The Planner Round-Up

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetWith Henry, I remember the moment really well. He was about 5 months old and I was standing in the kitchen pouring a glass of water from the filter pitcher. My legs were getting wetter and wetter and it took me a solid several seconds to realize that I was holding the glass upside down and the water was just sloshing off the bottom and all over me.

With Etta the moment came earlier, the past summer when we visited my family in Kentucky. I was about to leave the pool and I looked down and couldn’t figure out how the tee shirt I had worn over my swimsuit to drive to the pool had gotten so wet. I puzzled aloud about this and my sister-in-law looked at me quizzically before saying, “Hannah- you’ve been wearing that shirt the whole time you swam,” and I realized that I had been swimming in my clothes without realizing they were still on.

It’s the moment after having children when you realize that your brain is irrevocably altered and you are never regaining that vast reserve of brainpower that you had pre-kid. You think at first it is just sleep deprivation, but now, it is the sheer brain power that it takes to keep a human being alive and thriving in the universe.

In short, you lose your mind.

I have never been a forgetful person. I get things done, make lists, and count myself among the insane type-A productive people of the world. But then I had kids, and I found myself recently staring at the coffee grinder lamenting that it was broken before realizing that I had just forgotten that you have to hit a button to turn it on. Facts come and go, dates are committed and then forgotten, and I realized that the organizational system that I have used since college– the one that got me through three degrees, two pregnancies, and all sorts of daily accomplishments- just wasn’t working. Index cards- I love you, your my first love, and I will never forget you. But I need more. I will be sitting at my desk and suddenly it HITS me: in 3 weeks I have a dentist appointment. Or I will bolt upright in my chair at work and realize that I have textbook orders for spring courses due in a couple weeks. I needed something beyond the index cards so I could note commitments to come as I remembered them, and I needed it to be tangible and at my fingertips so it wasn’t forgotten, hence my phone’s insufficiency.

In short, I needed a planner.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetBut the list of planners is anything but short. I asked on Instagram what planners everyone used and quickly learned that my Instragram people are PLANNER ADDICTS WITH PASSIONATE VIEWS. Here are their 5 top pics:

And after researching all of those, I chose… none of them. I know, I’m the worst. First of all, I wanted to be sure I liked a traditional planner before shelling out for one (they are so pricey!), but also, I just want a planner, not in inanimate motivational coach. I don’t want to have to think out three goals every night for the next day, and I don’t want to have to journal my process of self actualization. I just want to like, remember when Etta has a doctors appointment and stay on top of grading and maybe, maybe, be reminded what I’m cooking for dinner. Plus, I worry that the industry of planners communicates a dangerous message that everyone must be extraordinary, must be striving for more. I want to do my small life really well and be organized enough to have time for the people around me and the things that are mine to do, that’s all.

With that in mind, I went simple and bought one on sale that was pretty. It had a two page weekly spread with no time slots, which works best for my weekly commitments. I put out my to-do list, and put our dinner plan in red ink on the last page. Things get crossed off, and at the end of the day, I use a highlighter to mark what didn’t get accomplished, but still needs to (versus something like “Work Out” which if it didn’t happen, just didn’t happen). On the weekend, I go back and knock out those things, or at least move them to the following week.

And it’s working. I really look forward to Sunday evenings when I sit down and plan out my week. I feel less likely to swim fully clothed (literally and figuratively) because I have a place to store the random commitments that come to mind. Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

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7 Responses to The Planner Round-Up

  1. I agree, basic is best. 🙌 I was also intrigued by bullet journaling forever, and finally committed a couple months ago when I read the Lazy Genius’ bullet journal guide. I haven’t looked back since! (

  2. Laura C says:

    I’m a local lurker, first time commenter. Can I ask what planner you ended up getting and where you got it? I would love to find one that has isn’t organized with time slots. I could use a place to write my lists for week, not in specific times. Thanks!

  3. Jennette says:

    This post feels freeing to me. For some reason I’ve always felt slightly paralyzed by buying “the right planner”. They are expensive and I almost felt like if I didn’t get the exact right planner it wouldn’t work. I’m going to get the simply and small moleskine planner and just use it. Thanks for this post.

  4. E.H says:

    As a new mom trying to get my type-a self back into gear, I took the plunge after reading your post. I had been considering a planner recently (I was a devoted index card person before baby thanks to your post on that system a couple of years ago!). Your post inspired me to give it a try. Mine arrived today in the mail and I’m already in love.

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