the fine print on planners, to-do lists and more

the fine print on planners, to-do lists and more


I loved reading all of your comments yesterday here and on Facebook about the important life topic of planners, journals, pens and Altoid tins. It’s so good to know I’m not the only one who makes a detour to the office supply aisle just to gaze at notebooks.

Before I move onto another topic, I wanted to go into more detail about the system I mentioned in my earlier post about how I use both technology and old school pen and paper to keep things organized.


A few years ago, I discovered Cozi, and it has become my online calendar of choice. It’s very similar to iCal or Google in terms of how you enter events into the calendar, make them recurring and share calendars across computers and devices. I love that I can color code events by family member and that our kids can log in to Cozi on their iPods to check the family calendar.

The main reason I decided to use Cozi over another calendar is that I wanted to be able to print our monthly family calendar and insert it into my planner. The key feature I was looking for in a printable calendar was cute. Because it’s all about the cute.

When you print out the Cozi calendar from the month view, the calendar grid is in color and the colors change to match the season. For example, it’s green in spring, brown in fall and blue in winter. It includes a photo of our family in the top corner. Cozi also uses a pleasant font, instead of the standard Arial or Helvetica. In other words. Cute.


Being able to print out the monthly calendar is super important to me because it saves me from re-entering all of those details into my planner. With school schedules, sports practices, games, youth group, work meetings, volunteer commitments and church functions, our monthly calendar is absolutely packed. It’s honestly too much to try to write using pen and ink, especially since so many of the events repeat every week.

However, I do still love having a place to write my daily to-do lists. On paper. With a pen.

This is where I have started using the iheartorganizing weekly planner. I like it because it’s a pdf download that I can insert into my binder. By doing it this way, I can add my printed monthly calendar, as well as other important documents in between the pages of my planner. I couldn’t do that with a spiral bound planner.

The iheart planner is cute, colorful and formatted in a way that is perfect for my daily lists and weekly goals. It gives me plenty of room to write my daily list of tasks I need to accomplish, and includes a place to write my goals for the week.
A few years ago, I invested in an Arc system binder that is sold at Staples, and this is where I keep my iheart planner. The Arc system is pricier than a normal binder, and it requires a special hole punch to insert new pages. But the beauty of it is that it isn’t as bulky as a three-ring binder, so I can carry it everywhere. I’ve been using it for my planner for several years, so I finally feel like it was worth the investment.


In addition to my daily binder, I also have all of my printables that I have created to help keep track of chores, house cleaning duties, meal plans and whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher. I just print these off as needed, but it’s nice to have them designed and ready to go. You can take a look at a bunch of my printables here. And here’s a link to the daily checklists we use in the summer.


So, why on earth would I need a bullet journal in addition to all of these other forms of planning and lists? I have been using the bullet journal for information I want to reference. It includes a lot of ideas that I want to write down in a central location so I can find them all later!

For example, I’ve started using my journal to log web site passwords. I have a list of books I want to read. I have a page of craft project ideas. I have notes I want to remember about healthy eating. I use it to track my weight and habits I’m trying to establish. I jot down one sentence “bullet journal” entries.

I could also keep all of these notes in Evernote or on my phone, but I do love writing things on paper.


I have to admit that my new obsession with bullet journaling has me rethinking my system. For a while, I have had this idea swirling around in the back of my head about how I could create a planner with premade doodles on each page to color. My brain also has been obsessing over a printable version of the bullet journal idea, so stay tuned…


Until then, I would love to hear what works for you. Do you use an online calendar and which one? Do you prefer pen and paper? Have you found a planner that you love? Do you use printables? A bullet journal? Do tell!

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Getting cozi with my calendar

Getting cozi with my calendar

For the last couple of years, I have been in a serious calendar conundrum.

I love the convenience of an online application to keep track of our schedule and appointments. But I also love paper.

It’s true! I love to doodle, add notes and mark things off. I also love being able to hang the calendar on the fridge or bulletin board for the whole family to see. I have tried using iCal or Google calendar, which both work great online. The problem is that when I go to print out a paper version, they are so, so, sooooo UNcute!

I can’t handle a blah, boring calendar. So for the last few years, I have been creating my own calendar with my own colors and my own fonts and printing it off to carry in my binder or hang on the fridge. This isn’t the greatest system, and it has seriously been driving me crazy. No person should spend as much time as I have thinking about the inefficiency of her calendar!

The problem was amplified a few weeks ago when my husband got a new iPhone. He has been a long time PC person, and I have been an Apple user since the invention of the computer. When his company forced him to make the switch, he wasn’t happy. And I was trying to convince him that his life would be perfect and simple once he got used to it. “Just turn it on and push the button!” I kept instructing.

A few hours later, he sent me a text. “I’m sure there is some simple way I can import the family calendar.”

“Umm. No. Remember the cute color coordinated calendar that hangs on the refrigerator and the bulletin board and various locations throughout our house? That IS your mobile calendar! I can print one out for you, and you can carry it anywhere you want to go.”

Well, at that moment, I knew I needed an upgrade!

That’s when the strangest thing happened. I logged on to Facebook and at that very moment, one of my FB friends had “liked” this web site called, Cozi. I didn’t know what it was, but I liked the logo. (I have been obsessed with logos the past three months, but that is a completely different story!) I clicked on the link just to examine the logo more closely, and it turns out, it’s an online calendar. I was convinced it HAD to be better than the other options I had tried. If it had a cute logo, then it HAD to have a cute printable version!

Well, it’s not perfect, but it’s cute enough. And I have to say that I am loving its features so far! I can:

  • Access our family calendar through my desktop, phone or iPad. We have one family account so my husband can log in to see the most up-to-date info. (We don’t have to upload our calendars to “the cloud” or “share” our calendars. They are always there, up-to-date, all the time on all of our devices.
  • Select a color for each member of our family to label each person’s events. The app gives me lots of options for assigning each person his or her “color.” Even though this is a super small thing, it’s huge to a color-loving calendar snob like me!
  • Make shopping lists or to-do lists and assign them to various people. I can enter my shopping list and then my husband can access the list when he goes to the store. I like being able to check things off the list and keep old lists stored in my phone so that I can easily update the things that I buy frequently.
  • Keep track of my meal plan. I have been using eMeals since the beginning of the year to plan out my meals and shopping lists. However, I’ve found that I usually don’t like a few of the meals, and I end up modifying my weekly menu. One complaint I have so far is that I can’t access the meal planner from my mobile device.
  • Finally, the printable version of my monthly calendar is somewhat CUTE! I mean… it’s not quite as cute as it would be if I made if from scratch. But it’s cute enough!

So what about you? Do you use an online calendar system? Do you use a paper planner? Or some combination? I want to know. I really do!

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