The Post Grad’s Guide to Using a Planner

I’m a year in, but sometimes I still feel the growing pains of transitioning from being a college student to working in my first full-time “big-kid” job. The beauty of being a college student that I was the only one depending on myself. It was a curse and a gift, really. I could justify allowing things to fall through the cracks, because really, who was it going to hurt? But that also meant that I felt a lot less pressure.

Now my job has me working with a team of wonderful, brilliant people that I think the world of – if I let something fall through the cracks at work, well, there are more people who will be impacted than just myself.

The first few months in my position the pressure got to me and I found myself in a constant state of overwhelm. It was stressful and anything but pretty – even though I was getting my work done I had this constant tingle in the back of my mind while I was falling asleep saying, “Morgan, you’re probably forgot something. You should check your email.”

The one thing that helped me regain my sanity? Getting serious about my organizational routine.

Now, I’ve always been someone who has kept a planner. Just to jot down due dates and deadlines and refer back to at the beginning of the week. But at the end of the day, there really was no rhyme or reason and while it worked for when I was in college, I had to get more strategic when I entered the real world and balance work, blogging, a social life, and time to relax.

Enter: My Erin Condren Planner. I’ve used dozens of planners since I was in high school, but this is the most beautiful, functional one up to date. I was able to have my name printed on the cover (for free!) and the layout of the planner itself is perfectly organized in a way that makes planning my day a breeze.

 

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Isn’t she beautiful? And did you peep my name on the bottom left corner, I couldn’t be more obsessed!

Before I got my Erin Condren Planner I was using a notebook that I sloppily DIY’d week and month layouts onto for work. It got the job done, but it was nowhere near as pretty as my new Erin Condren.

It has a beautiful layout for both the weeks and the months, and it makes planning ahead simple. I believe that everyone needs to play around with their own organizational routines to figure out what’s right for you, but if you’re like me and don’t want to spend a ton of time fussing around, I thought I’d share my system with you.

Planning your month

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Planning out months is probably the most important thing for me. I am often looking a few months in advance when I’m making plans for blogging obligations or work, so being able to flip my planner open and see everything I’m doing in a single month can help me get an idea of what kinds of projects I can take on.

  • Ongoing projects: You can see I’ve got a two week period marked off by pink stickers – this is the time that I’ll be in New York for work. Stickers are great for this because they provide a bold, visual representation of time that is 100% booked out. Washi tape is also great for marking out long periods of times.

  • Special dates: You might know your loved one’s birthdays by heart and feel like you don’t need to mark it down in a calendar, but often time I find that people making plans will say, “How about the first Sunday of the month?” without noticing the date you might glance and see you’re open and then commit. In my case, I’d be making plans on my mom’s birthday – no bueno!

  • Stickers: I’ve briefly addressed stickers, but I love incorporating them into my planner simply because it makes things fun. Erin Condren sells beautiful stickers that really add that extra something to your schedule. The sheets I bought have beautiful gold foil accents and are beautifully colored! If you have sticker paper, you can DIY stickers, too, for events uber specific to you.

  • Goal setting: I don’t have a specific system for this, per say, but I like to do more of “bucket list” goals than serious ones. You can see for May I added “NYC Eats” with a list of my favorite restaurants as well as ones I want to try in New York. My “goal” is to make sure I eat at ‘em all during my 2 week stay!

 

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Planning your week

When it comes to my weekly layout, I like to start filling them in the Sunday before. I will look at my overall picture (the monthly) and go from there adding new events as they arise. Below you can see what I filled out last Sunday for the coming week.

 

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I like to add little check boxes where I can mark off my tasks at the end of the day – really, there is no great reason for doing this except that it’s ridiculously satisfying.

Again, I like to incorporate stickers (I was almost sad to stick that girl’s night sticker down – it’s just too pretty!) to liven things up and keep ‘em fun. Over the years I’ve gotten quite the collection, so my biggest struggle is choosing which stickers to use.

 

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Customizing your colors

Taking a step back and looking at Erin Condren as a whole, I know some of my black on black on black stylista friends may be approaching with caution after seeing my V colorful getup. No worries, Erin Condren planners and notebooks are super customizable – there are designs (and color palettes!) for every aesthetic.

Personally, I went with the colors because sometimes when your week is looking very overwhelming you need something to cheer you up! Every month has a different color scheme, too, so the change in color can be seen as a mini celebration.

Dance to your own beat

Remember how I mentioned creating my DIY planner layout in the past when I was desperate to find something that would work just so? If you’re someone who needs different things for every week or month, two things:

  1. You sound exciting. What do you do? Can we be friends?

  2. You can pick out a beautiful Erin Condren notebook. You can customize it with lined pages, dotted pages, or blank pages. Because you’re the boss.

 

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But really, I know some people are big doodlers or they want to have exactly as much space as they need for the day – no more, no less – and a lot of traditional planners can’t guess the space you’ll need on any given Tuesday.

That’s where your blank notebook comes in! Make columns, make labels, really just go crazy. Personally I’m head over heels in love with my EC planner, but I do have big non-planner plans for my new dotted notebook.

I’m big into lists and doodles and nothing drives me more nuts than lined notebook paper for doodling (I know, it’s a problem.) So I’ve made this my dedicated doodle/list notebook. I have a feeling some of my best ideas are going to come from carrying this beaut with me.

Planning hacks

Alright, I wouldn’t be a real blogger if I didn’t provide you with a solid list of hacks, right? So here we go – a few of the planning tricks I’ve had up my sleeve:

  • Add one easy to accomplish task each day. Momentum is a real thing, ladies and gents, and getting your day started by crossing something off your list is as rewarding as it is motivating.

  • Be consistent. If you skip filling your planner out for even a week all of the sudden you’re going to be behind and overwhelmed wondering what deadlines you forgot to add. Every morning I update my planner while I enjoy my coffee and check my emails.

  • Treat yo’self to accessories. I’m not gonna lie, when I picked out my planner I also picked out just about every EC planner accessory I could get into my cart. Pens, stickers, colored pencils, the works. Having these fun goodies makes planning that much more exciting!

  • Develop a system. Like I said – come up with what works for you. Don’t just do something because that’s what your best friend does or a girl on the internet does. We all have unique needs and situations that will dictate what’s right for us.

  • Schedule self-care. Why? Because you deserve it.

 

Bonus things to consider

When you’re scheduling your deadlines for works or tests and exams for school, it can be easy to forget to schedule things that matter in a bigger picture.

Your planning doesn’t have to be confined to actual events or meetings, instead consider including some of these elements into your routine:

  • Spending tracker: When I was living in New York and my rent ate up most of my money I was so careful with my money and at the end of each week I’d track how much I spent and how much I saved. Being money aware is so important as an adult.

  • Gratitude: For all of you who have been here for a while, you might remember that I was going through a very dark time in 2015. Around then I started keeping a positivity journal where I documented all of the good in my life and what I was thankful for. Focusing on the good helps you know where to find it.

  • Workout plans: I have a buff and beautiful lady friend who has a planner just for her workouts. Every week she goes through planning out arm day and leg day and all of the other “days” you fitness goddesses accomplish at the gym. She writes out reps and everything.

  • Meal plans: Food is a little more my speed and meal planning can help when it comes to grocery shopping so you don’t waste food or money.

  • Water intake: I follow a few people who pin a ton of planner posts and I always see people drawing water cups and filling them in throughout the day. This is great for anyone who has trouble staying hydrated.

  • Chore tracking: Like most people, I hate chores and will put them off as long as humanly possible. If I don’t hold myself accountable by writing it down – chances are that it won’t get done.

Alright, friends! That has it for my planning routing & tips, but I’d love to hear all about how you plan? Are you a stickers and washi tape type planner? Or do you prefer to jot and go? Let me know and if you have any “hacks” let me hear ‘em! I’m always looking to incorporate something new.

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Erin Condren. The opinions and text are all mine.

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  • I love planner videos and posts! I keep hearing about the Erin Condren planners, but haven’t been able to spend the money on one yet! I love the idea of adding a spending tracker to my planner.
    -Sisi
    http://www.modernbeautygirl.com

  • If I ever let the bullet journal slide, Erin Condren is #1 on my list of normal planners to try – they’re so gorgeous and functional! I didn’t realize they had a blank notebook line, either, those are amazing!

  • Amanda

    I absolutely love this planner! It’s gorgeous. I’ll definitely need something like this because I’m graduating college this year and will focus on transitioning from part time to full time work (plus blogging!)

    Amanda | https://www.simply-amanda.com

  • Emma Lenhart

    This is the cutest looking planner! Love it 🙂

    Emma | http://www.emmalenhart.com

  • I love Erin Condren’s planner too. They are very cute and colorful plus very organized.

    All the Best,
    Jan Limark | Brotherly Creative

  • What a gorgeous planner!! 🙂 My poor planner is currently collecting dust. I really need to make more of an effort to use it regularly and get my life organized. 😉