Emily Ley is the creator of the popular Simplified Planner, founder and creative director of Emily Ley Paper & Gifts and author of “Grace. Not Perfection.” You’ve probably seen the Simplified Planner in the hands of some of your friends and co-workers because it’s a favorite among many Tampa Bay moms. Her brand is world-wide, but Emily calls Tampa home, along with her husband and three children. She is a master of organization, so we thought that as we head into the New Year, this is the perfect time for her to share her secrets!
1. In your new book “Grace. Not Perfection,’ you point out that no planner is going to change your life or find you more time. As an entrepreneur and mother, what advice can you share about how you find balance in your life and family schedule?
I really believe every mom has to find her own system that works for her family and their lifestyle. As the creator of the Simplified Planner, I know firsthand that the “battle for joy is fought on the pages of our calendars” (one of my favorite quotes by Bob Goff). But planners and systems aren’t going to miraculously provide balance. You have to decisively and intentionally commit to putting the system you choose to work for you and making it part of your daily routines. Additionally, sometimes our lack of organizational tools isn’t the problem—it’s our overabundance of commitments, appointments, meetings and practices. Every few months, I take inventory of our lives to be sure we’re committed in all the right places and still have enough white space on our calendars to enjoy each other, to be creative, and to play.
2. Your Simplified Planner is a favorite among many women here in Tampa Bay? What is so unique about your planner?
Thank you! I’m so proud of the Simplified Planner. I created it very minimally on purpose, without all the bells and whistles many other planners I’d tried have. Both our weekly and daily editions include five key pieces: space for your schedule, your to-do list, notes, dinner and an inspirational quote on every page. Beyond those few things, the Simplified Planner has space for you to make it your own. I’ve seen women turn their daily schedule into a place to take notes. I’ve seen them use the dinner box to track exercise and water intake. I’ve seen women use the notes section as a place to capture memories made that day. I just love seeing how women use the Simplified Planner to its fullest potential. Some of my favorite social media posts I’ve seen show messy pages with lots of color coding and stickers and tons of writing. If you don’t get your planner messy and make it work for you, it’ll sit on a shelf looking pretty.
3. Schedules are one thing, but the home is whole new ball game! Any tips on organizing at home?
Whew! Yes. I really embrace a “less is more” philosophy here. Physical clutter is mental clutter to me. So weekly (if not daily) I make a sweep of our common areas and find things to donate. This practice has really impacted my buying philosophies. If it’s just another cute knick-knack, I probably don’t need it (it’ll probably end up in the donate pile eventually). But if it’s a “treasure” or an heirloom, I’ll think twice. Practicing the art of clearing the clutter regularly helps keep my home feeling fresh and clutter free. In turn, that helps my mind stay clear of distractions and overwhelm.
4. Dinnertime seems to be a big stressor for many parents! What are some of your favorite quick and easy meals to prepare for your family?
Dinnertime is a big stressor for me ESPECIALLY because I don’t love to cook. One of my dear friends started Clean Plate Cooking, a wholesale Tampa-based dinner service. We order food from CPC two or three times a week (they deliver!). For the rest of the week, I stick to simple, healthy, comfort foods. I love SkinnyTaste and 100 Days of Real Food for their delicious, easy-to-make recipes.
5. What is your favorite thing to do with your kids in Tampa Bay?
We have three little ones under the age of six (including two toddlers!) so we love the Glazer Children’s Museum, the Florida Aquarium, and, of course, our public library. We also have a lot of really great parks nearby that we love to visit. Sometimes we’ll pick up breakfast and coffee on a Saturday morning and head to the park to enjoy the weather before it gets too warm.
Originally published in the December 2016 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.