Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Before Plannerisms

Girl In Maths' latest post in her Spotlight On A Website series focused on Philofaxy. In particular she linked to several posts that either I commented on or wrote as a guest poster before Nan asked me to become a regular contributor to the blog. Wow, there was a whole lot of planner angst going on in my comments!

Those were the days before I started this blog, Plannerisms, as a release for my planner angst. Back then, my planner venting took the form of sending detailed emails to my sister going back and forth on which planner I should or shouldn't be using. Seriously, my sister is a saint with extreme patience for putting up with me for so long!  She must've wanted to say, "It doesn't MATTER, just choose one!!"  But, she never did. She was always very understanding!

I read Philofaxy religiously, hoping to find a solution to my Filofax issues. I had been using my personal Buckingham for several years with varying success. Finally I felt like my Filo was too fat and out of control, so for 2005 I used a bound-book A6 size day per page planner. At the beginning of that year I gave birth to my first child, and moved to Russia two months later.

Before that point in time, my husband and I had traveled the world together, both of us doing cool things. We both worked in Alaska and Hawaii. We were both Peace Corps volunteers in Nepal. We were both professionals in Washington DC.

Then suddenly, I was a new mother, a stay-at-home-mom, in a foreign country where I didn't know anybody. I was all alone with a baby 12 hours per day, while my husband was out doing big diplomatic stuff in Russia.

I had a complete identity crisis.

A year and a half after my daughter was born, her brother was born. Suddenly I had two kids under two years old, and was out of my mind with sleep deprivation and diaper-changing.

Add to all of this the fact that we traveled internationally often. In the 3 years we were in Russia, we made 5 round-trips to the US and back.  With babies and toddlers. 30 hours door to door.  Anyone who has ever flown with a baby or toddler can image how hellish those journeys were. But at the time it was the only way for the grandparents to see the kids as babies.

And, we traveled to Scotland at least once per year for vacation, as a much-needed escape to the countryside and away from the urban grind.

So my planner needs were off the charts: coping with two babies and the household while at home, and having all of our international, medical, and contacts information with me when we traveled.

You can get a glimpse of my planner insanity in my comments on this Philofaxy post of Nan's.  And, my big comment on this post pretty much sums it up. Wow!

But despite my comment, everyone who reads this blog knows that my internal struggle has not ended. It continues even now.

I do think of my planner as a reflection of my personality. I struggle with finding the right planner for my needs, which change all the time. And, I can assume, my needs will continue to change. I just need to find a planner that can keep up!

As an example, let's review my year so far:

At the beginning of January I was living in Scotland, I thought indefinitely. My kids were in school and weekly activities, and we traveled occasionally within Scotland.

Then two weeks later everything was turned on its head as we discovered we would be moving to Indonesia in just 8 weeks. I felt like the floor had dropped out from under me. Suddenly all of my plans and goals were irrelevant. I felt like throwing all of my planners out.

But luckily I didn't because soon the moving preparations geared up, and I needed all the planning power I could get.

We arrived here in Indonesia last month, and it's been non-stop adjustment since then. Househunting, getting the kids into school, meeting new people and capturing loads of information.

Now I'm finally starting to settle in a little bit, and get back into a routine of school, activities, and housework.  Add to that job searching (to start work in August when both kids will be in school).  And scheming ways to get back to Scotland.

Then if all goes well, we'll be moving back to Scotland again next year! It would be our third international move in three years!

I don't know what planner could possibly adapt to all of these circumstances, while still being small enough to fit in my everyday bag.

Do you?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

WeekDate Wall calendars now $22 less!!

Those of you who have read my reviews of WeekDate products know I love their innovative design and make-your-life-easier approach.  Now I have some really exciting news!

WeekDate Wall calendar image copyright WeekDate, Sellers Publishing Inc.
Until recently, WeekDate Wall calendars were only available for purchase on www.weekdate.com, where the price was $36.99. Now due to their new licensing agreement, WeekDate Wall calendars will be sold by Barnes & Noble, Calendars.com and Amazon, for much cheaper prices!  Below are the product links and prices:

Barnes &Noble: http://tinyurl.com/3drf37o ($13.49)
Calendars.com: http://tinyurl.com/3he5qj8 ($14.99)
Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/428ur3z ($14.99)

The WeekDate Wall calendars start August 2011 and go all the way through December 2012. They are available now for pre-order at the links above.

WeekDate Wall calendars, like the WeekDate weekly planners, have an Only Write It Once format that allows you to keep your monthly and weekly recurring events visible without re-writing them, ever!  And if a recurring event changes, you make the change once and you're done!  No more flipping through pages or erasing week after week.  Click here to see how it works. Click on the image below for a larger view.
Image copyright WeekDate, Sellers Publishing Inc.

Click here to see more information about the WeekDate Wall calendar and to learn more about its innovative Only Write It Once format!

You can also follow WeekDate on Twitter ( www.twitter.com/weekdate ) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/WeekDate ) for handy time management tips.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Raise your hand if you're having planner issues.

*Raises hand*

terriknits commented on my previous post that she has seen a lot of posts recently about people being dissatisfied with their current planner format.  I know I am! Who else is having planner trouble??

Some of it may have to do with the fact that it's nearly impossible to find a replacement for a problematic planner this time of the year. I keep telling myself that if I can just hang on until my Extra Large 18 month Moleskine weekly notebook starts at the end of June, it will solve all of my problems.

But right now my life is changing yet again, and it's hard to find a planner that can cope.  I'm currently using my self-made planner in my Daycraft notebook, which has a week + notes format.  But I have lots of new things going on: my blogging life is ramping up; I'm looking for a job starting in August when both kids will be in school; and I'm desperately looking for a way to get back to Scotland next year with possibilities including job searching and applying for a graduate degree program there.  So I busted into my lovely A5 Domino (but not as my planner) and gave each of these working topics its own tabbed section.

Of course I wish I could have my planner and tabbed sections all in one book for convenience, but this is a road I've been down many times before. The A5 binder is too big to take everywhere with me, and the Personal size Filofax diary pages are too small (despite my multiple attempts with a variety of formats).  So for now I have to be content having my planner separate from my working sections, so that I can take my planner with me and leave my A5 Filofax at home.

I have found a definite pattern of planner formats I tend to cycle through:

Large week + notes format bound planner:  This tends to work for me most of the time, but when I have a lot of things going on I want sections in my Filofax to keep track of all of my ongoing projects.  Which makes me want to have everything in one book. So I try...

A5 Filofax with week on 2 pages diary and categorized tabbed sections: This seems glorious for awhile until I get tired of hauling the gigantic book around with me, and I realize it's impossible to take along when I travel.  So then I go to... 

Personal size Filofax: Because I want the portability and flexibility of having my diary and tabbed sections all in one book. But this too quickly breaks down because the day spaces are too small, and I need a weekly view.

So then I go back to the large week + notes format planner, and it all starts over again.  Sometimes I throw into the mix a day per page planner, which works fine when I don't have much to plan ahead for but lots to write. I love the detailed record it creates, but it always falls down in the planning-ahead department.

So that's my usual cycle of planners.  Does anyone have any recommendations for me to try something different?

Do you tend to cycle through planner formats?  Are you currently suffering from planner dissatisfaction?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Reader needs help: notes on the go?

Reader TerriKnits emailed me recently because she had trouble posting a comment here on Plannerisms. Sorry Terri! She is looking for suggestions on how to manage notes and lists on the go without hauling around too much stuff. Here is her email:

I was reading one of the "suggested" posts at the bottom of this one - from November "My Ideal Planner". I suddenly realized that my experiment with the vertical weekly planner has actually been going pretty well. (I got this one about six weeks ago? http://www.staples.ca/ENG/Catalog/cat_sku.asp?CatIds=&webid=854679&affixedcode=WW) It has things I want/need (monthly 2-page spread with tab; vertical untimed day spaces, enough 'real estate' per day to write down what I need to).

The only problem I'm still grappling with is my extra or satellite notes. The weekly planner has space enough for my work info and household chores, reminders, etc. but I always have assorted notes throughout the day. (books I want to read, things to buy, things to google, knitting projects, etc.) I tried a couple of different format/sizes of books. Right now I just have a little 4x6 coil notebook. Not very sophisticated, but will do until I figure it out.

Ideally I'd like a smaller notebook to tote along. I've got a small Moleskine I might try next. I'm a fan of the wire/coil bound notebook, though, so I can fold it over to write.

Still looking and open to suggestions on how to incorporate my need for extra note space but still not carting around a ton of books/binders.

My recommendations to her included a Filofax, or a pocket size notebook to capture info during the day and then transferring it to designated notebooks or Filofax sections later.

I know many of us grapple with where to put notes and lists when they don't fit into our planner. Do you have any suggestions?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Letts 200th anniversary and 2012 products!

Letts is coming out with some very exciting new products for its 200th anniversary in 2012!

Check out the Letts 2012 online catalog here.

The first thing that caught my eye, on page 5, is their special 2012 diary to commemorate their bicentenary! I absolutely must have one! And, how cool is the photo of the very first commercial diary from 1812, I would love to see that in person!

There are several products to commemorate the 2012 Olympics in London, including a countdown diary.

The academic-year diaries are available now on www.Letts.co.uk.  Here are some that look especially cool:

The beautiful Butterfly weekly diary comes in A5 or A6 sizes.

The Festival planner comes with a gel pen and pull-out planner.

The Academic Your Design has a clear cover you can put your own picture into, and a week + notes format!

The diaries listed above also come with a ruler/pagemarker that fits on the spiral binding!

Getting into the 2012 diary selection, one that really caught my eye is the Image range on pg 42-43 of the catalog.  It has a weekly format where Saturday and Sunday have MORE space than the weekdays! There's also space on the weekly spread for your To-Do list. AND, there's monthly grid calendars! The A5 Lavender one went straight on my Must-Have list.

Backing up a little bit, the covers and format selection on the Renaissance range are excellent.

And there are more beautiful covers on the Blossom and Kyoto ranges.

I was happy to see the Scotland diary is still included in the range on page 54 of the catalog.

Their Noteletts notebook range has been expanded with some excellent cover choices.

I'm really happy to see that Letts has such a great selection of beautiful, fun, colorful covers. And I'm very excited they've added new formats to their range, especially the week + notes and the inclusion of the monthly grid calendars!

And I know I'm several months premature, but Happy Bicentennial Letts!  Wishing you at least 200 more years of successful business.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Self-made planner in Daycraft Signature Sketchbook

Sorry everybody, my A5 Filofax failed terminally. I really do have to be able to carry my planner around with me everywhere, and the A5 Filo binder is just too big.

And my Minister weekly planner wasn't doing it for me because now I don't have many scheduled events (so I don't need the timed daily columns) but I do have loads of tasks (so I need more space each week for lists).

I'm pining for my Uncalendar Half-Size planner, which would be perfect in this situation. It has month-on-two-pages grid calendars, week on one page with the opposite page for lists, and loads of notes pages. Click here to see my review of it with lots of photos of the interior pages.

But since my Uncalendar is on a boat somewhere with the rest of my household shipment, I had to create my own version. Perfect excuse to buy a new notebook! I bought a Daycraft Signature Sketchbook in the large (A5) size. You may remember my review of the small size sketchbook (which you can click here to see).  I bought the sketchbook here in Jakarta at Aksara bookstore in Kemang. (@Aksara_Store on Twitter).

In my previous review of the Daycraft Signature Sketchbook I went on about the beautiful soft cover and the super-smooth 100g paper. I have to say, it's very pleasant to use as a planner because I love to handle it all day! I'm very tactile and I love touching the soft cover and smooth paper.  And, the purple cover is gorgeous too! ;)
The paper is cream colored, and the page edges contrast nicely with the purple cover.
The cover is smooth with Daycraft embossed on the back.
As far as I know, Daycraft is still looking for distributors in the US and Europe. If you don't have a Daycraft retailer near you, you an order them from Australia on the Vera Chan website (http://www.verachan.com/online-shop/) with worldwide shipping. You can find Daycraft notebooks here: http://www.verachan.com/online-shop/stationary/ and the Signature notebooks are listed as "Classic notebook." She has generously offered Plannerisms readers 20% off all products when you enter the discount code plannerisms at checkout!

Here's my self-made planner. It's pretty simple. I made open, untimed spaces for the days, and left the opposite page open for lists and notes (click on the photos for a bigger view):

At the top of each week's page I stamped the beginning and end dates for the week with my new date stamp that I bought right before I left Scotland:

I also made month on two pages calendars for April, May, June and July:


I actually put the month calendars in front, and the weeks behind. I only did until July because that's when my Extra Large Moleskine 18 month weekly notebook starts, and I plan to switch to that planner when it starts (on June 27th to be exact).  So this planner is really just a stopgap until then. But, if I get to July and want to stay with this planner, there are enough pages in the book that I can draw up monthly and weekly pages all the way through the end of the 2011-2012 school year.

The day spaces measure only about 40 sq. cm, which are not large enough for me when I'm busy.  (From experience I know I need day spaces of 65 sq cm or larger when I'm busy.)  But I think these day spaces should work fine for me until July because I'm not very busy.  The Extra Large Mole weekly notebook day spaces are about 72.5 sq cm, so when school starts up along with after-school activities and all that I'll have the big day spaces to handle it all.

The Signature sketchbook doesn't have a pocket in the back, so I taped in my address booklet that I removed from one of my large size Moleskine planners. I taped my favorite post card of Glen Coe to the front of the address booklet.
The colors on the postcard happen to look really good with the purple cover!
So there's my very simple stopgap planner in my new beautiful Daycraft Signature sketchbook to get me through the next couple of months until my Moleskine weekly notebook starts.

Interestingly, this is the third year in a row I've been chomping at the bit to start a Moleskine 18 month weekly notebook in July! The first year I also made my own planner to get me through until my Mole started (which you can read about in my 13 Planners post, scroll down to #s 7 and 8).  Last year I was impatient to start my new 18 month Moleskine because it had the new monthly calendar grids, so I went back to my old Mole weekly notebook (which you can read about in my 2010 Planners Tally post, scroll down to #5).

Both of the Large size weekly notebooks failed me due to too-small day spaces. I don't know why I never tried the Extra Large size before! I'm thinking the larger day spaces will make ALL the difference. What do you think? ;)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Alwych all-weather notebooks from Scotland

It was on my very last day living in Scotland that I discovered these amazing Scottish notebooks! Actually even before I moved to Scotland last year Massimo had recommended I check these out (see his comment on my New Life, New Planner? post in August last year).  But then after I arrived I completely forgot.  Then reku tweeted me about them a few days before I moved away last month, and I realized I very nearly missed my opportunity to try these most Scottish of notebooks.

On the Friday before I moved on Tuesday, I phoned up to order directly from the company, and managed to place my order just in time to receive it before I left. They were super-fast in getting my order out that very day. In fact, my package arrived the next day (Saturday) while I was out, and since it was too big to fit through my letter slot I got a card to go pick it up at the post office on Monday, the day before I left. Which is probably for the best because otherwise I would have spent the rest of the weekend playing with my new notebooks instead of finishing up my pre-move task list!  I quickly snapped some photos before tossing these into my suitcase.



Alwych notebooks (www.alwych.co.uk) have an all-weather cover and an old-school retro look I love. Here's the large one:
Here's the pocket size one:

I wanted to order one in each of the four sizes, but they were temporarily out of the two middle sizes so I got two each of smallest and largest sizes. The smallest is perfect to fit in a pocket, and the largest is still just 8 by 5 inches so it fits easily in a field bag. Click on the photo below to enlarge so you can see the measurements of all their books.


The page edges are blue, which looks cool:

The page lines are green:

The ruling in the large book is slightly wider than in the pocket size book. Click on the photo for a better view:
The all-weather cover is flexible:

The binding is sewn so pages won't fall out of the book:

Click on the photo below to read the product info sheet which has information about the paper and binding. There are 280 pages in the large book:
 And 160 pages in the pocket size book:
Here is a shot of my Alwych notebook collection with my beautiful back yard I had in Scotland in the background. I miss that back yard!!!


There is a fantastic post on Black Cover that compares the Alwych notebook to Moleskine.  Please click here to go read it then come back.

And let me just stand and applaud.

I completely agree, I've never been impressed by Moleskine's rhetoric about what famous people used to use a similar notebook.  But I am very impressed that real-life people with outdoor jobs and activities (like paleontologists and ornithologists) use Alwych notebooks in all weather conditions. I identify much more with that crowd.

I am disappointed with myself that I didn't get my hands on these notebooks right when I first moved to Scotland. I would have loved to fill up my Alwych notebooks with field observations of birds and plants in the forest, sea life when I visited the coast, and wildlife observations of all kinds. Maybe I'll save one of these specifically for when I return to Scotland.  And you can bet when I do get back to Scotland I'll order up a shedload of these great notebooks!

Click here to order Alwych notebooks online: http://www.alwych.co.uk/order_online.html or call 01698 357 223 to order. To order from outside the UK, email info@alwych.co.uk with your order and full mailing address, and they will reply with your total including shipping. They are very nice people there and extremely helpful, so just give them a call and they will be happy to help you out. :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

It's the most difficult time of the year

For changing planners, that is. That's because almost all of the current-year planners are sold out by now, and the academic-year planners don't start for a few months yet. For anyone looking to start a new planner now, you either have to search far and wide, suffer through a couple more months using what you've got, or switch to an undated planner.

I had the realization this morning that for about 4 years in a row now I've wanted to switch planners in March-April and had a hard time about it. This has to do with two factors: it's often springtime when I move or have some other life-changing event. And, I change planners about once a month, and I just happen to notice it's more difficult this time of year than any other.

Is anyone else itching to start a new planner now and having a hard time finding one?  Know any good undated planners?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Reader in search of bookmark for spiral books

Reader Sharon Y emailed me recently asking if I've ever seen a bookmark that fits onto the spiral binding of planners or notebooks. I haven't so I thought I'd put the question out to you all.  This would be a very useful thing if it exists!

The thing about these types of bookmarks is that the attachment has to match the size of the spiral, so it's difficult to have a standard size for the bookmarks.

Has anyone seen these for purchase anywhere? Please post a comment with any ideas or recommendations! Thank you!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I changed my mind again. A5 Filofax + Quo Vadis inserts = fully operational!

So you probably have whiplash by now with me switching back and forth between planners! This is to be expected during a major life change. It takes me a little while to figure out what I need.

Just yesterday I postponed my experiment with my A5 Filofax Domino combined with Quo Vadis weekly inserts (which you can read all about here) because the binder was too big to take everywhere with me.  Well as it turns out, portability is much less important to me right now than functionality.

My husband and I have been talking a lot lately about our goals. Mainly, how to get back to Scotland. (Because whenever I'm not in Scotland, my goal is always to get back.)  His contract is up in 18 months so the goal is to move back to Scotland in that time.  (I hear you: 3 international moves in 3 years??  Am I crazy? Possibly.)

The only planner that has planning pages from now all the way through the end of next year is my A5 Domino Filofax. It came with weekly planner insert pages for all of 2011 and also all of 2012, which was very thoughtful of Filofax. And, Steve sent me the Quo Vadis weekly inserts that go all the way through the end of this year, which I am now using because I love the format.

I've been frustrated recently with my bound-planner limitations. I want to plan our entire time here in Indonesia (March 2011-September 2012) in one book.  I also want monthly calendars across the two-page spread for more writing space, instead of month-per-page planners that are in my current bound planner.  And I want tabbed sections for my new goals, timelines, notes on possibilities, international information, tracking my finances closely, etc. My Filofax is the only book that can handle all of this!

No I won't be able to carry it with me everywhere. It doesn't matter. This book is making me feel empowered and in control, and able to make plans for the future. And that is what I need right now.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Experiment postponed: A5 Filofax + Quo Vadis weekly inserts

I need to postpone my experiment with my new A5 Domino Filofax with the Quo Vadis Timer 21 inserts (which you can read about here).  I'm out and about every day as we are househunting, interviewing schools, and doing other things to set up our lives here. The A5 binder doesn't fit in my bag along with all the other things I have to carry around (including mosquito repellent, sunscreen, water and snacks for spending lots of time stuck in traffic in the car, antibacterial handwipes, tissues, etc. not to mention all the stuff that's normally in my bag too).  And even if it did fit, I wouldn't want to carry the big binder around everywhere, it weighs a ton.

So, I'm going to save it until my life settles down a little bit. I'm thinking this fall when my kids are in school and we're on a predictable schedule maybe I won't need to carry my planner around with me everywhere, so it might work for me then. It's such a great binder and excellent weekly setup, I refuse to give up on it. I will try it again, but it has to be at the right time.

Meanwhile, I'll stay with my Quo Vadis Minister because it is extremely slim and portable yet still has large-enough day spaces for me. And I'm pining for my 18 month Extra-Large Moleskine weekly notebook, which is in our air shipment due to arrive in a week or two. I'm waiting very impatiently for it to begin the end of June!