Armed with an obsessive love of color-coding and all things related to organization, I’m on a mission to help you maximize efficiency in your business and life so you can spend time on what matters most to you.
Equally right and left-brained, I’m that unique business owner who can think like a creative, but act like an administrator. This blog is where you’ll see me bring that dual-brained magic to life, taking the left-brain side of life and breaking it down for your right-brained self.
You finally did it… you jumped in and became part of the Simplified Sisterhood! Your gorgeous Simplified Planner has arrived and it’s just so pretty and you’re so excited to get started and then the thought creeps into your brain… how do I even use this thing?
Getting started with a new planner for the first time can definitely be intimidating, especially if the structure is drastically different from the one you used to use (or it’s been years since you’ve used a paper planner at all). So today, as we prep to step into the final months of the year, we’re diving into how you can set up your Simplified Planner for success in the new year!
Note: This post contains affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase through one of the links, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Because no two planners are exactly alike, there are different ways to get a new one set up and there can also be a bit of a learning curve in figuring out the best way to use it for your life and your business.
2020 will be my sixth year using a Simplified Planner and it definitely took me some time to figure out how to prepare myself before the year even started to use my planner in the most effective manner!
At the start of every Simplified Planner, there are a few pages of prep work that you’re encouraged to go through before the year starts.
Now, before you start stressing out over the amount of time it’ll take… don’t! It’s really not that much. It’s just a few pages for you to reflect back on the previous year, largely in terms of your schedule and time — things like what worked and didn’t work last year, ideas for new routines and healthy habits, and weekly and daily routines
Going through this prep work at the onset helps get you into an intentional frame of mind about the year to come — one that isn’t all about productivity and block scheduling, but is also focused on making space in your life for personal growth and the things that are most important to you.
At the end of the Simplified Prep Work is an annual bucket list.
While it might seem silly and possibly even unnecessary to fill it out, it’s so helpful! Things will most certainly change and bucket list items may roll over from one year to the next, but taking the time to intentionally think through the adventures you want to go on, the memories you want to make, and even the goals you want to achieve in the coming year.
You can even color code this by season and come back to it at the start of spring, summer, etc. to plan out the things you want to make happen!
Once the prep work is complete, it’s time to start digging into the content on the actual pages of your planner and my first step is always to write down all the birthdays and anniversaries.
Creating a perpetual calendar where you have a running list of all those special days in the lives of your friends and family makes doing this super simple!
I recommend starting with this before marking anything else off in the planner because it’s an intentional way of putting people first, before productivity. The first thing that goes on the pages of your planner has nothing to do with getting things done, but instead is about remembering the special days of the people you love.
On the monthly spreads, I mark birthdays off with bar stickers from the Faye Creates Etsy shop, and on the daily (since I’m a daily planner girl), I use little birthday cake stickers to do the same thing.
And every time I write someone’s birthday down on the daily spread, I flip back about a week and put a reminder to send them a card. This is so helpful as I go throughout the year, because I never wind up getting to someone’s birthday and realizing I forgot!
After adding all the birthdays and anniversaries into the planner, the next step is marking off all of the major things that you definitely need to be aware of — specifically things like known travel or vacation dates.
This could be a break from school for your kids, a conference you’re attending for work, or a fun international trip.
Whatever it is, mark it off on the monthly view of your calendar so you can more easily plan for and around it in the months to come.
Finally, it’s time for the big kahuna… deciding how you’re actually going to use the Simplified Planner to make stuff happen in your life!
You may decide to keep it simple and just write everything down in black ink without any bells or whistles. You may use stickers, colored pens, highlighters, or some combination of the above.
In addition to the schedule and to do lists for each day, the daily planner also has space for notes and both editions have a notes section on the monthly spread. While your process may evolve throughout the year, it’s so helpful to decide in advance exactly how you’re going to use each of those spaces in the planner to keep track of everything going on in your life or business! This ensures you’ll be ready to jump right in when January 1st rolls around!
There you have it, friends! My recommendations (and exact process) for setting up your Simplified Planner for success in the new year.
Will 2020 be your first year using a Simplified Planner? I’d love to welcome you to the Sisterhood and hear which one you picked!
And if you’re a veteran and have any additional recommendations on setting it up for success in the new year, please share them in the comments!
Love & Spreadsheets is part of several affiliate advertising programs. If you make a purchase from certain links here or on social media platforms, I may make a commission. But don't worry, I only share about products I love and think you will too!
Get 10% off your first order
Get 10% off your first Love & Spreadsheets purchase! Pop your name and email below to instantly get your code.
By joining, you'll get 10% off and stay in the know!