Planning for Success: Organization for the Busy Mom


I’m a procrastinator, but I’m a planner.

I’m organized, but I’m creative.

I’m a housewife, but I’m busy.

That’s why I’ve fallen in love with the new planner movement taking over social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest.  Gone are the days of a plain white calendar kept tidy.  Welcome to putting your high school doodling skills to good use!

I remember thriving in college with a bright yellow Franklin Covey planner, but that was before budgets, chores, and kids’ sports schedules.  Then I spent way too many years with the wrong planner and random notebooks trying to keep everything straight.  I also tried having a home management binder in addition to a purse calendar.  For me, having things in multiple places always left me feeling scattered and ineffective.

I started 2016 with a set of planning notebooks from Michael’s that are unfortunately no longer available, and then I completely ripped them apart to create a custom binder that perfectly suits my needs.  If I was buying a new planner today, I would get “The Happy Planner“.  I’ve also heard wonderful things about the Erin Condren LifePlanner, and there are some amazing free printables available all over the glorious internet for creating your own planner.  And apparently, Filofax is still a thing.

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Before you purchase anything, or fire up the printer, take some to figure out what would help you be more effective in goal-setting, executing to-do’s, and tracking the things that are important in your life. Here are the components of my planner:

  • Dashboard:  This is on the inside cover of my planner binder, and it has a memo pad for quick shopping lists and colorful post-its for notes.  I use a peel & stick laminate sheet to line the cover, so the post-its and memo pad are hot glued to it.  They are securely fastened, but I can also take them off with no damage.
  • Pen pouch:  This holds colorful Papermate Inkjoy pens that I can use for doodling or for color-coded activities.
  • Year-at-a-Glance Calendar:  Self explanatory.  🙂
  • Yearly birthdays and anniversaries:  This was a printable I found online and filled out for my needs.  It’s broken into months.
  • Yearly Bible reading plan:  I printed from a blog, and I highlight each day as it’s finished.
  • Meal Planning Section:  I have some menu tear pads I got years ago at the Target Dollar Spot, and I hot glued one to a sturdy backer so it fit in the binder nicely.
  • Monthly & Weekly Calendar Pages:  I like a month-at-a-glance view, along with weekly views where I have plenty of space to write on the days.
  • To-Do Section:  These look a bit like regular lined paper, and I use one page per week to write all my to-do’s.  The first thing on the list is always “weekly planning”, and then the rest are mostly things with deadlines.  It’s so satisfying to check things off that list each week, but I move it to the next week’s page if I can’t get to it (assuming it’s not urgent, of course).
  • Long-Term Projects List:  I have some “to-do”pages dedicated for long-term tasks including projects I want to tackle, books I want to read, an ongoing wish list (that perfect striped skirt!), etc. I used one of those pages to keep track of our Summer Bucket List.
  • Budget:  The last section is for tracking our budget.  There’s a year-at-a-glance page where I can quickly see every bill cost, and this just lets me see if there are seasonal swings in amounts for utilities.  Each month has a breakdown as well so I can see how much the bill is, when it’s due, and if it’s been paid.  I also track our total debt, and I’m happy to see that number coming down each month.  Lastly, there are tracking pages for all my other spending categorically, so I know how much we spent on groceries, gas, eating out, etc. every month.

With back-to-school around the corner, I’m currently researching chore lists to add to my planner along with a fitness tracker and water consumption tracker.

But the best part of all this functionality is making busy momsit pretty!  You know all those scrapbooking supplies you bought with the best of intentions that are now collecting dust while your “baby” turns 13? Bust ’em out!  My planner is decorated with stickers, and I’m starting to branch out with doodles for the weather and quotes I like.  I have colorful page dividers and family photos.  I use vibrant washi tape to mark vacations, days off school, and events.

I have found myself so much more productive this year.  My home is tidier and more organized.  My time is being intentionally well-spent rather than dwindled away.  My soul is calmer and happier.  All that from planning.  Seriously!

August is a great time to get started, as so many planners are set up to flow with the traditional school year.  Don’t be afraid to customize and make it what you need it to be, but get started and find your perfect planner!

Alright, we want to know…What is YOUR favorite planner and organizational system you use?