Take a fresh look at the new Erin Condren Life Planner and how I am using it today!
It has been three years since I posted my “How I Use My Erin Condren Life Planner” post and it has continually been one of my most popular posts in the history of this blog. This makes me so happy because I still love Erin Condren three years later. I have her planners, her notebooks, her stationary, her markers, and even her canvases, so I love being able to share a product that I love with all of you. I’ve posted about Erin Condren a lot!
My husband still doesn’t understand why I can’t just go all tech for my to-do lists and calendars, but that is simply not how my brain works. As much as I love technology and am counting down the days until I can get a new computer or a new phone, I think I will always be a pen and paper kind of gal. I like having one clear place to write down all of my ideas, action items, and responsibilities, and I definitely get more satisfaction from crossing things off the to-do list than I do erasing them on my phone app.
I decided that since it’s been three years since I last explained how I use my planner, I would do an update with the new released 2017-2018 Erin Condren Life Planner! (<— IMPORTANT NOTE – You will get $10 just for signing up on their email list with my referral link!}
The monthly calendar is where I keep the following: birthdays, vacations, social events, work events for both Bryan and I, appointments for Liam, and the editorial calendar for the blog. Basically, I put anything there that I need to immediately see to make decisions about when I have openings for a photography shoot, if I can take on a new sponsored post, if Bryan and I are available for dinner with friends, etc.
I have found that when I put all of this in my digital calendar and I have to click on each day to see the events or everything it listed really tiny, I make mistakes. Seeing my entire month at one time definitely helps me stay organized.
I use stickers or washi tape to highlight important appointments or vacations. For example, in the July spread, you will see my husband’s four day weekend marked off as well as cabin weekend marked off with a big sticker strip which comes from one of the Erin Condren Sticker Sheets. In October, you can see a couple wedding weekends marked off and Liam’s first birthday (HOW IS THIS ALREADY POSSIBLE?!) I use smaller stickers to mark off appointments, which are primarily my photo sessions booked for the month or any doctor appointments.
The thing to note about the monthly spreads is that I keep these updated months ahead and continually go back to update it again while I don’t touch the weekly spreads until the week of or the week before. I do this because the focus of the monthly spreads for me is tracking important dates and events so we don’t have scheduling conflicts and we do plan many things out MONTHS in advance. Every month gets assigned a different sticker sheet from me and those that I am using are sitting in the pocket at the back of the planner.
Lastly, on the right hand side, you will see a lined list of NOTES. These are located on both the monthly and weekly layouts and their use fluctuate more for me than other features in the planner. For the monthly list, I most like to use this to pencil ideas and big picture tasks I would like to get done for that month but am not ready to officially schedule or assign to a particular week. For example, if I still needed to get a gift for the baby shower on July 8th, I would add that to the monthly list to keep it on my radar.
PRE MONTHLY CALENDAR
A new feature in the updated Erin Condren Life Planner is this monthly note page which is placed before the monthly spread and next to the quote page for that month. This is new so I haven’t quite gotten to use it and play around with it yet but I think I’m going to use it as my monthly “big task” page and as a way to track what I have booked for business, so on the left for July I have started writing down my booked photo sessions and on the right I will fill in any sponsored posts for the blog. It’s a quick look at what my businesses have going on and track slower vs busier months.
For the top circles, I might track Liam’s stats (age, weight, length, etc) and put a few goals I would like to accomplish for that month, such as updating my photography website with new portfolio images. I will try to update this post in a couple months with how exactly I am using this page.
Since my original post on how I organize my planner, I have tried the other layouts for the Erin Condren Life Planner, but I simply keep going back to my original. You will have to decide which makes the most sense for your schedule, and you will be able to choose from a vertical (which is the one I have), horizontal or hourly layout.
The weekly calendar for the vertical layout is divided into three sections. These sections used to be called morning, day and night but are now left blank for your customization, which is awesome! It’s fun to see how these three sections have changed for me over the years and my growth in business. At this moment in time, they are divided as personal, blog business, and photography business.
The weekly layouts for me are really where I keep my action items and to-do lists. These are the boxes where the nitty gritty of what I need to DO gets written. I am also not usually writing on these pages until the week of or maybe the week before. You will see some items written on this weekly spread for July because I wanted to at least show you what it looks.
The bottom of each day has a few lines for additional notes. I usually use this space for meal planning and any dinner plans we might have. Taking a moment to schedule out our meals while looking at our schedule makes it more likely for us to stay on track because I can choose a super easy meal on a crazy day or a more involved meal on a lighter schedule day.
The list on the left is normally used as a place for me to put to-do list items that need to get done that week and I need to remember but that I am not ready to assign yet to a specific day. For example, I need to remember that I need to do laundry this week before packing for our trip to Minnesota but I’m not sure which day will work best yet.
In this new planner, you will still find page spread with 12 boxes and the quote, “don’t call it a dream, call it a plan.” I like to use one page of these for personal goals and one page for business goals. I haven’t filled mine out yet, but something in my personal section might read “schedule exercise into your weekly plan” and something under business might say “build my photography portfolio” or “find a mentor for newborn and wedding photography”.
There are still note pages in the back of the planner though I am bummed because there seems to be less, with some of the note pages being taken over by fully designed pages that look like they are for coloring. I’m a huge fan of adult coloring, but I do make use of those note pages in my planner. Some of the things I like to keep back there are gift lists, including a running Christmas gift list so I can buy as I find things and keep track of budget and purchases, big project or party planning, and a big item shopping list that I am super thoughtful about and work to save for.
ADDED – HARDBOUND LIFE PLANNER and HARDBOUND NOTEBOOKS
So I decided to also order their newer hardbound life planner because it’s small and I thought it would travel better in my computer bag or diaper bag. I’m giving you all a sneak peak at it even though I haven’t officially started using it yet. You can see the front inside cover above where I use a Erin Condren corner sticker to make a little pocket so I always have a few business cards on me.
My plan though is to use the monthly spread sheets for dates and scheduling photography sessions so that even if I’m out and about, I can easily check my schedule, and then use the weekly spreads ONLY to put client information for that particular schedule photography session (client name, shoot location, distance driven for tax purposes, phone number, and any other session info I need).
I love the hardbound notebooks as well for classes and business development notes. They are compact, have the same sturdy hardbound cover that the Hardbound Life Planner has AND has a ribbon for each bookmarking. Erin Condren also sells magnetic bookmarks of various sizes that I like to use in these hardbound style books; for example, I have bookmarks noting different class sessions of a photography workshop I’ve been taking so I can easily see where the different sections of notes start.
IN CONLUSION …
Feel free to look at my other Erin Condren posts on the blog, including some of my favorite accessories to use with my life planner over the years AND make sure you sign up for their newsletter using my referral link so you can receive $10 off your purchase. Oh, and to just make it simple for you, here is what I specifically ordered: Metallic Painted Petals in turquoise with the full 18 months (July 2017-December 2018), rose gold coil, vertical layout, and colorful theme.