Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Lots of Planner Fail lately! How can I help?

Several people have told me lately they are having Planner Fail. Super Laurie to the rescue!!!

If you are having Planner Fail, what are you using and how is it not working for you? I'm sure between myself and Plannerisms reader comments we can find something that will work better for you. Leave a comment and we'll get you on your path to Planner Nirvana in no time!

54 comments:

  1. Do you really want to hear it? It is a long story. Here it goes:
    I have recently quit my job, and handed in my phd thesis to the reading committee. I start a new job on december 1. So now I am in between things, with few appointments. All I have to do is make my thesis into a book, which means finding a printer, getting an isbn, editing the leyout, cover design etc. And I have some home projects I want to do, like painting the bathroom and setting up a filing system. My month of staying at home would be a good time. Also I probably will have a freelance programming project in these weeks. So for now my planner needs to handle all of this.
    On december 1, my new job will start. I don't yet know exactly what I will need, but at least I will work in one place, and have my own desk. Both things are new for me. I will want to use a planner that has room for appointments and todo's, and looks fairly professional. So a coloured cover is nice, but no disney princess or my little pony stickers or anything. I want to pick out a planner that I can use for all of 2013, because I am sick of switching around.
    To top it all off, I want to quit using filofaxes. Not because of anyting to do with their marketing strategy or something like that (I don't care about that, it's their decision not mine), but because they invite endless tinkering and playing around. Also, I have a feeling they may look weird and out of place. Don't know if it's true, but that's what I feel.
    All I know for know is that I want time slots, a5 size or thereabouts, and room for todo's. I am ok with keeping lists like my book wish list in small separate notebook.
    Options I have looked at so far are: erin condren (too big, too colourful), laurel denis (clever system, but I hate spirals), moleskine (I hate black), space 24 (good contender, but a bit large), paperblanks day per page or weekly in midi size (really pretty, another good contender but no space for notes), plannerpad (also large and boring black), journal j (i dislike self-fill-in dates, but otherwise ok). Any advice for me after this thesis-length comment?

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    1. Of course I think my Plannerisms planners will be great for everyone, but I think it would work really well for you. It doesn't start until January though so you'll need something in the meantime. It will be 5 1/2 by 8 1/2 inches, cover color options are black, teal, purple or pink (so teal would be good for you, not black but still professional for work).

      The weekly layout will have all 7 days as vertical columns and space on the weekly pages for lists and notes. There will also be month on two pages grid calendars and lots of pages for goals and notes. The weekly pages themselves will be normal looking, not bright like EC. And the paper is super-smooth!

      The cover will be soft, flexible not floppy, in a bound book. The Plannerisms planners will be ready in about 3 weeks, and as soon as they are I'll have loads of photos and how-to-use tips here!!

      My other suggestion was going to be a Quo Vadis Trinote, with days as columns and weekly list boxes, but it's a little larger than the Space 24 which you listed as too large for you.

      For your time until Jan when you can start a new bound planner, you might check out the Productive Flourishing free planners. They sound like they would be great for you until Dec when you're juggling lots of different things. You can find them here:

      http://www.productiveflourishing.com/free-planners/

      Let me know what you think about these suggestions and if you want I can think of other options for you too. :)

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    2. I was also immediately thinking: Trinote. However, I haven't yet seen Laurie's planner which will no doubt be amazing. Personally, I'd wait until the Laurieplanner is available!

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    3. Thank you for your suggestions. I did think about the plannerisms planner, but I have no idea how it will look. Are there pictures anywhere, at least of the weekly view? Or could you email me one?
      I didn't think about the trinote, but I have tried the minister before. I did not like it for this weird reason: the time notations are right next to the lines, instead of between or above as in most planners (like the filofax day per page ones). I don't know for sure if the trinote has this, but for the minister it was a dealbreaker. I am picky I know!
      For now I am either staying in my personal filo, or use my pocket filo, paperblanks weekly or space24. Those I have lying around, and I don't want to spend money for just a few weeks. I just went to a shop to look at all the paperblanks ones, and they are pretty but not suitable for me next year I think.
      So yes, I will probably get a plannerisms planner (please tell me it doesn't have this times/lines thing like the minister!), and buy a space 24 as backup if it ends up not working.

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    4. In the Plannerisms planner, the daily columns will be lined but not timed so you can use it any way you want to. You can email me for more specifics: laurie at plannerisms dot com.

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    5. Laurie, exactly how many pages make up "lots"? One of the things which has kept me from using any bound planner for any length of time in recent years has been the lack of pages in the back for things...most planner companies seem to think 10 is a lot of note pages. I hope yours has more? :) If so I may just have to get one when it comes out...not like I wouldn't want to do so anyway!

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    6. There will be a lined two-page spread between each month, and other pages for goals too. I don't know how many pages will end up in the back, but to be honest I've found if you need more notes pages than that you're probably better off using a separate, thin notebook because often notes become irrelevant after just a few months and you're stuck with them taking up space in your planner all year.

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    7. Ooh, that sounds exciting! :) Can't wait for the big reveal.

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  2. My story is frustrating--but won't take long.
    I'm a teacher. I don't really need an hour by hour schedule. I use a monthly calendar, and lots of lists.
    I've tried Moleskine, LifeTracker, Circa/Arc/Rollabind, Filofax, and Franklin Covey. However, the Moleskine and LifeTracker won't allow you to add pages to them. I hate the punches that are left on the Circa/Arc/Rollabind paper (the system is too fussy). And the ring binders are too bulky.
    I've looked at the Midori Traveler notebook, but it's very cost prohibitive. Out of all of them, I liked the LifeTracker the best--you can add booklets and keep your calendar in one spot, so you're able to switch things out as you go.
    However, I can't help but thinking there is a 8x5.5 hardcover planner very similar to the LifeTracker design out there.
    I'm hoping there's the 'perfect' gizmo out there and I just need to know about it!
    Laurie, thanks so much for posting this forum discussion=)
    PM

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    1. Hmm this is interesting. You say you've tried Moleskine but didn't say which of their bajillion styles you've used. Have you tried the Moleskine monthly planner? They have two lined pages between each month and 51 lined pages in the back too.

      I wonder if you'd be better off using a notebook separate from your calendar/ planner. Unless you use a ring binder or something similar, you'll always run the risk of running out of notes pages in your planner. And, you don't want to have to choose what's important enough to be worthy of being written into the limited number of pages. Moleskine volant notebooks are thin enough to go everywhere with you but the cover holds up well.

      Another monthly planner option is the Uncalendar monthly, which is super-thin and 8 1/2 by 11 inch pages. You'd need a separate notebook, but the day spaces are so big you could write everything you need in there, and the book is so very thin it weighs next to nothing. I reviewed it here:

      http://www.plannerisms.com/2012/04/uncalendar-monthly-planner.html

      What do you think? Do you think a monthly planner + notebook would work for you?

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    3. Laurie,
      I think you might be right. I might end up getting another Moleskine Monthly...and maybe slide a Cahier in the back pocket for the lists.
      Oooh, I'm thinking trip to the store.
      I'll admit, I'd love to find something fancier. But simple, when it works, is GOOD.
      Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
      PM

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    4. Ack, Moleskines start on Monday.
      However, I might just buy a blank grid one and make my own . . .

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    5. Blue Sky makes monthly planners with pretty covers, some of them are Sunday start and some are Monday start (with Sat and Sun sharing a square). They come in several different sizes. You can see their selection here:

      http://www.blueskyimg.com/Catalogue/C/Planners/Monthly

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  3. I just read your description on the plannerism planner and it sounds like a dream! Can't wait to see it Laurie. =0)

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    1. Thanks! I hope people like it as much as I do. :)

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    2. Just out of curiosity, when are you planning your planner launch?

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    3. They're due to be ready mid-November. I'll have tons of photos and info here on Plannerisms as soon as they are ready! I can hardly wait!!!

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    4. i had no idea yours was coming out so soon!!! i'm all set for 2013 but will definitely keep in mind for 2014. it sounds absolutely PERFECT.

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  4. I think I've got a coming planner fail. I work in a place that has a culture of emergency, and my office gets everything but the kitchen sink. Last year, I went into total planner failure and probably went through at least a dozen, plus various forms of to-do lists. All a to-do list did was show me that I had way, way, way too much to do, and it was very demoralizing. A coworker wound up dealing with a deluge of emergencies from a big transfer we did and couldn't get to her other duties. They, in turn, became emergencies by the time they got to me, and I couldn't do them because I was having to prioritize between emergencies. At the same time, a coworker retired, and my boss handed me her duties -- of which she hadn't been properly maintaining because she was overloaded. Then he took the biggest of them away from me, which I was relieved for and gave it to someone else. But then she got pulled for something, and I got it back. It's pretty much of a lost cause with management, who just told me to do comp time to keep when I asked for help prioritizing between emergencies (not a trend I want to start). So all I can do is keep the chaos from burning me out by imposing as much structure as I can. I should also note I'm right-brained and creative, and this is all left brain stuff.

    I've been using a planner pad, which is helping. Putting everything into categories helps, though I have things drop off because they don't fit in any category. I also run into trouble when paperwork gets kicked back, and it can take me weeks to get it resubmitted because there are so many hard deadline demands on my time. But here's where the planner fail comes in: Another coworker is going to retire in a few months, and we're going to do the job shuffle yet again.

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    1. It seems you don't need a to do list you need a next action list...also the ability to split into thee people that work independantly of each other. Why do I get the feeling you are a social worker or something like that....

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    2. Hi Garridon, I work with my husband; he owns his own business. He has about 20 employees, 5 warehouses and 3 shops in France not to mention all the importing and exporting. The minute something is urgent and he doesn't have the time he calls me. So my days are basically all emergency, all day long (and I have 3 kids). The only thing that I have found that works for me is a task diary. It's an idea from Mark Forster in his book "Do It Tomorrow". Basically it's a page per day diary and when tasks come in I write them down on the day I'm going to do them. Because many things come in on the same day, I then move things off of my day to the next day or week. It keeps me from panicing from a long to do list.
      Right now I'm using an A5 Finchley Filofax with daily pages so I can see my appointments with my tasks and that helps me decide as well when I can do something. I hope I described this clearly enough.

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    3. I just remembered that the default page for incoming tasks in suppose to be tomorrow (hence the title of the book). Everything coming in today you write on tomorrow's page and deal with it then or move it forward. I have no default page because I have to decide how urgent something is compared to everything else on the page.

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    4. garridon that is a tough situation you're in. It's obvious you won't get everything done in a day that you "need" to get done, so it's a juggle of prioritization. Just deciding how to prioritize all those tasks can be exhausting.

      I'm not sure if a particular planner will help you, since it's less about planning ahead than just reacting. What you do need, as much as possible, is a method for coping with the urgency of everything. When everything is urgent, what do you do first?

      I agree with usexpat it will help you to have a large day per page. If your office uses Outlook or something similar, you can print your current day and see your scheduled meetings so you know your time commitments for that day. Then write in the things you already know you absolutely must get done that day. Then have a separate running task list (which I'll talk more about in a sec.)

      Once you know what your day looks like, you can get to work on whatever needs to be done first. Inevitably during the day, "emergent tasks" will come up. This is what Charlie Gilkey calls those things that weren't on your task list at the beginning of the day but come up and need to be done. For those emergent tasks, they either need to be done immediately, sometime that day, or on a different day. Write them into your day page if it needs to be done today. Check them off as you do them. The result is at the end of each day you'll have a great record of what you did each day, which will help you see how you spent your time. Emergent tasks that don't need to be done today go onto your task list (which I will talk about now).

      Separate from your schedule and your current day's working page, you need to have a prioritized task list. Be sure to have tasks broken down into actions so you can see all the steps (even small ones) that need to be done. Note any deadlines, like if something needs to be done by the end of the month or fiscal year.

      If there are other things that aren't as urgent, they will get pushed to the back burner and will never get done. To get these done before their deadlines, you can spend a few minutes on them each day. Designate maybe 20 minutes per day to work on things you need to keep up on.

      If you haven't seen Charlie Gilkey's Productivity Heatmap, you might want to check it out (and his free planners too). The heatmap helps you figure out when you have the energy and focus to work on high-concentration tasks, and what times of day you have less focus so it takes twice as long to do those types of tasks. It helps you be more efficient by doing the high-concentration tasks when you have the focus and energy and doing more routine tasks when you're lower energy.

      Here's the link to Charlie's free planners, scroll down to see the Productivity Heatmap. Also take a look especially at the Daily Action Planner and other Action Planners to see if they could help you.

      Let me know what you think, and if you'd like any more suggestions. Good luck!!!

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    5. Wow! I didn't expect so many comments! Thanks! I'm not a social worker -- that would scare me to death. I do presentations for managers, travel, safety, facilities, ordering supplies, website coordination, and half a dozen other things that don't relate to each other. Most of it is "five minute" single actions, combined with things where I am waiting on other people. Let me look over some of these things in more detail.

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    6. I think the Emergent Task idea is from David Seah - at least he has forms that work with that idea. See http://davidseah.com/productivity-tools/ for the forms.

      I like Productive Flourishing, too. http://www.productiveflourishing.com/ I use his monthly planner at the beginning of each month to highlight the weeks and what's important.

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    7. I hadn't heard of David Seah before, thanks for the link!

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    8. Laurie, thank for the suggestion of Charlie's planner pages. That actually does something I wanted to do -- show that I'm overloaded so if someone says something, I can produce evidence. I'm running about three pages a day, because of the emergent tasks -- people coming up to my desk wanting something (yes, I am being interrupted close to 20 times a day because I've been given so many jobs).

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  5. I agree description does indeed sound like a dream do you have a rough price at the moment? Extremely interested

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    1. Thanks Deborah-Jane! Price will be $19.99 USD.

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  6. Some very interesting discussion and ideas here. A simple tool not mentioned here, but one I have used successfully is the "Memogenda". It comes in three sizes. Before I started using it, I reviewed all of the information provided on the Web site http://www.memogendas.com/ . Then, I thought about how the Memogenda could be useful to my work processes, deliverables, and practice. It is simple. Also, there two other things I did: 1) married a similarly sized monthly calendar to it, and then 2) I began hand drawing a monthly calendar within the Memogenda replacing the separate calendar. All in one place, open ended, useful. I have no affiliations with any company other than being a customer and user. Give a look.

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    1. Thanks for that dapv, I hadn't heard of the Memogenda before so I looked it up. Looks like a nice way to stay organized, more structured than a normal notebook but very flexible. Can you give us a few more details on how you use it? Just curious! Thanks!

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  7. Yup, I just went through another period of total planner fail- my problem is always the same. My busy life requires a big book, like my A5 filofax which I went back to last month because of a total meltdown with a personal sized but it takes me about 1 day to get frustrated with the size of it for toting around. So I literally sat and looked at all of my options in my planner chest for 3 straight hours one night this weekend (good grief I know) and nothing was appealing. I rewrote the rest of the year about 8 times in different formats that I frowned at after about 15 minutes. So I am now trying your route. A self drawn planner in a $9.95 8x6 soft leather grid page bible looking book. I hate the cover though....but I am enjoying the fact that I am in charge of how I draw it, and gridlines make it VERY pleasing to the eye. I can't wait to see your new 2013 planner, I am hopeful that it will save my life!!

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    1. Dea I had the same issue with needing a big book but hating carrying it around. I have a lot to write in each day, but a weekly with big day spaces = a really big book. And, by about mid week the pages were so full of writing I hardly knew where to look to find what needed to be done.

      Problem solved: for the past two years I've been using a weekly planner and a daily planner/ diary simultaneously. The key to using both is they don't overlap:

      The weekly is for planning, scheduling appointments, and my weekly to-dos. Bills due, deadlines, goals etc. all go in my weekly.

      The day per page planner is for planning and recording only TODAY. The day before, I write in the day's schedule and any tasks that absolutely MUST be done that day. Then as the day goes on I write in tasks that came up, other things I did, notes, things to remember, etc.

      I'm never confused about which book to look at: for anything beyond today, I look at the weekly. For today or past days, I look at the daily. And, I can have the daily open alongside the weekly for the big view. And, two smaller books are easier for me to carry around than one huge book.

      After years struggling with huge books, I've found this system works great for me!

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    2. Thanks to you Laurie this system is working well for me too. I leave my weekly planner at home though and just carry my daily planner with me as it's still a big too big. Looking forward to seeing Plannerisms planner so I can decide for next year! Are you just doing a weekly planner or a daily as well?

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    3. This year it's just a weekly but if they really take off I'm hoping to expand the range to a daily too!

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  8. I have had major planner fail this year and would appreciate any suggestions from anyone. I mainly use a planner to track goals etc. The problem is that there are too many things I am tracking (food diary, Day Zero goals, spending diary, looking for new job goals etc) as well as general day to day stuff. I tried having a planner/notebook for each thing and that didn't work as I couldn't keep track of them and ended up with a massive pile of planners on my sofa! I tried using an A5 filofax, but it weighed a ton and soon got jammed full (plus I didn't really enjoy using different sections for different things). I tried using a family diary because I could use the different family member sections for different things, but there wasn't enough room to write. I do want it to be in a diary format rather than just a plain notebook and it needs to have lots of room to write as I would like to see everything on one or two pages. It doesn't matter if it's huge as I won't be carrying it around. Help!

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    1. Ok let's see. Huge week view planners that I like are the Quo Vadis Prenote (vertical days with space for notes) or Note 27 (week on left page and full page for notes on right).

      Here's the Prenote:

      http://quovadisplanners.com/catalog/prenote

      And here's the Note 27:

      http://quovadisplanners.com/catalog/prenote

      Here's my review of the Note 27 with lots of photos:

      http://www.plannerisms.com/2011/01/quo-vadis-prestige-note-27-weekly.html

      Or, usexpat has a great idea to use a large day per page planner and divide each day's page into sections to keep track of everything.

      What do you think?

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    2. By the way if you want a day per page book that's larger than A5 (5 1/2 by 8 1/2) I like the Collins Manager Day Per Page planner that I reviewed on You Tube. The paper is suuuuuper smooth and nice.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x58kxsY62B4&feature=plcp

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  9. Hi Pennywhistler, maybe take out everything in your A5 filo and put in just daily pages; then designate certain areas on the page for different things (the daily pages are huge). A large daily mole is a pretty big page as well.

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  10. I'm a tutor, soccer coach, nanny, and volunteer for a non profit. I really need a planner that can not only fit notes (like personal timecards which I keep for at least two of my jobs), but maybe places for business cards/gift cards/credit cards. I've been using my wallet as a planner and it's falling apart at the seams. In the past I have had problems with planners because they don't hold my attention. That seems petty or ridiculous, but over the years I've bought several planners and usually only end up using them for a few weeks before losing interest in the planner itself. But at this point, I have way too many things going on in my life (and my poor wallet is suffering for it). I've used moleskin but it fell by the wayside. I'm even willing to pay a bit more on the expensive side for a planner as long as it works and keeps my life in order!

    The only parameters i have in mind are that it needs to fit in a smallish purse and I think it might have to have metal rings if i want some kind of pockets or business card holder inserts etc.

    please help. All suggestions are super appreciated!

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    1. It sounds like you need a Filofax or similar ring binder, probably in Personal size so you can fit a lot into it and still carry it in your purse.

      If you haven't yet discovered Philofaxy.com, go there (if you dare!) for unlimited ideas for Filofax options!

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    2. Laurie, thanks for the suggestion. You're right that Filofax seems like a good fit. Now I just have to navigate their massive world and figure out what works best for me. (I'm thinking used filofaxes from ebay will be must less expensive?)

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    3. Ebay can be a good place to get less-expensive Filofax binders, but you have to be careful. Sometimes they mistakenly list Personal size binders as A5, because the binder itself is about the size of an A5 size notebook, but the pages are much smaller. Also I've heard of people getting binders that reek of smoke or were not what the seller represented.

      I would recommend getting a less expensive binder new, on sale if you can, to try it out and figure out what size you like.

      And I have to be really honest here, Filofax is having a lot of problems with quality, with rings not closing properly and the leather wrinkling a creasing after hardly any use. If you do buy an actual Filofax, don't spend much money on it. You might instead want to get a Franklin Covey, Dayrunner or other brand. It's best if you have access to a store where you can hold it in your hands before you buy.

      Feel free to email me with any questions! I'd be happy to help you figure out what size and brand would work best for you. :) laurie at plannerisms dot com.

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    4. Also I meant to add, if you do want a Filofax, a great place to look is Philofaxy's buy/ sell page for great prices on gently used Filofaxes:

      http://philofaxy.blogspot.co.uk/p/adspot.html

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  11. I was using a Daytimer Family Plus (in a brown Franklin Covey zip binder), half page size. It got too big and heavy. I need lots of space for lists and weekly planner, but no structure for appointments (as I only have three or four at most per day and times vary so much that structured time slots waste space).

    I am trying out a Barnes and Noble weekly in a Blue Sky notebook cover (because I must have a cover) in the same size right now, but can't wait to see your new planner. Not having times written is a huge plus for me.

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    1. Take a look at Through the Lens weekly planner at calendars.com. The planner has two pages between each week for notes and to do's. Weeks are unstructured.

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  12. I constantly have planner fail. I prefer to just use a monthly calendar, however, every planner I purchase has weekly planners in them as well. It's a waste of space and paper. I like spiral bound planners. I need pockets on the inside of my planner, because I need a space for appointment cards and lists (I put my lists on 3x5 unlined index cards). The planners that have only the months are usually too large. I prefer something about 7 in x 9 in. Thanks so much!

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    1. Toni you might check out Blue Sky monthly planners as I linked above:

      http://www.blueskyimg.com/Catalogue/C/Planners/Monthly

      They have month planners in various sizes, and in spiral bound. I don't know about pockets though.

      Moleskine monthly planners come in Pocket, Large (5 by 8 inches) and Extra Large (7 by 10). They have a pocket in the back and pages for notes.

      Does anyone else know of just-month planners with pockets inside?

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    2. Thank you so much for your help! I'll check out the planners you have listed. I'm pretty simple in my needs and I like simple planners. Again, thanks for your help!

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  13. Mine's pretty simple. I feel in love with Undercover UK's Recycled Leather Diary and their simple day per page layout. I want to use it as a daily journal rather than a planner, per say. But I'm in the US, and with the high international shipping costs it's more than I'm willing to pay. Every other day-per-pay diary that I'm finding are more like a planner, like the 2013 ABP/1. I don't want to use a Moleskine, I want something a little different and unique. But I can't seem to find it. Help! Does it exist?

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    1. Have you looked at Paperblanks?

      http://www.paperblanks.com/us/en

      They have gorgeous planners with nice paper. The daily pages have times but they can easily be ignored if you don't want to use the planner that way.

      The only thing I don't like about the Paperblanks day per page planners is that Saturday and Sunday share a page. But if that doesn't bother you, then I highly recommend them!

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