Friday, November 26, 2010

Christine's DIY planner

Here is another excellent guest post from Christine, about her DIY planner from several years ago. I'm not much of a DIY-er but I really admire people who have the creativity and patience to come up with cool things like this!  And as always, I'm constantly on the lookout for new planner ideas.  Thanks Christine, this is great!

Here is a review of a DIY planner from my 2003 student days; one of two I’ve made, but I destroyed one of them at some point (it wasn’t an act of aggression. I was probably moving.).

I used a notebook I once bought in Germany. The only reference to a brand is on the back cover: Eco Art, 100% recycled paper. I like that it’s so simple, perfectly suited as a canvas for your own art.

The medium-thick paper is dyed blue, with one side being rather smooth and the other showing “lines”. I’m afraid you readers may want to help me out with this feature; I don’t know a term for it. I’ve seen it sometimes on more expensive paper with watermarks. I have no idea what the purpose is. These lines are somewhat tactile but never interfered with my writing.

I can’t recall what made me want to create my own agenda; perhaps simply the fact that I had this book and didn’t know what else to use it for. I do also enjoy crafts, something I rarely do anymore though.

When I had some free time, I carved a few stamps out of potatoes, using a simple knife. Most unfortunately, such stamps don’t have a long shelf-life. About one day, to be precise. After that, they’re shriveled up enough to render the carvings useless. One should set a few hours aside for such a project, since the process of applying colours to the design (at times different colours to one stamp) while covering a year’s worth of pages is quite time-consuming. I covered most, but not all the pages. If you'd rather make permanent stamps, arts and crafts stores sell thick sheets of rubber that can be carved with a little V-shaped knife specially made for this purpose. It's really easy and fun, plus it allows for finer details than potatoes do!

What you see in the excerpt here is supposed to be waves, boats, trees, circles and cats. I used Pelikan water colours from grade one (1984!).

At that time - actually, until I found Laurie’s blog - I was pretty clueless as to what kind of planners are out there. It just never occupied me much, plus, as you can see, I only used this planner for the most important information, often forgetting to record things at all. Needless to say, I wasn’t very organized, dividing up things to remember among scrap paper, this book, and - mostly - my memory.

Would I design my own planner again?

Maybe, but I would definitely put more thought and effort into the actual layout. Something that comes to mind every so often is dated stamp (like those that libraries used to use), which might actually look nice and old-school, while making the tedious task of dating the pages more enjoyable. One would still have to change the date constantly, of course. Does all this sound crazy, or what?!

Is there anyone else who’s undertaken a similar task? Have you been harboring a DIY planner project in mind, just waiting for the right time to tackle it? Are you worried that it may not look professional or appropriate in your circles? Or do you fear that all the hard work and aesthetic appeal may deter you from using it? Please feel safe and speak out, because we, the Planner Addicts Anonymous, are here to listen, and possibly help (i.e. prolong your addiction), without judgment.

**Laurie here: I've actually seen a photo of a DIY planner where they used a library date stamp, and it looks really cool.  Click here to see the photo on Flickr.

I created my own planner once out of a Moleskine notebook.  It turned out really nice, but a few weeks after I made it I decided I didn't like the layout after all and abandoned it. That was a lot of time and effort put into something I abandoned so quickly!  But it was a good learning experience.

Please post a comment with your DIY planner experiences!


  1. I failed art class and can't draw a straight line. It's pre-printed planners for me.

  2. Thank you, Laurie!
    Also thanks for providing the stamp-planner-photo - I love that! I swear I hadn't seen it before!

    Bazalkryn - Hahah! My favourite artist and idol F. Hundertwasser fought against the 'straight line'. I'm sure you wouldn't have failed HIS class. (BTW, he was opposed to teaching, too.)

  3. I started making my own DIY planners in May. I knew I wouldn't be able to find a commercial planner to suite all my needs, plus I had many unused notebooks I had collected over the yrs that I needed to use up. I added calendars, drew sections for each day, put tabs in, & made labels for each planner/notebook.

    I kept fiddling around with the layout so each planner is slightly different.

    I started out using 2 pages per day, 1 notebook per month, but then realized I would have to make up a new planner each month & would have a truckload of used planners lying around. So starting in Oct I switched to 1 pg per day, 3 months in one planner.

    Starting in Jan i'll switch to a pre-printed Moleskine planner. Less DIYing, but I'll still have to section off each day in order to record the info i want.

    I don't draw in my planner but have recently started using a separate sketchbook for doodling. :-)

  4. Laura your DIY planners sound cool! Do you mind telling us what notebooks you've used for your DIY planners? And, what Moleskine planner did you choose for 2011? I'm just curious. Thanks! :)