Step One to a Happy New Year: Start Planning

Here we are in 2019! After the wonderfully slow holiday break, it’s time to step back into reality and get cranking. Hopefully, your time off was productive in looking forward and setting goals for the new year, but now is your opportunity to really put those intentions and goals into practice and set yourself up for success in 2019.


It’s no surprise for someone that’s super Type A, but a paper planner is essential for me in getting organized and planning out my goals throughout the year. I absolutely love choosing a new planner and filling it with events and to-do lists for the coming months.

It’s like that feeling that used to come with the beginning of a new school year and all of the fresh supplies, but now it’s with a crisp planner full of blank sheets ready to be written throughout and checked off.




There are 2 things that I’ve learned that I 100% need for a planner to work successfully for me and the way that I schedule my goals and to-do lists.

The first, is monthly calendars. Seeing the big picture is essential when I’m looking at my planner. I need space to write down any events that are upcoming, from social obligations, like a coffee date with a friend or a birthday party, to travel plans to meetings. The monthly space is reserved for things that are happening rather than to-do’s or deadlines, but I do look for a planner with a notes space within the monthly calendar so that I can write a focus word for the month or an over-arching long-term goal that I want to accomplish during that time. Another must-have with the monthly calendar? A tab so that I can easily find it within my planner.

The second is a weekly format with ample space for my extensive to-do lists. As I’ve written about before, I do best when I put every single item I need to take care of on my to-do list, so I need room to do that! The planner I got this year has 2 more sections in the weekly format that I’ve already found super helpful (2 days in…) – “Top Three” and “Tonight” sections. In the Top Three, I can write down my biggest to-do’s for the day, and in the Tonight section, I make note of the barre class I scheduled or our dinner plan for the evening.

Beyond these 2 items, anything else isn’t really necessary. I won’t use an address section or important dates. I’ve tried planners with separate meal planners and I just find them cumbersome. It really comes down to the long term and short term views to keep myself organized.


Of course, you can spend as little or as much as you like on a planner. I’ve done both, and I’ve been really happy with both, so here are a few of my favorites.

For the past 18 months, I had used the Erin Condren planner and I LOVED it. It’s colorful, it’s fun, I love the stickers, and there’s room to write down everything you could need. Plus, there are interchangeable covers and I even had a carrying case for my planner. This brand is for the serious planner obsessed. BUT, it’s also an investment.

This year, particularly after paying for a wedding, I wasn’t exactly in the mood to drop $65 on a planner. So, I picked up one of the Day Designer planners from Target. I mean, you can’t beat $12.99! It’s a bit smaller than the Erin Condren planner and the paper isn’t as heavy duty, but it gets the job done and I love its minimalist gold look. Plus, as I mentioned above, I love the format of the weekly planner.

Whether you go for the budget buy or the splurge, you’ll be totally content with either one of these options. Trust me, I’ve been through a planner or 20 in my years of staying organized (yes, that means some years I bought one…then bought another), so I wouldn’t steer you wrong.



    • hmbien
      January 3, 2019 / 12:20 pm

      Yup! The Target planners don’t have all of the extras…and I’m totally okay with it! I never really utilized all of the cute sections in the fancier planners anyway!

  1. January 4, 2019 / 10:52 am

    I’ve been using Erin Condren, but I decided I will switch to the vertical layout next time. I think it will be easier to keep things organized in the boxes. You are so right though, they are pricey! I think you can get organized with an old fashioned notebook, you’ve just got to stick to it!
    I appreciated you sharing your system-I love seeing what other people do!

    • hmbien
      January 4, 2019 / 11:01 am

      I may switch back to Erin Condren next year, we’ll see! I figured I’d give the budget-friendly option a whirl, but there’s definitely something to be said for how high-quality Erin Condren is. I went 18 months with my last EC planner and it still looks as good as it did the first day!

Leave a Reply