Stickers with a Story

This is a planner post, but it’s a little more than that.

Those of us that are into planners and planning know that people make money off of us.  Big money. The planners themselves aren’t cheap (I’m looking at you, Erin Condren), and then the accessories… Holy Cow. Search Pinterest for Planner accessories and you’ll see what I mean.  There are hundreds of people on eBay who just sell planner stickers. Planner Stickers! And when you add in shipping… well, let’s just say I’ve never felt comfortable spending that much on a consumable, and especially now that it would cost me the better part of a day’s pay for a couple of sheets of stickers…

So what’s a girl to do? All I wanted was a set of stickers to put on days when bills are due.

I started looking at some neato stamps by l2e, but the neato stamps were at least $14 a set. Add in the shipping, the ink…  Not consumable, but still pricy.

Then I went to iconic fonts – the sometimes-free fonts you can download from enterprising young graphic designers that are like tiny little pictures.  I thought if I could find a set that had the icons I wanted, I could put them into a word document, or even a label template and print them out. But it was difficult to find the icons I wanted, especially for free.  Those pesky young graphic designers want to be paid, too.

And then I found this, by Mike Rohde, which are actually some hand drawn bullet journal icons.  At first I thought, “Those are really cool, and kind of what I want, but I can’t draw!”13792208535_267770f11a_m

No, seriously.  I can’t draw.  I used to prepare my students for this fact the few times I had to draw things on the board, and they still laughed.  I explained that this is why I was a music teacher… Can’t draw to save my life.

But.

I came across another pin, recommending Sara Zorel on YouTube.  One of her videos was called “Doodle With Me: Planner Icons”.  Now, doodle I can do.  So when you say “Doodle,” I think I can like that tiny blue engine that could…

And with some practice in my moleskine, I did.

doodle planner icons

I bought a flag shaped punch on clearance at Walmart for $3, and I already had sticker paper (In fact, had scraps of it from my NaNoWriMo prep – more on that later), and so I colored the scraps with markers, punched out some flags, and started doodling.

It may seem small, but I am totally geeked that I can make for myself and not spend money unnecessarily. And that I can kinda sorta draw. Not people, though. That’s just scary.

more doodle planner icons

Shift your paradigm, and when you say to yourself, “I can’t,” question it. Sometimes you can amaze yourself.

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New Planner for 2016

When money gets tight, you tend to re-evaluate the things you buy on a regular basis. Do I really need this? If the answer is yes, Do I really need this kind, or can a get a cheaper kind? I find myself doing this a lot lately. And I just noticed my Erin Condren planner is about to expire in three months.

How much would I have to change if I went with a different type of planner?

How much would I have to change if I went with a different type of planner?

If you are at all familiar with Erin Condren, you know that they are expensive.  No bones about it.  Yes, you can rationalize the cost with the fact that you use it daily over the course of a year or 18 months. And the sheer fact that it is expensive is a motivator to many (myself included) to use it on a regular basis. This is the one I like, and now they have a horizontal option for the daily planner, which would fit my planning style better, I think.

But now, when the purchase of that planner (including shipping) would equate to at least a couple of days of work, I begin to re-evaluate… And research. I’ve found that their customer service seems to be sub-par. I’ve never had a problem personally, but there are so many unhappy customers out there, and it worries me that you spend that much on something and there is no telephone number to use on their website, anywhere. I don’t like that.

I’ve found Plum Paper Designs as an affordable alternative. Still a bit pricey, but nowhere near what an Erin Condren planner is. Customer Service reviews seem great. They have some really smart add-ons that EC doesn’t offer, and product reviews seem to get high marks, too. (If you need a 10% discount code, let me know in the comments and I can give you one!)

And yet… I cannot make a decision. I have a product in a cart on both websites, and just cannot commit.

Do any of you have an opinion?  Please share.

I will be making a purchase within the next week or so, and I will do a review post on my purchase when it arrives (probably in a month or two). Decisions, decisions…

EC Planner: editorial calendar

Recently I sat down to figure out how I could back in the swing of things here at Simple. I Just Do.  I re-read some resources I had, and began planning (my favorite thing!), and realized I needed a space for an editorial calendar.  Then I realized I already had the perfect space, and it was under-utilized – the month-at-a-glance portion of my EC planner!

I had seen posts of others using the daily portion, but it didn’t really work for me.  So I sat down, did some brainstorming, analyzed some analytics, and came up with a whole slew of post topics, and even made up a little code for types of post.  I broke out the post-it notes (my second favorite thing!) and began “scheduling” these posts, making sure to plan a variety of types of posts, as well as topics.  Whatever posts that were not scheduled were put off to the side for revision and use in the future.  And if I get an idea for a post, now I just jot it on one of these small post-its, stick it in there, and it’ll be ready for next month’s planning session.  They are also really easy to move around – I had a different post planned for today, but it wasn’t ready, so I moved this one up a few weeks.  Easy peasy.

I’m also able to schedule my social media posts and interaction, linky parties, etc.

It may not be the most beautiful or elegant thing ever, but for me, the most important thing is it WORKS!  And I can make it beautiful later, when I get some time (yeah, right).  This is not an earth-shattering idea, but it’s always good to take a moment to reflect on what has worked in the past, think about what resources you have, and try to marry the two.  No sense in re-creating the wheel when you don’t have to. In fact that’s something good to do in just about every area of your life.  Sounds like a topic for another blog post… now where are my post-its?

Planner Supplies

Last week, I told you I’d let you know about some of the supplies I’ve picked up for my Erin Condren planner.

  • Post-Its  I love post-it notes, and have them in just about every size, and I used these at first to keep track of events that were tentative in my planner, or things I wanted to remember but didn’t have a strip of wash tape to jot it down on.  I still use them a bit, but not as much as I used to.  I like the ones in bright colors, so they catch my eye and do what they’re supposed to do – remind me of something important!
  • Printable planner stickers from etsy  I bought some full-sheet sticker paper for my printer, and then printed these colorful stickers (that say “bill” and “shopping” and “date night” just to name a few) that I then cut by hand.  It uses a lot of ink, however, so I’m not sure I’ll do this again.  We’ll see.
  • Washi tape I have a new addiction to this stuff, and unfortunately, it ain’t cheap.  But Michael’s sells a bunch of rolls in one tube, and if you can wait for a good sale or coupon, you can get a good deal.  I think they run about $20 for 13 rolls, and I got mine half-off.  Not bad when most places charge you around $4 per roll.  I always keep an eye out for some on clearance at Walmart, as well.  Washi tape is good for keeping track of events in your planner that cover several days.  I also use it instead of the stickers that came with the EC planner, because it is much easier to move – the EC stickers are supposed to be re-positionable, but aren’t very cooperative.
  • Frixion markers I picked a set of these up on Amazon for about $12, and they are life-transforming.  OK, maybe not, but pretty darn close.  They are markers that you can erase, which is GREAT for someone who loves pops of color to help her remember things, but hates the permanence of regular markers.  PLUS, they don’t bleed through the page.
  • Stickers I adore the kawaii and mochi style stickers, but haven’t committed the money to order any yet.  In the meantime, I’ve been checking my regular craft outlets and the dollar store for some cute ones to add a little something here and there.  I got these monster stickers at Walmart for $1. I use triangle-shaped ones to indicate when a bill has been paid.

A Looky-Loo at my planner

You may recall that I splurged a bit and purchased an Erin Condren Life Planner awhile back.  These are kind of a trendy thing right now, and I had no idea if it would be worth the cost, considering I’m not a sorority girl, a teacher (they have a special lesson planner, too), or getting married – all very popular markets for this planner.  But I have kept it up, and especially like finding the perfect supplies to make planning fun (more on that in another post!).

I went back to a paper planner, because I needed one spot to find all my important dates and lists. I’m keeping track of:

  • bills and due dates
  • assignments, quizzes, and tests for The Boy
  • blog posts I want to write
  • appointments at work, and when the boss will be out of town 😉
  • evening activities like school events and date night
  • budgeting and expense tracking for our trailer flip
  • ideas for novels
  • my christmas list
  • prescription renewal reminders

I’d like to also include (but haven’t yet):

  • meal planning
  • shots I want to take and skills I want to practice – I got a new camera for Christmas!
  • a real dashboard – mine (pictured below) is more of a home for unused or previously-used post-its and pre-cut washi tape

Here are a few shots to show you how I’m using it.

photo 2

stars are bill due dates, wash tape indicates evening activities (I like to keep the month at a view fairly simple)

photo 1

my “dashboard” on the inside cover – needs help, I know, but it functions

photo 3

Work is in the middle, because that’s where I spend my days. Due dates on top, because the morning is when I make sure they are all met. Evening activities are on the bottom.

photo 4

Commonly used stickers are in the back (as well as school calendars and other important papers).

 

Planners Who Need Planners

I succumbed.

A co-worker introduced me to the Erin Condren Life Planner in July.  Suddenly I remembered my undergrad days when a planner was my lifeblood.  I couldn’t function without it, and if someone had ever taken it or I had misplaced it, my world would come to a screeching halt.  As I read reviews and watched the plethora of YouTube posts (it seemed everyone who had ever purchased one had also either done a blog post or a video with a 20-minute “walkthrough”), I suffered from sticker shock, but also a growing need to have one.  How had I gone so long without a planner? I asked myself over and over again.  I had never quite gotten the hang of the digital organization I so wanted to make work: Evernote, SpringPad, even Notes and Reminders on the iPhone just hadn’t quite cut it.  And I thought about the nights where I can’t sleep because my mind is racing with to-dos and ideas, notes and projects, blog posts and emails I need to write.  When those nights pop up, the only, ONLY way to calm my fevered brain is to get up with a pen and a pad of paper and just write everything down.  Good old pen to paper.

I could get my money managed more effectively, and keep track of expenses, I thought.

I could organize my blogging calendar, I thought.

I could have all of The Boy’s school and Autism Society events in one place, I thought.

I could even put events for work in there so I always know what’s going on and when, I thought.

I could include a daily to-do list, I thought.

I could keep our evenings on track between homework and other household chores, I thought.

In the end, I convinced myself to bite the bullet, and give it a shot.  In the whole scheme of things, if it didn’t work, the cost was not that prohibitive.  I ordered my planner and waited about 4 weeks for it to arrive.

When it came, I wasn’t sure what to do with it, and again, watched videos and read blog posts on the most effective way to use the planner.  Come to find out, most people’s posts were about how pretty they could make the thing with washi tape and stickers, without any real substance on how to use it.  So I turned to the notes section and made a list of all the things I wanted to keep track of, and began to form my own ideas of just how I would keep track of all of the stuff I mentioned above.

It’s been about two weeks, and it is being used, multiple times a day.  Not only do I plan, but I record expenses (usually first on a sticky note, and if I have time later, with the “proper” label that I have devised), and other things that have happened.

ECLP

But the biggest A-Ha of all is that by having everything recorded, I don’t remind myself six times a day about that one thing I want to remember.  I have a go-to spot for important papers.  I know where stuff is.  And all of these things allow me to 1) relax more, and 2) be more creative.  I have time to think about (and jot down) ideas for blog posts, and even outline my dreams and plans for my own nonprofit which I hope to start someday.

So I guess this is my own obligatory Erin Condren Life Planner blog post.  And I’m not trying to sell you on anything – it’s not for everyone.  But I am glad that I have gone back to paper, because it’s actually allowing my mind to unburden itself of all the small stuff so I have more time to think about the big stuff.