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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

CoolNotes giveaway!

Here is another great giveaway, from CoolNotes!

CoolNotes a day GIVEAWAY! Simply @teNeues what you will write in  your CoolNotes (hashtag #CoolNotes) will enter you to win a free  CoolNotes

CoolNotes a day GIVEAWAY! Simply Tweet @teNeues what you will write in your CoolNotes (hashtag #CoolNotes) will enter you to win a free CoolNotes

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lists, lists, everywhere!

I make lists. Lots of lists.

The main reason for this is, I have a terrible memory so if something doesn't get written down on paper, it's gone. Poof.

I'm always fascinated by how other people deal with their to-do lists, and I love to learn new ways of managing tasks.

TravisTheTrout recently had an excellent blog post about managing to-dos by writing them into a notebook and reviewing them each day during the train commute. I certainly agree that to-do lists are only useful if you look at them often and regularly. And, I also agree that categorized lists help to streamline your time.

Charlie Gilkey has a great article on To Do lists, and things that might be holding you back from completing your listed items. His example is technology that's an impediment.

Here's my own personal example: I have an old desktop computer that I no longer use, that has lots of photos on the hard drive. I need to transfer those over to my external hard drive. For months (!) I've had on my weekly to-do list, "old computer photos to ext hd." But what's wrong with this? Why is it that I haven't done it yet after looking at this for months? Because I can't just do it in one step. This really should say:

1) Set up old desktop computer

2) Plug in and turn on

3) Find external hard drive

4) Find photo files on desktop

5) Transfer photos to external hard drive

Suddenly I realize that instead of taking 15 minutes, this will take half an afternoon. No wonder I've been procrastinating!

All of my lists are paper-based, so I love to read about how other people use paper lists. Charlie has a great article about how he uses his multiple notebooks which keep track of his lists and ideas by topic.

Recently I read Lifehack's article on Task Lists which has some good ideas. This article also has lots of great comments from readers. I'm always surprised at how many people use their computer for to-dos. I guess if you spend most of your time there that would make sense, but for me I need my lists on paper that can walk around with me.

Quote from Lifehack:

"It’s crucial to have your list available under any circumstance. For one thing, you never know when you might have a few minutes to work on a couple of tasks; if you don’t have your list, you might waste those opportunities. Second, you never know when you might have to add something to the list."

Absolutely and completely yes.

In this article Lifehack also talks about contexts, which he doesn't use. I don't do GTD but I do make to-do lists by context such as @computer, @phone because I'm not always near them, so whenever I sit down at my computer I like to have a consolidated list of things I need to do there, and work through it.

Recently I was talking to my sister about how she manages lists. She uses a Quo Vadis Trinote, and uses the contextual list boxes on the weekly spread for things to do or bills to pay that week. But for bigger or longer-range lists she uses a plain sketchbook. She uses it as a brain dump to get down on paper all those swirling ideas before they escape her. She captures her ideas chronologically on the pages. As much as I like this idea, I don't know if it would work for me to have everything in one notebook. Unless I paged through it daily, I think things would get lost.

Getting Sh-t Done has the best-ever title. The idea is a very simplified version of Getting Things Done, but without so much structure. The four basic steps are: 1) Create a Master List, 2) From that, decide what you can do today and create your Daily List, 3) Work through it, 4) Transfer whatever doesn't get done to tomorrow's list. This system seems to be very popular with people who are on technology backlash.

I definitely have moments of List Breakdown. Sometimes I look at my To Do list and think, "I really don't want to do any of this sh-t." Or there are times (like currently) when I'm overwhelmed with lists in too many places. I have lists everywhere, in various Filofaxes, notebooks and planners. I would probably be much better off with all of my lists in one place, somehow.

How do you manage lists? Daily vs long-term to-do's, project plans, future plans, ideas...how do you keep track of them all? And most importantly, how do you make them actionable?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Roll Call!

Okay everybody, it's time for YOU to step up and be heard! Here's what I want to know:

1) What planner are you using right now? Is it a bound book or ring binder (like Filofax etc.)? Daily or weekly layout?

2) Is it working well for you? If not, what's wrong?

3) What do you need your planner to do for you? Just keep track of your appointments and daily to-do lists? Or do you need more from your planner: do you want it to be a life-management tool that helps you set goals and track your progress? Do you have specific needs for your planner?

4) And if you feel like it: what would you like to see in a planner? Would you like to see a planner that's specifically geared to your profession? Would you like a format you've never seen before? Would you like one that opens to a big page size but magically folds down into a tiny portable book? Let's hear your planner wishes and fantasies!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monthly planning for moving

Over the weekend I started thinking about all the things I need to do to get ready to move this summer. I had been thinking, "It's months away, I've got plenty of time." But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I need to mark some dates and make some notes.

So I grabbed my Monthly 4 planner. I've been using my Quo Vadis Monthly 4 (which I reviewed recently) for planning my blogs, and it works great for that. I realized the big monthly format with space for notes is perfect for planning my big move. (Luckily the large daily squares have plenty of space for my blog stuff AND my move stuff.)

I noted our target moving date on the calendar, and then worked backwards from there to determine what needs to be done, and when, to prepare.

In the month before the move I wrote in things I need to do to like: sell our car, pack up our stuff, and arrange the movers. But before those things can happen, I have to do things like advertise the car, and prep the household for the move. So I wrote those in two months before the move.

We are moving to a new area so we have questions such as: Where is a good neighborhood in the area? What are housing prices like in the area? What about school districts? Luckily I have a few months to do this research. Questions like these get their own page in the Notes section.

As I look around my house, I realize there's a lot to be done before this stuff will be ready to pack. I have enough closets to go through to keep me busy all spring. If I schedule one closet or room per weekend, I can work through them systematically to get rid of everything I don't need before it's time to pack up.

Back-dating from moving day and writing in all the steps and the amount of time it will take to complete them makes me realize I don't have all the time in the world. I need to get busy!

Leah on the Quo Vadis blog posted about an email conversation she and I had recently about using the Monthly 4 to plan for another major life event: pregnancy and preparing (yourself and your home) for the new baby. A new mom-to-be has a lot on her mind, and this planner would help her keep everything straight.

Do you have any major life events coming up soon? How are you preparing for the big event?

Winner of the Animaland planner!

Congratulations to Cheryl, the winner of the cute Daycraft Animaland chickens planner! It was lucky number 5 again! (Hey "Random" dot org--what's up with that?) Thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaways!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Another Giveaway: Daycraft Animaland Diary!

Congratulations to the winner of the Animal Pals puppy diary! What? Who won? Scroll down to see!

For those of you who didn't win, dry your tears! Here is your chance to win this very cute Animaland diary by Daycraft, Hong Kong's #1 brand of diaries and notebooks. These are not available for purchase in the US at this time, so you could be the only person in the whole country with this planner! Wow!

This is a weekly diary/ planner with lots of great features.

The book is small: A6 size (approx 4 1/4 by 6 inches). The non-flexible cover is smooth to the touch. On the cover is a very cute picture of chickens, and the artwork continues around to the back of the book.

Inside the front cover there is a page of stickers. Some are just for being cute, and others are to put on your daily spaces to indicate birthdays, holidays etc. :
The weekly planner format has the week across two pages with the days horizontal, lined and not timed. Holidays are indicated.
I love this feature of Daycraft planners: at the beginning of each month there is a lined page for notes, monthly goals, or whatever. The facing page has a cute picture every month:

There are annual calendars for 2009, 2010 and 2011:
There are pages listing holidays for a variety of countries including the US and UK:
There is a year planner with monthly calendars for all of 2010 and also 2011:
There are lots of information pages, including this one for food calories and gift ideas:

There are also pages with international information such as times zones and dialing codes.

In the back of the book there are some pages to help you keep track of your cash flow, very useful:
At the back of the book there is a page for your personal information. And the last few pages are perforated notes for those times when you need to tear out a small piece of paper:

This planner is very cute and very functional, and is packed with excellent features. The photos don't adequately represent the extremely high quality of the book and the paper (which is 60 g and cream colored).

If you want the chance to win this awesome little planner, you better hurry!! This giveaway is open for TWO days only!

To enter the giveaway, make a comment on this post. Only one entry per person will be counted. You have until midnight EST Monday March 22 to place your entry. On Tuesday March 23 I will select the winner by random number generation--your number will be the order in which your entry was received in the comments. The winner's name will be posted on Plannerisms Tuesday March 23! The winner then needs to send me an email with your mailing address. Remember, US address only, no P.O. Boxes. The planner will be mailed via USPS to a US address only (due to my mailing restrictions where I live, sorry.)

Remember, I have only this one diary to give away, so there will be only one winner. And anyone who has won a diary or notebook from Plannerisms before is still eligible to win this one!

Good luck! :D

And the winner is...

YM!!!!!! Congratulations!!!!

Here you can see the Random Number Generator indicating number 5 was the winner:YM commented 5th, so she is the winnah!!

YM, just email me your mailing address (my email address is in the sidebar under Welcome to Plannerisms) and your super-cute puppy planner will be on its way to you! :D

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Happy Equinox!

Today's the day! Twelve hours of light and twelve of darkness. And from now until the autumnal equinox in September, we (here in the northern hemisphere) will have longer days than nights (which I love).

I like to have a cookout on the equinoxes and solstices. Fire seems to be an appropriate way to celebrate such celestial events.

I also like it when the solstices and equinoxes are printed in my planner. Some planners do this and some, like the one I'm currently using, don't so I write them in by hand. I also like to have holidays pre-printed on my planner pages in general, although there is a point where it's too much. I don't need every holiday and festival for every country in the world taking up space in my daily columns.

Do you like to have things like solstices/ equinoxes pre-printed in your planner? Or do they take up too much space? Do you prefer this information on a separate page elsewhere in your planner? Or do you prefer not to have holidays taking up any space in your planner at all?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Daycraft Animal Pals Diary Giveaway!

Enter to win this very cute Animal Pals diary from Daycraft! Daycraft is the #1 brand of diaries and notebooks in Hong Kong. At this time their products are not available in the US, so you could be the only person in America who has this planner! Cool!

This is a weekly diary/ planner. The soft cover is flexible, and the A6 size (approx 4 1/4 by 6 inches) book is small enough to go everywhere. The cover has a cute puppy on the front.

The edge of the paper has 2010 printed on it which looks really cool. You can also see the stitching on the puppy on the cover:
The weekly format has the days oriented horizontally, lined and not timed. Holidays are indicated in the daily spaces. (Click on photos for a larger view):

At the beginning of each month there is a lined page for notes, monthly goals, or whatever you like:

There are pages with monthly planning calendars:

There are also several pages with information such as these: table of food calories and gift ideas...

...world time zones...
...international dialing codes...
...and international holidays.

There is also an expandable pocket in the back:

The photos don't do justice to the quality of the book and the (60 g, cream colored) paper, which is excellent.

If you want the chance to win this cute little planner, you better hurry!! The giveaway is open for three days only!

To enter the giveaway, make a comment on this post. Only one entry per person will be counted. You have until midnight EST Saturday March 20 to place your entry. On Sunday March 21 I will select the winner by random number generation--your number will be the order in which your entry was received in the comments. The winner's name will be posted on Plannerisms Sunday March 21! The winner then needs to send me an email with your mailing address. Remember, US address only, no P.O. Boxes. The diary will be mailed via USPS to a US address only (due to my mailing restrictions where I live, sorry).

***Edited to add: Having previously won a planner or notebook from Plannerisms does NOT disqualify you from this giveaway! If you win again, then you are just extra lucky! :D

***Edited again to clarify: I only have one, it's the puppy one. Sadly no ducky one! :(

Good luck! :D

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Daycraft Signature sketchbook and Feminique notebook

Here are two beautiful notebooks from Daycraft: the Signature sketchbook and Feminique notebook. The Signature sketchbook has a sophisticated style, and the Feminique notebook is a slightly frillier style.

The Signature sketchbook has a soft-to-touch, flexible cover. The book is small, approximately 5 3/4 by 4 1/4 inches, so it can go anywhere.The edges of the pages are black, which makes for a very dramatic-looking book:"Daycraft" is subtly embossed on the back of the otherwise-blank cover:

The creamy paper is smooth, thick (118 g) and acid-free. There is a ribbon page marker that matches the paper edge color.

The Signature line also includes lined notebooks and daily and weekly planners, in a variety of colors and sizes. It's a beautiful, elegant book with wonderful paper and a soft cover.

The Feminique lavender notebook is a light purple color with a suede-like textured cover.
The first page inside the front cover has this inscription, which smells of lavender when you rub it:
The lined, cream-colored paper is smooth and thick (also 118 g like the Signature).

The book is A6 size (approximately 5 3/4 by 4 1/4 inches).

Purple! Fuzzy! Lavender fragrance! I love it.

The Feminique range also includes diaries.

Daycraft is the #1 brand of diaries and notebooks in Hong Kong. They currently are searching for a distributor in the US. Let's hope they find one soon so we can all have access to these beautiful books!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Ides of March

I missed it! Yesterday was the middle of March ("Beware the Ides of March!"). It was also the birthday of a long-time friend of mine, so happy birthday to her!

And thanks to Charlie Gilkey, the middle of the month makes me think of a Mid-Month Review. I'm not going to steal his mojo (not that I even could, and anyway the man's got plenty of mojo to spare), so go take a look at his excellent post about it.

Last month was my first experience with his Mid-Month review process, and I found it so useful that I was really looking forward to it this month. It really helps me get back on the rails when I need to (especially this month when things are going not at all the way I expected them to). I find it really useful to take a step back halfway through the month, evaluate what I've accomplished so far, and figure out what I need to do for the rest of the month.

What about you? How is your month going? Humming along nicely? Or, like me, do you need a little nudge to get you "back on the rails?"

Friday, March 12, 2010

Our Planners, Ourselves

I probably place too much emotional importance on my planner. But I think there are many people who feel as strongly (or maybe even more so) about their planner as I do about mine.

Filofax users tend to have a strong attachment to their Filofaxes (and if you don't know how strong, take a peek over at Philofaxy.com!) I think one big reason why we love our Filofaxes so much is because everything about them is our own choice: we choose the binder size, style and color, and every single thing that goes into it, or not. We aren't stuck with a bunch of pages that are useless to us. If we don't like the diary format, we change it. And if we don't find a diary format that suits our needs, we can even make them ourselves and put them in. Because we have chosen everything about our Filofax, it becomes a reflection of the user's personality. You can tell a lot about a person by looking through his or her Filofax!

Another reason people become so attached to their Filofaxes (or any other binder system) is that the binder stays with us year after year. Bound-book planners are finished at the end of the year and put on the shelf. But a Filofax can be your daily companion for many years. It's hard not to become attached to something that helps you with every aspect of your life for years on end!

Another brand of planners that people tend to become very attached to is Moleskine. I admit it took me awhile to understand the appeal. It's just a black cover. The planner formats are very minimalist. There's nothing fancy, no designs. It's just a basic framework.

But therein lies the appeal. The Moleskine planner is a blank canvas, and the planner itself fades into the background. The user is free of constraints and can use each page for writing, sketching, planning, or anything at all. The pages contain (almost) only what the user has put there. The result is that the pages of the book become an expression of the user's ideas, thoughts, and life. When we look into the book, we see only ourselves. The book becomes a part of the user. No wonder so many creative types love Moleskines--it's easier to express yourself on a blank canvas than to work around pre-existing designs.

What about you? Do you have an emotional attachment to your planner? Or is it just a time-management tool?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Filofax Amethyst Deco!!!

Here is a pic (from the Filofax Facebook page) of the new Filofax Deco in Amethyst coming out later this year!! Somebody please catch me as I swoon!!

As we all know, I adore my Ivory Deco Filofax. And as we also all know, I love purple. So the combination of the two leaves me just about speechless!

Check out some of the other new Filofax products coming out in the background of Filofax_UK on Twitter. (Slimline Deco! Songbirds organizers! Awesome new bags!)

It's a year full of excitement for those of us who love Filofax! Wheee!!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Daycraft Make My Day diary

I have a bunch of Daycraft diaries and notebooks that I will be reviewing this month. Here is the awesome Daycraft Make My Day diary. It definitely makes my day!
This book is very eye-catching because it just looks so cool. The hard cover has black fabric that is nice to touch, and on the front there is a reflective design that says Make My Day.

This looks really cool too: the edges of the pages are black, with After Day After Day After Day inkjet-printed all around.

First of all, the book is the perfect size to go everywhere. It's 6 1/4 inches tall and 5 1/4 inches wide, so it fits into a very small bag. And yet, the almost-square shape means the book opens wide to show a roomy weekly layout, with the days as untimed columns (click on the photos for a larger view).

I love the clean, simple design. I really appreciate the current month at the top right of the page, to let me see where this week is in relation to the rest of the month.

The cream-colored paper is 70 g, and is sourced from sustainable forests. It's great to write on and very smooth.

At the beginning of each month there is a page spread like the one shown below.

Each month there is a picture of different things spelling out Make My Day. One month it's spelled out with legos. Another month it's with french fries. Another month it's with flowers. This really adds to the personality of the book and is fun.

The right page has the month calendar at the bottom with most of the page having lined space to write in. Having a page at the beginning of each month is great for that month's goals, lists, bills to pay, whatever I need to remember for that month. Great feature!

There is also a 2010 overview planner with four months to a view. I always like having monthly calendars in my planner to be able to see what's coming up.There is also a forward planner for all of 2011 with the same four months to view setup:

There are reference calendars for all of 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012:
There is a list of international holidays, including the US and UK:
Something that is an absolute requirement for me in a planner: International dialing codes!

Below is a feature that I really like and appreciate: an International Airport Guide. This is great information for any traveler: it lists numerous airports around the world and gives you the website for reference, how far it is from the city center, about how much it should cost to get a cab to the city (essential for avoiding being ripped off!!), whether there is a train from the airport to the city center, duty free limitations, etc. Wow!!! I love this feature. (Click for larger view):
There are international conversion tables, and a C-F temperature conversion chart (which I refer to often and always need to have with me).

In the back of the planner there is a page for your personal information. And, here is another feature I love: the last several pages of the book are perforated tear-out mini-notes for those moments when you need a scrap of paper to write your number or email address on and give to someone. And each little piece of paper says Make My Day! Very clever.

This is a cool-looking little book with tons of personality that's packed with useful international information. It has an excellent weekly layout with monthly planning calendars. It's a very portable size with a nice-feeling cover. Overall it's an excellent planner and an awesome book!

Daycraft is the #1 brand of planners and notebooks in Hong Kong, but they don't have a US distributor yet. So go to your local bookstore and tell them that they MUST start carrying this brand, because their products are fantastic!

I recently received another box of more Daycraft planners and notebooks to review! Woo hoo! So stay tuned to Plannerisms, loads more Daycraft reviews to come!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Amazing Appointment Books!

Enormous thanks to Plannerisms reader Cyril for sending me this!! Wow!

These are appointment books by Marc Weinstein, who runs his own appliance repair business in Washington, DC. He uses spiral notebooks marked with colored paperclips to keep track of his clients. Read all about it here:


I bet he could teach us all a thing or two about managing multiple projects. Marc, if you are reading this--we'd love to learn more about how you use your appointment books!

Friday, March 5, 2010

How big is your day?

I tend to fill up the day spaces in my planner, whatever the size. When I use a weekly planner with small day spaces, I can write maybe 3 things in today’s space and the day seems full. "Whew!" I think, "I've done a lot today!" Maybe, maybe not. It depends on what those three things are.

For some people, a planner with small day spaces works fine. Especially if you have meetings or other events that take a lot of time in your day, maybe 3 or 4 things on today's space is plenty.

My days tend to be full of tasks, with only an occasional scheduled event thrown in. I also have a bad memory so I like to write a record of what I did, and when, since I won't remember. These details quickly fill up a small day space.

When I wrote my March 1 post on Philofaxy I thought I had the answer to the small day space. It made perfect sense to have non-time dependent things OFF the day space, and on a list somewhere else. It made me VERY hopeful that I could use my fabulous Deco Filofax (with its small day spaces on the weekly planner layout) as my planner-and-everything book.

But, let's face it. I'm so out of sight, out of mind I should probably change my name to OSOM. So whenever I saw blank space on my calendar, instead of switching to list mode I thought, "Sweet! I don't have jack to do today!" And, as a result, I didn't do jack.

I hate to call it a Filo Fail, because if I were more diligent about checking my lists all the time, I could "make it work" although that phrase makes me shudder just thinking it. (And anyway, I'll still use my gorgeous Filo as my "everything except my planner" book so that's no loss.)

So now I need to learn to accept, and even embrace, who I am. Whatever the size of my daily space, I tend to fill it. If it's a small space that's full after just a few entries, I do those and I'm done. If it's a big space, I fill it, and crank out some productivity. Anything that doesn't get accomplished today gets arrowed over to tomorrow. My Lesson Learned: use a planner with big day spaces!

So, how about you? Do you do well with having only a few things scheduled and the rest on a list? Or are you a member of the OSOM club and have to have everything in front of you on today's space? How big is YOUR day?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Moleskine Month Tabs Hack

Anyone who has read What I'm Currently Using (in the sidebar) will see that I recently added a Moleskine pocket size daily planner to my planner lineup.

This is the second year in a row I've used a pocket size daily planner to carry around in my pocket and jot down those little things that pop into my head that otherwise would be lost. The dated daily format makes it easier for me to find those things again later. Last year I used an Exacompta Daily Pocket for this role, but this year I went with the Mole for the hard cover and especially the elastic strap. For 2011 there will be a showdown between these two planners since the Exacompta Daily Pocket will come with a Smooth cover that has an elastic closure.

But I digress. I wanted to show you my monthly tab hack. First let me show you what I was trying to do. I love having monthly tabs (really just colored areas on the side of the page indicating the month) like the Journal 21:

And the Plan-It planners:

Especially on a day-per-page book, it really helps to have the months indicated to easily find the day I'm looking for. This works great for planning ahead and also for past reference.

So first I went through each page and gathered up each month's worth of day pages. I used a black Sharpie to color the edges of the month's pages in the designated area. I did that for each month, going down the side of the page. That looked really good. I should have taken a picture of it. But I didn't. Instead I blazed forward with Phase 2.

I decided the tabs were very useful, but it would be so much more functional to have the months indicated too. So I wrote the months with their corresponding tabs. The result doesn't look so great. But, this is so useful to me that I don't care that it looks like a kindergartener did it.

I also wrote the year on the spine in silver Sharpie, just because I like to:
I love my ugly monthly tabs. They really do make it a snap to find the month, and subsequently the day, I'm looking for.

Have you done any hacks on your planner? How have they helped you?