Are you looking for planning tools to help you manage your time better as a Christian woman? Then this post is for you! Today I’m sharing with you my favorite planning tools and systems for getting and staying organized.
This post was originally published March 9, 2015. It has been revised and updated to reflect my current favorite planning tools and systems to stay organized as a Christian woman in 2022.
I’ve always loved planners and journals. I kept a daily agenda all through my school days to keep up with assignments and due dates, work schedules and vacation times. I’ve never been one for holding things in my head, and I’m honestly really terrible at keeping appointments if I don’t have a reliable system for keeping track of them.
Over the years, I’ve used many different planning tools and systems. Every season of my life has brought with it different needs and levels of capabilities that I didn’t know I would need.
Sometimes you think you’re good at being intentional and managing your time, then life throws you a curve ball and you find that what once worked for you no longer works anymore.
Being intentional is all about being wiling to change what isn’t work and find solutions for your current season of life.
When it comes to planning, we all have a different preferred methods for going about it. What works for me, may not work for you and vice versa. And that’s okay!
I’ve learned that having the right planning tools to fit your personality and season is always best. Not to mention, if you’re like me, your planning tools and systems will change and evolve with the passing of days and the seasons of life.
As Christian women we are made to give life. Being intentional to manage our time well helps us lead and love well throughout the days, and having the right planning tools and systems in place for your season can help.
Today I’m going to share with you my current planning tools as well as the systems I use for getting and staying organized all year long.
This is not the end all be all of planning tools and systems. This is just what’s working for me right now. I hope that by sharing I can inspire you in your Christian planning journey, and maybe something here will help you manage your time better to the glory of God.
Planning Tools and Systems to Help Christian Women Manage Their Time Well
I use two things to keep track of my calendar:
My husband and I manage our master family calendar via iCal on our smart phones. We’ve been managing our master calendar digitally for going on seven years.
You can read more about how we manage our master calendar here. Note: We started with Google calendars, but eventually switched to iCal because we like it better.
What’s in our Master Calendar:
- Appointments (doctor, hair cuts, dentist, etc.)
- Birthdays & Anniversaries
- Sports Events
- Piano practice
- Date Nights
- Church events
- Homeschool co-op dates
- Work times
Basically, if it has a date and time, it’s on the shared master family calendar. I have full access to my husband’s calendar (including his work since he works from home), and he has full access to mine.
We also have a shared calendar with my mother-in-love to communicate babysitting needs, piano recitals, ball games, etc. This has been a huge time-saver and help in scheduling things with her and my father-in-love!
Made to Give Life Planner
However, I’m also a pen and paper gal. There is more I want to do each month than simply keep appointments and make it to events on time. I need to see the month at a glance in front of me, and I want to see the month alongside my to-do list.
I use the Made to Give Life Planner for this. I printed off the monthly calendar pages from the planner, and I put them in my discbound bullet journal.
On my monthly calendar spread, I write in all the appointments from my master calendar, as well as goals, to-do lists, and notes for the month.
To some this may seem redundant, but there is something about writing down my calendar for the month with pen and paper that helps me process our plans for the month and make note of any additional needs we may have.
Note: I keep my master calendar exclusively in iCal. This is the end all be all of our plans. The physical planner pages are just for sorting out my thoughts and seeing everything at a glance when I’m doing my seasonal and monthly planning. I don’t worry if these planning pages are accurate past the monthly planning phase. I rely on my phone for my weekly planning needs.
I’ve been using a daily planner of some sort since high school. Over the years I’ve used many different kinds of planners, but this year I’ve settled on a hybrid of the bullet journal method and the Made to Give Life Planner.
I am using the bullet journal method for my weekly and daily planning, as well utilizing the collections. You can read about how I discovered and started using the bullet journal here.
I use the discbound system for creating my planner each year because this allows me to pick and choose what I want in my planner. For the past three years I’ve used the Made to Give Life Planner exclusively. But this year I wanted to switch it up a little.
From the Made to Give Life Planner, I will be using the yearly goal setting pages, seasonal check-ins, monthly planning pages, and some other odd and end printables. The Made to Give Life Planner comes with a great weekly spread, but for right now it’s simply more than I need.
I’m going to do a video walk through of my hybrid bullet journal on Instagram, so be sure you’re following me there.
Master To-Do List & Project Management
I have been using Trello for over seven years. I like it because I can keep a running to-do list without having to write and re-write it a hundred times. Plus I can move the cards around, set due dates, collaborate with my husband, and more. You can read more about how I’ve used Trello in the past here.
- I keep a running list of to-dos under the Next Action List. This is literally the capture all of the tasks I can think of. If it comes to my mind, it goes on this list. I review this list weekly as I plan my week.
- I also have a Waiting For list. This is helpful when you’re waiting on responses, packages, projects that have stalled, etc. I don’t want these tasks to get lost in my master to-do list, plus I can’t take action on it for some reason or other. Therefore, I need the reminder to follow up on the task later. Again, I review this list weekly.
- When I complete tasks, I move them to the DONE list. Once a month I come in and archive everything on the list after reviewing it to ensure I didn’t miss anything.
If I get overwhelmed with the master to do list, I also have some list columns I can sort the cards into to help me see everything I need to do by category (co-op, hospitality, home, etc.). I don’t always need this extra step (sorting the lists by category), so it’s not part of my normal routine. However, I keep the lists there and waiting if I do get overwhelmed.
I also use Trello for capturing things I don’t want to lose, but also might need to access while I’m out and about.
- Homeschool Notice of Intent
- Notes from meetings
- Book lists
- Clothes needs for kids
I think of these like my digital collections that I need year-to-year and don’t want to transfer over to my new bullet journal. You can read more about collections in my bullet journal post.
Trello is a powerful planning tool for keeping track of so many areas of my life! I also use it for work, homeschool, reading goals, bucket lists, prayer, and more.
Keeping Track of All My Roles & Responsibilities
Recently, I added another planning tool to my planning tool belt: MindMup. It’s a free mindmapping tool that I use for keeping track of all of my roles and responsibilities.
Several weeks ago I felt like I was drowning. I was forgetting tasks and appointments. I wasn’t being intentional. I couldn’t decide what was most important to focus on. And on the list went!
After sharing my concerns with my husband, he told me about his roles and responsibilities mindmap. He created a list of all of his roles and then attached all his responsibilities to that role using MindMup.
Each week during his weekly planning, he goes through it and lets it “tickle his brain.” As he reviews the mindmap, it will trigger anything he needs to do for each of those roles or responsibilities, and he can add it to his to-do list.
I immediately set out to create my own roles and responsibilities mindmap. Here it is in its tidy form (each of these main roles expands into a bigger web of roles and responsibilities):
Here’s my self-care role and responsibilities expanded:
It’s not totally complete yet; for example, I need to add to the physical section: workout, water in-take, nutrition, hair appointment, etc.
However, I was able to brain dump most of what I could think of being responsible for, and this is a tool that I can add and take away from when needed.
All of the roles expand into other webs similar to this.
Here is some of the Home Management web:
Each week, I expand each role and read each of the responsibilities listed there.
It seems overwhelming at first glance, but these are all the things I’m responsible for! Therefore, reviewing the mindmap each week helps not worry that I’m forgetting something, and I can add to my to-do list as needed.
It has been a huge help to me, and it’s relieved a lot of the anxiety I was carrying around with me from fear of forgetting something.
I also use MindMup for outlining projects, brainstorming writing projects, and more. The possibilities are endless!
Summary of My Planning Tools and Systems
These are my primary planning tools and systems that I use for being intentional and managing my time day-in and day-out.
If you’re in the process of deciding on the best planning tools and systems for your needs, here are some tips to keep in mind.
3 Tips for Choosing the Right Planning Tools for You
1. The best planning tools are the planning tools you actually use.
Just because I use these planning tools and they work for me, it doesn’t mean they will work for you. That’s okay! Find what works for you and use it.
2. Be willing to change what isn’t working.
When you’re trying to find the planning system that work for you, you might try something that doesn’t work for you. It doesn’t mean you’re not a planner, or that that tool is a bad tool. It just means it didn’t work for you. Put that planning tool aside and try something new. Again, see tip number one.
3. There is no perfect planning system.
There just isn’t. Every planning system will have holes, and you’ll have to find ways to fill them. It’s okay! You are smart and creative. Keep working to find the solutions that work for you.
I hope this post inspired you and encouraged you to take another step in your journey to becoming the woman of God you were created to be.
Each year I take time to think about the planning tools and systems I’ve been using and decide if I want to keep using them or try something new.
Every season brings with it new needs, and sometimes what worked in one season doesn’t work for me in another season. Being willing to take a step back and think it through has helped save me a lot of heart ache over “failed planning systems.”
What about you? What are your favorite planning tools and systems that help you stay organized and intentional? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
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