08 April 2015

Erin Condren Life Planner Series: Getting Started

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I recently became the proud owner of an Erin Condren life planner (ECLP). (And if you don't follow me on Instagram, you are totally missing out on some awesome pictures and witty captions/hashtags - so you should probably hop over there as soon as you finish reading this post. **shameless self-promotion**)

But back to the ECLP...

Erin Condren Life Planner Series: Getting Started

I deliberated for weeks over whether to splurge on this or not. Then one day, I got an email saying that the life planner combo was 40% off (which is really like getting the favorites bundle for free). It was a sign! So I took the plunge, and I gotta say - there is nothing like the thrill of seeing this package on your porch...

Erin Condren Life Planner arrives

I couldn't decide which cover I wanted, and I'm generally impatient and didn't want to wait the extra shipping time for a custom cover, so I opted for the ready-to-ship version, which comes with a coupon for a free cover of your choice whenever you're ready to commit (you still have to pay shipping, so it's not "free", and you end up paying shipping twice, but I was okay with that).

Erin Condren Life Planner, the ready-to-ship version

So pretty! But this planner can be quite intimidating! I didn't want to mess it up! And if you're a wee bit obsessive with things being very neatly done (I might be), it can be agonizing trying to figure out how to start - how you're going to set it up, what stickers you want to use, etc. I think I looked at it for almost a week before I actually did anything to it! (not kidding!)

So my first piece of advice is: STOP! WAIT A MINUTE! Just take a day or two to think about how you want to use your planner. Use post-it notes to try different lay-outs to see how you like them - then move them around until they work for you. Don't stress over it too much because there's no right or wrong - the planner needs to work for you.

I thought I would try to find some blog posts to help me decide how to use my ECLP, so I Googled "How I use my Erin Condren Life Planner". Um, yeah. Wow. There must be 1000+ blog posts about that (and now there's one more). I read a few, but they didn't really help me. I don't have little kids, I don't feel the need to log my water consumption, and Gus pays the bills. I need a semi-empty-nester blogger stay-at-home version, and well, I was pretty much on my own.

So I decided to go to Etsy to check out the accessories. A search for "Erin Condren Life Planner" gets you a million hits (well, okay, that might be a slight exaggeration - but only slight). There are sooooo many choices for bands, clips, dashboards, stickers, printables, etc. I swear, I was in a trance looking at all of the stickers!! So many of them were amazing!! But again, about 50% didn't apply to me. Do I want to print my own or buy them? Matte or glossy? Permanent or repositionable? OMG!! What if I make the wrong decision? So many choices! ARGH!!

So I started by picking a cover. I decided on the "Favorites". I loved the rainbow colors, and who doesn't love staring at all of their favorite things? So I made a list, sent off the order, and in about a week, I had my new covers!

Erin Condren Life Planner - changing the cover

Yes, yes...if you look closely, you'll see evidence of my geek streak: Doctor Who, Buffy and Angel, Daryl Dixon...I freely admit and even proudly proclaim that I am part geek.

So finally, I sat myself down, looked at my old planner, and asked myself :
What is on this planner that MUST be on the new planner?
And that would be my second piece of advice: Decide what MUST be on the planner to make it valuable to you.

For me, the things that had to be on the ECLP were: birthdays, appointments, & blog posts.

Since the ECLP weekly view is divided into three sections - morning, day, and night (MDN) - for each day, I decided that I would divide my day into to-do, appointments, and blog posts. I tried it for a couple of weeks to see how it worked, and once I saw that it was working well, I started making changes to my ECLP.

I checked Etsy for sticker/printable strips that would cover the MDN sections for each week. There were a few available, but not many - and most were a bit pricey when you start adding up how many would be needed. So I measured carefully, created my own in Photoshop, and printed them on Avery full-page sticker sheets. I had to cut them out by hand, but I'm hoping to get a Silhouette sometime this year - then I can make all of the stickers I want!

In this picture, you can see on the left how the weekly view normally looks, and on the right how mine looked after I applied the stickers I made:

How I customized my ECLP weekly pages

So the top section, which used to be "morning", is now reserved for "to-do" items. I put birthdays in here - also any household chores I need to remind myself to do, any calls I need to make, etc.

The middle section, formerly "day", is now the "appointment" section. Obviously, all of my appointments go here. You would think that since my kids are grown and I only have my own appointments, there wouldn't be many things here - but you would be wrong. This week, there is something in every square.

The bottom section, which was "night", is now "blog posts". This is where I keep track of all my blog posts, social media, giveaways - anything to do with the blog. If it's something that might be changed, I use a post-it note until I'm sure of the date. The lovely and talented Danielle at Sew Much Crafting, has a fabulous free printable for post-it notes.

This leaves me with the very bottom section and the weekly goals section on the left for any other notes, lists, etc. Again, I sometimes use post-it notes so that I can move them around if I need to reschedule or whatever.

Here's a picture of a half week that I was starting to plan. So far, it wasn't very busy. (I took the pictures a couple of weeks ago, LOL!) As you can see, I tend to be pretty neat with my planner. I don't like things to be crowded. I want to be able to see everything. But I love the planners that are chock full of, well, everything - they look so cool! I just couldn't work like that. But that's the beauty of these planners - there's no right or wrong - MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU!!

A weekly view of my Erin Condren Life Planner with stickers!

And here's the full week. It will fill in more as the week goes on, but I still tend to keep it pretty neat.

A two-page weekly view of my Erin Condren Life Planner with stickers!

So, my advice for getting started with your ECLP is:
  • Take a day or two to decide how you want to use your planner; use post-it notes to try different lay-outs
  • Decide what must be on the planner in order to make it work best for you
  • Check Etsy for stickers, but if you can't find what you're looking for, consider making your own!
  • Remember - there is no right or wrong way to use it! It just needs to work for YOU!

  • How do you organize your planner?
  • If you haven't ordered from Erin Condren, but are interested in placing an order, using my referral link saves you $10 and gives me a $10 credit! 

Stay tuned for upcoming posts on my favorite ECLP printable freebies and Etsy sellers for ECLP accessories/stickers!

(Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate/referral links.)

Here are some of my other Erin Condren posts - the one on where to find the best free printables has been really popular!

 
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