3 Things to Consider Before Selecting Your 2019 Planner

It’s about that time of the year to start thinking about your daily planner. When it comes to keeping my life organized, I use a combination of a digital calendar (Google Calendar) for my appointments and events, and then a daily planner that I use to track my To-Do List and important tasks.

The planner market has really exploded in the last few years. You can find planners in the following places:

(1) Target

(2) Walmart

(3) Traditional Office Supply Stores (Staples, Office Max, Office Depot)

(4) Craft Stores (Hobby Lobby, JoAnn and Michaels)

When it comes to selecting a planner, these are the 3 things to consider that have made a difference for me:

(1) Size and Portability – Planners come as small as around 4 x 6, or as large as 9 x 12. Consider where you will need to use your planner and how it will fit in with what you already have to carry. If you are lugging your planner to and from work daily, you may not want to purchase the larger, daily models. You could also consider using a larger planner that you keep at work, and one that you keep at home. For 2018 I used an 8 1/2 x 11 planner that included both monthly and weekly pages. It was the first planner that I consistently used from the time I purchased it (around March) until now.

(2) Binding – Some planners are bound like a traditional book, some are spiral bound and some are in binder format. I used a spiral bound planner this year but what I didn’t like about it was that each individual ring had it’s own closure and over time those rings start to wear and tear. and pages and/or the cover starts slipping out. I have found that the binder style planners are a bit heavier (even before you add the pages) and it is harder to write in the pages (especially in those that are smaller than 8 1/2 by 11. When I did use a binder style planner, I preferred one that zipped all that way up that way I didn’t have to worry about pages or things falling out or water damage.

2018 Planner

(3) Design – Design really matters when it comes to planners. You have to be sure that whatever is on the cover or the color inspires you and brings you joy. I had already purchased a planner for 2019 (mainly because of it’s binding) but as i started to slowly use it, I wasn’t crazy about the design on the cover.



I went to Michaels recently, where all of their planner stuff was 40% and found a design that speaks to my soul (hello, Glitter + Magic) AND it is slightly smaller than 8.5 x 11, so it will be super portable.


I actually prefer for my pages to be pretty minimal, because you can personalize it using your own stickers, quotes, notes, etc. I also prefer minimal design in the interior of the planner because I  like the space to write. Also when it comes to the design you have a few options.

Monthly – These tend to be super light as they only have the 12 months inside of them. Usually one month covers 2 pages.

Weekly  – This design has one full week on two pages. Usually Monday – Wednesday on one side and then Tuesday – Sunday on the other side. This is my preferred format because it allows me to set my 3 – 5 priorities for the day. Most of these designs also have the monthly pages included.





Note: Many planners in the weekly format put Saturday and Sunday side by side, reducing the space. I am excited for my 2019 Planner because it includes equal space for Saturday and Sunday. For many corporate-preneurs and and entrepreneurs the weekend is prime time. Some of us need all of that space lol!

Daily – This design has one day per page. These designers tend to be heavier because they have around 182 pages in them. These formats are great for people that use their planner for both scheduling and task lists. You also have more than enough space to do what you need to do.

Also shout out to my bestie Jamila who shared that she likes planners that have a dedicated space for goals!

Here are the popular planner designers:

The Happy Planner: https://www.thehappyplanner.com/ – I’ve seen this planner at Michaels and at Staples if you’d like to check it out in person.

The Passion Planner – https://passionplanner.com/ – Creatives RAVE about this planner. I haven’t tried it yet but I’ve heard nothing but good things.

Day Designer https://daydesigner.com/ – I tried the daily version of this planner. It was beautiful but too bulky for me.

Full Focus Planner https://fullfocusplanner.com/?utm_source=direct&utm_medium=url – I have been following Michael Hyatt’s Podcast “This Is Your Life” Podcast. What I love most about this planning system is that it is structured quarterly.

Recollections Plannershttps://www.michaels.com/2018-2019-planners-by-recollections-and-the-happy-planner/ia-2018-happy-recollect My 2019 Planner is by Recollections which is available at Michaels. They also have Happy Planners available at this link.

Erin Condren – https://www.erincondren.com/ People rave about Erin Condren’s planner. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.

Simplified Planner – https://www.emilyley.com/collections/simplified-planner I’ve heard great things about the Simplified Planner. The designs are beautiful. My original 2019 Planner was a Simplified Planner.

Franklin Covey https://shop.franklinplanner.com/store/ – Franklin Covey is the “OG” of the planner business. I have a great Aunt who used to work in corporate that swore by their system. She introduced me to it in High School and it was my preferred planning system until I bought a spiral bound DePaul University branded calendar my freshman year and converted. As an English Major I had to lug around 1,000+ page books and there was no practical way that my Franklin could come along for the ride without my straining my back and shoulders. Anywho, Executives LOVE the system and their planners have been around for years.

At A Glance – https://www.ataglance.com/ataglance/home/

You can find this brand at most Office Supply Stores. I also noticed that they have a collection with Emily Ley (of the Simplified Planners). The same can be true of Target. I’ve seen Day Designer branded planners in their store.

I Am Powerful Planner – http://whoseshoesbook.com/2019 – I actually received this planner last night in a gift bag. I was super excited to find out it was co-created by Christine St. Vil. Christine and I used to write for Black and Married with kids together. The planner is super colorful and has tons of inspirational and motivational content.

Lunar Planner By Modern Womenhttps://modernmysticshop.com/products/pre-ordermanymoonsplanner2019 – I preordered this book as I am a fan of the Many Moons Book they published this year. This calendar includes all of the astrological events as well as recommended rituals. I’m excited to make this book a part of my 2019 routine. If you Google It, you may be able to find it from another source.

Also, if you’re looking for inspiration to see how you can use your planner check out the following hashtags on instagram:

#bwwpc – This is a hashtag specifically for black women planners. Representation matters and I love seeing how creative black women are in the planning space.

#planneraddict – Over 4 million posts. Once you click on a post click on any of the other hashtags.

If you use another branded planner please leave it in the comments section including comments on why you like it and maybe even a link on where to purchase it.

I hope this is helpful for you. I will be sharing pictures on my Instagram as I move into my 2019 planner. Right now I’m carrying both, but plan to decommission my 2018 planner and put it in archive (on my shelf) on January 1st!



Organization Tip: Using Pouches

I usually carry large bags. Mainly because I like to have one bag to hold everything. In my experience, when I have multiple bags, the likelihood that I lose or misplace something (or an entire bag) is  pretty high. In order to keep myself organization. I enjoy using pouches. The current pouches that I carry include:

(1) Cosmetic Pouch – In this pouch I keep my lipstick, lotion, tissue, bandaids, eyeglass cleaning wipes, hand sanitizer, & headache medicine.


(2) Writing Utensil Pouch – I enjoy keeping lots of pens in different colors with me, as well as highlighters.


(3) Electronics Pouch – I always keep a wall plug-in charger, a mobile charger, and my Macbook Charging card with me.


I also use pouches when I travel to organize things like accessories & cosmetics. I recently cleaned out my stash and I want to give them away! In addition to 2 – 3 pouches, each package will include an inspirational message! I am also giving away the “Plan Like A Boss” Planner, because a planner is one of my favorite tools to use! Please review all official rules below!


Get Organized Contest


1. Eligibility: This Contest is open only to those who sign up via the official contest rules above and who are [18 years of age or older] as of the date of entry.The Contest is only open to legal residents of the United States, and is void where prohibited by law. The Campaign is subject to all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations. Void where prohibited.

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3. Campaign Period: Entries will be accepted online starting on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 at 8:00 p.m. CST] and ending [Thursday, December 28, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. CST].

4. How to Enter: The Campaign must be entered by subscribing to DonnieNicole.com, and then posting a screenshot to the Contestant’s Instagram or Facebook Page and then hashtagging #donnienicole. The entry must fulfill all Campaign requirements, as specified, to be eligible to win a prize. Entries that are incomplete or do not adhere to the rules or specifications may be disqualified at the sole discretion of DonnieNicole.com.  You may enter only once. You must provide the information requested before 11:59 p.m. CST on Tuesday, January 2, 2018. You may not enter more times than indicated by using multiple email addresses, identities, or devices in an attempt to circumvent the rules. If You use fraudulent methods or otherwise attempt to circumvent the rules, your submission may be removed from eligibility at the sole discretion of DonnieNicole.com

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11. Disputes: THIS Campaign IS GOVERNED BY THE LAWS OF The United States of America AND the State of Illionis, WITHOUT RESPECT TO CONFLICT OF LAW DOCTRINES. As a condition of participating in this Campaign, participant agrees that any and all disputes that cannot be resolved between the parties, and causes of action arising out of or connected with this Campaign, shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, exclusively before a court located in [your state/province] having jurisdiction. Further, in any such dispute, under no circumstances shall participant be permitted to obtain awards for, and hereby waives all rights to, punitive, incidental, or consequential damages, including reasonable attorney’s fees, other than participant’s actual out-of-pocket expenses (i.e. costs associated with entering this Campaign). Participant further waives all rights to have damages multiplied or increased.

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How To Make A Tea/Hot Drink Bar

My husband recently got back from a World Tour with DJ Jazzy Jeff. One of the things that he brought back home was lots of organic tea from his journey throughout Asia.


I purchased mini glass Ball Jars from Amazon. In terms of size, they are about the size of Gerber Baby Food Containers. I didn’t want to run the risk of purchasing jars that were too big, and then the tea jars would look empty. I’d rather go small and then just refill as needed. Not to mention the teas are pretty potent and usually only need one teaspoon per cup.



“I sing a song from Sing-Sing, sipping on ginseng…” – U-God of WuTang Clan in “Triumph” 

I swear I rap that line to myself everything I have a cup of Ginseng tea lol!

Finally, I added my other favorite hot drinks including Green Mint Tea, Chai Tea and White Hot Chocolate. The countertop shelf that I purchased I was also from Amazon, available here. The shelf came preassembled.


I used regular mailing labels, and wrote the jar contents using a skinny Sharpie marker. Both the labels and the Sharpie were items I already owned. This project cost a total of $31.00, and it took about 30 minutes to fill the jars.

Happy organizing!!!

Everything in It’s Place… Organizing The Closet for a New Season

A couple of years ago we converted one of our bedrooms to our closet. This past weekend I started putting away the pastels, bright colors and sandals of Summer, in order to put out the earth tones, warm colors and boots of autumn.

I have a small dog whose favorite thing to do is to eat my shoes! So I needed to find a solution that would protect my shoes from her teeth, while also displaying my shoes in a way that makes getting dressed effortless. In all of my years of organizing, the most important thing to consider is that the system be easy to maintain, otherwise you are likely to revert to whatever is easier. For example, if you find yourself leaving clothes on the floor in your living room, why not put a beautiful lidded hamper that disguises the mess. Your brain will be happy because it will have a place to unload the clothes based on your natural behavior and your eyes will be happy because you won’t have to witness the mess. Similar, I like to keep blankets and pillows in my living room but instead of leaving them laying around, they live in a basket hamper where we can grab them when needed and put them away with ease.

Here is our shoe situation before I implemented our new storage solution:



Whenever I need a storage solution, the first place that I go is to The Container Store.



Here are the storage solutions I used:

Men’s Drop-Front Shoe Box. Available here.

Women’s Drop-Front Shoe Box. Available here.

Both the men’s and the women’s drop-font shoe boxes come in a bulk package for a discounted rate.

Finally, my husband loves a good hat, but he wasn’t storing his hats in a way that protected them and in a way that he could easily find whichever hat he was looking for.

Here is the before picture:


Here is the photo with the storage solution implemented:


I used the

Grey Drop-Front Sweater Boxes, available here.

About a year ago, I purchased this shelving unit from Amazon, and we use it to display our boots and oversized shoes that won’t fit in the boxes:


Before the shelves were kind of all over the place, as my only motivation was keeping my “good shoes” high up enough so that my dog couldn’t get to them. She never goes after my boots. So now the tall boots are on the bottom, the booties are in the middle and and the top, and a few of my favorite handbags are in the top shelves.

The top of the shelf is still used for the same purpose. Displaying our jewelry and other accessories.

I store out of season clothing in bins in our storage room, as I like to swap my clothes out (once in the Spring, and then in the Fall).



Get Organized! 

So many people say they thrive under chaos! My experience is that when I am organized I feel a sense of calm, openness & peace. 

Caption: My organized closet which included a big boot organizing project this past fall. We converted a bedroom to our closet so that we could have enough space to store our clothes & get dressed. 

When I am not organized I:

  • Misplace or totally lose things 
  • Purchase duplicates (wasting money)
  • Feel stifled or frustrated 
  • Waste time looking for misplaced or lost things 
  • Feel stress because if someone asks me for something & I don’t know where to find it, it makes me feel bad. 

Organization to me, means making a home for things, making space & structuring things. There are tons of tools & resources online to help you! I personally love The Container Store. I also love searching for life & organization hacks like this: 

So you don’t overwhelm yourself, start with one drawer or one room & then go from there. 

Organization also requires regular maintenance. Make a little time everyday to sort, filter, clean & place things where they belong. 

Project: Organize Boots

My boots were all jumbled up in one of those cheap plastic containers. It came with a lid & you couldn’t see inside of it, so it hid the clutter, but getting dressed was irritating.

I’m a visual person. I like to see my options & then make a decision from there. I also blame the movie Clueless

I’ve always wanted a nice big walk-in closet that is well organized! Our home was built in 1910, so closet space was very limited back then. We converted one of our bedrooms into a closet. 

I ordered boot organizers and assembled them. That process took about 90 minutes. From there, I pulled out my vanity table, which I no longer use, and other containers that were taking up space. Here is the final result:

On the top of the shelf I have all of my accessories and my makeup. 

I also had to relocate our mirror and ironing board. We leave our ironing board set up:

The rest of the closet remained the same. Here is a peak at my side:

I’d like to add an area rug to the room, and more images on the wall around the mirror. I’ll share pics once I find the right rug. 

My shelving & accessory organizers were purchased from The Container Store and Amazon.com. 

Self-Care Commercial…

Self-care doesn’t have to be extravagant…


One of the hardest lessons for me as an entrepreneur, was learning to pause. When we first started Donda’s House, I would literally work 12 – 16+ hour days for 7 days straight.

I caught colds. Had back problems. Always felt like things were out of control…

We just turned 3 on August 1st and I’m proud to say that in 2016 I’ve learned the value of breaks.

I structure my weeks now to where I have at least one-day where I don’t leave my home. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still working, I just work from home. I’ll do conference calls, catch up on writing, and also do important things around the house like laundry.

I also try to reserve at least one day to a family day – usually Sundays, where I try not to do anything work related (or at least nothing heavy).

I’ve also learned to “stack” my meetings. If I book a meeting where I’m downtown, I try to book other meetings downtown the same day to maximize my time. I also reserve in-person meeting days to two days per week. For the summer, those have been my Tuesdays & Thursdays.

Finally, when I have a really big event or busy day, I try to be mindful of the schedule the day before and the day after. I’m proud to say that we’ve co-produced two festivals this summer (Teens in the Park – TIP Fest & Peace on the Beach) and we’re gearing up for AAHH! Fest!

Usually the day before and the day after, I try not to schedule too much to give myself time to prepare the day before, and to give myself time to rest & recoup the day after. Today was part work from home & part getting my mind (and gear) ready for tomorrow’s festival.

I talk alot about being a superhero! It’s important to realize that all superheroes know their limits!

Stuff To Check Out:

(1) My girl Dana Todd Pope has launched the cutest line of t-shirts, onesies, tote bags and more.


(2) Donda’s House had the opportunity to participate in ESPN’s “The Undefeated” Townhall Conversation on Chicago Violence. I’ll have a full-blog about this soon.


Caption: Jemele Hill did a phenomenal job hosting and moderating the conversation! Learn more about The Undefeated here.

(3) If you’re in Chicago, come through Peace on the Beach! Tomorrow from 4 pm – 8 pm, in Humboldt Park, 1440 N. Sacramento. Flyer & special Lyft Code below:

Thank you for reading my blog! It means the world to me!

Moon In Virgo

This weekend, I looked into my astrological chart and learned that my moon is in Virgo. My zodiac sign is Capricorn/Aquarius because I was born on the cusp. I learned that the moon really expresses our needs. 

Here is what I learned about my moon: 

With the Moon in the practical and systematic sign of Virgo, you are likely to be someone who is highly appreciative of structure, organization and detail. You will find your life works better with well-established systems in your personal and professional life. Virgo is an Earth sign, and so pertains to tangible or physical things. It is also known as Mutable, which infers a need for variety and change. When physicality and change are brought together, the principle of refinement is found. Born with the Moon in Virgo, you are likely to have an innate need to improve or refine the circumstances around you – combining practical know-how with the analytical quality needed to achieve specific results. Read the rest here

It made so much sense because I truly do find peace and comfort in cleaning and organizing. Whenever I feel any sense of anxiety, fear or frustration, I immediately also feel the need to organize, clean and purge. 

So I spent the day organizing two areas of my house. My storage room/pantry and my kitchen cabinets! Check out my befores:

Over the years I’ve invested in so many different types of storage containers, so I used those to organize my cabinets. 

Here is the pantry:

I still have some work to do back there but need to grab 2 – 3 large storage containers to finish it up. 

Here is the work on my kitchen cabinets:

I’m excited because I still have room for more wine glasses and plastic cups! 

My next big project will be to organize the papers in my office. My goal is to finish that project before 12/31/16.

I got a lot of inspiration from Pinterest. They have so many amazing ideas for organization! 

The Quest for the Perfect Carry-On

I do a lot of travel and have yet to find the perfect carry-on bag! Here are the bags that I’ve tried so far:


Longchamp ‘Le Pliage Neo Large’ Tote

Retailer: Nordstrom


(1) Beautiful Color

(2) Durable External Material

(3) Versatility – Can be dressed up or down .


(1) Straps are too short (bag often slips off shoulder during travel)

(2) Shape prevents the bag from standing up

(3) Difficult to get to things at the bottom.

Lo & Sons – The O.G.

Retailer: Lo & Sons Website


(1) The bag holds a lot, but still maintains its sleek look.

(2) Nice long shoulder strap.

(3) Padded laptop compartment, keeps machine safe and separate.


(1) Started having zipper trouble pretty early on.

(2) Heigh of bag doesn’t allow it to slip easily under seats on the airplane.

(3) Longer should strap isn’t comfortable.


Coach Turnlock Tote in Crossgrain Leather

Retailer: Coach and Macy’s


(1) Zippered bag. Many of the totes in this style have a button closure. The zipper totally sold me, as I like to have security AND in case the bag falls, I don’t want my stuff falling all over the place.

(2) Perfect everyday bag that pairs well with in both business and casual settings.

(3) Shoulder length allows you to throw the bag on your shoulder and go.


(1) Coach bags in light colors stain easily.

(2) Shoulder straps have some of the seams ripping. Coach usually repairs bags free of charge, but the life-cycle of my Coach bags usually last much longer.

(3) No feet!


I just picked up the Eagle Creek Emerson Carry-All (above) today and it will be joining me on an upcoming trip to Abu Dhabi. I’ll share my review upon my return!

The Quest for the Perfect Carry-on continues! I know the perfect bag is out there!

Necklace Organization

I was very much inspired by my stylist to organize my jewelry. My necklaces were on hangers and in general it was a bad situation. So much so that I didn’t even take a before pic lol.

Enter this beauty from Amazon.com.


It’s called the MyGift 15 Inch Metal 30 Hook Necklace Holder. I purchased it for $19.99. I also ordered a bracelet holder, a ring holder and an earring holder. I’ll post photos as soon as those items arrive.

Here is my full necklace collection:


It’s very sturdy and I love that I can see all of my necklaces in one place!