Simple Daily Planning

In my last post, I discussed how living a simple life can get complicated and that planning was essential to keep it all organized.

So today I want to give you a peek into my daily planning process!

I’ve tried planners, phone calendars, white boards, you name it. My favorite planning tool so far? A notebook and colorful pens (colors are optional – it just makes it more fun for me).

Tools aren’t for everyone

Before I dive in, it’s important to note that tools are definitely good for some people, and they are definitely bad for others. For example, I can’t get into tools that are online or on mobile devices because there are infinite ways to get distracted.

I’ve also been working on getting into daily planners (my current one breaks each day down hour by hour and has space to prioritize goals). I start the day neatly, but I end up just writing all over them without actually putting anything where it’s supposed to be.

So don’t feel compelled to use a certain tool if you’re just not into it – work with yourself, not against yourself.

Make it a pleasant habit

Don’t force planning if you’re not feeling it. Allow yourself time to get into a good headspace before you start breaking down your day, or else you’ll over- or under-whelm yourself with to-dos.

I like to wait until I’ve had some breakfast and have a fresh cup of coffee poured before I even consider planning.

I broke down and bought an unnecessary package of colorful pens for that same reason – I wanted to make this a fun process, not a frustrating one. I take my time and practice my cursive (am I the only one who still loves handwriting?)


Keep it organized and don’t overdo it

I start by listing the date (mostly just for fun), then I break my to-do list down into sections. I’m focusing on creating a balance for myself this year, so I break it down into home, work, and personal categories.


As much as possible, I keep it to about three items per section. Work, of course, is my work goals for the day. Personal is where I put blogging, self-care, exercise, etc. Home is for housework – usually something to do with cleaning the rabbit’s cage, cooking meals, or soaking beans.

The goal for your goals is to be able to complete them all in a days time. So don’t set a full day’s worth of goals for home while also setting a full day’s worth of goals for work.

I’m starting to get into the practice of trimming the list down after I’ve made it, just so that I can be sure to complete everything. There’s nothing worse than seeing a list with only one thing crossed off of it at the end of the day.

First things first

Once you’re done with your planning, check if there’s anything you can do in a few minutes. Clearing clutter or tossing dishes into the dishwasher is usually an easy first step.

If I’ve made “read twenty pages” a goal for the day and I haven’t yet finished my coffee, I’ll pull my book out and get to work. Basically, if there’s anything easy or that fits your current situation on your list, do that first.

I’ve also started to shift the order of my planning & processing of the day’s to-dos. Instead of getting work and home stuff out of the way first, I focus on the personal category. Why?

Because that’s always the category that doesn’t get crossed off. So be kind to yourself and try to do what you can for yourself before everything else, and you’ll feel a lot more positive energy to do the rest of it.

So there’s a look at how I plan my day! Do you have a planning habit?


14 thoughts on “Simple Daily Planning

  1. The best planner I’ve ever come across is the Uncalendar. It gives you so much freedom to use it how you need to. The entries are undated, so you can start from the beginning any time of year and maximize its use. It also has a lot of different blank templates for lists, scratch pads, charts, and stuff so you can make it the tool you need it to be. Definitely worth checking out.

    • Wow – the undated entries sound amazing! I need that because I don’t always use every day in planners, so it just becomes a waste of paper and money for the days I don’t use. Thanks for sharing that, I’ll definitely check that out! Seems like something that would be perfect for me.

  2. I love this idea! (And I appreciate the colorful pens and cursive handwriting.) I’ve also been thinking about The Minimalists’ idea of writing down some general life goals, and then writing down what you do each day to work towards those goals. I want to intermix that idea and yours where I will write down some big general goals for the year (learn French, edit my manuscript, clear out the basement) and then use your idea to plan things to work toward those goals each day. Thank you!

    • I’m glad you like it! I want to get into that too – I’m getting many comments that are reminding me to take a step even further back and do long-term goals as well. Thanks for sharing, and hope all goes well for you!

    • I agree! I am thinking that I should do a long-term planning session once every week or two as well, so that I can keep those long term goals in check without overwhelming myself. So important to have a balance!

  3. Everywhere I go I carry my planner. It’s essential to keeping my life together and not all over the place and making sure I’m also meeting my weekly goals. In there I also keep track of my spending, meals to be made for the week and any grocery items. It does tend to get a bit busy with all the info, but at least it’s all in one place!

    • That’s fantastic! I will admit I do need to get a bit more organized, since I just use a notebook and often tear pages out/write on old pages/make lists seven blank pages in, etc. I also need to get better at setting longer term goals, so thanks for that reminder about weekly goals! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. Thanks for being a constant source of inspiration – I’ve just moved to a new city and am trying to incorporate my own version of simplicity and minimalism in and amongst the chaos of a new job, new environment, new relationships and new responsibilities. And this particular post is the most perfect timing as I’ve been working towards creating my own planning routine and I love your ideas here 😀

    • I’m so glad to hear that 🙂 Congratulations on the move, and on taking some steps to simplify! Especially in the midst of all that change, it’s so important to be kind & patient with yourself. Thanks for stopping by to comment, and best wishes as you adjust!

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