Friday, January 21, 2011

My self-made planner

Here's what's been going on behind the scenes here at Plannerisms in the past couple of weeks: I finally took the plunge and made my own planner.

Recently I found out that it is extremely likely that we will face yet another international move this year (and possibly very soon.  Cue freaking-out).  I love the WeekDate planner, and if my life were more consistent I would very happily use it.  The WeekDate is the best system I've found for handling recurring events and not letting repeating weekly things slip through the cracks.  But my life this year will be extremely varied from one month to the next in the run-up to the move, during the transition, and after we get where we're going (destination as yet unknown.  Sounds familiar!!). Because my goal is to settle on a planner by the end of this month and use it for all of 2011, I knew I needed to find a system that could roll with the changes all year long (and keep me sane in the process).

You might remember my planner freak-out during my move last year where I struggled to find a planner that could handle my moving plans.  I also struggled to figure out a notebook system that would allow me to keep track of everything I needed to do to prepare for the move and when it needed to be done.  So for my self-made planner I combined forward-planning (monthly and weekly views) with LOTS of notes pages, in one book.

I used a large Moleskine hard cover lined notebook, because I happened to have a new one lying around and the size and page number were perfect, even though I don't like the black cover and ivory paper.  I would prefer a colorful cover, and white paper.  The Moleskine's ivory paper seems dark to look at every day, and for some reason this particular notebook has darker lines than in previous Moleskine notebooks I've had which I find a little annoying (and complained about in my post here).  But, I didn't want to search for and buy a new notebook when the Moleskine would work just fine.

After I had finished drawing it all up, I thought I wished I'd done it in an ecosystem Watermelon (pink cover) notebook, because the cover is pretty and the paper is white.  But, after looking up the specifics I discovered that 1) the ecosystem notebook has far fewer pages than the Moleskine (192 in the ecosystem, 240 in the Moleskine), which would not have worked well for me, and 2) the cost of international shipping for the ecosystem notebook is about the same as the price of the notebook itself, which is crazy.  If I decide to draw up my own planner again in the future I'll look for a different notebook with a prettier cover and white paper.

I did decorate the cover with the pretty Year Of The Rabbit postcard that I had on my Moleskine vertical weekly planner.

And, this planner lives in my purple Rickshaw Bagworks Folio so that looks nice too.

Now for the specifics:

I designated some pages to write my goals.  I drew up month-on-two-pages calendars.  I have weekly pages with a similar setup to my Moleskine vertical weekly, with days as columns across the top and space underneath for lists.
I taped in pages of international information including dialing codes, time zone map, conversions etc.  I also have a two-page spread for travel planning.

Then behind all of that I have 60 (60!!) pages for notes, which I have numbered.  And the last two-page spread is my Notes Index where I can easily reference what I have listed on each Notes page.  The large number of notes pages is the major difference between this hacked planner vs. the Moleskine vertical weekly planner.  And because there are SO many notes pages, I don't feel like they are too precious to use.

Because the Notes pages are numbered, I can easily use them for overflow on the weekly pages and reference which page to look at to find my list of guests for the party that weekend, directions to where I'm going on a particular day, packing lists, ongoing projects, and anything else.  Having this information in my planner instead of in a separate notebook is more convenient for me, and would also be a more complete archive of my year in one book.

Tucked inside the back pocket of the hacked planner is the removable address booklet from my Moleskine planner.

This planner system is incredibly comprehensive with goals, monthly and weekly planners, plenty of space for lists and notes, and my contacts all in one bound book.

I used this planner for a week (Calling the Dog with it and my WeekDate), and it was scorchingly efficient.  I cranked through a huge number of to-dos that week, met nearly all of my goals, and got a lot done.  And I hated every minute of it. I was so focused on ticking off items from my to-do list I felt like I couldn't take time during the day to have fun.  I was grumpy from so much productivity.

Then I went away for the weekend and missed my Filofax, which you can read all about here.

So I'm currently using my Filofax, and trying to be normal about it and not over-stuff my weekly pages like I usually do.  My Filofax is beautiful and fun, and I love it.  (And having unlimited pages for lists is a huge bonus too).

The good news is, if my Filofax fails for whatever reason, I have my super-efficient planner waiting in the wings to pull me through.

Fun?  Efficiency?  I want to choose fun!


  1. laurie, i am begining to think that you should let go of sticking to one planner for a whole year. you have so many life-changing and planner-changing events in a year to deal with that maybe you should just embrace the fact that you will need several different formats over the course of 12 months.

    sometimes variety suits us best.

  2. colie you are definitely right, that has been my experience in the past. I'm hoping the flexibility of the Filofax will allow me to use it all year. Pretty soon I'm going to order the day per page diary insert so that when things get really busy I can have a page each day to write out all my to-dos.

    But, if I need to switch to something else, I'm not going to beat myself up over it!

  3. Laurie, I use a week on 2 pages diary insert, but then use the day planner sheets ( for daily planning. It works really well for me.
    I hope your new move is exciting!

  4. I choose fun! And you won't have fun with your planner unless you love it, and it sounds like you really, really love your Deco Filo. Personally, I can't use a planner if it doesn't make me happy. Life is hard enough, don't force yourself to use something just because it is functional... happiness is just as important. I flip through my planner all day long because it makes me happy, and therefore it makes me more productive.

  5. Stefee, exactly! What good is a planner if it makes me feel like I'm wearing a harness and pulling a plow? I'll get plenty done with my Filofax, AND enjoy myself along the way. :)

  6. Update: I've gone back to my self-made planner because I've been drifting and aimless for the past couple of weeks and I'm hoping the structure of this planner will get me back on track. I'll use it in a slightly more relaxed fashion than I did at first!