How to Use a Planner Effectively as a Working Mom

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How Can a Planner Help You?

Are you ready to learn how to use your working mom planner to organize your life? 

Or, are you still skeptical?

I’ll admit I never really understood the fascination with paper planners. To me they were expensive, useless, and additional work. 

Who had time for that?

Then, I became a working mom and found myself constantly overwhelmed and unsure of what I was supposed to be doing. I had a hard time managing my dual roles of a professional and a mom and knew something had to change! 

So, I joined the club and purchased my own life planner. Immediately I realized a planner isn’t a magic solution. You have to know how to use a planner if you expect to see results. 

Today, I’m going to share with you how I use my planner. You’ll get tips on how to use a planner effectively to manage your working mom life. 

 

This page contains affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more information. 

Living Well Planner, Erin Condren's Life Planner, and Purple Trail Planner.

 

Why use a planner?

We can all agree that being a working mom is no joke. It’s nearly impossible to keep up with everything going on at work and all of your responsibilities within your family without some type of organization strategy.  

A planner is a necessary part of that strategy. 

Why?

  1. It’s mobile. You can take it with you wherever you go and never have to wonder about what you have to do. 

 

  1. It’s visual. You can literally look at everything in one place. 

 

  1. Lot’s of fun. You’re able to personalize your planner and really show off your personality. It makes you excited about being organized.

 

  1. It’s specific. Your planner is tailored to your needs. You can be as detailed or vague as you need to be. 

 

  1. A time saver. Yes, you will have to take time initially to set everything up. But, once that’s done you just follow along. No more forgetting what’s on your to do list or trying to remember work deadlines. 

 

      6. Flexible. Planners come in all shapes and sizes, making it easy to find one that fits your lifestyle. Some people even choose to have more than one!

 

What to look for in a planner?

erin condren planner layout

Before you can start looking for a planner, you need to decide how it will be used. 

Are you going to use it just for household management or are you looking for a way to combine your work life and home life?

Do you need it to keep track of your family budget and meal plans or just your to do list?

The options with planners are endless, which is great. But sometimes having too many choices can make it difficult to know what to choose. 

Here are some examples of what to look for in a planner:

Layout: 

  • Do you get to see a full page view of the month?
  • How are things broken down? Monthly, weekly, or daily?
  • Are the days broken down hourly?
  • Is the layout vertical or horizontal? Which do you prefer?
  • Is the planner dated or undated. (Keep in mind an undated planner means you can start it whenever you want). 
  • Does the week start with Monday or Sunday? 
  • Is there enough space to write out what you need on a daily basis. 
  • Is there a place to take notes?
  • Is there a place to set goals?
  • Do you have the ability to customize the layout? 

 

Size

  • Is the planner big enough?
  • Is the planner too big?
  • Is it functional?
  • Will you be able to take this with you everywhere?

 

Style

  • Is it customizable? Are you able to personalize it with photos or different text options? 
  • Can you pick the color or are all the planners the same?
  • Is it hardcover or soft?
  • Can you change the cover to fit your mood for the day?
  • Does it fit your personality?
  • Is this something you will want to carry with you?

 

The Extras

  • Can you add on additional things that you need?
    1. Monthly bill tracker
    2. To do list
    3. Checklist
    4. Meal Planner
    5. Travel Checklist
    6. Event Planning 

 

Binding Preferences

  • Spiral
  • Bookbound
  • Discbound 
  • Refillable Ring

 

Cost

I’m just going to be blunt and say planners can cost a lot of money! The bigger the planner, the more expensive it will be. More expensive doesn’t always mean more function. Just be sure that your planner fits all of your needs, especially if you’re spending a bunch of money. 

living well planner layout

 

What is the best planner?

Planners are not one in the same. They were all created to tackle specific problems. 

The best planner for you will be the one you’re actually going to use consistently! Of course that’s dependent on if the planner has the features that you find necessary.

I took the time to use and review a couple of different life planners to see what I felt was the best planner for working moms.

Here is what I came up with:

 

Best Life Planner:

Erin condren life planer

Erin Condren

Why?

It’s fully customizable, allowing you to choose from an hourly, horizontal, or vertical layout. If you feel like something is missing, you have the option of adding it on. 

It allows you to keep track of the important things in life at a reasonable price. 

 

Best Mom Planner: purple trail mom planner

My favorite planner for moms is the Purple Trail Planner

Why?

You can designate a daily slot for each member of your family and see what everyone is up to in one place! That’s half the battle already solved. 

 

Best Working Mom Planner: 

living well planner

Ruth Soukup’s planner, The Living Well Planner.

It encourages you to set monthly goals centered around personal growth, health, fitness, and finances. Then, it helps you break your goals down into bite sized pieces so you’re able to actually accomplish them. 

Don’t worry, if you have projects to complete either at home or at work, there’s a place for that too!

One of my favorite parts of this planner is that you can set your monthly budget and keep track of your income and expenses. Most planners would charge extra for this feature, but Living Well gives it you for free! 

To get a more detailed review of each planner, check out our post on the best life planner for moms

 

How to start a planner?

Here comes the fun part! It’s time to get acquainted with your planner. 

  1. Check out all of the sections
  2. Get comfortable with the layout 
  3. Decide how you’re going to use your planner
  4. Now is a good time to pick a date each month where you will sit down and update your planner
  5. Start filling in important dates like birthdays, anniversaries, etc
  6. If there is a section for goals, fill in your goals for the year
  7. Think about the first 3 months of the year and the obligations you are already aware of
  8. Go ahead and write them in the planner
  9. Repeat this process every month, reviewing the month that has passed and updating the month to come

Congratulations, you have officially started your planner and are on your way to organized success! 

Now, let’s keep you on the right track. 

 

Planner tips for beginners

  1. Pick a planner that makes you excited about being organized
  2. Make sure to have the necessary planning supplies 
  3. Take your planner everywhere
  4. Use it consistently
  5. Set aside time each month to update it 
  6. Have fun with it

 

How do I organize my planner?

To truly organize your planner and make it functional, you’re going to need planner accessories.

Start with getting a good set of writing tools. I prefer to use gel pens instead of markers because they don’t bleed through the pages and it looks neater. 

Whichever you choose, make sure to get multiple colors. 

I find that it’s easier to stay organized when you can assign different tasks specific colors. I even go as far as to designate a special color for myself and my daughter. That way at a glance I know who has what going on. 

You can use a combination of colored pens and highlighters. With this system you can simultaneously organize your tasks by people and category. Just be sure to keep a color legend in the beginning of your planner. 

Use washi tape to add flare and to divide pages or make something stand out more. 

Stickers are another must have item! 

They are perfect for bringing attention to important dates, recurring events, and categorizing activities. 

There are many options available but these are my absolute favorite. They cover mom life and work life perfectly.

Prioritize and organize your tasks by creating monthly lists, weekly lists, and daily lists in your planner.

Within your individual lists, decide what has to get done no matter what, what should good done, and what you hope to get done if you have the time. 

This level of organization will guarantee that your priorities are always taken care of. 

 

How I use my planner

woman using her life planner

I have a full time job, my side hustle, and I’m a single mom. Let’s just say I have a lot going on but I use my planner to keep me on track.

When I first get my planner I sit down and really get to know it. I check out all of the sections and decide how I’ll use them. It’s different looking at something online versus physically holding it in your hands. 

This year I’m using the Erin Condren’s life planner and I love what it has to offer. 

It comes with a folder to hold notes, a perpetual planner, planner stickers, and a contact page. 

I will use the folder to keep up with loose to-do lists and receipts. It will also be a great place to put the recipes I get from Publix. But, I really don’t see myself using the perpetual calendar or the contact page at all. 

There’s an entire notes section in the back and I know that will be used to brainstorm vacations, birthday parties, and eventually Christmas gifts. It’s great being able to have everything all in one place!

At this point, I go and fill in the important dates I don’t want to forget: birthdays, anniversaries, school closings, and scheduled doctor appointments. If there are applicable stickers, I use them at this time too. 

In the front of the planner there is a page with 12 blocks that I’ll use to write in my goals for the year. I think it’s nice to be able to look and see what I’m working towards each month (goal planners are perfect for this too!). 

How to use a planner to get organized

Now it’s time to fill in everything I know about January. I use the monthly spread to make note of my work hours, call shifts, and appointments. This is the time I write in my daughter’s swimming and gymnastics lessons too. 

The daily spread is used as an ongoing to-do list. I prioritize the things I need to get done for the week and decide which day I’m actually going to get it done. 

To keep my stuff separate from my daughter’s, her color will be purple. This way whenever I see purple, I know it’s about her. 

January is all set to go. Moving forward, the last Friday of each month I will update my planner for the following month. This makes it easy to stay on top of everything and not feel like I’m lost and losing control. 

My planner is always with me so if anything new pops up I can add it immediately. This also means I’m constantly checking in with my planner and making sure I’m on top of everything.

Basically, my planner is my life line, my sidekick. When you view it that way you’ll always be in the know and on top of your tasks!

writing in a life planner consistently

How to use a planner effectively

If you’re serious about using a planner to get organized, you now have everything you need to be successful.

You know what to look for in a planner, how to get started as a newbie, and the things you need to be consistent and organized with a planner.  

Now you just need to buy your planner!

If you’re looking to meet deadlines, stay on top of household tasks, and mange kid activities the Living Well Planner is for you!

It’ll become your personal assistant and give you the confidence you need to live an organized and functional working mom life. 

 

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Keyona

Hi! I’m Keyona, a full-time working mom of an energetic toddler girl. I love helping moms feels less overwhelmed by simplifying motherhood and helping them maintain their sense of identity.

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2 Comments

  1. I totally agree!! A planner can be a lifesaver. I personally decided to Bullet Journal a couple of years ago and it has worked wonderfully for me. Now that I became a mom, it’s very important to keep up with all the new tasks and adventures.

    1. Yes Angie! I couldn’t survive motherhood without it!!! I’ve never tried using a bullet journal. Maybe I’ll add that to my list of things to try.

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