Everyone has a long to-do list, but how do people actually make sure their to-do lists get done? I’ve used a planner since 6th grade – seriously. Back then, it was mostly just a list of homework assignments, due dates for projects, and reminders to share with my parents. I used a planner in that way up until I graduated from college. Once I graduated from college, I became a middle school science teacher, and let me tell ya, I needed something a bit more sophisticated than a running to-do list (teachers don’t have much free time during the day for planning or grading, for that matter!). One year, my principal gave each teacher an UnCalendar Lifestyle planner during our planning weeks leading up to the start of the school year, and it literally changed how I planned my life both personally and professionally. I’ve been using this planner now for over 3 years, and I’m so excited to share the greatness of the UnCalendar with you! Let’s look at the details of the planner below.
The UnCalendar is not a “normal” planner. It’s called a “flexible-structure system,” that has common-sense approaches to getting things done. The planner starts with a couple instructional pages that show how to use the UnCalendar.
In the front of the planner, there are weekly pages, which have a weekly schedule section. On the right side, you can list appointments, meetings, and any other plans for the day and night. On the left side, there’s a weekly worksheet where you can write lists, notes, graph progress towards a goal, and write down your priorities. Altogether, there are 53 weekly pages.
After the weekly pages, there are 12 blank monthly pages. Here, you can list longer range appointments, dates, events, to-do’s, etc. Although I do not use this feature, they even offer a color-coding system to help you get organized by color. Because this entire planner is undated, you can use it as much or little as you want and not waste any pages, which is one of my favorite perks of the UnCalendar.
Decorating the UnCalendar
The front of the UnCalendar comes in 3 solid colors (black, blue, and red, I believe). I made a motivational collage and printed it out, taped it onto the cover, and now I smile everytime I look at it.
Some people go buck wild decorating their planner pages. Like, I’m talking about planners where you can’t even see ANY blank space. To me, it looks more like a piece of artwork than a useful organization tool. I have gotten a little into washi tape and stickers, though. Around Thanksgiving, I went to Target and purchased a handful of washi tapes (a 3-pack for $5 and then 2 holiday themed washi tapes from the $1 bins – those bins will getcha every time!).
I found some organization stickers from Target’s $1 bin section, so I bought them, too. Before I write ANYTHING on a new month or week page, I will outline it with washi tape to give the planner page some life and color. After I write in my dates, plans, deadlines, etc., then I will add stickers to the pages. Some are reminders, while others are just for decoration.
The Monthly View
I use the monthly planner view for a high-level overview of what the month is going to be like. My go-to items for this view is writing down when I meal prep (Sundays), workout, holidays, evening events, dinners, parties, and non-urgent to-do items that just need to get done sometime in the near future. I actually don’t track bills that are due in my planner (I use my Google Calendar with pop-up reminders), but if I did, I would write them down in the monthly view.
The Weekly View
My weekly view has goals for the week, urgent to-do items listed for each day, a meal plan for the week, a couple inspirational quotes, an “ideas dump” area for random information, the weather forecast for each day, and I also write down my workout schedule for the week (I put my workouts on both my weekly + monthly views). Sometimes I’ll write in the daily habits that I want to focus on for the week, too.
Altogether, it takes me about 30-40 minutes from start to finish to get my weekly + monthly pages set up. Of course, I add to my planner as the week progresses, but having a skeleton of what my week is going to be like is so mentally helpful – I can anticipate a really busy week, which means I’ll have to be extra prepared with meals or I’ll have to be okay with eating out for meals, for example.
For me, the best thing about using a planner is that it allows me to be much more intentional with my time, no matter which planner I use. I’m actually considering downsizing to the half sized UnCalendar because I find myself not filling up all the blank space on my weekly pages, and I think the half size would be the perfect size. If you’d like to find out more about the UnCalendar, you can find them at www.uncalendar.com.
I know planners are definitely a thing, and many people swear by the specific ones that they use (kinda like me!). Right now, I am in this interesting period of time where I am considering downsizing to the smaller version of the UnCalendar, so if you have a planner that you swear by and think I should check out, tell me about it in the comments below.