Organizational Tools – Work Life Balance

Goethe Quote Dream web

I love January.

I admit it, I am someone who loves planning, loves planners, loves paper, loves possibilities. And yet I admit, I always, ALWAYS falls woefully short of what I want to do and accomplish. I mean, I live in crazy northern Virginia where the pace of life can swamp even the most organized of souls, I have three kids, I am running a photography business, and I have more bright shiny ideas that interest me than I could possibly do even if I could clone myself five times.

But does that discourage me?

Not in the least. Every January, I read organizational books, purchase planners, stalk planning blogs, load my ipad with organizational apps. So many wonderful people out there, creating all kinds of inspirational products. And little by little, I do make progress. I mean, it is two steps forward and one step back sometimes, but the overall trajectory is heading towards a manageable, balanced, organized life.

So I’m going to share some of my favorite organizational finds! If these tools can help me, the easily distracted dreamer, they are definitely worth looking into. Tools have to be easy to use, inspirational, and actually make a difference in my life for me to recommend them. Today I’m going to talk about my favorite planner. I’ll follow up with a post about apps, books, and organizational products later this month and next. The headers will link to the product websites if you want to check them out.

Planner Pad


I love this product so much. It has come closer to anything else to keeping me on track, and I have tried pretty much every planner on the market. It is a three tiered planner, the top third is for lists – you get 8 lists, and you can categorize them however you like. planner pad web

You may notice in the picture above that I have cut the top third of my planner so the pages turn independently. Yes this messed up my monthly planning pages, but, the advantage is I can keep the same top third for 2 weeks or more so I don’t need to rewrite unfinished tasks as often.

I own a photography business, so the left side of my planner is used for my client workflow. On the right side, those 4 lists are used for President Eisenhower’s Decision Matrix – important-urgent, important-not-urgent, urgent-not-important and random. Actually, random is my own addition, Eisenhower’s final quadrant was not important and not urgent, and if that is the case I figured I didn’t need to use valuable real estate on my planner to list things that don’t need to get done! I number everything in this section, to ease in transferring to-dos below.

The second third is for daily to dos. I put things like house chores here, and also transfer the items written above in the top third here. Rather than rewrite them, I just write their numbers.

And the bottom third is the hourly appointments. I will check Google Calendar and block those times out that have already been scheduled, and then will plan my day with the stuff from the 2nd third.

So, why do I use this planner if I also use Google Calendar? Google Calendar is GREAT for appointments, but I never found it as useful for managing and organizing my tasks. Plus, I just like paper products. In a former life I created altered books, memory books, hand-sewn books, and scrapbooks.

bookmaking web

My one beef is that the planner is not PRETTY! As a visual person, I love beautiful things, and dearly wish this planner was beautiful too. I can see why they don’t do this, because my definition of pretty could be your definition of tacky, right? I’ve never liked Franklin Covey’s efforts to create pretty planners — none of them were my kind of pretty, kwim?

So what is your favorite paper planner?

To learn about my favorite organizational app, click here!


  1. Mary Engebreth January 27, 2015 at 8:03 am #

    Angela, are there any ipad planning apps you’ve tried that you liked? I thought this is a great blog to share with Jerad but he’ll never use a paper planner. I will still share with him because the way you plan is very organized and he still needs help in that area. Thanks for the post!

  2. Angela Goodhart January 27, 2015 at 11:52 am #

    Mary, YES!! I use Google Calendar for scheduling bc it is easy and I can schedule across devices, but I still use Trello (free) for some tasks — you can set up a board for your idea/project, then set up these lists (categories) and create cards for the lists that you can move around. Imagine you have a white board, and you divide it into columns (say 8, like the lists in the Planner Pad) and then you use post-its for your tasks and you move the tasks from list to list. I have also started using Evernote, and there is an app called TaskClone that will transfer stuff from Evernote to Google Calendar and to Trello. If Jerad is going to start something, I would start with Trello over Evernote bc Evernote can be so overwhelming, whereas Trello is very easy and intuitive. I’ll be doing a more detailed blog post later this week/early next!

  3. Brandy January 27, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

    I could only hope to be so organized…

  4. Robin January 28, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

    Great tips on how you organize!

  5. Angela January 28, 2015 at 7:27 pm #

    I go through spurts of beautification and organization, and often they go hand in hand but not nearly often enough.

  6. Melissa January 29, 2015 at 1:06 am #

    What a great idea, to cut the pages! I’ve had the same issue, transferring my to-do lists every time. I’ll have to check this planner out. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Heidi January 30, 2015 at 6:51 pm #

    ahhh! I so need to be organized! Great tips!

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