Hi there, I'm Shaina! I'm a graphic designer and small business owner with a ton of things to organize, coordinate, plan, and keep straight during my day to day. My Sweet Life Planner has become an invaluable tool for me in running my business and my life, and I'd love to share a little peek into my planner with you today. You know the I Heart Planners team believes strongly that planning is personal, so when we share our planners with you, we never intend for anyone to feel pressure to do things the exact same way! But if you're also a small business owner or have a lot to keep track of each day, this might be super inspiring to see how someone else organizes everything in one place and how you can implement some of my tips and tricks.
Ever since I was 16 years old I've been keeping a journal of some sort. Back then it was full of a lot of diary-like entries, quotes I loved, and poems I wrote. But as I entered the workforce and then ultimately became a small business owner myself, this habit has grown and morphed with me. I've tried a LOT of planners and organizers over the years. One system that really stuck for me was the bullet journal system. I loved that it could become anything I wanted it to be, and if I wanted to add some quote or write a poem in there it was totally an option, and so from 2015 until this year that's what I used every day.
Then Laura created the very first physical Sweet Life Planner and I absolutely love the versatility of it! I've been able to combine her pre-printed gorgeous daily pages and design with the ease and functionality of a bullet journal thanks to the discbound system and it's worked so well for me this year. Here's how I use my Sweet Life Planner each month and each day.
At the beginning of the Sweet Life Planner, there are a few pages of self-reflection and intention setting exercises. Included are some pages where you pick focus areas for your life and then write down habits you want to develop or projects for the year to come that are in line with those focus areas. This makes starting a new month exciting and invigorating for me, because when I set my monthly goals, add my activities, and choose what habits I want to track, I know that they link back to the intentions I set at the beginning of the year.
So for example, in the month of December, I chose a few things to include on my list of goals for the month including both personal (my daily picture of the dawn and scripture writing – which have been year-long projects) and business (doing website audits as a cash injection for the last month of the year and post regularly on Instagram). These link back to my focus areas from the beginning of the year: health & wellness, home life, business growth, finances, and friends & family. Then I add the ones that are daily habits that I want to track to my habit tracker page for the month.
I'm excited to do this exercise again as I plan for the start of 2019 in my brand new Sweet Life Planner. I chose a PINK cover and I couldn't be more excited to have this as my daily companion, like so many notebooks before it.
As an entrepreneur, I use my phone A LOT! I practically run my entire business from my phone, using it to market, connect with and communicate with my clients, share on social media, make sure my projects are on schedule, schedule appointments, block off days in my calendar for specific tasks and travel, and check in with my Mastermind friends. So it makes sense that when I'm starting a new month in my planner I always pull out my phone to make sure my digital plan and my paper plan match.
I also use the Notes section of my monthly calendar in my planner to write down to-do's for the month that don't have a set date yet. These also include things that I've migrated from the past month's daily pages that didn't get done. Another bullet journal technique I've adapted to how I use my planner! Then I cross them off as they happen throughout the month. I put all sorts of appointments on here, and if there's anything my husband has going on it goes on here too. Like this month we're going to Canada for a week, and our new puppy has an appointment at the vet.
Next year I'm going to give weekly planning a try using the Weekly Plan option in the Sweet Life Planner. I think it will help me to have a birdseye view of my weeks, and not just of my month. I'll be able to better organize:
when I'm batch creating content for my social media channels and blog
what days I have client meetings
how many meetings I can do in a week
keep my posting schedule on track
focus on profit-generating tasks
I'm looking forward to giving this a try!
Now for me, my daily plan is where the magic happens. The last thing I do at the end of my workday is write out my plan for the next day so it's ready to go each morning. I also prepare my dot-grid paper for the day with the day of the week written out (and yes, I color coordinate with my page in my planner!) and the date stamped at the top.
I love Laura's approach to setting main priorities for the day and then working to accomplish those first. That allows me to stress less about the other tasks, because I know I got the most important things done for the day. Then I can use a bullet journal trick and migrate the other tasks to the next day and prioritize them if they've got a deadline.
My dot-grid companion page is where I love to do things like sketch out ideas for client projects I'm working on. I also like having more space to write out little tasks or things I need to remember as the day goes on. And I still collect quotes!
I find it easiest to pull out the day's pages to have them loose in front of me throughout the day and have my planner open to the month view. It makes writing on the pages easier, and I can see things at a glance without needing to open and close my planner all the time.
Writing down tasks and planning in this way has helped me see that the seemingly mundane daily tasks are part of the bigger picture of my life and business.
Pairing the Discbound System with Bullet Journaling
Combining my love for bullet journaling with the Sweet Life Planner has been a seamless process and a time-saver! It takes quite a bit of time to set up a bullet journal each month drawing out your monthly layout and making a plan for how you want your pages to look. But this way it's all already done for me. No need to pull out my ruler or worry about spelling the days of the week wrong (done that!).
And I love the versatility offered to me by the discbound system. It means I can continue to use the bullet journal system that I love and also add and remove any type of page printable to my planner. Like this water intake tracker. Drinking more water was one of my goals for the month, so I added an additional printable page to my planner to track it separately. You can find fun pages like this one in the Sweet Life Society!
Extras and Customizations
Another thing I have that I plan on moving to my 2019 planner is my custom Planner Girl cover that I had made earlier this year. It was a really fun extra that we offered to Sweet Life Society members earlier this year. (If you want a custom cover for yourself, stay tuned ?) I just love how my planner girl looks just like me – laptop, pixie cut, dangly earrings and all!
I personally love to save my planner pages to have them to look back on in the future. As this year comes to a close it's been powerful to look back on all the things I did, the client projects I worked on, the content I created, the ways my business grew, and the little tasks that got me there. And now I can add my 2018 Sweet Life Planner to my shelf full of notebooks I've saved since I was 16. A true testament to the fact that a life chronicled is a life lived and a life remembered.
Thanks for taking a peek inside my planner and how I use it every day for my business and my life. I'm very passionate about staying organized, making a plan, focusing on profit-generating tasks, and following through. I know that it's been a real key to the growth of my business. I'm grateful for all that's happened in 2018 and I'm so ready to start 2019 with fresh goals, renewed inspiration, and the blank pages that await me!
Is an overflowing to-do list an all too familiar companion? Is the phrase “so much to do, so little time” the mantra of your current season of life? I’ve been there, friend. When there’s task upon task demanding your time it become vital to learn how to prioritize. You CAN turn that mountain into a molehill, and I’ll show you can easy way to do that with my Sticky Note Productivity method!