Makes Me Happy Monday: Planning

I am, without a doubt, pretty anal about how my life is organized. Even though my house is generally messy (it's impossible to keep things perfectly organized with three kids and I've stopped fighting that losing battle... for now) there are pieces of my life that are highly organized. I have several planning periods throughout each month that keep me sane and to be honest, the planning of things makes me happy. Here are a few examples:

  1. Weekly Menu Planning. I hate the question "What's for dinner?" because in general, I have no idea. So I started planning our menu on a weekly basis. Not only does it eliminate that dreaded "Ugh I have to make dinner" feeling at 4:00 everyday, but it also makes grocery shopping easier. I've also recently gotten into using coupons in the past few months (not extreme couponing but wow, those people really impress me) so I can better keep track of finances. I also ask the kids to pick a meal or two so that they are part of the process and then they don't complain about what I'm fixing because they helped plan it out. The menu gets posted in our kitchen and then the kids know what to expect. It also allows me to see how well (or how poorly) we are eating as a family.
  2. Monthly Blog Planning. This is something I'm going to start again. I did really well early last year, but it faded fairly quickly when life got in the way of my blogging plans. Late in each month, I sit down and plan out a month's worth of blog posts. Then I sit down at my laptop and whip up several posts to be scheduled throughout the month. There are days when I'm simply inspired to write so I take advantage of those moments and go with the flow. I'm hoping that this trend will allow me to keep up on my blogging goals for 2012. This does take quite a bit of time, but it eliminates the "What should I write about" quandary.
  3. Monthly Calendar Organization. I am still in love with the paper and pen approach to life. While a lot of my life has become digitalized, I have a physical calendar that I use quite a bit. When the one I used to have became impossible to find for the new year, I got a fabulous new one from MomAgenda. Every month, I go through the calendar and update it with big events, the kids' schedules, doctor's appointments and general notes. Granted, I'm constantly updating it but it helps me see my whole month at a glance and then I can schedule in fun time for me and the kids. This doesn't take me a lot of time since I'm constantly checking on my schedule, but it does make life easier. The format of my particular planner also allows me to keep notes like addresses for birthday parties, what I need to bring to a pot luck event and reminders for day-to-day tasks.

These are just a few examples of how I plan my time. Everyone has a system that works for them. What are your favorite planning techniques?