Journaling and Planning 2017

Since I could write I’ve had a diary or journal of some kind. I buy notebooks 3-4 at a time. Back-to-school sales are one of my favorite things because notebooks!! I love the feel of paper and the soft scratch of a good pen.

Until 2016 I never had a firm system for planning, journaling, or anything like that. It was kind of all over the place. I did have a large planner I bought at Target plus two blank-page journals. One journal for quiet time/bible study/church notes and one to try out bullet journaling. I’ve fallen in love with bullet journaling because in reality I was doing this all the time anyway. Just in random notebooks without any sorting or tracking system. After months of using separate books for everything I knew I needed to consolidate.

The new year is quickly approaching and I want to get my new system set up before then. We have a lot coming up including starting back to our regular school work, new dance classes and sports, and plenty else. This year is going to be far from what I anticipated so I’m feeling a bit control freaky. While I know I have no control whatsoever – I CAN build some form of organization for all the mess swimming around in my brain.

I drooled over the pretty Erin Condren life planners and marveled over some of the fantastic discbound systems. Between online searches and Target and Barnes & Noble I just wasn’t finding something that really fit my needs. I’m extremely picky on one hand and cheap on the other hand. I’ve probably spent as much as I would on any other custom life planner book. However, I’ve gone the traditional binder route with a few caveats. I also chose a color scheme I normally don’t go for because I dislike it: gold. I never wear gold jewelry or buy gold things. I wanted to set the tone for this coming year as being bright, intentional, and counterintuitive. The color gold to specifically remind me of the value of EVERY single day.


YES. I am THAT particular and involved in these things. Superstitious even.


Here’s what I’m working with so far to keep my brain dumps and tiny attention span in check this year:

From Target:

  • I picked up this awesome binder by Greenroom.$7.90
  • The paper is Five Star Reinforced 3-Hole Punched Printer Paper (why did no one tell me of this).  $3.99
  • A shiny new Swingline hole punch because I broke the one I had two months ago. $8
  • A pretty little Sugar Paper pocket planner in gold. $7.99

From Amazon:

  • One Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen. $11.86
  • One emerald green Leuchtturm1917 hard-cover notebook (medium with squared paper).$19.50
  • Some fun word-bubble, transparent sticky notes. $5
  • 24 pack of Papermate Flair Felt-Tip Pens. $17.49

The total for all of the above comes to about $82. The Erin Condren custom life planner came to over $70 with a metallic cover and added dashboards. The cost of the Arc discbound system would cost even more with the paper punch at just $40+ by itself. I could’ve gone with a cheaper hole punch, binder, pocket planner, and notebook to bring my costs down. I didn’t. The fountain pen and leuchtturm felt like my biggest splurges. Once I pick up some more washi tape (Spare Parts from Hobby Lobby shown in photo!) and other odds and ends it’ll go up.

For now I used some plain old manila folders to organize sections of my binder. I added some ruled paper to the back just in case I needed it. I’m using free printables as well as printables I made myself to fill in all the blanks. I’m going to use velcro tape  to secure the pocket planner and notebook on the inside of the binder. This will make it accessible but also keep it all together. I’ll glue the sticky notes and post-it-tabs to the inside cover of the binder for easy-access as well.

So what about the printables and categories and journaling?

First of all, I sectioned my binder into three parts: Household, Personal, and Blogging. I have specific binders for Homeschooling, Recipes, and Adoption/Fostering because there’s just too much of each to share a binder. I use YNAB for finances so that’s not something I need as a stand-alone section. Any old documents or non-current things will be taken out of my stacks or binders to toss or file away. I’m hoping this new system will help me avoid the “flip through the notebook to check for important stuff before you throw it out” scenarios. It happens way too often.


Sometimes I need to just write freely or list things on a whim. Think listography style brain-dumps. The Leuchtturm notebook is for bullet journaling. I’m not controlled enough in writing to do blank pages again. Ha! It was either squared or dot-grid. I chose squared. It has a table of contents built-in and all pages numbered. Easy peasy to make charts, tally, or bullet lists at leisure. I can jot lists and make daily/weekly spreads as I see fit without worrying about what needs to be on the previous page or losing my spot. If I skip a day or even a week so be it! It’s organized chaos in the best way. I can go from one page to the next without losing organization because I can always find my place again.  The space won’t be wasted. I’ll use this for random impulsive things like tracking water intake, library trips, odd lists, notes, and doodling. Nothing in particular and everything in particular will go in here. If you do want to do this even without the rest of the planner – check out Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration. I found that it was important to create my own unique key log as well.

The pocket planner is for my own sanity. It’s my back up and memory reinforcement. I’ve gotten in the habit of asking Siri to remind me of every little thing but sometimes I forget. Using an actual written planner to flesh out our school year plans (field trips, off days) along with typical appointments (check ups, vet visits) and irregular events (birthday parties, etc) was key in keeping me sane. I use the calendar in my phone/computer but something about writing it down is solidifying for me. Making sure they match up is like having a check ledger and online account balance be synced. I like it.

Now for the binder sections. For free printables – Pinterest is your BFF. I also use Teachers Pay Teachers specifically for our homeschooling content. Look there first for teacher or school year planners.

Going backwards!

The Blogging Section

This beautiful collection of printables came from Designer Blogs. It’s the Ultimate Blogger Planner Kit. It comes with so many awesome spreads. I just selected the ones I knew I wanted to use immediately to print. I can always go back and add other pages later. Bonus: it matches the color scheme of my binder!! This has given me a blog-specific monthly calendar (undated), post topic brainstorming pages, lists for contacts and affiliate programs, a general to do list (with checkboxes!), and a concise annual stats and analytics tracking page.  I’ll probably even print blog posts to put in safe keeping and use as reference. After losing EVERY bit of content over the summer (not-so-noob noob blogger mistake!) I am a little more careful about tracking and copying content. (BACK UP YOUR BACK UPS YA’LL!)

The Personal Section

This is for all things me. Personal ideas, goals, summaries of other things. I created two of my own printables that are minimalistic and fit beautifully into the pre-punched binder paper. One is a Goals and Ideas checklist spread. The other is my Books to Read list for 2017. I found this awesome Bible Reading Plan page (check sidebar) from Good Morning Girls. New Testament and Old Testament books are displayed in squares to bubble in as you go. Another thing I added is list prompts and journaling prompts. There are dozens of unique versions of these on Pinterest. I love to write lists in my bullet journal. These prompts will be accessible and add some character to my binder (IMHO). I’ll also be adding some fitness/weight loss spreads and self-care pages here. I hope to also continue my Thankful Mondays that I started inside my first “quiet time” journal but I haven’t decided whether to put it here or in the new bullet journal.

The Household Section

This is going to be the bulk of this binder in the end. I found this Deep Cleaning Monthly Schedule from Tried and True Blog. It’s nothing firm but will be a great reminder. I made my own Spring Cleaning Check List. I’ll customize this to our home and time. Then I wanted a weekly cleaning list. I found this perfect (blank) Room Cleaning Check List on the Scattered Squirrel. I also added this colorful 52 Week Savings Challenge sheet from Our Holly Days.

By the way, I hate cleaning. The opportunity to check a box or fill in a bubble on a list gives me an absurd amount of motivation. It makes no sense.

Other things I’ll add:

  • Pet records spread
  • Specific financial categories or goals tracking
  • Household inventories
  • Master lists (birthdays, field trips, sports schedules)
  • Vehicle repair/tune-up logs
  • My gardening plan for spring
  • Chicken log (yes!!)
  • Utility and similar account details
  • Meal planning and shopping lists
  • Gifting lists and log of items purchased
  • Numbers, warranty, and servicing info for major items or appliances

The beauty is if something is really not working I can tear it out and find (or make) something else. It’s COMPLETELY customized and specific to my needs. No wasted space or unnecessary pages. I can evolve this system as I go along.

We’ll see how this goes!

 Before you go!!

Grab some free printables. These are blank, minimalist checklists to get you started! Who doesn’t love a check list?? Add stickers, tape, or doodles to include your own unique touch.

Click to Download Free Spring Cleaning Check List

Click to Download Year 2017 Goals and Ideas Check List

Click to Download Books to Read Check List



Thanks again to Designer Blogs, Good Morning Girls, Tried and True Blog, Scattered Squirrel and Our Holly Days for such beautiful content that will make my life easier!! Check them out.


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