The new year is around the corner and I know a lot of us are scrambling to get our act together in the new year. It’s time for goals and resolutions. Wanting to make changes and be more organized. And what better way to do that than jumping on the planner community and …. just writing things down! We know a lot of our favorite authors are big fans of planners and use them daily, so we’ve asked a few of them to share their love for planners with you, how and what they are using, and hopefully this can inspire you as well. After that, we’ve put together a starter guide video for you in case you want to have more of an overview of where to start and what you need (also some of the things you may need eventually)
So let’s jump right in!
Paper planning is not something new for me. I personally have used paper planners for about 20 years now. I coveted the beginning of every year waiting for the pristine inserts for my Franklin Covey binder. I am almost ashamed to admit that shopping for new calendars ranked up there with Christmas morning for me.
Then something miraculous happened, a lady named Erin Condren came out with a ring bound weekly planner and I was in love. Now there are tons of other companies that have done the same! Lucky us.
There are two kinds of people in my opinion. Serious decorative planners, who spend hours ensuring their pages are not just useful, but picture worthy. And then there are those who scribble notes into a calendar of some type without care if it looks “pretty” or not.
Of course I fall into the first category, purchasing enough sticker kits and washi tape to ensure I’m ready for any decorating emergency. I spend hours preplanning my weeks with utmost care. It’s a hobby of sorts and I’m not alone. Just go to Instagram and search “planning”, you will be astonished. There is even a publishing planning group I belong to!
But is all this “planner” stuff useful? Does it help me organize? Of course!
Next year I will be using four planners. In the picture you will note there are two ring-bound planners and one disc bound planner. The bottom right is the Erin Condren Life Planner, which I use to set up my week and preplan, the one on the bottom left is the Happy Planner and yes, you guess it, this one is used mainly to decorate and have fun with. The Happy Planner will be the planner I will be using for on my YouTube videos in 2017. Top and center is the Day Designer, which is a daily planner. This planner houses my daily “To-Do” lists, my schedule and any notes and sales data that I record daily.
There is a fourth planner, which is not shown. I use a personal size binder planner, which I keep in my purse. That one I carry with me and it is a more condensed duplicate of the items listed in my Erin Condren.
Am I organized and always on top of things you ask. Mostly…yes. And then there is that one thing I have to master…actually reading what I write in my planners so I don’t forget.
Author, Planner, Hobbiest
Released: January 17, 2017
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Brides for All Seasons #1
Published by Self Published
If opposites attract these two strangers will collide with the force of a raging storm.
Out of options, Wilhelmina Wilkins heads west to marry a total stranger upon answering a mail order bride ad. What could have been a fairytale beginning turns out to be this bride’s nightmare. Instead of meeting Wilhelmina at the train station, her husband-to-be is in the center of town brawling.
Marcus Hamilton is blindsided twice, first, by a mail order bride ad posted for him by his mother and sister, and secondly, by the beauty of the woman who arrives to marry him. That the bride wishes to cancel all plans after he fails to make a good first impression will not do. How far will Marcus have to go to prove his worth?
It seems unbelievable to admit this, but a year ago I wasn’t using a paper planner. Now I use two. And I went through several different types of planners before I found the one (or two) that worked for me.
I fell madly in love with paper planners after I found that using a digital calendar to track events and my To Do list just wasn’t cutting it for managing my productivity. It wasn’t that I was missing things, it was more that a cold hard digital calendar didn’t tap into my creative side. Once I found the paper planner group that I’m a member of, and learned about pens and washi tape and stickers and the different ways I can visualize my To Do List, a whole new world opened up for me.
This is my main planner. It’s a Chic Sparrow English Rose and I’m madly in love with the soft pink leather. I keep four notebooks in this planner. One is my main Bullet Journal where I maintain my weekly calendar and To Do List. An example of that is my bullet journal from last week (very Christmasy!).
This is where I list anything from personal appointments to professional To Do’s to reminders. I live in this weekly setup and it absolutely keeps me on track and prevents me from forgetting things.
The other planner I use is my on-the-go planner. It’s a Chic Sparrow Sidekick.
I use a Hobonichi Techo planner in this one that I haven’t started using yet since it starts in 2017. But since this insert has daily pages, I was looking for something to note the ‘hey, what happened today?’ stuff in, and this is where I plan to write those in. Plus, it has monthly calendars and since I take it when I leave the house, I can keep appointments in there.
I’ve discovered such joy and functionality in paper planning this year, which has surprised and delighted me. I look forward to learning more about what keeps me more organized, and having even more fun next year.
Released: December 6th 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Play by Play #12
Published by Berkley
In the new Play-By-Play novel by the New York Times bestselling author of Unexpected Rush, a football player with all the right moves on the field needs a better game plan for his love life.
A defensive end for the San Francisco Sabers, Flynn Cassidy is used to being in the spotlight—he just doesn’t enjoy it. But if getting in front of the cameras will help his new restaurant succeed, he’s willing. Now if he could just meet a woman who loved him and not his fame…
After her divorce, Amelia Lawrence is thrilled to start over as head chef at Ninety-Two. It’s just the opportunity she needs to heat up her career—if only she wasn’t wildly attracted to her sexy new boss. Their chemistry might be sizzling hot, but Amelia has no intention of being burned again.
Amelia is genuine and fun and Flynn can’t get enough of her—and Amelia loves every second she spends with the tough but tender Flynn. But trust is a hard fought battle for both of them. Breaking the rules of contact and surrendering to their passion was easy, but are they willing to risk their hearts to win at the game of love?
Like many Gen Xers, I was raised by a mom who kept track of our entire lives on a calendar hanging on the door of the fridge. Birthdays, appointments and holidays, all written in a smaller version of Mom’s handwriting while us kids argued over whose birth month had the best photo. (We kind of missed the Day Runner revolution because they were expensive and a little more white-collar.) For many years, I had a calendar of my own on the fridge, just like my mom did, until I went digital (somewhere around the iPhone 4). Now I could color-code and move things around. I could add labels and sort by family member. And having a digital calendar and task list weren’t enough. There were productivity apps that would manage my entire life, and as well as the lives of everybody I know, for a sometimes significant fee.
No matter how many apps I tried, though, I couldn’t find a system that worked for me until the end of 2014, when I was introduced to bullet journaling. I used it off and on for over a year, often abandoning it and trying yet another digital system after reading an article telling me it would improve my productivity and lower my stress. I desperately wanted improved productivity and less stress. With digital systems failing me, I jumped on a merry-go-round of paper-based planning systems, but none stuck. And then came the diagnosis. I’d somehow muddled through forty-plus years without anybody ever guessing I had ADHD until my life became so chaotic my subconscious tools for coping could no longer cope.
I went back to bullet journaling because it offered flexibility. I could change it up from week to week, so I didn’t get bored. And while most people are aware that science has proven you have better recall if you write information down by hand, I also learned that while drawing in my bullet journal layouts and decorating the pages, my mind is calm and quiet. (So calm and quiet I’d occasionally have to set a timer so I didn’t lose hours in the process.) That kind of focus helped my planning be more efficient and effective. I never achieve that kind of focus at the computer or with digital devices, and tend to be out of sight, out of mind when it came to lists and appointments. And a function of ADHD (for me) is that I grossly underestimate how long tasks will take and often think I can do more in a time period than is possible, being able to track my time on paper is invaluable. And my planner is open next to me, rather than being an app I can close and forget.
In 2017, I’ll be using the Hobonichi Cousin for the first time, and I think it’ll be a good compromise for me. It has existing structure, like a printed planner (which will save time), but the open format of the daily pages will allow me to maintain the flexibility and individuality of the bullet journal. It’s uncomplicated, efficient and structured-yet-flexible, while offering plenty of space for the doodling and decorating that keeps me engaged, which (in theory) will be perfect for my continuing journey of managing a home, family and career with ADHD.
Released: November 21st 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance
After a messy breakup, Leigh Holloway is ready to start her life over. Until her parents put the family home on the market and call her back for one final, memory-making Christmas. The last thing she wants to do is deprive her mom of the perfect holiday, so she'll lie her way through the visit and worry about her future in the New Year. Too bad the only bar in town is owned by a guy she seriously wronged in high school.
Leigh's best friend broke Croy Dawson's heart, and Croy knows it was Leigh's fault. They've never liked each other, but Croy isn't cruel: he'd never turn away a pretty woman in need of some family-Christmas fortification. He doesn't expect her to drink just enough candy-cane martinis to tell him her secrets—and he definitely doesn't expect to get caught up in her holiday madness.
Despite the surprising love and laughter, Croy and Leigh can't escape the truth: he can't walk away from his family obligations and she has a life and career to reboot. But anything is possible if your holiday comes with a twist…
How a Paper Planner Saved My Spacey Brain (AKA The Best New Year’s Resolution I’ve Ever Made)
I love the beginning of a new year. I know it can be an arbitrary date for some (i.e. you can start new habits anytime). But, for me, New Year’s has always served as a great reboot button. After the craziness of the holidays and the end-of-the-year deadline crunch (because I always have a book due on Dec. 31 it seems), I’m ready to wipe the slate clean and start fresh.
That fresh start applies to most areas of my life (eating, exercise, stress management, etc.) but one of my favorite reboots at the beginning of the year is thinking about organization and productivity. These days, I’m a nerd about both those topics, but that wasn’t always the case. A few years ago, I was flying by the seat of my pants not just with writing my books (which is my writing method and works for me) but also with my life and daily schedule (which was really NOT working for me.)
I was like the absent-minded professor—forgetting appointments, school things I needed to do for kidlet, things I needed to pick up at the store, where everyone in the family would be when, which days we had tickets for concerts or sporting events, etc. It became a running joke that that the head-in-the-clouds writer was living up the stereotype. But even though it could bring a laugh in the family, it was bringing an enormous amount of stress to my life.
I hated forgetting things. But I’d tried all the fancy apps/programs/calendar things on my computer and phone, and they didn’t work for me. I’d set reminders and just close them, forgetting them two minutes after they disappeared from my screen. Electronic stuff did not stick in my brain.
Finally, I was fed up and sat down to try to figure out the issue because I hadn’t always been so spacey. I was a straight-A student in college and never late on an assignment. I was a social worker before I became a writer and never missed an appointment. That’s when I realized that in college and my early working life, I stayed on top of things because I had a paper planner. I wrote everything down in one place. It’s “old school” but it worked for me.
So off I went to research planners. And boy was I surprised when I discovered that planners are not simple planners anymore. There is a whole culture of planner people who have turned paper planning into a fun and functional art project. There are stickers. And pretty pens. And washi tape (which is a kind of decorative paper tape I had never heard of 3 years ago, and now have more than a hundred rolls, lol.)
Some of the pictures I saw were intimidating because my artistic ability is limited to writing, but I’ve always been a stationary and pen nerd, so this was my jam. I get to be organized AND play with stickers? I’m so in.
And now a few years later, I have to say it was one of the best and most successful start-of-the-year changes I’ve ever made. It was the tipping point that sent me down the best kind of rabbit hole. Now I read productivity books for fun. And I make a business plan each year. And I set goals and check in with them monthly. Who is this person? But most of all, I don’t forget all those things that used to slip from my mind. My planner sits open in front of me all day and it keeps me on track. Also, just the act of writing things down seems to engrave it on my memory because even when I’m away from my planner, my memory for those things has improved.
Plus, there have been unexpected bonuses. I now have a relaxing hobby that I look forward to because each week I sit down to decorate my pages and plan out my week. I have met a great group of fantastic women online who share the same passion (*waves at Francesca*). And as I close out 2016, my planner from this year now serves as a memory keeper and a type of scrapbook, which is a great thing because I could never keep up with actual scrapbooking.
So, if you’re rolling into 2017 wondering if you’ll ever get organized or if you’ll ever be on time for things, maybe put buying a planner onto your resolution list. And this is a fun one, no diet involved. Did I mention there are stickers? 😉
*The planner pictured is the Inkwell Press Flex. This referral link will get you 10 dollars off if you’re interested in one.
Do you have any planning or organization items on your resolution list this New Year’s?
Released: September 6th 2016
Genre: Erotic Romance
Series: Loving on the Edge #9
Published by Berkley
Three lovers really click in the latest from the New York Times bestselling author of Call on Me—
Cora has an amazing sex life. She’s beautiful, daring, and the most popular submissive in Hayven. Too bad none of it’s real...
IT specialist Cora Benning has figured out the key to her formerly disastrous love life—make it virtual. In the online world of Hayven, she’s free of her geek girl image and can indulge her most private fantasies with a sexy, mysterious master without anyone in her life discovering her secrets. Until her information is hacked and she finds herself working to fix the breach under two very powerful men—one who seems all too familiar...
Best friends and business partners Ren Muroya and Hayes Fox were once revered dominants. Then Hayes was wrongfully sent to prison and everything changed. Ren wants to get back to who they were. Hayes can’t risk it. But when they discover the new IT specialist is their online fascination, and that she’s never felt a dominant’s touch, the temptation to turn virtual into reality becomes all too great…
Want a crash course on how to start planning and what are all your choices on what to get?
Just watch our Starter Guide!
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