Thursday, December 30, 2010

Things I Love About My Moleskine Vertical Weekly Planner

This week I started using my Moleskine Vertical Weekly planner (large size, hard cover) with the slight tweak of using the top half of the daily columns as my days, and the bottom half as my notes and lists area.  This in effect creates a vertical week + notes format that is proving very useful for me.

Things I like about this planner (there's a lot!!):

1) I remember things visually, so I function best with a weekly days-as-columns format so I can see the layout of each day list-style and the entire week at once.  After only one week with my Filofax 2 Days Per Page format I lost track of what day of the week it was.  I need the structure and linearity of seeing the week across the page.  And the days as columns allows me to arrow over undone tasks to the next day instead of rewriting.

2) Having the lists below the days instead of off to the side keeps them in my line of vision.  Also, this seems like a small thing but makes a big difference to me: the lines for the lists are the same size as the lines for the day spaces, so my writing in both places is the same size.  In my Moleskine weekly notebook, I had to cram my writing smaller into my day spaces while my writing in the lined Notes page was larger, causing me to pay more attention to my lists and less to my days.  In my Trinote, I crammed my writing smaller into the list boxes, causing me to overlook those and pay more attention to my days.  Having my writing the same size in both locations means I'm less likely to overlook anything.

3) The Mole wins the prize for forward planning.  Seeing the entire week at once helps me plan the structure of my week, and turning the page to see subsequent weeks is very useful.  But what makes this planner even more useful is the two-month spread in the monthly planning section.  Seeing two months at a time makes planning the months and year so easy.
4) Convenient places to write Goals.  I have my monthly goals written into the Notes space below the month's calendar, so I can keep my goals in view while planning my month.  This helps take into account any major events when I'm considering what I can accomplish in a month.

I write my weekly goals into the left column of my Notes area below my daily columns on the weekly page (below Monday) to keep my week's goals in view all week long.
And, I've written my Annual Goals on the blank 2-page spread at the very front of my planner to always have my goals easily visible.

5) Notes pages!  This year's Moleskine weekly planner has NINE blank pages for notes at the back of the book. I haven't decided what I'm going to use all the notes pages for yet, but they are very nice to have.  I'll use the 2-page spread directly after the end of the weekly section for forward planning 2012, since this year's Moleskine planners had to sacrifice the next year's calendars to make room for the (excellent and worth it) month view calendars.  One of my complaints about my Trinote was that there was only one blank page for notes, so I didn't feel like there was enough space for creativity, listing goals, longer-term projects etc.  In my Mole I have more freedom to do that.  I also like having blank spaces like end pages and inside covers where I have taped in postcards of my favorite places in Scotland so I can look at them often.

6) Removable address booklet, which I use frequently.  I have all my local contacts in it, business cards taped in, etc.  I transferred my address booklet from last year's Moleskine so I didn't have to re-write anything.  I saved my new address booklet so if we move this year I can use it to write in local contacts at my new location and swap out the booklets instead of having outdated information written permanently into my planner.

7) It's so portable!  Even with all these features the book is only 5 x 8 1/2 inches and less than 1/2 inch thick, and weighs nearly nothing. I can take this with me absolutely everywhere in my bag and not notice the weight, unlike the size and weight of my Filofax or Trinote.

8) It fits in my cool and functional Rickshaw Bagworks Moleskine Folio!
The folio has lots of pockets for pens, papers, sticky notes, maps and anything else I want to have with my planner.

And, it matches my Zero Messenger Bag which I take everywhere and holds all my stuff, so it's a matching set! (The light in this photo makes the purple look more blue than it really is.)
9) I have to say, I like the print font and the uncluttered look of the pages in the Moleskine.  There's nothing to interfere with my writing, and there's no set structure so I can use the weekly pages in different ways if I want/ need to.

Like I said, there's a lot that I like about this planner!  This is a real contender for Planner Of The Year 2011!  In fact, I think this is the one to beat. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Need suggestions: how to use my Moleskine Extra Small Daily Planner?

My pink-covered Moleskine Extra Small daily planner is too adorable not to use!  I need to come up with a use for it.

It's tiny (2 1/2 by 4 inches) so I can take it absolutely everywhere with me.

Using it as my planner is not an option because I have to have a week view.  But, there are lots of things I can use the small daily format for.

In my post When Is A Planner Not A Planner? I have a list of ways to use a dated day per page planner, and I'm considering these options.

One thing I've considered is using it to record daily expenses, because it is so small I can take it everywhere and it would be handy to jot in.  But, it seems like a shame to use such a cute and fun book for such a serious and boring purpose!  (Although maybe making budgeting more fun would actually encourage me to do it!)

I've thought of using it as a type of gratitude or positivity journal (although not in such a hardcore fashion as Yvotchka's!).

Do you have any recommendations or ideas for ways to use this cute little planner?

Monday, December 27, 2010

New Planner for the New Year!

Today most weekly-format 2011 planners begin!

Today I'm starting my Moleskine Vertical weekly planner with my tweaked week + notes format!

I had the idea to use the vertical format like this back in March, so I've been waiting ever since then to try this experiment.  I can't wait to see how it goes!

I was going to start my 2011 WeekDate planner today but realized I should try it in the second half of January instead because until then none of my recurrent weekly events are going on, so to give the WeekDate a fair and realistic trial I need to use it when I have recurrent events.  I've been obsessing about WeekDate planners since July so I'm very interested to see how it will work for me!
 
Below are photos of my two main contenders for Planner Of The Year 2011, my Moleskine vertical weekly and WeekDate planners.

Both of these planners are portable, slim and light. They both have pretty covers (since my addition of the rabbit postcard on the Moleskine for 2011 Year Of The Rabbit).  Both of these planners are easy to carry with me everywhere and pleasant to use.

Here they are both open.  They both have a weekly layout with the days as columns.  These planners are both elegantly simple but in different ways.
The WeekDate's "Only Write It Once" system means nothing slips through the cracks, and everything is visible at all times.  This is fantastic for my out of sight, out of mind tendencies.

The Moleskine vertical weekly has the advantage of being a regular, bound book with a simple layout that I could customize in many ways.  I plan to use the top as my daily columns and the space below for my lists.
I'm on a quest to settle on a planner by the end of January and use it for the entire year!  Can I do it? Only time will tell.

Are you starting a new weekly planner today?  Did you stick with what you used in 2010 or are you using a different planner for 2011?  I'd love to hear what everyone is using, and if you don't mind please give some details about how you'll use it too.

Happy Planning everyone!  :)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Thank you, Trinote!

I've used my 2010 Trinote more than any other planner this year.  Tomorrow I begin my 2011 planner experiment.

Tri and I have been through a lot together in the 5 action-packed months I've been using it.  It helped me through my move, kept me organized through the fall and early winter, and generally kept me sane.

I've done a lot of planner experiments in the time I've been using it, and have always come running back to my Trinote after every planner failure.  So far nothing else has been able to function as well as my Tri.

I'll do a couple more planner experiments to see if I can find something that works as well for me in a slightly smaller book.  But waiting in the wings is my 2011 Trinote just in case I discover than nothing else can match its functionality and organization.

Thank you Tri!  You are the Planner Champion of 2010!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Did Santa bring you any planners, notebooks, pens or other stationery goodies?  Please post a comment so we can all ooh and aah over your haul!  :)

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 24, 2010

There Is No Spoon

Or rather, there is no Perfect Planner, I think.

(Sorry you guys, I feel like I'm telling you all there's no Santa Claus!)

I've come to this realization lately as I'm using my Filofax Deco with 2 Days Per Page planner insert, which is going well but isn't perfect.  Click on the link and scroll down to see my comments and updates on how it's going.

I started thinking of all the planners I've used, what has worked for me and what hasn't.  And it makes me think, of all the dozens/ hundreds of planners I've used, the fact that I haven't found The One makes me think I'm doing it wrong!  I mean, really, I must be.

What I thought was my ideal planner, with a big weekly layout, large day spaces and lots of space to write lists on the weekly page results in total overwhelm when I have so much written on the pages that I don't even know where to look first.

But when I take things off the page and put them behind tabs in my Filofax, I have the out-of-sight, out-of-mind problem.

There is no perfect solution.  I just have to be disciplined enough to check my lists regularly, and re-write things if I need to.  I don't need a better planner, I just need to be a better planner user.

That said, some planners are better for me than others.  For example, if the day spaces are too small to write everything I need, the planner is destined to fail.

Also, some planners are better for me at different times of my life and might not work at all at other times.  Example: the day per page planner that worked beautifully for me for all of 2005, but DPP planners don't work well for me during times when I need to do a lot of planning ahead.

My other issue is that it's impossible to settle on one planner for a whole year when my life (and planner needs) change so much during that year.

Is there any perfect solution?  Probably not.  But I will continue to search for, if not my Perfect Planner, then at least the best planner for my current situation.

And by the way, if you didn't understand the title of this post, go watch The Matrix and you will.  :)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Different planner uses via Quo Vadis Blog

If you haven't seen the Quo Vadis blog's new feature asking people how they use their Quo Vadis planners, you must go check it out!  There are lots of great ideas in there for different ways to use a planner.  Here's the link:

http://quovadisblog.com/usages/

I submitted a modified version of my Daily Goals post, click here to see my Quo Vadis post:

http://quovadisblog.com/usages/scheduling-your-goals/

Also be sure to check out Christine's excellent post Here's To Your Health, which has lots of great ideas for tracking food and health issues:

http://quovadisblog.com/usages/heres-to-your-health/

Do you use your planner in a different-from-usual way?  Let's hear it!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bic 4 Color Pen in Fashion Colors

I found this limited-edition fashion-color Bic 4 color pen at Tesco the other day and had to grab several of them!  I couldn't resist the purple, pink, turquoise blue and green colors.  As soon as my kids spotted mine they each had to have their own too!

BIC 4 Color "Fashion Colors" Medium Point Ball Pen - 2pk (ast)
Even though I originally bought this pen purely for fun, it has turned out to revolutionize my color-coding method. Originally I used black for most things, red for very important things, blue for travel and my husband, and green for exercise.

Now I use the colors as shown in the photo: Purple for me (of course!), pink for my daughter, blue for my son and green for my husband.  Now when my daughter needs to take something in particular to school, has a library book due or has a dance class, it's noted in pink.  When my son has sports practice or learning activities, I write them in blue.  This has really helped me visualize who needs to do what and when!

Another way I use the person-designated colors: when my son has sports (written in blue) and my husband takes him there, I circle it in green (my husband's color).  When my daughter has dance (written in pink) and I take her, I circle it in purple (my color).  This way I know who is taking which kid where and when.  Excellent!

And on top of all of this functionality, the pen looks especially gorgeous in my Deco with my colored tabs!

Pen Win!!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Moleskine 2011 Catalog!

Yes I went searching for the 2011 Moleskine catalog to see what new items are coming out next year. Turns out, there's a lot!

You can see the entire catalog at:

http://www.chroniclebooks.com/catalogs/moleskine/index.html

There are beautiful cover art journals that I can't wait to get my hands on (pg 21).

New Passions journals include Baby, Dog, Cat, and Garden.

New Folio items in colors like yellow, pink and purple (!!).

And of course, the Moleskine 2012 planners!  (What? Just because it's not even quite 2011 yet doesn't mean I'm not already getting excited about 2012 planners!)

In addition to the current lineup, there are several new planners!

There are weekly horizontal planners with cover art by the Moleskine community (pg 88).

Also there are the very exciting Professional Planners (pg 94)! These include:

The Action Planner is in the Extra Large size, vertical format with extra space for notes and lists each week.

The Taskmaster Planner is also in the Extra Large size and has 4 pages for each week: a 2-page spread vertical weekly format, "followed by two pages for weekly actions and projects."  Both of these planners look awesome and are officially on my must-have list for next year!

And, shockingly, there are Cahier planners (pg 97)!  I'm not sure how the cahier cover will withstand an entire year of use, but this is a nice option for a light, flexible cover. These include a one-week per page horizontal format, and 3-Piece planners with weekly and daily pages and large pockets in the back.  Very interesting!

There's even Peanuts and Pac Man cover weekly notebooks and daily planners!

Moleskine's ever-increasing line of planners never ceases to amaze and inspire me.

Here's looking forward to 2012!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Filofax 2 Days Per Page Experiment Continued

It's Day 3 of my Filofax 2 Days Per Page diary experiment, and things are going well.  I thought I'd take the time to discuss why I decided to give my Filofax another try, and why this diary setup in particular might just be The One.

First of all, I experienced a Trinote Fail.  Imagine a 2-page spread, 14 inches across and 9 3/8 inches tall, filled top to bottom and side to side with writing. Really, the weekly pages were so full I didn't even know where to look first.  My day columns were filled with tasks and appointments in such a way that I could hardly see what needed to be done. Faced with all that writing, I couldn't even prioritize what to do next.

I actually went back to my Large Moleskine Day Per Page diary for a couple of days to try to regain some focus. But two days is about the longest that a DPP works for me due to the lack of forward planning.  The other issue I have with a large day per page is I tend to over-task myself and write more things on the page than I'm able to accomplish in the day.

Then the other day I was looking for planner inspiration by going through my favorite photos on Flickr and noticed that gcm2011 uses a 2 Days Per Page diary format in his personal Cuban.

I noticed that each day's space (half the page) is about the same size as a normal size Post-It note. And that made me think of the post If It Won't Fit On A Post-It, It Won't Fit In Your Day that I had on my post A Collection of To-Do Tips.  It occurred to me that this size for the day spaces might just be the ideal size: plenty of space to write details, but small enough to keep me realistic about what I can accomplish in one day.

When I posted my Philofaxy post Your Stories: Reaching Your Goals With Your Filofax, under You Might Also Like a post came up that I wrote in November 2009 called Goals and Tasks.  Obviously goals is a topic I come back to often.

But upon reading my Goals and Tasks post I discovered a recurring issue.  If you can sift through that wordy post you'll find that I wrote:

My problem is, I am terribly "out of sight, out of mind." So if my tasks are behind a tab somewhere, they are forgotten indefinitely. But if I write everything on my weekly pages that I want to do, the low-priority tasks mingle with the more urgent ones, my page fills up with tasks, and I get overwhelmed and don't know what to do next.

Obviously I was having this issue more than a year ago.  I need to figure out a system that allows me to see the important stuff, while having the lower-priority items off my weekly page but not lost forever.

So I have very high hopes for the 2DPP diary.  Big enough to record details.  Small enough to keep me from becoming overwhelmed. My Lists section can hold the lower-priority or long-term tasks so my weekly page doesn't get too full.  Sounds great!

Some potential pitfalls to look out for and figure out how to manage:

1) The 2DPP doesn't allow me to see the entire week in one view. It's Monday-Thursday on one two-page spread, then Friday-Sunday (plus a very handy notes space) on the next 2-page spread.  Also, the days are not columns, which has been my preferred format for awhile now.  Will this be a deal-breaker?

2) No specific place for task lists separate from the day spaces on the Mon-Thurs spread. I'll have to assign tasks to particular days.

3) I was really hoping I could find a bound-book planner that would serve my needs for 2011.  I tend to lose Filofax pages, and I really like the idea of having my entire year encapsulated and archived in one bound book.  But if I can be diligent about archiving, maybe I can almost recreate this effect.  The flexibility of the Filofax (being able to have my various sections, goals, add in pages as needed etc.) might just outweigh the archival qualities of a bound book.

I love everything about my Filofax except that I've had no luck finding a diary format that works for me for the past several years.  I've had enormous success with my Filofax in the past, so I know this system can work for me. But over the years as I've become busier the small day spaces failed, and day per page diaries don't work for me despite multiple attempts.

Could the 2 Days Per Page be the compromise that solves all of my Filofax issues once and for all??

Only time will tell!

But don't worry, I'll still do my WeekDate and Moleskine Vertical Weekly experiments in January. You know me, I can't pass up the opportunity to try a new planner! ;)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Experiment #3: Filofax 2 Days Per Page

Yesterday I had the idea to try the 2 Days Per Page format, thinking it might be a good compromise with more space to write each day while still allowing me to see half my week at a time. Thanks yesterday to luminosity6 for confirming that Sunday shares the page with a space for Notes, so that the days are always in the same position on the page (which is less confusing to me than if the days cycled through different positions on the page).

So I did a rough mock-up of the 2DPP on blank Filofax sheets, only through Sunday the 26th.  I figure if I love this setup after a few days I might order up the insert pack, which would begin Monday the 27th.  Lately, about 3 or 4 days is enough time for me to know if the system will fail. I'm so busy with pre-Christmas preparation (and, hopefully, for guests at New Year, road conditions permitting) that if my system can't keep up, it's evident quickly.

To help those of you who are interested in my frequent planner changes, I have added a Currently Using note there in my sidebar above Search. I've been switching every few days lately in my effort to settle on my planner for all of 2011 before the end of January. I have to cram in as much trail-and-error as I can!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

How I'll use my WeekDate planner

Here are some ways I'll use my 2011 WeekDate planner. I hope this will give anyone using a WeekDate some ideas on how to use it.  And if you are using a WeekDate planner, I would love to hear from you!  Please post a comment!

Below is a photo of my WeekDate completely open.  If you haven't seen how this works yet be sure to check out the WeekDate website at www.weekdate.com or read my review of this planner to learn more about how this unique system works. The brand's motto is, Only Write It Once.  The planner's layout allows monthly recurring items to be recorded in the top section, weekly recurring items in the bottom section, and daily specifics in the middle section.  It's pure genius.

Click on the photo for a larger view:


Here are the dimensions of the day spaces:

Each day's column width is 1 1/8 inch wide (as measured by me). Every day's column is the same size (meaning weekend days, even Sunday, have the same size as weekdays) which is great.

Each daily column in the middle weekly section is about 3 1/2 inches long. And, the columns in the recurrent weekly (bottom) section are 4 inches long. So that's 7 1/2 inches of writing space for each day.

The page opposite for lists and notes is nearly 9 1/2 inches wide and 4 inches long.

So overall, there's tons of space to write each week.

I plan to use the Recurring Weeklies space extensively.  The Recurring Weeklies area is at the bottom of the page, and is large enough to write in everything that happens each week.
(Above photo copyright of WeekDate)

In these spaces I have written: my kids' dance and sports practice schedules, household cleaning routines, trash/ recycling pickup and which week it happens (trash pickup on odd weeks, recycling on even weeks.  The week numbers are printed on the weekly pages for easy reference.  What a relief to not have to write "Trash" or "Recycling" over and over each week!!).  On Sundays I've written reminders of things to prepare for the upcoming week, like anything my daughter will need for school that week and writing out my son's homeschooling lesson plans for the week.

Before I received my WeekDate planner I wondered if the day spaces would be large enough for me to write everything I need to.  Now that I am starting to fill things in for January, I'm realizing that much of each day is recurring and can go in the bottom section, which frees up loads of space in the day spaces in the weekly section.

On the Weekly pages I'll write everything specific to that week.  I love the lined space under the monthly calendar directly to the left of each week.  This is where I will write the week's Goals, to keep them visible all week long.
On each day's space I'll write appointments (circled) and tasks that need to be done that day.  If for some reason I don't get something done that day, I'll just arrow it over to the next day.  No rewriting!

Tasks that need to be done sometime that week but not on any particular day will be written on the opposite page in the lined space:
The lined space is arranged into three columns which I will use for To Pay/ Buy; To Do/ Call, and @Computer.  This setup really helps me streamline my tasks and especially helps me make efficient use of my computer time.

As I have already mentioned often in the past, I am completely out of sight, out of mind. So this planner setup is incredibly appealing to me.  I only have to write it once, and then it's always there in front of me! No more details slipping through the cracks!  It makes me want to do a happy dance!

I'm already sticking things into the clear front pocket like our local library's bookmark with their phone number and opening hours (we go to the library a lot!).  This pocket is very handy for anything you need quick access to (like the Phone cards included) and folds out of sight when the planner is closed.

The WeekDate weekly planner doesn't have monthly planning calendars, but I have figured out a way around that.  Here's what I'm doing.  Below is what the WeekDate planner looks like opened out but with the cover of the weekly section closed:
On the black cover I'm sticking two extra-sticky post-it notes (that my awesome sister sent me awhile back).  The post-its measure 4 inches square, so they fit perfectly on the cover, two side by side.  I'm using blue notes because I associate monthly planning with blue for some reason.  Anyway, the left note will be my list of goals for the current month, and the right note will be upcoming events to prepare for over the next two months.  This will keep these items in view right up front every time I open my planner.

At the end of each month I'll archive my goals for that month on the backside of the weekly page at the beginning of that month, so when I flip through my book I can reference past goals and see how I'm progressing as the year goes on.

There are lots of features in this planner that allow you to customize your WeekDate usage in many different ways, like the lined space on the weekly page, and lined space on the backside of the week pages.  It's a very flexible system that can be used in endless ways and in many different contexts.  For example, I'm a SAHM and use it mostly for household and kids' stuff.  But an executive could use it to keep track of meetings, sales and finances.  Students can put their weekly class schedule in the bottom section to make sure they don't make any conflicting appointments, and write their assignments due in the day spaces. Working parents will probably benefit from the WeekDate system the most, because they can use it to keep up on work and family obligations without having to re-write and double-check everything constantly.  Write it once, then go with the flow!  

I love the little details that make a big difference, like the tear-off tabs for finding the current week instantly and the monthly indicators at the edge of the page to easily find a future date.  We all know how much I love monthly tabs!
It's wonderful how the planner opens out big with lots of space to write, but folds down to such a slim and portable size. And, I love that all seven days are full size columns, with Sunday right up there alongside Saturday for easy weekend planning.

And the beautiful cover art makes me smile every time I look at it.  :)
WeekDate products are available only online, at www.weekdate.com.  If you are interested in these be sure to hurry because they sell out quickly each year!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Avrum's self-made planner

Here is a guest post from Avrum, a family therapist specializing in helping teens and young adults, detailing his fantastic self-made planner layout.

I really like this layout!  Please read below as Avrum explains the hows and whys of his planner:

After trying (and dropping): GTD, AF, DWM, ZTD, 7 Habits, GSD and god knows how many other systems, I came to the conclusion that I needed to create my own system. To do this, I borrowed the best (for me) of the aforementioned systems, as well as my own motivating principles: 

* nostalgia - the joy of being transported back to a certain date as I read my planner
* meaning - a list aligned to my principles & major projects
* creativity - a place to park my ideas, sketches etc

The end result looks something like this (click to enlarge):


Nostalgia, accountability and creativity are the motivating principles behind my planners. The daily sheet is a hybrid of a few systems/ideas:

1. Gratitude: Mostly taken from Dr. Ben Tal-Shahar's work. While I don't subscribe to the hyped claims of positive psychology, I find some of the tools helpful, both for my clients and me. The gratitude section gets filled out before I go to bed.

2. If I... I will: Choosing 1 significant (read: scary or something i'm resisting) task per day. Inspired by many: Leo Babauta, Stephen Covey, Tim Ferris and others. Influenced by David Seah's work (design and process), I use prompts i.e. I will... to increase mindfulness vis-a-vis benefit/cost ratio for a significant task. Without the prompts (and general design aesthetic) all tasks look the same and, in my opinion, reduce motivation.

3. Numbered list: I've tried every time management system you can think of, but I find Bill Westerman's Getting Sh-t Done - http://www.utilware.com/gsd3.html - to be the best for my needs.

4. Dotted section: General note taking

This allows me to punch (yes, I splurged) sketching paper, and place my sketches besides my daily sheets. This provides an excellent snapshot of my business/creative interests and how they played out on each day. The idea of combining everything (to-do's, journal, sketches, etc) was taken from Danny Gregory's wonderful book: The Creative License. http://www.amazon.com/Creative-License-Giving-Yourself-Permission/dp/1401307922

I track my habits, exercise data and other metrics via Joe's Goals. I use stickk.com to establish new habits via Leo Babauta's 6changes method: http://6changes.com/post/284548235/method

It may seem odd that a family therapist would spend so much time on a daily planner. A little context - I run a private practice:


Produce a podcast:

Record music:

As well, my wife (a child and adolescent psychiatrist) and I are co-authoring a book. We also have a 5 mo old baby boy.

As you can see, a trusted system allows me to stay on top of all these projects.

Avrum thank you so much for sharing your system and methodology with us!  I love how you've combined professional, personal, organizational and creative all in one!

Avrum, congratulations on reaching your own Planner Nirvana!!!

I regret to inform you...

that my Filofax experiment has failed.  A moment of silence please.

Here's what went wrong:

1) Written in too many places:

I knew that writing everything in three times (in the monthly, weekly and daily sections) would be a lot to keep up on.  But that wasn't the half of it.

I wrote my monthly goals on the back side of the monthly pages.  As a result, my goals weren't visible while looking at my month.  Even worse, my weekly tasks were written on the back side of the weekly pages, again out of sight. I had to look at my weekly to-dos often, and write them into the day pages where I thought I might do them. But if those tasks didn't get done that day, I had to re-evaluate when I might get it done and write it in then.  Wash, rinse and repeat.

As a result I had several different places to look for any given thing I'd written.  And, I didn't have any overall views of anything.  The other day I needed to look something up in my Trinote and realized there are only two views: my weekly page with that week's tasks, and my monthly calendar with that month's goals.  So much simpler.  And no flipping page after page to find what I need.

I gave up on this system after just a few days because it was proving to be a lot of work double and triple checking that I had things written where they should be.  After only a few days I was already losing things in the pages. This week I'm very busy and have a lot to prepare for, and I can't afford to miss any details.  I went back to my trusty Trinote to make sure I get everything done properly during this very busy time.  This system could possibly work for me if I had more patience and diligence with keeping up on it.  But my goal for my 2011 planner is the opposite: I want my planner to be as simple as possible. 

2) Size matters:

Part of the reason I'm looking for something other than my Trinote is to have a smaller, slimmer and lighter book.  My Filofax is not.

Below is the lineup of the Planner Finalists.  Left to right they are Trinote, WeekDate, Moleskine vertical weekly (with the rabbit postcard I got as a free gift with my Rabbit planner taped to the front), and personal size Filofax.  As you can see, the Filofax has the smallest footprint.  
But man is it fat!  The Filofax is the same thickness as the other 3 planners stacked up.  (Please ignore my messy kitchen in the background.)
 Here is the Filofax next to the Moleskine weekly vertical.  Yeah.
And don't even get me started on the weight.  The Moleskine and the WeekDate are virtually weightless, the Filofax weighs a ton.

I'm glad I did this Filofax experiment, because I've tried for years now to make my Filofax work well for me as my planner and this system was definitely worth a try.

So now I've narrowed it down to the WeekDate, Moleskine vertical weekly, or Trinote!

Starting December 27th I'll have a competition between my WeekDate and Moleskine.  By the end of January I'll either have  a clear winner, or the Trinote will prove to be the best after all.

There can be only one!!!!!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Moleskine planner combinations

I have so many 2011 Moleskine planners by now, I've been thinking of ways to use more than one at a time.

First, the players.  You may have seen my reviews of the following 2011 Moleskine planners, but in case you haven't, here they are again:

2011 Extra Small Daily and Weekly planners

2011 Large hard cover Daily and Vertical Weekly planners

2010-2011 Large Weekly Notebook

Here are some interesting combo possibilities:

Large Daily and Extra Small Weekly:

The large Daily planner could stay on my desk and record all my daily details, and my Extra Small Weekly could be my go-everywhere planner with the week summarized at a glance.  If I need to take them both with me, they both fit nicely in my Rickshaw Bagworks Daily Planner Moleskine folio.  Look how the Extra Small fits perfectly in the smartphone pocket!  (I've shown it sticking up for the photo but it actually fits all the way down in the pocket.)

Alternatively, I could use my Extra Small Daily planner as my satellite to jot down details on the go, while my Large planner (whether Daily, Vertical Weekly, or Weekly Notebook) stays home on my desk.  The Extra Small Daily is tiny and can go everywhere with me, but each daily page is still plenty big to write details.  Here you can see my Extra Small Daily with my Vertical Weekly.  I love this photo!

Another option is to use my Vertical Weekly with its big week view layout along with a Moleskine cahier notebook to keep my lists in.  This has the advantage of allowing my weekly schedule and lists to be visible simultaneously with the books open next to each other. This would be a great option for having loads of space to write each day and also to have loads of space for my weekly lists. I could date the cahier pages "Week Of..." to keep track of what tasks I did when.

Here you can see my Vertical Weekly with my large Cahier (with my Life Is Good sticker on the cover).

Because my Rickshaw Bagworks Classic Moleskine Folio is designed to hold the large Moleskine journal (which is thicker than the 12 month weekly planner), the folio can hold the weekly planner with the thin cahier notebook on top of it.  Zip and go!

I like all of these ideas!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Filofax experiment continued

It's day two of my Filofax experiment, and so far so good!  Already I really like being able to see the daily details and the week layout.  Today I got so much more done than I normally would on a Saturday, and I felt more focused on what I needed to accomplish.

I've been playing around with my pages and deciding what to put where.  I realized I'll be opening my rings often to add and remove diary pages, so I needed to rearrange some things to make the diary pages closer to the middle of the book.  I even tried putting the address pages in the front of the book but didn't like that.  I ended up putting my reference information and maps all up front, and took out some pages that didn't really need to be in there.

Now my Filo is holding monthly pages through all of 2011, 5 months of weekly pages and a month of daily pages, which is great.

Something I've discovered that I love: I can write my monthly goals on the backside of the Franklin Covey monthly pages, which is wonderful.  I can also write tasks that have to happen in a particular week on the back side of that week's pages.  Then I can transfer those tasks to the daily pages when they need to be done.

I've made my own day on two pages dairy from lined pages, very unstructured.  If I manage to stick with this system, I'm considering my options for day per page planners.  (See previous post for more on that.)

Possible pitfall:  Writing each appointment in 3 different places might be the downfall of this system.  Already I've caught a couple of appointments that didn't get transferred to where they needed to be.  All this re-writing has me thinking the "Only Write It Once" system of WeekDate sounds really good.  I'll be experimenting with that next month so we'll see which system works better for me!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Experiment #2: Filofax daily + weekly

In my quest for the Perfect Planner I find myself, unexpectedly, trying again with my Filofax.

Stefee has had some very convincing reasons why a day on 2 pages setup in my Filofax could work for me.  (To read her advice for me and how she uses hers, click here on my Experiment Over post (which details my Daily Moleskine Fail) and scroll down to see her comments.)

In addition to Stefee's sound logic, I've been inspired lately by Jotje's recent guest post on Philofaxy about how she uses her Personal size Filofax to keep control of her business, her (large) family, personal stuff, life, the universe and everything.  It made me realize that a Personal size Filo really and truly is big enough to handle a very busy, multi-faceted life.  Just when I had convinced myself it couldn't be done!

Jotje uses a week on 2 pages diary insert (to see the layout of her week) and also day on 2 pages. (to see the daily details).  Hmmmm, veeeery interesting.

This reminded me of how Jess uses a week on 2 pages and also day per page diaries for long and short range planning.  Confession time: I tried Jess's method of using the week on 2 pages with a To Do sheet in the middle back in October, and it quickly failed because the day spaces were crammed so full with my writing I could hardly read it.  Also I didn't like how the To Do page broke up my view of the week.  So I quickly abandoned that method.  But now I'm thinking of how I could adapt it with daily and weekly pages.

Then I thought of someone else we all know and love, Oni, who uses weekly and daily pages in her Filofax too!

Could this be The Way???

Alright, let's do this thing.

So I immediately busted out my personal size Deco Filofax and pulled out everything I don't use.  I figure, my Filo is already fat enough, but if I'm going to use weekly and daily pages the thing will be huge.

I don't happen to have any daily pages for my Filofax for this year, so I fashioned some from white lined pages.  First I'm trying a day on 2 pages setup, and if I find this excessive I'll switch to day per page.

If I do stick with one day on 2 pages, my options are:

1) to buy a 2011 Filofax day per page diary insert and put a lined notes page (or a To Do page) between the day pages for a modified D2P. 

2) Order the Filofax day on 2 pages diary insert from Filofax France (click here for link).

3) Take Stefee up on her very kind offer to send me Franklin Covey's D2P inserts, which is very tempting!


On with the experiment...

I normally use clear page markers to mark my place in my monthly calendars and weekly diary.  I added another one for the daily section.  Then I realized 3 of them is confusing, so I added some of the colored tape flags from the sticky notes insert to have easy color coding for monthly (blue), weekly (green) and daily (bright pink).

Next came the weekly pages.  I had my pink week on 2 pages diary loaded into my Filo, but I took it out and put in the cotton cream week on 2 pages that I happened to have lying around. (Note: this is why I never throw away any current-year planner.  You never know what crazy shit I'll try before the year is up.)  My idea was that I could write my weekly goals into the This Week space at the top left page.

But this was an immediate Fail.  Even for just an overview, I have to have days as columns to see the layout of my week.  Luckily I happen to have some Franklin Covey week on 2 pages inserts with the days as columns.
I have to say, the FC inserts look pretty darn classy in my Deco.

I tried these back in April and quickly abandoned them due to, you got it, not enough space each day. At that time I bought the April-May-June quarter and the entire year July 2010-June 2011, so if I really like these I'll have to order up more to get me through 2011.  Luckily Franklin Covey inserts start quarterly and run for a full 12 months, so I could just get another July start planner.  But I'm getting waaaaayyyy ahead of myself now.  This experiment has to work first!

My FC weekly insert came with tabbed monthly calendar pages too.

Even though I prefer the layout and look of the Filofax monthly pages, I might just use the FC monthly pages so I can write my Monthly Goals and Monthly Reviews on the reverse of each month.

You see, Franklin Covey inserts have a feature that Filofax inserts do not: the back side of each diary page is lined for notes, instead of the diary printed back to back like in Filofax. This allows you to stick tabs into your diary section, splice months into the weekly or daily section, or whatever you want.

In fact, this splice-able feature allows for so many interesting combinations: I could have the month with the appropriate weeks following, and the days between the weeks.  But I don't think I'll do that.

Already I'm noticing I can't have many weekly pages (and hardly any day pages) because otherwise my Filo won't close.  I usually like to have pages as far into the future as I can, so this feels a little limiting.  I can still have a whole year of monthly pages though, so that is good.

I'm feeling slightly overwhelmed with putting this together for some reason, and sometimes I wonder, why am I doing this again?

But if it will work for me, I think it would be great to see my weekly layout and have my daily details in a separate section.  As much as I love my Trinote, I tend to fill the week pages up with my messy handwriting and end up staring at it like a deer in the headlights wondering what I should do first.

Should I just be tidier in my Trinote?  Should I go all out with my Filofax?

I'm at the very earliest stages of this experiment, and am still putting it together so anyone who has any day-per-page advice for me (or even just supportive cheering-on) please post a comment!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Uncalendar Lifestyle Half-Size

I've said it before: Uncalendar is the best system for setting and achieving goals I've ever seen.  The book helps you think about and organize your goals, break them into do-able tasks, and get them down on paper.  Then, the crucial thing happens: it helps you figure out how to work your goal-tasks into your daily and weekly schedules.  There's even plenty of space to record your progress, which is crucial for achieving your goals.

I've reviewed the Full-Size Uncalendar Lifestyle (click here to see review) but I think the Half-Size Uncalendar layout is different enough to merit its own review.

The Full-Size Uncalendar has 8 1/2 x 11 inch pages, and the Half-Size pages are half that size for greater portability.  The 8 1/2 by 5 1/2 inch book is perfect for carrying in your bag or backpack while still having lots of space to write on the pages.

Uncalendar planners have undated weekly and monthly pages so you can start anytime.  This is great for people whose "year" starts in June or October or some weird time.  It allows you to start your planner at the beginning of a project and use the planner for the duration of that project to have the entire timeline all together.  Something I've never done but thought of is starting a new Uncalendar on my birthday and having that entire year together in one book.  Also since the pages are undated, you can use the planner only when you need it so you don't waste pages when you are on vacation.

Click on the photo below to read the first page of the Uncalendar to get an idea of the philosophy behind the system:
Also along the side of the book you can see the tabbed sections are: Day-Week, Month-Goals, Notes-Techs, and Data.

In addition to the pages I've shown below of the layouts, there are several pages of tips and advice on how to adapt and use the pages to suit your needs best; setting goals; managing tasks; motivating yourself; and daily reminders to help you in the categories of Diet and Exercise, Family and Friends, and Career and Work.  The tone of the book is very motivational and friendly.

The Day-Week section has the weekly planning spreads.  Below is the weekly layout, which is different from the Full size layout (where the weekdays are columns and the weekend days below, click here to see image).  You can click on any of the photos below to see a larger view.

The right page has the weekly schedule with day spaces, and at the top of the page is space to write the main goals for the week.  Each day's space has a highlighted line at the top to note the major event of the day, and a green line at the bottom for daily totals (expenses, exercise, etc.), meal planning, or anything else you want to highlight for the day.  There is a box at the beginning of each line to note appointment times or to check off items completed.
The left page is the Worksheet with plenty of space to list tasks, break projects down into next steps, jot phone numbers or notes, or doodle.  There is a grid to track goals progress or financial details.  At the top of the page are highlighted boxes for your Daily Reminders or other important things to keep in mind.  These pages make great reference later when you need to look up your notes or records.

The Month-Goals section has goal-setting pages and monthly calendars.  Below are the Goals-Setting and Monthly Planning pages to guide you in setting your larger Lifestyle goals and then breaking them into do-able tasks.  (There is more information on how to do this written in the Uncalendar pages).  Also you can check out the Uncalendar's Training Room website for more advice on how to use the pages to set your goals.
Below you can see the layout of the monthly calendars.  The undated monthly pages spread the month over two pages for maximum writing space in the day squares.  Also there is an empty space at the beginning of each week for notes, reminders, goals, totals or anything you want to write.  Side note: I prefer to have my monthly calendars go Monday-Sunday rather than Sunday-Saturday, so I mark out the days written and write Monday-Sunday in the space above. 

In addition to the weekly and monthly calendars, there are two pages like the one below for annual planning for current and future years:

Also in the very back of the planner there are dated 3-year calendars for reference (and to help you fill in the dates in your planner):
On the left page you can see there's space for frequently used numbers and other data for handy reference.

The Notes-Techs section has twelve of these two-page spreads for notes, graphs and reminders.  (The Uncalendar Lifestyle Pro planners in the 3 ring binders have twice as many Notes pages, and A-Z tabs for contacts.)  I like to use a two-page spread each month for my monthly goals and monthly reviews.  Click on the photo to see a larger view so you can see the columns for blocking notes, numbered lines, and graph for charts.  This structure is great for organizing notes.
(Uncalendar also sells notebooks of just these notes pages, Note Taker's Delight.)

The Data section has a quick-reference A-Z page, graphs and charts for reference.
The book holds an entire year of plans, goals and notes within its flexible covers, yet still manages to be only 1/2 inch thick and very light!

You can purchase the Half-Size Uncalendar Lifestyle (with a variety of cover colors) at the Uncalendar website (click here to go directly to the product page).

You can see the entire line of Uncalendar products at www.uncalendar.com.  Don't miss their Customer Comments, they are very inspiring!

You can see my post about how I use this Half-Size Uncalendar here at Time For New Goals!

If you find this system interesting but need more space to write, check out my review of the Full-Size Uncalendar here.

To read about how the Uncalendar system can help you set and achieve your goals, read my post Secrets of Success.

And whether you are interested in the Uncalendar or not, be sure to look through The Training Room.  It's completely free, and has loads of tips for goal setting, managing people, projects and finances, and other generally motivating advice.  I like to go there every now and then to recharge.

Got goals? Get an Uncalendar!