Some of you may have noticed that I made a brief mention the other day about decorating my planner, which has turned out to be a deep enough rabbit hole that I needed to make an entire post about it. And it probably won’t be the last one, either.

A few months ago I was on the hunt for a new planner. I have way too much stuff going on between this blog, my web development business, freelancing, and a thousand other different things, and my old planner just wasn’t cutting it. I had a pretty normal planner, you know, like I got it at target and it gave me like 4 horizontal lines to write on for each day and it was acceptable.

One day in Michael’s, though, I noticed they had these big chunky planners that seemed way too huge but had a LOT OF ROOM inside and I decided to pick one up even though I had previously sworn myself to only planners with horizontal lines. I had a 50% off coupon and decided to give it a shot.

Listen. This has become A Thing.

The planner I got is called The Happy Planner, and it apparently has an entire subculture surrounding it. At first glance, the planners are pretty cool. They look pretty basic.

blankplanner

 

See? Super basic. It’s almost overwhelming at first how much space you have. I forget what happened first, if I mention it to my friend first or decided to google it, but somehow I came across all of these people who had all of these really elaborate designs for their planners and had somehow managed to turn that blank page into pretty, cute, and often chaotic layouts?! And there are whole ETSY STORES and there’s COMMUNITIES and TERMINOLOGY and there’s even a PLANNER CONVENTION and see?? I told you it was a hell of a rabbit hole. It’s all ridiculous.

Just look at this layout I found on instagram for a similar style of planner:

Last week in full! Link in my bio to this plan With Me🎥 •shops are tagged•

A post shared by Christina🌻 (@planningwithchristina) on

 

SUPER CHAOTIC. SUPER OVERWHELMING. I actually got a few of my best friends on the Happy Planner train too and both of them agreed that looking at other people’s layouts can be exhausting. Eventually I figured out, though, I just needed to do things my own way and decorate how I wanted to, no pressure, no feeling obligated to do it like everyone else.

So I gave it a shot.

Planner Spread

A lot of people seem to do a sort of pseudo scrapbooking kind of things with their planners. I’ve played around with a little bit of this as you can see from this spread from back in August.

Fall Layout

This was the week I got surgery so it ended up being kind of sparse, but I still really enjoyed decorating everything and making it feel like fall. Also, please note the overly cheesy inspirational sticker. You’ll see a lot of those with Happy Planners. And I mean a LOT.

As it turns out, this style of planning really works for me. I’ve seen some people fill out all of their to-do list at the beginning of the week, but for me I only add a few things that I know won’t change (housemates work schedules, birthdays, appointments, that sort of thing) and then kind of move along day-to-day with my to-do lists as projects evolve, emails come in, and things come up. As someone who previously had to work with straight lines, I found having the boxes really helped me spread out my tasks and obligations.  Which is weird, right? I like rigid things, I like lists, but being able to “box off” certain things helped me pay more attention to different tasks, separate out the things I needed to do so that it didn’t feel quite so overwhelming. It’s also nice to separate out the things I have to do from the things I want to do. Making room for things like TV shows and outings on my planner actually helped me feel like I wasn’t too busy to exist and helped me see the gaps where my free time actually was.

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Also, okay, it’s pretty fun to congratulate myself for doing things I should be doing anyway. Instead of drowning in the minutiae of all of the things I have to do from here until the end of the universe I can zero in on the things I have done and harness that productivity to keep pushing myself forward.

I’m probably going to keep blogging about planners and productivity because I’m actually really excited about how this has helped me (and how much fun it is buying stickers and washi tape and everything else!!) and it’s fun to share that with other people. Since I’ve gotten a few friends in on it too we’re constantly showing each other our washi tape finds, sharing how we’ve laid things out for the week, and it’s just fun. Plus, it’s ultimately helped me get more work done, which is great.

You can learn more about The Happy Planner on the company’s website, or grab your own from Amazon (which also helps support this blog at no extra cost to you!) I purchased my planner at Michael’s, so if you have one local to you head out to the store to check them out and see if you like them. They have a lot of really cool boxed sets that don’t have a year on them so you can start whenever, and the current batch also runs for 18 months from July 2016 to December 2017, so you could easily pick one up now and it’ll last you awhile. I actually picked up a second planner (don’t judge!) to help separate my various projects even further, and I plan on using the months that have already past as note pages or to practice messing around with washi tape to see what looks good together.

Do you have a Happy Planner? Do you use another planner style to help your productivity? I’d love to hear what you’re up to in the comments! Let me know what you use your planner for, how you use it, or even suggest your favorite planner supplies or shops!