Tuesday, June 5, 2018

How I Plan: Erin Condren LifePlanner

** First off, a few disclaimers.... 1) I was in no way compensated for this post (though I'm always willing to review EC, if they want to send some stuff my way!).... 2) This post does contain referral links, such as this one. It costs you nothing extra, but if you choose to make your first EC purchase through this link, I get a coupon for money off my next order.... 3) My picture quality is just so-so and I've digitally whited out some personal info. I tried to keep enough that you can see how everything is laid out, but didn't want all of my business out there.

Now, onto the good stuff (and a little background). If you've never heard of Erin Condren LifePlanners, you may have been living under a rock, of sorts. They're pretty popular in the blogging and planning worlds. When I was in grade school and all the way through getting my current job, I was adamant about my planner. I used it religiously and was never without. Once I got this current position, however, I started using my Outlook calendar at work and my phone. Which was fine. Fast-forward to late 2016 and I got the itch for a paper planner, again. There is just something about writing it down that helps me. Also, a paper planner helps me see all the details at once, which I haven't found in a digital calendar.
A friend mentioned that she used Erin Condren, so I started researching. I'd certainly heard of the company before, but never really paid attention. When I say I scoured the interwebs, I really did. Finally, I bit the bullet and bought. Once my fresh, clean, pretty planner came in, I froze. I was nervous to use it.
So, I stalked the web, blogs, and IG some more for ideas of how best to plan in my planner. I know it seems silly, but I didn't want to "mess it up." The thing I noticed in my research is that A LOT of bloggers/social media featured the vertical or hourly planners. I am, and have always been, a horizontal layout girl. Remember when MomAgenda was all the blogger rage? Yeah, I tried and failed, because of the layout. I need to write out details.
The other thing I noticed was either the overabundance or total lack of stickers. I'm a bit more in between. I am always impressed by all the washi, stickers, and reimagining of the planners, but it would stress me out to try to do that myself AND actually follow along with my weekly schedule. That being said, I do like the prettiness and functionality of stickers, so I do use them in moderation.
Maybe the world doesn't need another Erin Condren LifePlanner review/idea post. Or, maybe there is someone out there that is like me (horizontal layout and/or medium sticker use) and could use some ideas.
Let's get to it.....
Front Cover/StylizedSticky Notes
These are one of my favorite accessories by EC. I keep the StylizedSticky pad snapped into the front of my planner. As something comes up, I'll take one, write down the tentative info, and stick it in it's designated date (which you'll see more of later on).

Goals Page
As you can see, I fail at making long term goals on this page. I've seen a lot of REALLY good uses for the page, but have yet to fall on one that works for me.

Beginning of Month Notes and Inspirational Quote Pages
Each month looks like this, with a productivity page on the left and an inspirational quote on the right. I specifically wanted to point this out for two reasons...... 
1) I do LOVE the inspirational quote page. Each month is a fresh reminder to be our best self.
2) I'm not a fan of the productivity page and am SO glad that the 2018-2019 (or straight up 2019, if you're like me) Planners are going back to a blank note page. I found this set up (using the productivity stickers in the back of the planner) on IG and decided to try it. Whoever thought of it is a genius and I'm trying to make use. That being said, I'll be super happy in 2019 when my note page is back. In my 2017 planner, I used it as a quick daily memory page and it worked great. I'd just jot down significant things as they happened. When this design came out in the 2018 planner, I switched over to a notebook for my memories. I'm not as good as keeping up with it, so I'll be glad when it's back for 2019.

Monthly Spread
I'm sharing a few of my monthly spread pages to give some context of how I set it up. If you're new to the LifePlanner, each monthly spread is followed by that month's weekly spreads.
One of the very first things I did even before the year started was put all the birthdays in my planner (both in the monthly and weekly pages). You can see that I used a teardrop sticker at the bottom of the day and wrote the name of the person in purple. Regardless of what's going on that day, it will always be a birthday and it's easier for me to go ahead and get it in there.
At the beginning of each month, I'll update the new month with ink. I also color code, using the Erin Condren Dual Tip Markers. Certain colors are for certain activities and it really helps me to quickly differentiate what I've got going on. I like to use the line/banner/mini-washi stickers to designate multi-day events. On the sidebar, I'll note who I need to get birthday cards for that month and any other big projects that I'm hoping will be done throughout that month.

A big change from January.... I decided to use the Customizable Event Stickers in the weekly spread, instead of the monthly. With the exception of my hair appointment one, I decided the stickers were too big for the monthly. I had them made for weekly and monthly standing meetings I have and I much prefer them in the weekly spread.

Again, at the beginning of the month, I'll put everything in ink. However, as you can see, at the bottom, I have some stickys. The best part of the StylizedSticky Notes, imo, is that they can clearly mark a date without being permanent. If I'm not 100% sure that something is happening on that date or that time, I'll just keep the sticky until it's solid. I also started adding an inspirational sticker to the bottom of the right, just for fun.

An upcoming month - As you can see, so many StylizedSticky Notes. They really do help with future planning. Birthdays (including mine!) are already in the calendar. At the beginning of August, I'll sit down with my phone and my planner and input everything in ink. I still use my digital calendar, since it's easy to add and delete things, but using it in conjunction with the LifePlanner helps me stay on top of EVERYTHING.

Weekly Spread
Most of my weeks look like the two pictures below. Weekly or monthly meetings have the stickers that I use. Birthdays are noted in purple at the top of the day (with a reminder on the side to text or call the person). Major reminders are noted in the sidebar with a corresponding productivity sticker. I usually write appointments/events out in the order that they'll happen during the day, in their corresponding color. If something is all day or a big celebration/event, I'll make it bigger and accentuate with a sticker.
In the bottom right notes section, I'll note what big cleaning/organizing I need to accomplish for the week, along with some smaller tasks. They don't necessarily have a specific day, just sometime in that week.

I like to use a Dashboard to mark the week. Sometimes I'll use a wet erase marker to make a list or notes, but it's rare.

Note Pages
After all of the monthly/weekly spreads, there are note pages (lined and bullet), plus some coloring pages. I use the note pages to note the color code I use, just as a reference. I also will make checklists, using the lined pages, for things that happen a few times during the year, such as Disney Races. It's handy to be able to go to those pages when needed, while I'm packing or getting ready for an event.
I'll be honest, I've yet to use the bullet pages. I know some people LOVE them, but I've yet to figure out what works for me.

Upcoming Year and Dates
I love this feature. As you can see, 2019 is already starting to fill up and we're not fully halfway through 2018, yet. This is one of the first pages I reference when moving into my new planner year.

Folders and Pockets
The pocket folder that comes with the planner is used for my current Perpetual Planner and my Monthly Sticker Book (which is what I typically use, though I do use a Classic Sticker Book, too). I also have my productivity sticker sheets (I bought extra to match the one that was provided in the back of the of the Planner).

In the pocket on the opposite side, I have my address book (that was in a Seasonal Surprise Box) and any invitations for upcoming parties. I added an extra pocket folder to my planner, that keeps my Birthday Perpetual Planner and Sticky Corner Pockets.

At the very back, I have the pocket provided with the LifePlanner snapped in and I keep my Dual Tip Markers, plus a pen. This provides the easiest access to write something down as I'm going.

That's it! I hope this helps someone who is looking into purchasing an Erin Condren LifePlanner or someone who just would like some ideas of how to use theirs. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at allamericanjess@gmail.com.
Happy Planning!

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