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My Planning System (and how I’m using my Holiday Planner)

How I plan and use my holiday planner (Sunny Side Up)

Let’s talk planning and lists and time blocking and organizing ALL the things.  Because that will make me incredibly happy.  You too?  I knew we were friends. ;)

I use these labeled wooden trays pictured above in my office for all of my random loose papers I need.  But I’m on the go so much driving my kids around that I like to have a planner with pockets to hold loose papers also so that if I find myself with extra time, I have my lists with me.  I can be extremely productive filling out school forms or planning an upcoming blog project while I’m waiting at soccer practice, watching a dance competition or sitting in the school carpool line.  Moms of school aged kids I know you feel me on this one!  I also like large planners with more room to write (lists for days!) and I like to use my own printables.  So.. after trying out a few different planners and notebooks lately, I’m happy to stay that I finally have a planning system I’m thrilled about!

How I plan and use my holiday planner (Sunny Side Up)

This is my new planning system and it has been perfect for meeting all of my organizing needs.  #happydance

I’ve used Discbound Arc notebooks in the past and have loved them so a few months ago I finally decided to go back to the discbound system again.  It just works the best for me.  I ordered this pretty navy Levenger Notebook.

How I plan and use my holiday planner (Sunny Side Up)

LOVE the pockets on the inside flap!  Then I also ordered some cute Martha Stewart Discbound Dividers (that have pockets for loose papers also.. second happy dance!).  I also picked up these project packet folders for when I have a lot of paper I’m carrying around with me.  Love the coordinating patterns on these that match my printables!  But that’s beside the point. :)

How I plan and use my holiday planner (Sunny Side Up)

I used my label maker to label the tabs To-Do’s, Blog, Projects, Kids and Christmas.  Those are the five categories my to-do lists always fall in! Let’s look at what’s going on in each tab.. TO-DO’S –

How I plan and use my holiday planner (Sunny Side Up)

This time blocking printable I designed last year is the one I use the most during the school year, but my schedule this year is so crazy I had to update it!

How I plan and use my holiday planner (Sunny Side Up)

I have so much going on with my 3 kids in 3 different schools that I needed the times to be in half hour increments.  This new updated version is available in my printable library if you want it too!

How I plan and use my holiday planner (Sunny Side Up)

Every Friday when I’m doing my little “week ahead prep” for the next week I fill out five of these forms.  (You could use one with a sheet protector and a dry erase marker too!  I’ve done that before.)  Ellie’s High School schedule this year drives me crazy!  It’s on an every other day schedule so it’s always changing.  None of the days ever look the same.  Some days she’s out early and some days she goes late and some days she has a class she takes at a separate school down the street that I have to take her to and some days she has dance after school and most days she has seminary early before school (church class).  (I never thought I’d be ready for my kids to drive.. but this year, I’m starting to feel ready!)  Her schedule is literally all over the place so I just focus on one week at a time!  We keep all of our kids’ activities scheduled on an app on our phones that our whole family uses, but with El’s schedule this year I have to write down her her drop offs and pick ups and then work in all of the other stuff around it on paper or I feel like I’m losing it every day trying to figure out where I need to be and when.  So before the week starts I at least have my kids’ schedules written down!  Then the night before each day I write my to-do’s for the following day and I write down what work I need to do in the small pockets of free time I have.  You can see above it’s nothing fancy.  I just wrote “to-do’s” in the free spots on the paper above that day, but most days I have specific things I try to focus on during my work time so that I don’t get distracted cleaning my house. (That’s my biggest problem working from home!  I always want to be cleaning..)  Writing out my daily schedule and to-do’s on this printable and then time blocking everything has been a huge help in keeping me focused and on track!

How I plan and use my holiday planner (Sunny Side Up)

Ok.. next tab is BLOG.  I keep my holiday calendar pages under this tab (they came in my holiday planner this year) and I use them for my post schedule.  Showing you a blank one from the beginning of the month but now it’s full with all sorts of writing and arrows on it because I move posts around so much!  After that I have another fun printable I made that helps me organize all of my blog/social media stuff.  I can share that system on the blog at some point if any of you are interested?  I’m not sure how many bloggers read this blog!?  Speak up if you’re interested! :)

How I plan and use my holiday planner (Sunny Side Up)

Next tab is PROJECTS and this is where I keep my “Current Projects” lists.  (You can read about how I use this printable in this post.)

How I plan and use my holiday planner (Sunny Side Up)

When I put together this new planning system, everything was so coordinated and cute that I decided my Current Projects page needed a little face lift too. ;)  This is also in my printable library for you if you want it!

How I plan and use my holiday planner (Sunny Side Up)

Ahhh.. much better!   The reason I love the Arc system better than a typical 3 ring binder is because you can fold everything back like a notepad.  I like to do this when I’m on the go and writing lists and things.  It’s also flat and less cumbersome than a binder (easier to keep in my bag).  You can also pull out pages and pop them back in and move everything around easily without messing with opening and closing rings.  The only downside to this system..

How I plan and use my holiday planner (Sunny Side Up)

is that you have to buy your own paper punch.  I bought this Arc desktop paper punch and LOVE it!  It punches quite a few papers at a time so nice and easy.

How I plan and use my holiday planner (Sunny Side Up)

Done!  Now I can pop in my own printables and pull them out and move things around so easily!  I know this system isn’t for everyone (and a basic binder could easy hold the same things!) but I’m in planner heaven with all things discbound. :)

How I plan and use my holiday planner (Sunny Side Up)

My KIDS tab just holds forms for the kids.  It had hospital forms in it over the weekend.  (Happy to say Kole is healing so well and doing great!  Thanks again for all of your kind thoughts and prayers.)  

Now for the CHRISTMAS tab!  My favorite. :)

How I plan and use my holiday planner (Sunny Side Up)

This discbound planning system is absolutely perfect for my Holiday Planner!  Of course you could also put it in a 3 ring binder or have it bound at an office supply store, but I love having mine punched and ready to go right inside my planner.

How I plan and use my holiday planner (Sunny Side Up)

Have you all been using the week at a time lists?  They started last week!  I love that I don’t have to even think about what I should be doing to get ready for the holidays.  I just follow this list and do what it says each week!

How I plan and use my holiday planner (Sunny Side Up)

I’m going to start filling out a few of these pages this week too.  Yea for holiday entertaining!  I have a few fun party ideas swirling around in my head and I need to just make a decision and get moving on it!

How I plan and use my holiday planner (Sunny Side Up)

On a sidenote, I can’t thank you all enough for the sweet e-mails and messages you’ve been sending me about my Holiday Planner.  I’m so excited that it’s going to help so many of you stay organized!  To be honest, I was so nervous to introduce it to you all.  Ha!  I’ve never sold a product before and I kept thinking “what if they think it’s stupid!?” ..  But then I reminded myself that I don’t think it’s stupid (I love that sort of thing!) and even if some people don’t love it, other people hopefully will.  You just have to be brave and try new things.  So phew!!  Huge relief that so many of you love it like I do!  You have no idea how happy your sweet messages make me.

And there’s a mini pep talk for any of you who are scared about trying something new.  Just go for it!  You’ll be glad you did. :)

How I plan and use my holiday planner (Sunny Side Up)

I hope this post on my planning system was helpful and gave you a few ideas!  When I have an organized system set up like this that holds all of my to-do’s and notes and papers I’ve found that I feel less scattered and I work harder to stay focused and make good use of my time.  Bonus if my planning system is cute and color coordinated too. :)

*You can download any of my free printables by signing up HERE.

(If you are already a Sunny Side Up subscriber just enter your info. again to get the printables.. it won’t add you twice!  Also, if you sign up and don’t get an e-mail soon after check your junk mail!  Once in a while it lands there first.)  

Enjoy your day friends!  And happy planning. :)

*Update:  You can now get my 2019 Holiday Planner FREE by signing up HERE!


xoxo, Erin
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27 thoughts on “My Planning System (and how I’m using my Holiday Planner)

  1. Thanks for sharing this post. I love reading about all this stuff! It’s so interesting that your high schooler has such a crazy schedule! That’s a lot to ask parents to do, especially when you have two other kids in two other schools. I’m glad you have a system that helps you keep everything in line! Good luck as you continue through the year. Your system sounds like it is working well for you and YAY for that! :)

  2. Hi again Erin! I know it has been forever since we “chatted”! lol. It’s fun getting back into the blog scene. I am getting ready to start mine up again (I think!). Congratulations on your planner! How exciting! It is beautiful. I always love your organization tips. I remember years ago I made a planner like yours after you blogged about the way you organize your 3 ring binder! Writing things down really does help in so many ways. I just started implementing Rachel Hollis’ journaling ideas about your 5 things you are grateful for each day and 10 dreams you will make happen. Such a good way to start your day so intentionally!


    1. Oh so fun you are thinking of blogging again! Funny you mentioned the Rachel Hollis journal because I was just looking at that on-line the other day! We always did have a lot in common. ;) Such a great idea! XO

  3. Blog organization! Yes, please! I’ve got a pretty good system going for the rest of my life, but I’m still working on blog organization. Of course, it doesn’t help that I’m juggling three blogs instead of just one…

  4. Hi Erin!

    I’ve been following since before your last baby was born!.
    My favorite of all your pages is the Current Projects page – the original format.

    My question for you today, not connected to planning at all! – with all of your gray walls, what is your flooring color? We have an old 1973 bungalow that we are slowly updating, and we have beautiful walls, but now we have to choose our flooring. Currently they are pine . . . .

    You probably already have the info on the blog somewhere, could you point me to it?
    Thanks so much!

  5. Your level of organization speaks to my heart <3 Also, another tip- if you're worried about dry erase marker coming off on sheet protectors/laminated papers, you can use a sharpie. Isopropanol will easily wipe it off if it hasn't been there for ever :)

  6. I love the disc bound system as well. I also come back to it. I recently started leaving an empty divider pocket at the back of my planner. When I do my weekly planning session I can place anything I may need for the upcoming week (schools forms, check for sports, etc.) in that pocket and move it to the day I will need what is in it. No more forgetting the check for my son’s baseball tournament or important school forms that needed to be turned in.

  7. Thanks I love your organization posts and am planning on getting your holiday planner too!
    I would love to see a blog post on how you create some of your free printables. Would like to attempt to make my own exercise log printable rather than rewriting it on blank pages for my planner all the time.

    1. Thank you so much Katie! I usually use Canva to make my printables but some of these my friend has helped me with because she is so good at Illustrator. It’s a program that takes a little more time to master! xo

  8. Hi Erin, I have loved using the Holiday Planner and also want to thank you for all of the effort you put in to making it. It shows in the quality and I was happy to pay for it. Glad you decided to go for it and put it out there for us to try…Especially now that it has organized my thoughts for me. IF only it would wrap my gifts for me too! HA! Anyway, I wanted to make a suggestion for next year: could you add to the wrapping supplies checklist a tick box for gift bags? I had to write it in and its not as cute LOL…also could you make a summer printable for us? With bucket lists, vacation packing, BBQ’s to host to-do’s, back to school prep, etc? I’d try it but I don’t think it would be nearly as nice as this Holiday one. Thanks and Happy Holidays to you all! Glad Kole is healing up and doing well too! xoxo

    1. Jessica this is the sweetest comment! Thank you! I’m thrilled you’ve enjoyed the planner! Next year I’ll have to make something that wraps gifts too.. ha. :) LOVE your suggestions and I will absolutely add a box for gift bags! Such a fun idea for the summer printables too.. I’m on it! Happy holidays cutie! Thanks again! xo

  9. Hi Erin!
    Did I miss something when you were talking about the “week at a time” topic and it showed a picture of how your week is planned and broken down for you? I need that!!! I’m the biggest procrastinator! Ah!

    1. Hi Wendy! I think the week at a time you’re looking at was for holiday planning! I’ll try to share more regular planning posts in the future! :)

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