Dot Journaling Planning System + a GIVEAWAY!

bullet journal

I’m a sucker for a book on organizing. Or planning. Or both. 

Have you ever tried to make a bullet journal? (Or, if you’re like me, you’ve just filled up an entire Pinterest board with bujo inspiration instead). 

I’m always attracted to the ongoing list/journaling of bullet journals and that everything is personalalized. Everything is YOURS. YOU make lists and layouts that YOU care about. 

But I have to admit, I’ve started a bullet journal a few times, and I’ve never been able to stick with it for more than a week or two. 

I recently read Dot Journaling, A Practical Guide: How to Start a Keep the Planner, To-Do List, and Diary That’ll Actually Help You Get Your Life Together by Rachel Wilkerson Miller. 

This is kind of a step-by-step how-to for starting your now dot journal. 

Call me crazy, but having a sort-of instructional manual made the process a whole lot easier! 

Here were some of my favorite systems! 

The Basics of Dot Journaling
First of all, a Dot Journal has the same planning layouts as a traditional planner (that is, if you want it to!). Yearly spread, monthly, etc. But what I was really fascinated by, and wanted to know more about, were all the symbols! 

Of course, you can always make your own, but here is how Rachel suggests using them…

. to do
x done
> migrated
< scheduled
^ started
/ cancelled
– note

She also recommends using a blank square box for events and coloring them in with different colors, depending on what the event is. For example: 

Blue Square = work event
Green Square = school event
Pink Square = personal/home event

Most importantly, make it whatever YOU want it to look like! Otherwise, it will be harder to stick with it. 

Using Your Dot Journal as a Diary
This is something I like about the Passion Planner. It not only allows you to look forward and plan, but to look back and reflect. The chapter about diaries was very interesting because guess what diaries used to look like? LISTS! 

Until about 100 years ago when we started writing paragraph after paragraph of our daily dramas in them. I kind of love this way of thinking about diaries, because it forces you to think of/write a highlight or outstanding moment from each day. And when these lists are put together, they’ll still tell the beautiful story of your life! 

Making Your Dot Journal Your Own
You know how sometimes you get a planner, and you like the layout but you don’t love the color scheme? Or you think the colors are beautiful, but you wish there was more room to write on the weekends? (WHY do they always make Saturday and Sunday so small?!?!). 

Dot Journaling means you’ll never have to deal with that. Because YOU are using the exact layouts, colors, etc. that work for you. This is where you have the perfect to follow a million Instagram accounts with beautiful bujo (or dojo?) inspiration! 

Making a dot journal is an excuse to buy a new cute notebook and pens in every beautiful color you want a sure way to keep your to-do list relevant to your life.

But for real, get those beautiful pens and that notebook, too! 🙂 

Ok, are you ready for a giveaway?! Enter below to win a copy of Rachel’s book and get on your way to making your very own beautiful dot journal! Good luck!! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do you keep a bullet journal or dot journal? If so, what tips and tricks do you have for starting one and sticking with it?! 

Follow Organized Charm’s Planner Ideas board for bujo/dojo inspiration! 

List of Lists to Keep in Your Planner

Lists are the best, aren’t they? They can give you information, help you clear your mind, and (most importantly) they look so lovely!

I would say about 80% of my “Planner Ideas” board on Pinterest consists of lists to keep in my planner. (Speaking of planners, it’s time to order a new academic planner– YAY!)

Almost every (good) planner has room for notes/lists in the back of it. However, I NEVER used them until last year. I kept thinking… “is this important enough?” “is it TOO important?”
You want it to be a list you can use all year, but you also don’t want it to contain too much personal info (such as usernames & passwords)… just in case!

Here are the lists I currently have in my planners: 

Karen Adams Agenda:

Baby Registry Items
Home Décor Shopping List
House Projects
Kindergarten Curriculum

Passion Planner:

Baby Names (Boys)
Baby Names (Girls)
Bands to See
Christmas Card List
Christmas Gift List
Gardening Map
Gift Ideas
Movies to See
Pinterest Boards
Possible Junior League Placements
Quotes I Love
Shopping List
Style Inspiration

Here are some list ideas for my upcoming planner

Yes, I already have a list of lists that I’m planning for my next planner. If that doesn’t sound crazy, I don’t know what does!
Birthday Tracker
Books to Read
Changeable Meal Plan, Meal Prep, & Shopping List
Color Coding Key
Habit Tracker
Monthly/Seasonal Bucket Lists
Movies to See
Things to be Happy About
And, of course, it’s always great to add just a pink page, like Bekka Palmer did! J

Do you keep a lot of lists in the back of your planner? Do you plan them out or just write them as they’re needed? What are some of your favorites? Share below! 🙂 


High School Study Tips

I spend a lot of time focusing on college study tips, and that is really important that we take the time to remember our OC babies! 

Homework, study hall, drivers ed, curfews, and the potential to get grounded. 

That’s right, this post is all about studying in high school!

Plan Ahead.
First and foremost, I’ll start this post like I start every post: Have a planner and use it religiously! (I just happen to know of a great one). But for me, high school was always a little harder to plan for because there was no full course syllabus at the beginning of the year. 
Dates for quizzes, tests, assignments, homework, (and substitute teachers) can sneak up on you… especially with 6+ classes a day! Don’t forget all the extracurricular stuff, plus bringing money for fundraisers, field trips, etc. So keep your planner with you at all times and write down EVERYTHING as soon as you hear about it!
Use a mechanical pencil just in case things change (which they will). Also, use a highlighter system to keep you on track:
Yellow = In Progress
Pink = Complete

Set a Timer.

When you get home from school every day, set a timer and work high priority to low priority! So…either start with the thing that’s due the soonest or the thing that’s worth the most points.
I played competitive sports in high school, so sometimes I didn’t even get home until 10:00. There was no way I was getting ALL the homework done EVERY night, so I just went with the top priority items.
So, if I didn’t make it to that 5 point worksheet by the next day, it wasn’t really that big of a deal.
(I also knew which teachers would give me extra credit for bringing in extra boxes of tissues. God bless you, Ms. Parker)
Perfect Your Time Management.

Manage your time as wisely as possible. High school is full of important schoolwork and every day feels like it’s the most stressful one ever (or at least, that was my experience). At the end of the day, make sure that you’ve also allowed yourself the balance to actually enjoy your friends, football games, dances, etc.
Work for 30 minutes at a time then give yourself a 5 minute break. Also, work smarter, not harder. A lot of teachers assign similar assignments, so don’t be afraid to “piggyback” off of your prior projects and just make it a little better each time!

Even though it’s been (ahem) a while since I’ve been in high school, I definitely remember it was a high stress time… Having 3 lockers (one in each building), literally running to class carrying 30 books to make it before my teacher locked the door, and (most importantly), trying to catch up on the details of every little daily drama between classes.
If it feels a little overwhelming right now, just remind yourself that college will be here before you know it and things get SO. MUCH. BETTER. 😀

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Good Habits for College Classes

Class. To go or not to go? 

That usually seems to be the question. 

I mean, we know that  it’s probably best to go… but the freedom of not having to be there is just so tempting sometimes.  

Plus, there is always so much to do. Occasionally, we’re just positive that we could be more productive if we skipped class and spent that hour by ___ (insert biggest stressor of the day) instead. 

If going to class feels “unproductive” to you, here are some ways to change that and get the most out of your time spent on campus!

Here are my top “good” habits for college classes:
Bring Your Planner
Not only would I never in my life have come to class without my planner. I kept it open in front of me at all times. This just kept  dates in my mind (next class, we’ll be talking about this chapterthat assignment is due a week from today… etc.). I definitely, definitely suggest doing this!

Listen Proactively

For my new teaching job, we’re reading the book Teach Like a Champion. There is a technique in the book called SLANT, which provides an easy for students (or “scholars) to know how they’re expected to sit. Our brains usually take their cues from our bodies, and if your body is saying “Hey, this is interesting and I’m excited to hear it! Then your brain will pay attention, too (probably).
S: Sit up
L: Listen attentively
A: Ask and answer questions like a scholar
N: Not your head
T: Track the speaker

Stay Active

Unfortunately, most college courses are still lecture-style. As in, you’re sitting passively, listening (or looking like you’re listening) for nearly the entire class period. If you struggle with staying focused the whole time, I would definitely suggest writing the whole time. Just start taking notes at the beginning of class, and keep on until the end of class. This does two things: First of all, it keeps you engaged, actively doing something throughout the lecture! And secondly, you leave with some pretty awesome and thorough notes that your classmates will totally envy.
Build Class Time into Your Schedule

Remember at the beginning of this post where I talked about to go or not to go to class? The answer is always the same: GO TO CLASS! Even if you have the study guide, Even if your professor puts the Power Points online, Even if you have a friend who promised to take notes for you. Build class time into your schedule and stick to it!
Keep Your Class Stuff Organized

If you’re going to math class (bless your heart), keep your pencils, calculator, book, graph paper, altogether in the same place every time! The worst thing is showing up unprepared! Try getting some of those $10 canvas bins from Target and making them your “class bins”. This will make it easy for you to grab your stuff and go (and hopefully keep you on time)!
College classes can be annoying, boring, and feel like time wasters BUT they’re also the reason you’re there!

Just show up, take notes, and try to learn something (of course)! 😀 

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May & June Reader Questions

Here are some reader questions that I received in May and June that I think might benefit you, too! Enjoy!! 😀

Q: Through last few years I’ve been constantly coming back to idea of starting a blog… I did read through your post about how to start a blog.. and I know my content, I also know what I want my label to be and almost decided on a platform… 

the part that I’m struggling with is that what if nobody’s gonna read my blog at all.. what is normal and what is not, I know that I will not get tons of people as I start, but how do you promote your blog and if you could share how did it go for you, how many people read you when you just started, how many people are reading now? 

I guess I wanted to ask you to please share the story of your blogging with me. 

Things like how did you start doing it, how did you decide that that is what you want to do, what did you struggle with what were your mistakes?

A: At first, I was having about 15-30 readers a day visit OC. I had think I hit 1,000 pageviews around my first month or two of blogging. Just watch your stats in the beginning: What are people reading? What are they not reading? Keep refining your content to fit your specific readership. 

Additionally, always check where your traffic is coming from! One of my tumblr posts was lucky enough to be reblogged by the Organized College Student (who had many more followers than me). This helped OC grow a lot very early on! As far as promoting posts, most of my traffic comes through Pinterest! 

So building up your Pinterest account is one of the best things you can do for your blog! Another great thing to do is to share smaller amounts of content and more photographs on Tumblr. Because Tumblr. uses hashtags, you can get your content in front of people who are already searching for it! 

Pinterest and Tumblr are great resources because they’re easy to build up even if you don’t have a ton of your own content yet… so you can kind of build your brand by reblogging and repinning content that’s relevant to your niche (just be sure to always link back to the original content creators)!

Finally, for mistakes- I still don’t promote each post as much as I should. Blogging is not my full time job, you know? So, it’s hard to justify taking the time to share every post across every social media channel every time. You can never promote your content enough! 

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Q: I am going to be a sophomore in high school next year and I was wondering if you had some tips on my organization of my notes and handouts. This year I took six classes and did 1 inch binders for each class. It was a bit bulky to have all of those binders along with textbooks in my narrow locker and then into my backpack when I had to take them home.

A: For notes and handouts, I would suggest following the systems in this post:

And for note organization, I would suggest following the system in this post: 

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Q: Most of my classmates do a folder and notebook for each class. I like that idea but I like to go home and rewrite my notes in colorful pens. I am afraid I would run out of pages in my notebook quickly and it would be unorganized because I would have the class notes and then the notes that I rewrote at home. 

A: Get a folder and a notebook for each class. Keep the handouts on the left side of the folder and your graded assignments on the right side. Take “sloppy” notes in mechanical pencil in the notebook. When you go home, rewrite the notes the way you want them to look. Then put them in a “study binder”. Save all of your neatly, rewritten notes in this binder, use tabs to divide the different classes, and refer to this organized notebook when you’re preparing for a big test! 
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Q: I am entering college as a freshmen in 2 months, and Im terrified. I need amazing grades to get into graduate school, and amazing grades come with organization. 

A: Don’t even start worrying about grad school until your senior year! Once you get into the rhythm of semesters, college won’t be scary at all! Just have fun, relax, and work hard.  

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Q: I noticed your post on Top 10 Semester essentials, and I was wondering if you could elaborate on your “4-calendar” “color-coded” “obsessive organization” system. 

A: For the sake of “college life”, I would only suggest 1-2 planners. 1 for normal everyday life and one for schoolwork. I like to be veeeery detailed when planning out my study time, so that’s why I have an academic planner just for that! My husband and I also have a calendar in our house (the Post-It one), where we keep track of each other’s schedules and social commitment, etc. The 4th one I use is my lesson planner for teaching.  

Introducing, the OC Academic Planner!

Y’all! I am so excited about this! I have been working so, so hard to get this together for you and it’s finally happened. I have created THE academic planner that I wish I had in college. 100% ideal! 

This will officially be available on Friday, June 26th. I’ll have a limited quantity of paper copies available for $25 and PDF downloads available for $12! Plus a giveaway next weekend, too! SO excited! 
Ok, let’s take a tour, shall we?  

First of all, I like to plan big to small. That’s why the year at a glance is here in the front… It covers the entire academic school year: July-June! Use washi tape or post it’s here for tentative planning! 

Next up is the daily routine page! You know all those OC posts you read on daily productivity and routines? This is where you put them into action! There are two of these sheets: fall and spring! 

Next is the weekly routine page. This is so perfect for planning out your weekly schedule during the semester! Use post-it’s to switch things around until it just “fits” (read: Time Management System)! There are two of these pages: Fall and Spring! 

Then come the weekly views! Each one has the month name and year, as well as a “Do This” section for monthly to do’s or goal checkpoints. (You know I LOVE those!) Plus plenty of space to decorate! 

You can also write in your own dates to go along with whatever color scheme you choose for each month! I like to use the Feng Shui seasonal colors, but you might like to do something different! 

Here is a Birdseye view of the weekly layout! There are two “anti-procrastination” days or “just get it done” days: Wednesday and Sunday. They are subtly marked with darker lines to remind you! No excuses! 
Finally, my favorite, the weekly spreads! 52 of them! From June 28, 2015-June 25, 2016. Each week has correlating OC study tips and even tells you which posts to read when! Yay for school organization! 
There are 4 designated categories for each week to use however you want! You can make one for each class, designate them for different times of day, one for each area of life. This is where YOU really make this planner work for you! 

Finally, not pictured here, is a 2016-2017 school year planning section for your goals and plans for next year! And even a little place to write what you did well this year and what you’d like to improve for next year! 
I’m actually writing this from the Atlanta airport on my way to Mexico (so please excuse allll those autocorrect errors I know my phone “fixed” for me!) so everything will be available on Friday, June 26th! WOOHOO! 🙂 

5 Ways to Make Your Planner Pretty!

Planners. You love them. I love them. 

And seriously, what would we do without them? 

They keep us on track, on time (mostly), and productive!

But just because they’re a productivity tool, doesn’t mean they can’t also be pretty!

(You may also want to take a look at 23 Tips for Keeping an Academic Planner)

Making your planner happy and pretty will make you use it more, therefore, being productive! 

Organization + Prettiness + Productive? I call that a win-win-win! Plus, if you document all of your important things, your planner will double as a journal! Add one more “win” to that list! So, what tips do I have for decorating a planner to reflect your personality and life? Psh. Where do I even begin? Get those debit cards ready because I see an Etsy/Target shopping spree in your future! 

(Please. Like you needed me for that.) 

Since I know y’all are tired of seeing my same planner all the time, I decided to round up a few gorgeous examples that I found around the lovely Pinterest planner community! And guess what? That even includes some links to free printable downloads! YAY! 
(If you really love planners, here’s a peek Inside My Wedding Planner!)

Here are my absolute favorite examples + products that will make your planner pretty and organized!! 

Colorful Event Reminders | Elephantshoe

Oh, hey. Aren’t these the cutest little things ever? Breathe a little life into any planner with these happy little event reminders. This free download includes 2 sheets of reminders! You can print them onto regular cardstock and stick them into your planner with Washi tape OR print them onto adhesive paper and cut them out as stickers. I love these so much!

Color-Coded Pens | First Home Love Life

So, if you’ve read more than one post from this blog or seen more than one Instagram on its account, you definitely know that I’m a big (BIG) fan of the Papermate Flair pens. I love the colors, the way they write, everything. But there are other pens that work just as great for planners! 

Above you can see that Christine from First Home Love Life uses Sharpie Ultra Fine Points and they look fabulous! I’ve also heard wonderful things about Pilot Frixion (erasable!) pens! I usually try to limit my planner to about 5 different colors (because you know, I like to keep things simple.) But you can obviously go as wild with different colors as you want! 

Washi Tape | Take Two They’re Small

So, you know how I always use Washi tape to organize my planner? (That sounds like an exaggeration but it isn’t.) The example above from Take Two They’re Small is the first place I ever saw it! Man, did it really change my planning life. Perfect for showing “summer break” “vacation” or “exam week” in your planner! Plus I color code mine to match the pens that I use! Too perfect and such an easy way to add some extra prettiness to your productivity! 

Binder Clip | Luckeyfrog’s Lilypad

Binder clips are one of my favorite ways to decorate/organize my planner! I have mine set up with binder clips so that I can open straight to the current month or the current week! They make it super easy to open up quickly and start planning! (plus… they’re pretty). There are tons of pretty ones at Office Depot and Target. OR you can just make your own by using a plain black binder clip and your favorite Washi tape design! 

Planner Stickers | ScribblePrintsCo

Aren’t these weekend stickers adorable? I know they are. That’s why I’ll probably end up ordering before this weekend is over. ScribblePrintsCo is just one of the wonderful Etsy shops where you can find adorable planning stickers to help organize your life! I have the solid page flags (which I use to show my scheduled blog posts), the heart checklists (which I use for monthly goals), and the coffee cups (which I use for coffee dates. Clever, I know). 


Of course, you and I both know that there are a BILLION more ways to decorate your planner but these are some of my favorites! I would LOVE to see how you decorate your planner! 🙂 

Tell me all about your favorite products/ideas for decorating your planner. 

Or better yet, if you want to show me your adorable planner layout, just use #organizedcharm or tag me @organizedcharm on Instagram or Twitter

Do you need a new planner? Check out OC’s Etsy shop!

Planner Review: May Designs

I was recently asked to review my May Designs planner. (um… that only sounds like the most fun ever). So here it is! I’ve only been using the planner for a couple of months, but I have really gotten into the rhythm of using it daily, which is something I always worry about when switching planning systems. 

Create a Planner System That Works Best for YOU!

First of all, the coolest thing about May Designs is that you design your own notebook. You choose the cover design, add a monogram or name (or year), and you choose which package of pages that you want. You can get plain old notebook pages, a monthly planner, a monthly and weekly planner, graph paper, etc. 

Another great thing about it is the size. Here, I have it in a little binder and it fits pretty perfectly. Admittedly, I miss my old planner and this one was a little too simple for me, so I did need to supplement it with a binder and notebook pages. This binder is from Office Depot/Max and the dividers and paper are from the office supply aisle at Target! 

 The page package that I chose had both monthly + weekly views. The weekly views are all laid out vertically in a 2 week spread. So, if you are someone who tends to write to-do lists on your days (like me), you may need to supplement it with some notebook paper, too! 

The pages I chose are pre-dated, which I liked. I always tend to mess something up when I’m trying to fill in my own dates. I think it was a little extra for pre-dates, but worth it! I’m using my daily to-do lists instead of writing everything in the daily spaces. 

Overall, the bi-weekly spread is nice, although it can get a little cluttered-looking by that second week. The page quality is pretty good and my color-coded pens don’t bleed through, which is fantastic! I’m not crazy about part of every Sunday being taken up by a calendar of the month, but it’s certainly no deal breaker. 

The monthly view is just my favorite! I just love the simplicity of it and even the tininess of the boxes! Additionally, there are 6 pages in the back of the planner for notes (the only thing I have written back there so far is my morning routine).

This post was written because it was a request. If you’d like to request your own post, do it here!

Do you love planners and planner-related things? Have you ever used a May Designs planner? If so, how did you like it? If not, aren’t they adorable?!

Is Your Planner System Working Best for YOU?

Last weekend, my family and I drove to Savannah for a super amazing wedding. My parents rode with me and my husband in our car, and as soon as my mom and I got in the backseat, we found my 2014 planner. I had forgotten it was back there but LOVED having an opportunity to flip through it and see what I was doing a year ago! My biggest focus was selling our house (CHECK!).

I know that using an electronic planner on gmail or a phone is easier, sleeker, and more portable, but there is just something that I love about flipping through an actual bookthat I used to use and remembering how I felt when I wrote those seemingly unaccomplishable to-do items! I was so scared and unsure of the future, but now looking back, I can see with that everything works out fine.
I think that’s just why Ilove physical planners so much! I recently had a request to share how I organize mine, so here you go!

Create a system that you’ll follow
-TO-DO: what do you need to do? When you open your planner, is it made evident right away? Is it set up in a way that will keep you on track in a focused manner?
-DOING: What are your current projects? How much progress have you made on them? What’s today’s biggest priority? Where should you start next time?
-DONE: What have you accomplished so far this day/week/year? Are you using your time in the best possible way? Can you see your own productivity patterns?

Make it something you’ll WANT to look at daily
-MOTIVATIONAL: Does your planner motivate you to enjoy your time on this earth? Does it reflect your goals and priorities? Is it helping you get the most out of life?
-DESIGN: Is your planner aesthetically pleasing to you? Is it a color palette that you enjoy seeing daily? Is it streamlined enough to keep you focused?
-ENCOURAGING: Is your planner encouraging to look at? Does it make you proud of what you’ve accomplished? Does it show you that you’re progressing in life?

Find a way to transfer tasks throughout the days
-TENTATIVE: Do you have an efficient method for writing in plans that may or may not happen? Do you have a way to block off certain times of day/weeks?
-RESCHEDULED: Do you have an organized system in place for rescheduling plans that get interrupted by life? Are you happy with the way that looks?

-INCOMPLETE: Do you have a way to show yourself that you didn’t complete a task? Do you highlight, check boxes, cross out, use arrows, etc. to move them?

Tell the story of your life
-WHO: One year from now, will you know who you spent this day with? Will you be able to see who was important to you? Who did you give your priority time to?
-WHAT: One year from now, will you be able to tell what you did on this day? Do you record the details of your important events? Did you balance work and fun?

-WHERE: One year from now, will you know where you went today? Even if it isn’t terribly exciting, will you be able to see how those errands led you to your goals?

What tips do you have for organizing your planner from day to day? Are there areas with planner organization that you find challenging? And of course, what kind of planner do you use?! 

Daily To-Do Pages

I was recently asked about how I organize my daily to-do pages. This was a great question because I have probably been trying for years to figure out an effective way to organize an efficient day! Last semester, I finally came up with a system that totally and completely works for me! Maybe it will work for you, too! I use a daily to-do page! Remember in a post a few weeks ago when I said that we should only be doing about 5 big things with our lives?

The very first one I ever made for myself!

Well, this to-do page works perfectly for that because it has 5 “categories” out to the side for jotting down quick task lists or recording notes. Last semester, I used my categories like this: work, school, blog, workouts, cleaning. Sometimes I switched out cleaning for errands or social for workouts. (Different seasons of life call for different categories!) This was the most helpful because it allowed me to list a MANAGEABLE number of tasks per category! 

This is the version available in the Etsy shop!

Out to the left side, I just wrote my schedule for the day! If you color code the events in your life like I do, you could even use those colors to identify the time of day you’ll work on those projects! This was also super helpful to me because it really allowed me to create a concrete time management plan for myself. I have an easy time starting projects, but I have a reeeallly difficult time making myself STOP working on them! (or remembering to eat, drink…) 

The 2.0 version

So, I use those time slots to force myself to say “hey, this is good enough” and move on to the next task! It has been a really helpful system for me! And so, of course, it’s available in Organized Charm’s Etsy shop for you to use, too! I would suggest printing out several days at a time and putting them into a notebook. Take a piece of notebook paper and write down every single thing weighing on your mind, then disperse those tasks throughout the days!

If you have long term tentative plans, you can use Post-It’s to show when you’ll be out for certain events (like meetings, appointments, etc) until they become “confirmed” plans! I also really love to use Washi tape on the edge of mine to add some color, and give me a space to write motivational quotes or decorate! For a while, I was even using the blank space at the bottom of the page to write down good things that happened each day! 

(I should probably start doing that again)

Do you have a system for getting through your task list each day? What kind of planner/ notebook/ list do you use? How do you organize your planner/list to show the different “categories” of your life?