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A happy planner and a functional hobby

Mom life is more than a hashtag. It has become a phrase encompassing this particular time in the trenches, when we are full-time handling any number of life circumstances for other, smaller, younger people along with our own.

Who has time in all that for a hobby? Well dang it, I try to. Along with squeezing in some random books and movies and beach walks and cooking shows, I have adapted my love of journals and notebooks and being organized to a functional hobby for this season of my life: PLANNING.

I have used planners forever, or at least since I can remember. I like lists and bullet points and calendars. I also used to scrapbook (I made them for my nephew because once I had my own kids, I couldn’t find the time!), and I’ve been doing some form of layout design since I was in junior high editing The Comet News. I didn’t realize until last year that Planning is a Thing. Like, there are meet ups and Facebook groups and buy/sell/trade opportunities and tutorials and hashtags. What?

See, for the last several years, I had abandoned traditional planners for a hardcover notebook, per the model set forth by my friend Whitney, who is the Administrative Director of my daughter’s dance studio and my unicorn Titus mom* (*to be defined in a later post). She uses a page to list tasks for each week, and then always has additional pages for notes.

My issue with this was that I also wanted a paper calendar somewhere, so I printed out monthly pages and glued them in.

Last summer, I got a little twitchy about this setup. I wanted to be able to move things around, to add pages from my kids’ lives, and to keep my notes from work and church and reading all in one place.

So… I Google searched “customizable notebook.” And it brought me to planner nirvana in the form of The Happy Planner.

The Happy Planner is a line of planners in three sizes by Me & My Big Ideas. They have their own shop, and their products are also available via Amazon, Michael’s, JoAnne’s, & Hobby Lobby.

I began my Happy Planner with their Classic Size, which is bound with 9 “discs,” allowing pages to be easily added, removed, and reordered. The book is 7″ wide by 9.25″ long, and the customizing options makes it so easy to carry around. It’s about the size of an average journal and honestly, perfect.

BUT… I have 3 kids in school. I work in a paper-using office. And, I am an incessant note taker. I really wanted to be able to arc-punch all of our random papers and slip them into my planner. So a few months in, I switched to the BIG Happy Planner, which perfectly holds letter-sized papers, and it’s love.

Meanwhile, there is also a MINI Happy Planner (4.6″ x 7″), and I went ahead and got one of those in the spring. It was my carry-around planner for the summer, holding just a few months of calendars and plenty of note pages. I only toted my big one for days I worked in the office.

Why do I love my Happy Planner?

There is plenty of space within my HP to be creative and colorful and organized and wordy. I love layouts and graphics and pens and lists and even stickers. The calendar pages leave me room for notes. The notes pages leave me room to doodle. And again, those wonderful discs give me the freedom to add pages (like my Notary log, as I am a Notary Public, or my Book Log, as I made reading a priority this year and wanted to track my journey, and my Beachbody Liift4 Weight Tracker, because I want to track how much stronger I have gotten over the past 5 weeks and counting. – That’s also another blog!)

Customize it! I usually carry 3-4 months of monthly and weekly views, along with sections for family/home/kids, work, writing, Bible study notes, and my latest addition, The Refreshed Life Show. I also keep a folder in the back for random things like coupons, receipts, invitations, and some on-the-go stickers (I know that sounds dorky, and I do not care!), and I have some master schedules in the front, like my social media planner and our family’s weekly workflow (which YOU will be able to download with this week’s Refreshed Life Show!)

It’s functional and pretty. I rarely use my planner without someone wanting to see it. In fact, last year, I kept a decorated printout of my daughter’s name in there to show Tuesdays when I picked her up in the car line. Without fail, every week, those car loop ladies would ooh and aah. Listen, #momlife is BUSY! Just running our homes and keeping our jobs is busy, and when we add to that husbands, kids, social calendars, volunteering, appointments, and YES – stuff we just like to do, we require some tracking and planning. Might as well have fun with it.

White space goals. Some weeks, every box on my pages is full. On the best weeks, a day or two will be almost completely empty. Because here is the thing: I don’t track things to stay busy. I track them to stay organized, so I can be as un-busy as possible!

I think each of us finds lovely little life hacks to make the day-to-day stuff not only manageable, but enjoyable. This is definitely one for me. I love it so much I want to share! – so listen to The Refreshed Life Show tomorrow – Tuesday, August 21, 9:30am ET on my Facebook page (or right here if you can’t watch live), for your chance to WIN a Classic Happy Planner!

And meanwhile, don’t forget there is still time to win a copy of The Emotionally Healthy Woman, which is filled with other ways I am learning to stay sane! Just subscribe to this blog’s occasional updates and you will be entered to win via a drawing at the end of this month!

Happy… planning!

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