Saturday, April 18, 2015

Allowing ourselves to get bored with our planner

I had a planner epiphany this morning. Follow me as I walk you through my flash of brilliance.

I've been looking at planner websites for a long time. Starting about 8 years ago I checked Philofaxy every day, back in the day before Nan invited Steve and me to be authors. Now Steve (along with Nan, Anita and myself) posts interesting updates every day. But back when I was desperate for ideas on how to best use my Filofax, Philofaxy's infrequent posts were my only source.

Similarly, I checked the Quo Vadis blog daily and commented frequently in a desperate attempt to find my perfect planner. I've loved Quo Vadis planners since my first experience with them and was instantly hooked. The Quo Vadis blog was a great resource for learning more about the planners and how to use them. Now I'm the Quo Vadis blogger (and if you know me at all you'll know how absolutely thrilled I am) and it's still a great online planner community.

All of this was back before Twitter, Facebook, You Tube, Instagram, Pinterest, etc etc etc. Philofaxy and Quo Vadis blog, and a few people's pen and ink blogs were my only sources for planner information.

Now if someone wants information on how to use their planner, they are flooded with information. Pick a brand of planner: Filofax, Midori, Hobonichi, Franklin Covey, etc you will find blogs, videos, Facebook groups, and loads of other online information about how to use, and especially how to decorate your planners. This is something I've talked about before so I don't want to repeat all that here.

But it brings me to my point: I think because there is so much visual interaction in our day to day lives with the internet in front of us so much of the time, we unconsciously expect that same level of interaction from our planners. Which of course is impossible for paper planners. They don't beep at us, show us links to other pages, or suggest things we might like. Personally I like that about paper planners, because I need a break from screens.

But I think a lot of people are used to a high level of interaction from the things they use (laptops, phones, tablets etc), and I think this might be where the planner decorating fad comes from. The act of decorating their planner, and seeing the result feels more interactive than a blank page.

It's great that some people find a creative outlet in their planners, but so many I've seen seem to miss the point of a planner. Maybe they would be better off decorating a scrapbook or art book instead. I've even seen people stressing out over decorating their planner: What should this week's theme be??? I can't find the materials I want to decorate my planner!  In the end, your planner should keep you organized and help you get things done. You don't need to decorate it.

And it's not just decorating. It's finding new binders/ covers/ colors/ dividers/ etc. These things are great, and anything that makes you enjoy using your planner makes it more likely you will actually use your planner. But so often, people get caught up in the other things and end up disappointed with the functional aspect of the planner itself.

In the end, all this effort is ultimately futile because our paper planners will never be as interactive as an online experience.

We need to allow ourselves to get bored with our planners.

And that's not a bad thing. Far from it. In fact, right about the time when you become bored with your planner is when it's working. Just working. It's not exciting. It's not new or flashy or wow. It's just working.

Often when people get bored with their planners, they think something must be wrong. So they abandon the planner to try something new. I've definitely done this, countless times.

But the next time you get bored with your planner, think before you abandon it to try the next thing. Think about whether the planner is actually helping you get your tasks done and remember your appointments. Think about whether it's effective at keeping you organized and up to date.

If it's not, fix it. But if it's working, keep using it. And give yourself permission to feel bored with it.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Midori Traveler's Notebook

I want to apologize to everyone who has ever recommended I try a Midori Traveler's Notebook (including Rori, Steve, my mom, and many others) and I ignored their advice. I have plenty of excuses: I didn't want to get into another planner system. I thought I was wedded to bound books and the booklets seemed too impermanent. It was a rabbit hole I didn't want to go down.

But recently I changed my mind. We had a weekend trip over Easter, and as I always do when I travel I discovered my bag is too darn heavy. So when I got home I started thinking of ways to lighten up the load. One thing I did was to buy a cotton crossbody bag to use instead of my (nice but heavy) leather one. Then I started thinking about my planner situation.

Long story short, I've switched around my planners a lot this year. A lot. Every planner I've tried this year has been big, and most have been heavy. And, I was still using a large Moleskine notebook as my Bullet Journal (as detailed in this post). I was tired of carrying so much stuff around.

Now I can't remember what made me think of trying the Traveler's Notebook. My mom sent it to me awhile ago, probably more than a year ago. She used it for awhile then switched to something else, maybe a fauxdori?

Anyway, I like the Midori, the brown leather, and the way my mom had already decked the whole thing out with several pockets, a pen loop and some other stuff.

Here is the cover, I love the character marks! I have updated this photo to show the thistle charm (representing Scotland, where I live) that arrived after I originally published this post. At the bottom you can see the Thor hammer I got in Iceland last year hanging from the pagemarker.

Here is a closeup of the thistle charm. I just love it. I got it from and the shipping was fast.  There are a few thistle designs to choose from, I got this one. There's a really cool page on their website showing how they make the silver charms, I had no idea the process was so complicated!

Here is a closeup of the Thor hammer. It was actually a keychain the but the keychain part broke off. I didn't know what I was going to do with it but this is a perfect purpose for it!

I have four booklets in the Midori: Monthly, weekly, daily and lists. I'm using the undated monthly booklet (refill 017), the undated weekly + notes (refill 019), a grid booklet for my daily pages (refill 002) and a blank booklet for my lists (refill 003). The monthly booklet has 14 months of month-on-two pages calendars plus some pages for notes. The weekly booklet has 6 months of weeks. The grid booklet has 64 pages so about 2 months of dailies.

Here is how I have the four booklets in the cover: Three are held in using elastics. Two side booklets are held together with the orange elastic. The brown elastic that is attached to the cover comes up between them to hold the middle booklet. I saw this online somewhere, I don't know if I would have thought of this on my own!

Here is the back of the book. On the left is a card pocket that goes through to the front under all the booklets so I have pockets front and back. It is awesome. My mom sent it with the MTN. It holds some positivity cards she also sent, love them. Those are staying in. On the right is the blank booklet that I'm using for all my lists.

The photo below shows the inside of the back booklet showing how the back cover is attached to the inside of the MTN cover. My mom stuck a clear plastic side-open pocket inside the back of the leather cover. The booklet's back cover fits in there perfectly. It is held securely with the clip-on pen holder.

I'm using the monthly pages in two ways: as a forward planning overview, and as an index. I fill in a brief summary of what happened each day, for example the day I filed my taxes or when my kids stayed home sick from school. If I want to see details, I know the date to look up in my daily pages. I used to use separate monthly pages for these two purposes, one for future and one as my index, but using one for both definitely simplifies things.

In my weekly + notes pages I use the left schedule page for all planning, and the right page for my weekly lists for both home and work. I know the digital-style spaces at the top of the left page are to be filled in with the dates to look like digital numbers, but I don't do that. I just write the month and year.

I thought the grid pattern on the notes page would bother me but I like it. Something I really like are the slightly heavier lines that come out from each day's space, so you can divide the notes page to correspond to each day if you want. I use the divisions to create separate categorized list spaces for personal, home and work.

I use the grid booklet for my daily pages. Most of the time I'll use one page per day, on busy or eventful days I'll use more pages. I don't normally post images of what I write, but here you can see an example of a less-eventful day. If I don't fill a day, I still start the next day on a new page.

I keep my lists in the blank booklet in the back of the cover. Here is an example of one of my lists: things I usually get at Costco.

Nobody is more surprised than I am that I'm using a Midori. I resisted for such a long time. Wanting to lighten my load motivated me to experiment with it. But I think what really clicked was when I discovered the Midori archival binder (refill 011) online and I realized the booklet system, stored properly, is just as permanent as any bound book.

I know there is an endless flood of Midori and fauxdori info online. Videos, blogs, websites, DIY, etc. I'm avoiding all of that. I've just come through so much planner difficulty over the past few months, I just want something simple but effective.

These are very early days but so far the lightness of the whole thing (443g including my pen) is delightful. I love having just one book to grab, not two. I love being able to carry all my planning and my journaling in my bag all the time, not having to leave my planner at home because it's too heavy. I was surprised to discover just how wonderful the paper is, and the page size is almost as large as Moleskine's large pages, just a little narrower. So I still have the big pages I like, almost A5 size, but in a book that weighs significantly less than my personal size Filofax.

So to everyone out there who has been singing Midori praises: I finally get it!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Did you ever want a planner just because of how it looks?

Boy am I guilty of this, bigtime. There are certain planners I like and want, not because I think they will work well for me (in fact some don't work for me at all), but it's all about how they look.

The biggest one in this category for me is day per page planners. I just love how they look, all chunky and like there must be lots of important stuff written in there. Despite trying many times over the years, I just can't use them as my planner. I need a week view. But I was hugely successful in 2013 jumpstarting my journaling by using a dated day per page diary. I've since switched to undated notebooks for journaling, but still gaze longingly at day per page diaries from time to time.
I love how these look!

I think most of us who have ever used a Filofax have desired one (or several) based on their appearance only. To our credit, that is half the point of the variety of Filofax binders available. I actually use binders more based on how they feel (like the delightful oiled leather of my brown Kendal) than how they look. But I do adore my gorgeous ivory Deco for its sheer decadence.

C'mon, fess up: have you ever wanted a planner just because of how it looks?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Planner compromises?

I think we've all made planner compromises at some point. Maybe the format wasn't quite what you wanted, but you couldn't find the perfect one for you. Most of us who have ever used a Filofax or other ring binder have had to compromise with the big book/ small page situation. Maybe the planner with your perfect weekly format doesn't have the monthly pages you need so you tape them in or create a monthly booklet. Or maybe you got fed up and ended up drawing your own version in a notebook or creating printables.

I've done all of the above. My entire planner journey has been a series of compromises. So many planners are close to what I want, but there's something they're lacking: wrong size, not enough space for lists. Many have certain components I want, but are lacking other features I need.

What planner compromises have you made?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Poll: Where do you buy/ get your planners?

It seems there are fewer and fewer brick and mortar shops that carry planners anymore. And if a shop near you does carry planners, they may not be anything like what you want.

For years I've ordered planners online, but recently I've discovered the joys of printing my own.

I'd like to know where most people buy/ get your planners these days. And, have you changed the way you get your planner compared to how you used to buy/ get them in the past?

Please leave a comment, or vote in the poll in the sidebar.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Pre-printed holidays? Or write them in yourself?

This is a topic I've written about before, asking whether people prefer holidays pre-printed into the day spaces in planners. I used to like as much holiday information as possible in planners. When I was living in unfamiliar countries I wanted to know local holidays, public holidays back in the US (where I'm from), European holidays, etc. I wanted to know what was going on everywhere in the world. I think that stemmed from not knowing what was going on around me most of the time, and the desire to feel like I was still a part of countries I used to live in but didn't any longer.

Now that I've been living in Scotland for a few years, I've found I don't want every holiday and religious observance under the sun taking up space in my planner pages. It's not that I don't care about what's happening around the world, it's just less relevant to my day to day life.

Now I want UK and US holidays, and that's pretty much it. I need to know when the holidays are here in the UK, and when my family and friends in the US have days off. There are several planners with US and UK holidays, but they tend to have Canadian and Australian holidays too.

Some planners have loads of international holiday information and observances of several religions in the day spaces, but I can see how that would be annoying for people it doesn't apply to. Other planners, like Moleskine, don't have holidays in the day spaces at all so you have to write them all in yourself.

Where do you come down on holidays in planners? Do you like seeing international holidays and religious observances? Do you want the holidays of just your own country? Or are you willing to write in all holidays yourself so you see only what is pertinent to you?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Planner Focus Flipboard

You may have noticed a nifty little gizmo down in the sidebar called Planner Focus.That's a magazine that Steve adds articles to as he's going through the links to add to his Philofaxy Web Finds twice per week. When he comes across something planner related but not suitable for Web Finds he pops it in the Planner Focus flipboard.

Check it out to find lots of planner posts from around the web! He updates it once or twice per week so check back often. And thank you Steve for doing it! It's fun to flip through and see what's new around the planner world.