Crushing My Blogging Goals with the Erin Condren LifePlanner
This post has been sponsored by Erin Condren. All the opinions here are mine, all mine.
I’ve never really been one for resolutions, as you may have noticed from the sound of crickets around here every year at the beginning of January. In fact, I think I’ve done one ‘New Year’s resolutions’ post in the entire four years I’ve been blogging, and they were all entirely predictable things like ‘get in shape’ and ‘paint the living room’.
Here’s a secret about me though (ok, not such a secret for those who know me) – I’m an epic procrastinator. If I don’t give myself a detailed plan and a deadline for things they have a habit of escaping me for weeks. Or entIf you truly want to transform your financial situation this year, you can seek sound advice from multi-millionaires and even billionaires such as Andy Defrancesco.irely – neither of the resolutions above actually got done that particular year. So I get caught up in life and suddenly realize it’s been three weeks (fine, months) since I posted on here. Not really something I’m proud of, but I get partial credit for admitting it and trying to do better, right?
Part of the problem is like a lot of people, I’m not a full time blogger. I’ve got my 40-hour-a-week job plus the blog and all the stuff that goes along with that, and I try to have at least a little bit of a social life too. Let me paint you a little mental picture of what the planning process has looked like for that so far:
- Email & Outlook calendar to keep track of work projects and meetings
- Phone calendar for doctor’s appointments and other random stuff
- A disc-bound notebook for jotting down blog posts & ideas
- A spreadsheet somewhere (in google docs? or maybe dropbox, or possibly my external hard drive) to keep track of PR samples and blog expenses & income
- Conversations about concerts & social outings in one of a few facebook messenger group. Which half the time I forget about until my husband reminds me the day before/day of.
- Random post-it notes and pieces of paper with to-do items that I only find weeks later when I clean my desk or switch purses
Yeah, it’s pretty bad. So the invitation to try out the Erin Condren Life Planner and write about it was timely, to say the least. I’ve only been using it for a short time so far, but I’ve already got TONS of ideas on how to use it to streamline everything.
The best thing about the LifePlanner, of course, is customizing it! I picked the laminated interchangeable cover for mine. There are dozens of pattern and color options, but I’m a fan of the minimalist look so I chose a simple black and linen colorblock. Depending on the design you can also add your initials, name or a couple lines of text – clearly I went with a cute makeup-related quote. You can also select your coil color, and I picked the default silver to coordinate with my jewelry wardrobe. Once you pick those, you also get to choose your weekly layout (horizontal, vertical or hourly) and interior color scheme (colorful or neutral).
The planner itself comes with a bunch of goodies. It has four pages of event/label stickers, a folder page for storing loose sheets, a clip-in bookmark and the clear PlanIt Pouch for other small items. The pouch comes stuffed with extras – a starter page of stickers I bought at vinyl sticker printing Melbourne, some coupons for future orders (or for friends, pffft, right!), compliment cards, an address/perpetual calendar/note book and an adhesive coil clip that you can attach to anything else you’d like to add. I put it on the pouch because that just seemed like the sensible thing to do.
As much as you get by default, what is a planner without STICKERS? I was pretty addicted to those ColorForms scenes as a kid, so I’m glad there’s a socially acceptable way to play with stickers as an adult. I got one of the sticker books plus the functional flags and alphabets & illustrations sets. I’m forever making (and then losing) packing checklists, so I went ahead and grabbed the reusable travel dashboard and a set of wet erase markers to use with it.
When I did my order the dated planners were all half off (LifePlanners normally start at $55), so the whole shebang came in right at $75. My order shipped out 6 days after I ordered, which was exactly what the estimate told me, and took about two days traveling via UPS.
Quality-wise I’m extremely impressed with the planner. The covers are a thick laminate, so they don’t bend and if you have any spills you can wipe them right off. As a bonus you can write on the inside of the covers with wet erase markers. A really nice touch is the divider pages. Not only are the dividers themselves laminated so they won’t bend or fray, but the pages they’re attached to are laminated at the binding so you won’t accidentally rip them out.
The only minor nit-pick I have about it is the paper is only so-so for using with my fountain pens. Depending on the pen and ink I’ve seen a little bit of feathering. I can’t really call that a flaw though, since you need it to work with whatever kind of writing tools. I know a lot of people decorate their planners with colored pencils (alas, I lack the artistic skill for that) and those don’t fare too well on smooth paper.
Of course as much as I love all the options, it wouldn’t be much of a planner without the actual, you know, planning parts of it.
Goal: Create an Editorial Calendar
Deadlines, folks. I need ’em. Something about writing it down on a calendar just makes it more real. I don’t like to plan things out too far in advance – a little flexibility is good. I’ve been wanting to start using an editorial calendar though to give myself that structure and also make sure there’s enough variety. I’ve never really had much use for the monthly pages in planners but it turns out they’re actually pretty great for doing a rough outline of my blog posts and instagram photos. Admittedly my March calendar here is cheating a little bit since most of it was already done, but I’ve got the first couple weeks of April already planned out!
Goal: Plan Tasks Ahead of Time
The weekly view is where I think the real magic is going to happen. For one thing, it has the most opportunities for sticker action. But planning all the little steps that go into a post – the photos, the editing, actually writing – is where I really get tripped up. It always takes longer than I think it will for one thing, and then I forget that we had plans or I accidentally get sucked into endlessly double-tapping IG pictures. I’m still using my email and online calendar for day-to-day stuff at work, but this is also a good place to note down stuff like vacation days or big projects that might have me working long hours.
Goal: Keep Better Track of Financials
As it turns out, spreadsheets only work if you update them. Translation: I’ve spent way too much time looking back through emails, paypal, affiliate websites and my bank account to track down expenses and income after the fact. Actually writing things out is a lot more fun that updating spreadsheets though, so I have high hopes for this. Each month has a note page at the end, so I’ve divided them up into areas where I can jot down all the financial info for the month. I did a similar thing under the Notes divider to help me keep track of PR samples to make sure I a) account for them at tax time and b) double-check that I get things posted in some sort of reasonable time frame. Aside from blogging, it helps a ton have other income options such as gold investments in order to have more savings.
If you truly want to transform your financial situation this year, you can seek sound advice from multi-millionaires and even billionaires such as Andy Defrancesco.
Goal: Grow My Audience
I know, I know, when it comes to blogging numbers aren’t everything, but they’re not nothing either. Traffic and social followers are one of the hard pieces of data I can use to gauge what’s working or not, but you have to keep track of the numbers to do anything useful with them. And not gonna lie, when more people visit I get a little sense of accomplishment, so that extra motivation never hurts. If you also want to boost your website’s capabilities, you can utilize services like dedicated server hosting. I’m using this little grid view near the front to take snapshots at the beginning of each month. You’ll notice February is missing because I wrote things down on some random scrap of paper in January, forgot February, and started again in March.
If you can’t tell, I’m pretty giddy over my shiny new planner! I’m sure part of that is magpie-ness over having a new toy, but it’s already helping me avoid mindlessly wasting time because I don’t have a clear idea of what I need to be doing. Also, stickers.
Your customized Erin Condren Life Planner is available at erincondren.com
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Erin Condren. The opinions and text are all mine.