I have always loved planners and productivity tools. Powersheets, wall calendars, and bullet journals will always make me feel organized — but rarely do they meet my needs for a simple and easily accessible planning system. Being a work-from-home mom with a toddler and newborn has forced me to find a system that works within a chaotic schedule rather than fitting my life into a pre-set plan. I needed to have access to my calendar and notes from my phone, at the office, or sitting at my desk (and preferably not lug around one more thing in my diaper bag).
Going fully digital while planning has helped to alleviate a lot of guilt about not using a planner well. I want to give you a breakdown of the three tools I use for my digital system and how they all work together to make my life a little smoother (plus some ideas for how you can build your own system that best fits your life).
Notion is my go-to for 90% of my work. I use this as a place for all my documents, lists, notes, ideas, and databases. The only thing I don’t use Notion for is task and event management, we’ll get to that in a moment.
Here are all the things that live in my Notion account:
- Business workspace for all my blog and youtube content, sponsorship info, project manager, templates, business budget, and templates
- Bookmark Manager
- Home Maintenance and Cleaning checklists
- Weekly and Monthly Reset List
- School Files and Paperwork
- If This, Then Lists
- Trigger List
- Personal CRM with gift ideas, birthdays, contacts, and favorite foods/drinks
- Spanish “flashcard” database
- Notes and files from eCourses I’ve taken
- My bible study database
- A fitness database made up of a workout schedule, meal planner, and progress tracker
- Finance planner (sinking funds, goals, and long term investment plans)
- Holiday Database with gift ideas (linked to my CRM), holiday movie lists, decoration inventory, and party planning
- Notes — this holds pretty much everything else that doesn’t fit into another category. Things like annual reviews, journal entries, brain dumps, and extra files live here.
I have free Notion templates for a lot of the things I use if you want to check any of those out HERE. Notion is essentially always open on my desktop and one of the only apps on my phone’s home screen. Anytime I’m making a grocery list, brain dumping a quick list, or taking notes, Notion is the app I use.
As for my event management, Google Calendar is my absolute favorite calendar app. My husband and I both use it so it makes it super easy to share events. We also use Google Pixel and Fi for our phones, so the ease of use within the Google suite is super smooth.
I have five different calendars that I use to keep track of my events and plans;
- A family calendar where 90% of our events, appointments, and schedules live (my husband and I share this one)
- A personal calendar for planning my day and personal tasks (things like taking my vitamins, blog posts to write, and goal deadlines)
- A “schedule” calendar, where I put my husband’s class schedule and my family/friends’ holiday breaks, vacation times, etc. This way I actually remember when people get off of work, school, or have a holiday off of work- it makes it much easier to plan events with our friends & family this way.
- A birthday & event calendar where we have EVERYONE’S birthdays, anniversaries, and other big events. We never forget a card or gift this way.
- A dinner calendar for planning our meals for the month or months ahead.
Sunsama is my task manager, but more than that, it helps me to combine my calendar, tasks, and databases into one action-based system. This isn’t so much a productivity tool as a life dashboard — it helps me to structure my day in a realistic way. You can definitely substitute this with another google calendar for time-blocking if this tool is too expensive for your budget, but personally, I think it’s well worth the cost.
As part of my morning routine, I sit down with my laptop and a coffee and plan out my day. I pull in events from my Google calendars, add tasks from my work email, add in any cleaning, maintenance, or content plans (from notion), brain dump any additional to-dos and make sure that my plans for the day leave plenty of wiggle room for my kiddos and some personal time.
They have a really great system that forces you to focus on the most important things and warns you when you’re trying to do too much. This is my favorite piece of my digital planning puzzle and what turns all my tools into an actual usable system.
You DO NOT need to use the apps and tools that I do in order to have a system that works for you. In fact, these tools may not work at all in your situation. You might find that Apple calendar is all you need — or that ToDoist best fits your brain. Whatever app(s) you choose is completely up to you. The idea is that you are choosing apps that work INTO your system, not the other way around.
To figure out a system that works best for you, you need to decide a few things.
Do you like to put something on the calendar the moment you plan an event? Do you prefer to brain dump ideas into big lists and organize them later? Are you someone who likes to sit down at a desktop and plan your day before beginning anything else? Figure out what works best for you and find apps that will help you to enter events, tasks, and notes exactly how you need them. If you use your phone for everything, you need a system that has a well-developed mobile app. If you are at a desk all day, something with a web browser or computer app might be really important for you.
If you need seven alarms to remember to take your vitamins each day, you need to find a system where reminders are frequent and loud. If you hate notifications and only want to see events on your own terms, you might want to find a system that doesn’t have any alarms as a default.
Do you run a team of twenty and have a partner with four teenagers? You probably want a system that allows you to easily share events and tasks with others. If you’re single and prefer to plan solo, you might want a simple system that isn’t bogged down by team-based features.
No matter what your planning style is, there are a million ways to plan and build a system perfect for you. It may evolve over time (mine certainly has!) and it might include tools that aren’t on this post. Don’t worry about how the system looks, worry about how it functions for YOU. Below is a big ol’ list of popular “productivity” and “calendar” type tools that may work into your system. Be sure to do your research beforehand and find what works best for you.