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Sometime last year the Erin Condren Life Planner ads started populating en masse on my Instagram feed. With their endless options for customized covers, varied weekly layouts, and the ability to add more than they typical calendar's worth of months, Erin Condren had me by the mouth with a barbed hook. I tried to spit it out. I tried to tell myself Google Calendar was enough. Despite my best attempts to stave off my desires for this planner, I caved and bought one for the 2016-1017 school year and beyond. And I LOVE it!

I opted for the hourly layout because as a teacher and an IEP case manager, I go to a lot of meetings... emphasis on a lot! While I don't schedule my day hour by hour, it is vital for me to have the option and the visual reminder that I have specific places to be at specific times. The Life Planner also introduced a colored or neutral layout, and given that my favorite color is black, I went neutral. Included in the life planner are several versions of a perpetual or yearly calendar, monthly views, and of course your week by week view. Because of the confidential nature of my work, I couldn't include too many pictures of my EC Life Planner that were well used. But below are some snapshots of the hourly layout and the use of my new addiction: planner stickers.

Shortly after receiving my Life Planner, I discovered that the #plannercommunity runs very, very deep. Stickers, stamps, washi walls (luckily for me this masterpiece is local to me)... the numerous possibilities could overwhelm the faint of heart.

The next planning method that captured my attention was bullet journaling. While this form of planning and life management has a very specific and minimal methodology, I wanted to find ways to make it more of a creative and personal outlet for myself. Given that my Life Planner functions mostly as my work planner, I wanted to be intentional about using my bullet journal for planning at home, doing self reflection, keeping myself accountable, and giving some structure to my personal goals. Below are a few examples of the layouts I have been using most.

Top left is my monthly log, which seems to get the most use. The two weekly layouts are some of my very first. Hydration is a huge goal for me recently, especially given that I am pregnant. I still can't decide whether to track in on a weekly basis or only include in my habit tracker on the bottom right. Another goal clearly should be to keep up on my habit tracker. I'm still getting the hang of it all! Because my bullet journal is supposed to be more a source of catharsis, I try not to get too legalistic about it. The hope is just to become more aware and more purposeful in my daily living.

Last but not least; PENS! Whether using the Erin Condren Life Planner or a bullet journal, having the 'write' pen is vital. When it comes to my Erin Condren I tend to use whatever I really have on hand, but two of my absolute favorite pens of all time after years of college, teaching, and general office work are the Paper Mate Liquid Flair XFine and the Pilot Acroball Fine.

A bit more picky when it came to choosing for my bullet journal, I looked for pens that would not bleed or ghost (aka show through the paper at all). The same standard came into play when choosing the journal I would be using as well, but honestly...I couldn't begin to recount the hours of scouring Amazon to find the perfect notebook. In the end, I purchased this notebook from a brand called Unni. It had fantastic reviews and didn't break the bank. Also popular and bullet journaling's official notebook is the Leuchtterm 1917, but I digress. Below are the most used pens when I am setting up layouts and tracking in my bullet journal.

For line work and general writing in my bullet journal, my pen choices are probably not entirely accessible to the masses. I absolutely love using the pen/glue stick combo that came with my K&Co Smash Book. Smash Books would be what I would call the predecessor of the bullet journal, but what do I know? Simple and wonderful are the Becky Higgins Project Life journaling pens which come in a pack of three in various weights. I use my .03 size mostly because it's the only one I can find right now. Again, the Paper Mate Liquid Flair makes an appearance. None of these black pens bleed and they don't ghost to a point that my obsessive and perfectionist mind is bothered. For color I typically opt for my Stabilo 88 markers which are a .4 weight. I also use the Stabilo 68 from time to time, but I tend to keep my bullet journal pretty close to black and white. Also pictured is the Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen in Hard which I use for creating faux calligraphy. Honorable mention because I have an unhealthy obsession with writing implements are the Zebra Mildliners and my new Pilot Petit3 Mini Brush Pens.

This is where I leave you because for my first real blog post in a long time, this bad boy is probably way too long. If you like organizing or drawing or stickers or crafting, I highly recommend both these planning methods. I find that even the smallest bit of of forethought to my time management makes things feel just a bit less overwhelming!