After decades of faithfully using a weekly planner, I recently made the switch to a monthly planner + ongoing to-do list… and I LOVE IT!
I know, I know… you might be wondering why I’m still using a paper planner.
I don’t know… it’s just what works best for me. 🤷♀️
I’ve tried using Google Calendar and various calendar apps, but there are so many things I DON’T like about digital calendars, and I’ve been intentional about touching my phone less, so I’ve just never been able to make the switch.
And really, who doesn’t love being able to cross off all those to-dos every week!?!?
RELATED READING: Read some of my previous planner posts here.
If you’re a paper-planner lover, you will appreciate my constant desire to tweak and improve my system year after year… you might even be inspired to try something new yourself!
My 3-Part Monthly Planner System:
I realize that it might initially seem a little complicated to have 3 different pieces to my system… but I promise it works!
Let me explain…
Part 1 = Monthly Pocket Calendar
I started searching for new planner options over Christmas break… when I happened to come across a clearance bin of tiny pocket calendars at our local grocery store (Meijer really does have everything, you guys!)
They were less than $2 each and just a little larger than a checkbook (shop similar styles).
Even though they are tiny, they cover TWO full years with monthly at-a-glance pages and additional note pages in the back (I keep my birthday/Christmas list ideas back there).
I decided that for the price, I would give it a try… and within a week, I knew it was a good fit for my current stage in life.
Although the daily boxes are small, I haven’t run out of room as I rarely have multiple meetings or appointments on one day.
I also love that I can see the entire month at one time.
SHOP: This cute pocket calendar runs from June 2023 – July 2025
Part 2 = Notebook for Ongoing To-Do List
In addition to my cute little pocket planner, I use a simple spiralbound A5 notebook for my running daily/weekly to-do lists, menu plans, random ideas, brain dumps, etc.
I prefer blank pages, but you could use lined, boxed, or dotted if you like.
I often start a new page every week, but sometimes I just keep going if there’s plenty of space.
Again, I just love that I can see EVERYTHING in one place — food I need to make, household tasks to accomplish, work to-dos, random “someday projects” I’m picking away at, errands to run, phone calls to make, etc.
And adding or removing something is a 3-second chore, so I never procrastinate (which was part of the problem when I tried using an online calendar — I never wanted to go to my computer/phone and enter the information).
You could also use post-it notes or any pad of paper you already have in the house.
Part 3 = 6-Week Magnetic Wet-Erase Calendar
I’ve talked about this calendar a lot over the last decade — yes, we’ve been using it for THAT long!
Now that the kids can read, I use multi-color wet-erase markers so everyone knows what they have going on — the kids love it!
NOTE: wet-erase markers are MUCH better than dry-erase b/c you can’t accidentally rub off the writing.
We got our beloved 6-week magnetic wet-erase calendar (see above) from a blog reader back in 2013. She sold them in her Etsy shop and we did a fun giveaway here on the blog.
Since then, her Etsy shop has closed and I honestly can’t find anything like this calendar.
I shared a similar style on Amazon a few months ago, but it has since sold out (maybe you all bought so many of them!?!)
I update our wall calendar every Saturday night after the kids go to bed, and it’s the first thing they check on Sunday morning!
NOTE: I did look around on Etsy and there are TONS of super cute wall calendar options — however, I’m partial to ours since the weeks are all individual magnetic strips, so I can always keep at least 5 weeks fully updated.
How the 3 Pieces Work Together:
As I mentioned above, I do most of my updating on Saturday evening so we’re ready to go for the week ahead.
1. First, I move the top week of our wall calendar down to the bottom and add anything new to that “last “bottom week”.
2. Then I look through my pocket planner for the upcoming week and add (or remove) anything new/different to the wall calendar (using the appropriate colored markers!)
3. Finally, I break out my notebook and create my personal plan for the week:
- menu for breakfast and dinner
- important work to-dos
- any time-sensitive tasks for various church/school activities
- at least 3 “weekly to-dos” (usually deep cleaning, organizing, or yard projects)
- whatever I want/need to tackle right away on Monday morning
Why I Made The Switch:
For the last couple of years, I realized I was wasting tons of space in my weekly planner, simply because I didn’t have many tasks, meetings, or appointments to write down each day.
However, I did have lots and lots of daily and weekly to-dos.
For the last several years, I’ve used a different planner layout with a calendar on one side and blank paper on the other — but even still, the weekly calendar side was almost blank and I really wanted to see a full month at one time.
Also, the kids really like knowing what’s going on — so using the magnetic wet-erase board has been great for our whole family.
I know I’m only a few months into “monthly planning” but so far, I’m a huge fan.
I love being able to see the full month at a glance. I love having the tiny planner that I can take with me (I know I could do this with a calendar in my phone too — but it’s just not the same!)
My kids love using the monthly wall calendar so they can keep track of their special things, and my running to-do list saves so much time as I just keep adding to it and crossing it off as the week progresses.
Will monthly planners work for everyone? Definitely not!
But if you feel frustrated with your current method, it might not hurt to give it a try!
Helpful Planner / Calendar Links:
Of course, I always encourage you to use what you have in the house before buying anything new… but if you’re confident a system like mine would work for you and your family, here are some links to similar products I use!
- multi-year monthly pocket calendars
- spiral notebook for to-do lists (I like the A5 size)
- mechanical pencils (I use pencils for my planner and to-do list so I can easily erase)
- wet-erase wall calendar (bonus if you can find one with movable weeks)
- fine-tip wet-erase markers in various colors
I’ve gotten so many questions about my pocket planner and wall calendar… and I’m sure I haven’t answered them all in this one post.
Please feel free to leave your questions below and I’ll answer them in the coming week.
Also, if you have a wonderful planning tool/resource, feel free to share it in the comments!