Category Archives: Planning

Planning to Plan

January has been rough. You’ve probably noticed my long absence. Or not, as the case may be.


I still have my resolutions which I am working through, but things have been very busy at work and I’ve been exhausted when I get home, so there has been very little time for documenting what I’ve been up to, much less any “me time.”

What accomplishments have I made this month?  Anything?  Small victories, I think.  I took all of the boxes to the trash this week; they had been cluttering up the bedroom and kitchen hallway.  I finally took the leaves to the kitchen table I had given away last year to the curb. I moved my sticker binders into the office instead of the living room. And half of the stovetop is cleaned off.

Also, I’ve started taking photos of what each room in the house looks like *right now*.  I’m planning on doing this each month to keep myself on track.  I’ll probably add those photos to a different post.

Hopefully, February will be a little calmer and I’ll be able to get more routines in place.

Only one month until Lent!

Getting Ready for 2017

There are certain times of the year which are strongly associated with new beginnings:  New Year’s and the start of a new school year are probably the most common.

Like a lot of people, I love to create lists of what I want to accomplish in the new year.  Not necessarily to the point of a Resolution (because I give myself way too much slack to be that resolved), but more like guidelines or goals.

A few years back, my best friend, Lindsay, used to have a Break Your New Year’s Resolution Already party every January, since by the end of January was the life expectancy of most resolutions.

Being in the planner world has made me want even more to actually keep some of my goals throughout the year.  I haven’t ever had a completely successful year, but I do keep trying.  And I think for most people, that’s the most important goal of all:  to keep trying even when you slip and fall and forget.

I haven’t cleaned my office out yet, so planning has been a little scattered for me lately.  Which means that most of my plans and resolutions are written down on various scraps of paper.

I need to get it together.

I need organization.

Enter #Wild30!  In my planner group, there are courses you can take for 30 days for a nominal fee.  Courses include:  Llama Lettering, BuJo for Beginners, Decluttering and Resolutions.  I will be taking the Resolutions course in January, taught by Jen DuFore, where she will be focusing on resolutions, goal setting and goal-achieving for 2017.

One of the things I want to focus on this year is budgeting.  To help this, I am putting my budget plan on a dashboard and will place this on the monthly view page of my planner, so that I can keep my priorities in mind as I pay bills and look to allocate any disposable income.


The other tool that I’ve found was suggested by my friend, LisaV: Calendar Budget.  It gives you a monthly calendar view and allows you to record expenses, as well as project expenses, so that you have a day-to-day idea of how much money will be in your account.  So far, I’ve uploaded and reconciled November and December (to date) and found it helpful to see where my money is going.  You can assign colors to different categories, so I’ve assigned the orange-red color to any category where I’m prone to overspending.  A red flag, so to say.

It is always my intention to blog more, and somehow it always gets away from me.  However, as I more clearly define my plans for 2017, I’ll share anything I think will be useful or entertaining here.  Please share your plans in the comments!

[Cross-posted to Twidget Enterprises]

National Day: Go Barefoot Day

I’m a “planner girl,” if you haven’t yet noticed from my other social media outlets.  🙂  I am deep in the weeds of it, using stickers and washi tape and the whole deal.  I love it.  It helps me organize my life, reflect on my life and how I’m spending my time, and has introduced me to an entire community of like-minded women – many of whom I have had a chance to meet in person recently at Geaux Wild (I swear, I will post the Geaux Wild stuff soon-ish).

I have a subscription to Design Pandemonium, which sends me a set of coordinating stickers every month.  In the set, there’s always a sheet of “National Day” stickers. These tell you the unofficial, official holidays for random things.  Like today, which is “Go Barefoot Day.”

I may not do this for every day, but I thought it might be cute to comment on them as they come up.  Because I love random celebrations.  🙂

Go Barefoot Day is not a day that I will be celebrating.  I hate going barefoot.  And from my podiatrist friend, I’m told that it’s better if you protect your feet in socks and shoes.  I don’t think my feet are cute, and I like socks.  🙂  So there you go!

Making It Happen for 2016

Make It Happen
A friend recommended a book to me, “Making It Happen” by Lara Casey.  As I was looking into the book, I found that it was part of a larger program to help you live more intentionally and realize your goals.  The more I read, the more I wanted to try her whole program, so I ordered the Powersheets bundle with her book.  Not being patient enough to wait for the order to come in, I also got the Audible version and listened to this in the car during my commutes to and from work.

I absolutely loved it!  She does an amazing job of weaving together advice and personal testimony while keeping your primary focus on what God wants for your life.

I identified strongly with Lara herself, and a lot of her personality traits are my own, so her advice based on her experience was immediately relatable to my own life.

There are 7 initial steps to get ready to Make It Happen.

Step 1: Evaluate Where You Are

The very first thing you do in your Powersheets is to fill out a page about yourself.  After your name, it says, “I am a (thing beyond a job title here) ___.”  I filled in that blank with “joyful mess!”  I guess that’s the best descriptor I have for myself at the moment.  Things to tend to be pretty messy and haphazard in my world (which hopefully will be helped this year), but I do tend to be optimistic and joyful, no matter what happens.

After this, I wrote, “In the past, I have ignored, neglected, and put off many things I needed to do but now, I’m ready to make a plan, evaluate what’s important, and MAKE IT HAPPEN!  The things I value most are the people I love, God, and my faith.”

Three words that describe me:  fun-loving, extroverted, and enthusiastic.

My home/personal space is usually lived in, chaotic, and a MESS!  (Probably my mom’s fault…  After all, she used to call me Mess Anne growing up….)

Favorite colors:  yellow, green, aqua

Favorite foods:  chips + salsa, Taco Bell, alfredo sauce, grilled cheese

If I could have someone else’s job for a day, I would be a travel photographer.

My favorite song right now is Justin Bieber’s “Sorry.”  But check back in a couple days and it’ll likely be something else.

Person I would most like to meet:  Right now, I’d most like to meet Lara Casey.  I think we would become friends.  🙂

I get most fired up when someone encourages me or I’m challenged or pushed to soar.  I’m fairly extroverted, so it makes sense to me that I find strength and motivation from other people.

I get along best with people who – yeah, I checked off every option there.  I love people!

My best memories involve spending time with friends and family, experiencing something new, and doing an activity that I love.

I accomplish things best when:  (1) I have a cheerleader rooting me on, (2) someone else depends on me, or (3) I give myself a deadline.  The only one I didn’t check was the one that says, “I have quiet time and space to think,” because I am awful about sitting still.  I never do it.  I am horrible at meditation and listening to God.  But I know that I need to grow in this area.  Still, it’s important to know how I’m best motivated, especially as I try to stick to the plans which I’m making now.

Things I love to do:

  • Be with other people
  • Dance + listen to music
  • Watch movies
  • Read books
  • Take photographs
  • Travel
  • Give random gifts
  • Make others happy

I am most grateful for (in no particular order):

  • The people God has brought into my life
  • My cheerful disposition
  • God’s faithfulness and love
  • My job and boss
  • My best friend
  • My goddaughter
  • Fr. John
  • My faith

It is good to take these steps, these minutes, to reflect upon who I am, what I love, and what motivates me. It’s part of the process to determine what is really important in my life. I only have so much time and energy. If I waste it on something that I don’t really value, then what was the point? I’d be much better off to allocate my resources to things and people that are important to me.

Step 2: Plant the Seeds

I’ve made 12 categories of things that I’d like to work on in the next year:
Make It Happen

  • Blogging
  • Exercise
  • Faith Life
  • Finances
  • Food/Blood Sugar
  • Household
  • Personal Relationships
  • Photography
  • Reading Challenge
  • Thesis
  • Twidget Enterprises
  • Work/Professional Life

Step 3: Clear the Clutter

This section tells you to write down everything that is distracting you or holding you back from realizing your goals. In addition to knowing what’s important to you, what motivates you, and what you want to accomplish, it is good to know what obstacles are in your way. If you are aware of them, you can plan for them (to an extent).

For me, some of my pitfalls are if I am not feeling well or if I let myself become distracted or sidetracked. Plus, I also have a tendency to allow one “mess-up” to completely derail me. Right now, I don’t feel prepared for the next year and the challenges I’ve set for myself. But that’s okay. I don’t have to have the entire year figured out by tomorrow. I *can* figure it out as I go.

I want to change my thinking from “chasing perfection” to “chasing progress.”

Step 4: Meet Your Fears

I don’t have a ton of fears. The couple that I came up with are that I’m afraid that I’ll burn out or compromise my health, as I have a tendency to take on too much, work too hard, and not leave any time for myself to rest and recharge. I’m also afraid that I won’t follow through and that I’ll be in exactly the same place in all of these areas this time next year.

Step 5: Watch the Powersheets Video

There’s SO MUCH great information on her site, Some of the things that stayed with me as I watched was that it’s okay to make a mess. She was talking of working in your Powersheets, but I take it to mean anywhere along this process. The Powersheets, my planners… All of these things are just tools, things that help me. I shouldn’t be concerned about keeping my tools pretty. I just want to make my life beautiful — for myself, and so that I can me a mirror of God’s grace and love to others. At the end of the day (or year), who cares what my planner looks like, or if my handwriting was bad? These things are not ultimately important. If I end the year having grown in faith and love and as a person, then my year will have been a success.

In doing her Powersheets, Lara got on her knees and read Scripture. I need this kind of inspiration. To have God be such a central part of my life. She recalled a passage in the Bible, right before Jesus selected the Twelve. In order to make good decisions, Jesus first spent the entire evening in prayer to the Father. Grounding yourself in prayer and the Word is so important.

In one of her Periscope videos, she talks of the song, Oceans:

While I was waiting for Oceans to load on YouTube, I had to watch an advertisement. It was for Zootopia, and during the ad there was the quote, “No matter what type of animal you are, change starts with you.” Which is SO appropriate for today and for this project!

Step 6: Decide You Can

This is a very long section in the Powersheets. Basically, you write out what has been working and what hasn’t, what you would like to prune from your life, and what you would like to cultivate. Then, you decide on goals (which I’ve written above). Remind yourself of what you want to achieve and why.

Step 7: Set Purposeful Goals

This is where you break down your goals into actionable baby steps, so that you have something concrete to work on and a way to measure progress on your goal. I am really glad that Lara has you revisit and tweak these goals every 3 months. It will help me re-commit to them (or refine/delete/replace them if that’s appropriate) and also see where I am, like a report card.

I’m so excited for this year and hope that you are as well!

God Bless and Happy New Year!

Make It Happen

Review: Peanut Butter Taco

This is the first sticker review that I’ve done as a blog post, and mostly so I could bombard you with a metric ton of photos of these super cute stickers! 🙂 My apologies to those readers who are not part of the planner community… (But perhaps you’ll enjoy the cuteness nonetheless…)

I met Monica a few weeks ago at a meet-up for Michigan planners in Lansing. There were a few girls there, Monica included, who ran Etsy shops which sold planner supplies. I took note of them to check out later, since I like supporting local businesses, especially owners whom I have met personally.

Shipping was super fast! The shipping label was printed one day, picked up by USPS the next day, and in my mailbox on the third!

And just look how adorable they are:

Peanut Butter Taco
Sampler Sheet included with the order

Peanut Butter Taco
These monster library book stickers are my absolute favorite! So stinking cute! Now I need to check more things out from the library, just so I can use them!

Peanut Butter Taco
Don’t these look like the perfect stickers to record your hopes, dreams, and goals in your planner?

Peanut Butter Taco
I probably need to make more of an event when I *actually* cook, as opposed to when I eat out/get fast food. Extra kudos if I make an actual meal, instead of cereal.

Peanut Butter Taco
Directly related to the previous sticker set, as I’m not likely to make a meal unless I meal plan and go to the grocery store to get the necessary ingredients.

Peanut Butter Taco
For home improvement events

Peanut Butter Taco
Last but not least, one of my goals this season is to learn a little more about football. Which means watching more games.

I hope you enjoyed seeing these as much as I enjoyed receiving them. If you would like to order some of your own, please head over to Peanut Butter Taco on Etsy.

What is “Busy”?

Hi! My name is Jenn, and my life exists somewhere between hyper-organized and utter chaos. I don’t mean any sort of happy, balanced medium, but more like a madly swinging pendulum that leaves me exhausted and out-of-sorts. Any of you have the same problem?

I have so many ideas for what my “ideal state” would look like, but rarely have the time (or money) to implement or follow through on them. But slowly, some things are falling into place.

Late summer last year, I got my first Erin Condren planner. I went with a paper planner because Google Calendar just wasn’t working. Any time I really needed to see my schedule, either my phone battery was dead, or it was on an itty bitty square on my screen that said +22 items for the day. It was nearly impossible for me to make plans while away from my computer (meaning my work computer, since my home computer was having issues). Also, with a dead battery most of the time, people would tell me dates, but I’d forget to add them to my calendar by time I got home. And 99% of the time, my phone’s ringer was off, so the “alarm” feature didn’t help me a bit.

Enter my ECLP where I can use brightly colored pens, markers, and stickers! Even though it seems a little silly at times, it makes me happy and I USE THIS THING! I can honestly say that it makes a huge difference, and therefore is worth the time and money that I put into it.

Back to the busyness of my life…

In May, I started grad school again after a 3 year hiatus. This fall, I will be taking 6 credit hours, as well as working full time plus. (The plus is because I’ll also be working as much overtime as I can because grad school is expensive and I have to take at least two classes per semester). And let’s not forget my mitochondrial disease, because at any time, it can wipe everything off my calendar. 😦

Here is the plan:

I use my Erin Condren for my main schedule, including blocking out chunks of time for events, meetings, etc. The vertical layout works perfectly for me, as I tend to think about my days chronologically and prefer to plan in weekly increments. The monthly view in my ECLP is where I keep track of birthdays and bills.

Since I get sick a lot, and since my plans need to be flexible, I don’t do a lot of pre-planning, since I don’t like to have a lot of “Canceled” or “Rescheduled” stickers in my planner. So, I tend to use sticky notes as placeholders for things I plan on attending. Outside of using mini sticky notes for pre-planning bigger events, I was also using larger sticky notes to write down everything that I did in the day, so that I could record the highlights of my day in my EC later. I like being able to look back at the things I have *done* as well as what I’m looking forward to.

But then, I started having the problem of losing my large sticky notes. I’d have to try and remember what I did on a given day, and that was HARD! But I finally have a solution for that! Back in May, I received my first Emily Ley Daily Simplified Planner. It didn’t start until August, so I had to wait to use it. But now, I use this to record all of the messy details of my day instead of using sticky notes!

I made an agreement with myself that I wouldn’t use stickers in my Emily Ley. I wanted this to be strictly functional, and I wanted to be able to put all kinds of personal details like addresses and phone numbers where necessary in it, without worrying about what I was going to post online later. And I’m sticking to that… mostly….

Emily Ley! Watch for my latest blog post today at to see how I'll juggle work, grad school, and illness this semester!

Between my weekly overview (ECLP) and my detailed view (EL), I pretty much will have things nailed down. BUT! I have one more planner! I got an Erin Condren horizontal layout planner that I will be using to track things in my faith life. Church, Scripture reading, prayer, reflection, etc. This also, is mostly going to be a personal planner/journal and won’t get as much IG or blog “face time” as my main ECLP, but don’t think that it won’t be used just as much! 🙂

So, now you know the planning tools that I will use to manage my work schedule, doctor appointments, class and homework schedule, and faith life. I will go more into depth on the actual planning of things in future posts (since this one is fairly long already!). I can’t wait to see what you are using to manage the busyness of your days!

7 Quick Takes: Post-Op Edition

— 1 —

I’ve become something of a planner addict. This is not really anything new, I suppose. I’ve always had a love for office supplies, pens, and bright colors. But I’ve discovered over the past 9 months or so a real community of people who love the same things I do in this regard. From sticker sellers on Etsy, to people posting their layouts on Instagram, to friends I’ve made in various groups on Facebook. It’s addicting and happy, and I’ve never paid more attention to my calendar in my life! 🙂 Plus, I’ve met some truly great people.
This is from last week. I love how pretty everything looks.

— 2 —

I had surgery yesterday. It wasn’t anything super risky, per se, but it did make me pretty anxious. So much so that I actually had my PCP prescribe anti-anxiety medication for me to take ahead of time. I took them, and I didn’t think that they worked. However, I wasn’t anxious, so maybe they did! The surgery itself went much better than I could have hoped for. My brother took me and got me a Toothless dragon stuffed animal, which is absolutely adorable! I would have taken him into surgery with me, but I was afraid of getting him bloody and since I didn’t know how the anxiety meds were going to affect me, I didn’t want to risk losing him. I couldn’t have asked for the surgery to go better, so Toothless and all of the people praying for me did an excellent job!

— 3 —

A funny thing on the way home… I had to pick up some supplies from the drugstore on the way home, and it was about lunch time, so we picked up sandwiches at Which Wich on the way back. The funny part comes when I went to open the back door. See, I had packed everything that I thought I might need for surgery. BUT! Since my brother was driving, I completely forgot about my keys. So, we were locked out of the house! Luckily, my parents have a spare key and were kind enough to drive over and unlock my door!

— 4 —

Recovery: Day 1 It’s a little strange for me, to have all this time off work, but to be honest, I’ve slept through most of it so far. Thursday after surgery, I was exhausted and slept most of the day. Today — Friday — I have been up and down, taking several naps throughout the day. It has been awkward walking around and I’m very slow. I finally got up the nerve to do my first dressing change tonight around 7 pm or so. It went much better than I thought! I was a little worried, because I didn’t have a Band-Aid large enough, so we will see how that all goes when I change it again tomorrow.

— 5 —

My Emily Ley Simplified Planner came in the mail today! I know, I know. Another planner? This one is a daily version, whereas my EC is a weekly. I plan on using it more as a working planner/gratitude journal. There’s a lot more that happens during my days than I write down in my EC. Also, since I tend to use a lot more stickers and things in my EC and publish the pages to Instagram, the SP is likely going to be less photo-worthy, and therefore I will feel freer to write in more detailed and personal content, since it’s not going to be published anywhere public (at least not most of the time).

— 6 —

The only hurdle that I have left… which might get in the way of me returning to work on Monday is driving. So, if you wouldn’t mind saying a few prayers that I recover well enough to return to work, I’d really appreciate it!

— 7 —

And finally… my apologies! I haven’t been blogging nearly as consistently as I would like. (For example, did you know that I started Grad School (again) this month?!) As soon as things settle down a little for me, I will be working on planning out a better routine for myself (and put all these planners to work!), for work, school, blogging, and my prayer life. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

God Bless!

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum!