only does this save you the hassle of forgetting and changing your passwords, it is also safer than having your browser remember them, which could lead to hacked accounts and a lot of frustration of dealing with a possible stolen identity in the future. For an updated post on how I organize with this password printable, go here: Organize Passwords and Bill Pay at Your Desk.
That’s it. Five pieces of paper and your daily life is organized. No bulky time-wasting planner required.
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