Monday, March 9, 2015

Moments Inked: Basic Planning Process & Integrating Digital with Paper

Papertrey’s new Moments Inked 2015 Memory Planner has been quite a hit! No surprise, as it’s beautifully designed for both aesthetics and function! Many of you have received your planners and have already begun setting them up; I know others are still on the fence, wondering if you would actually use a paper planner, perhaps feeling reluctant to move back to paper from having gone digital, and yet tempted by this pretty little darling. Today, I’d like to talk a little bit about using a paper planner along with a digital calendar/organization system, for a hybrid approach that leverages the strengths of each. Planning is so unique to each individual. My hope is that a closer look at my planning process will be helpful to you as you set up and use your planner, or as you decide whether a planner is right for you. Let’s get started!


The heartbeat of my planning system is managing my family’s schedule. My husband and I use two shared Google Calendars as our primary family calendar. Each family member is color coded, it’s super easy to enter recurring events like sports practices and music lessons, and I love being able to include notes on calendar items, whether it’s a short address or a lengthy list of instructions or assignments cut and pasted from an email. We always have our smartphones or other devices with us, so when we’re out and about, we can easily check our plans and schedule new appointments or activities.

I can’t imagine giving up the functionality of a digital calendar for a paper calendar; however, I’ve learned that I do best at personal time management when I have everything written down in a paper planner. Once a week, usually on Sunday evening or Monday morning, I review our digital calendar and add the week’s schedule to my planner.

I use the Moments Inked: Planner Banners stamp set, the Moments Inked: Family Banners  and the Moments Inked: Planner Banners die to add calendar events to each week's planner spread. The Family Banners are designed with an open circle at one end of the banner, and then a filler circle for color coding each family member. I prefer to stamp the whole banner in color, and will often use the open circle to note the event time. Because the color coding is taken care of with the banner, I was able to do away with my colored pen assortment and simplify down to just black. Fewer planning tools and a clean-looking planner works great for me, but it’s definitely a personal preference! 

With the design of the banner stamps, it’s easy to stamp and die-cut a bunch of these ahead of time. For easy storage, I created a planner insert page out of Sheer Basics Vellum using the largest of the Moments Inked: Basic Pages dies. I store banner extras grouped by color, and because the page is laminated, it’s super quick and easy to peel off a sticker and move it to the weekly page. I like being able to move the storage sheet around or take it out altogether. You can also pre-stamp a lot of banners ahead of time with your most common events — meeting, practice, game, lesson, for example  making them even easier and quicker to use. I also have a little bowl on my desk where I store even more extras. 

I use the monthly spread for longer-range planning (our summer vacation, for example), for bigger, one-time events that I want to highlight (an annual crop, a special school event, etc.), for birthdays, and for keeping track of bi-weekly things (apparently, I need the visual of being able to skip a week in-between!).

One suggestion when keeping both a digital and paper calendar: be sure to designate one calendar as the default, or “master,” calendar. Otherwise you may end up with some events here and some events there, and you know what happens then — something falls through the cracks, you’ll schedule conflicts unknowingly, and the whole system becomes unreliable. My default is the digital calendar. Anything new gets added there first.


The next most important part of my planner is my personal schedule. Scheduled meetings and appointments go on the default digital calendar along with the rest of the family’s commitments, and I’ll add them to my planner weekly when I add everything else. I plan the rest of my day’s work and weeks work just in the planner.

For me, a big component of my week is my design work. I use the Moments Inked: Blog Banners to manage my blogging/crafting schedule. I have these color coded by design team, and I use the notes space at the bottom of the weekly pages.

I like to use the open area along the left side of the weekly spread to keep track of projects I need to or want to make each week. Each circle (I use Avery repositionable white circle stickers colored with Copics) represents something I need to make that week. I can move these to individual days of the week for more detailed planning, just leave them in the general weekly notes area, or even move them to the next week, if needed.


The next major component of my planning system is my task list and project list. I rely heavily on the Evernote app to store what I think of as my brain dump of ALL THINGS imaginable. From there, I organize into projects, and then drill down to what are the next actionable steps. For now, only a manageable list of those next actionable items goes in my planner on a to-do list for easy reference and increased likelihood that the tasks will get accomplished. Write it down = make it happen, right? I was recently able to complete a minor dishwasher repair in large part because I added "order dishwasher part" to my to-do list. It was one of those things I kept forgetting about. Finally, though, I ordered the part, and when it came, I installed it. One more thing done and one less piece of mind clutter.

To house my daily task list, I’ve created another laminated large Basic Page out of vellum, which I keep along with my daily planner page. Post-it notes, index cards, and notepad pages all work equally well, and I don’t really have a favorite (except that I do really like the simplicity of the white pages). You could also write directly on the laminated page using a dry-erase or wet-erase marker (too messy for me).

You can probably tell I prefer a minimalist, clean approach to my planning. Too much visual stimulation, and everything starts to feel cluttered and messy. And too many to-dos pretty much guarantees Ill give up before I even begin! (Its important to be true to yourself, though! If a tricked out, decorated planner motivates you to use your planner more, go for it!)

I do like to keep a few lists handy within my planner, for example, content for a weekly newsletter Im responsible for. This material tends to come in randomly, and my planner is the quickest, most convenient place to jot those types of things down. 

Moments Inked: Posted is great for custom stamping post-it notes and other lists. On the list above,  I've stamped some blank index cards with a label at the top and some lines for list-making.

Things that I don’t need regular or immediate access to are housed on my computer and not in my planner until or unless there is an action item. And some things already work really well digitally, so no need to change those. My app-based meal planning and shopping list set-up, for example, works just fine, so I don't use my planner for any of that. For those who are considering re-introducing a paper planner after having gone digital, no need to change what’s already working digitally! 


My favorite part of the Moments Inked planner continues to be the daily page. Other than meal planning, I wasn't doing anything like this with any consistency in a digital format. For me, this is just the kind of thing that works better in a paper format.

I like the hydrate, nourish, be active, and daily indulgence tracking. And I love reflecting on my day and filling out the gratitude and memorable moments section. I’m also trying something a little different with my Top 3 Tasks/Focus section. When I first started using the planner, I used the Top 3 Tasks section to highlight things that absolutely had to be done that day (things like emails to send, gifts to pick up, appointment to make, bills to pay), which was absolutely fine. However, I often find that I let today’s “busywork” crowd out any incremental progress on larger goals. So, I’ve started to use the Top 3 Tasks section for some more intentional planning by identifying three tasks that are specifically tied to a larger goal or value. 

Even on the busiest days, I should be able to find 15 minutes to slowly declutter and organize my unfinished basement storage area (a.k.a, disaster), which is a goal for the year. And if exercise is as important to me as I say it is, why is it always the first casualty of a busy day? 

While many of my new Top 3 Tasks/Focus items are not necessarily "must-do tasks for the given day, they really are important focus areas that really do need to be planned for, maybe even more so than time-sensitive tasks, since historically, my bigger, less defined things are often the most at risk. This new approach to the Top 3 Tasks section feels more meaningful, and I hope it helps to ensure that at the end of the year, my bigger goals havent been sacrificed to everyday busy-ness. 

So there you have a look at the nuts and bolts of my planner process, including how and where I integrate digital. I hope it's been helpful! And now that the basics are out of the way, next time we can chat about more fun ways to customize our planners!

Thanks for sticking with me til the end!


Suzanne said...

Such a great post, Amy! I love your ideas and seeing how you use this inspires me to use mine in other ways.

Cammie said...

Wonderful post! I love seeing how others use their planners as I make decisions on how I will use my planner.

Ruth G said...

I love planners and really enjoyed hearing about how you use yours! Great job using so many of the wonderful attributes of PTI's planner system! It looks more irresistible each post!
I am a hybrid planner also and find there are so many things that work better on paper than virtually that I can't give up on the paper!
Thanks so much for sharing!

Gina said...

I love seeing and 'hearing' about how you very practically use your planner, Amy! Great tips. And I *really* like how you've done the planner banners on a laminated sheet. Such a fabulous idea. I'm constantly digging around for one of my kids' color banners! (I keep mine in a squatty half-pint Mason jar).

I also see something "x'ed out" on your planner - is that what you do when there is a cancellation?

Nadine Perez said...

I loved reading your post about how you use your planner. So many great tips that you shared. I especially liked how you used the Top 3 Tasks to focus on larger goals instead of must do tasks for that day. A truly meaningful way to use that space!

Jill Norwood said...

Great tips and ideas! Thanks so much for this wonderful post!

Jude said...

Thanks Amy! This is so helpful. Thanks for the time you took to write out your process and explain everything. Much appreciated.

Anne said...

Great post with lots of terrific ideas! Did you create the tabs for "Week" and "Today"? Is so, how did you do them?

see mary stamp said...

What a wonderful post. I just set up a digital calendar for the first time this year so found your tips on how to manage both (and declaring one the master calendar) especially helpful.

I'm sure I'll reread this post a few times.

Thanks again.

Lolo said...

Thanks for sharing your planner process Amy :) Even though everyone has different elements in their lives, it's helpful to see how others have used the space. Loved your page markers so had to go make some of my own. Thanks for the inspiration!

Sam Simpson said...

Amy, I am interested in how you adhere your banners into your journal. Do you print them (stamp ad die cut) onto adhesive paper, or onto cardstock and then use a seperate adhesive. I see real benefit in carrying about a small store of banners (in some sort of insert int he journal), but if they were simply done on cardstock, then how to get them into the right place without carting around additional supplies?

Amy Sheffer said...

Good observation about the banner stamps, and I apologize for not being more clear in my post! I do stamp my banners on sticker paper. For the storage sheets, I adhere the die-cut stickers to the laminated storage page, and then just peel off to use. Hope that helps!