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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Using a nondated small notebook as daily planner + journal

In yesterday's post I listed the pros and cons of using a large dated day per page planner as a daily planner, logbook and journal. And I explained why, after struggling with the size for months, I finally decided to give it up for a smaller notebook.

In Rori's excellent comment on my journaling post last year, she describes how she uses her notebook as a capture device each day. Once I figured out how to adapt her system to my use, I went for it!

I downsized from my large (6 by 8 1/4 inch) dated day per page book to a pocket size Mini Paperblanks Darwin Tree of Life journal that I featured here last week. It's so portable! I hardly notice it in my bag.

And because it's undated, I can write as much or as little as I want each day. Usually I use the left page to map out the schedule of my day, and the right page for notes and journaling. By journaling I mean, funny things my kids said, events, and things of interest. I don't write about my feelings or things like that, because when I've done that in the past I find that type of writing not useful to read later. It's purely for capturing, not projecting.

I'm notorious for back-filling my journal days later. When I need to do this, I just leave myself some space to come back and fill in later.

Something that bothered me when I used a dated page per day planner is I had nowhere to write my long-term lists (like things to do with guests while they were visiting, birthday gift ideas, etc.). They would get lost in the daily pages. There weren't enough notes pages in the back of the book to write them. Sticky notes fell out and went missing.

In my new undated notebook, I write lists in the back of the book. Then when my daily records starting from the front meet my lists that started from the back, it's time for a new book!

In addition to unlimited page space each day in a small portable book, another reason I'm excited about this system is that I will get to actually use the plethora of notebooks I have! I have so many beautiful, cool, and fun notebooks just sitting on my shelf. This is a great way to get to use them.

Just a few of the bajillions of notebooks I own!
During really busy times I can upsize to an A5 notebook, which would still be lighter and slimmer than a same-size day per page diary.

Do you use a notebook to plan and record your days? Please leave a comment!


  1. Instead of back-filling, why not try leaving no gaps, just keep going. If something occurs to you later then just write "I forgot that..." or "too busy but on Wednesday the washing machine broke".
    Does it really matter if it's out of chronological order by a day or two?

    1. Can't do it. I'm not OCD about much, but non-chronology sends me over the edge. ;)

  2. I have exactly what you have written! It is a small fat notebook, and I enjoy every second of using it! I have user it as a planner in 2012 in the beginning of the year before I bought a pocket size ring boundbinder (as Ff). Initially it had 200 pages, there are fewer now because I have took out somepages. I enjoy the freedom -I write as much as I want, put a line between pages, put a date on the rught corner, and go! I put gtd lists in the middle because the back has filled already. It drives me crazy finding them. I probably need to put tabs on them.

    It has started as autofocus system - I wanted a continuous list of to do s, I have rewrote my gtd lists that I couldn't get done. I might say that it was pretfy successful. The main point of this notebook was to get these old to dos done.

  3. I have an Arc notebook. It has blank pages which I can write on (and stick receipts, pictures, business cards and tickets into for a scrapbook effect) and clear pockets in which I can stuff birthday cards received or other mementos too large for the scrapbook ideas.
    If I miss a day, it's not a problem. The Arc is a loose-leaf binder and I can slip a day missed into it's correct place once it's written.
    Sometimes I hand write the pages (especially if I want to "scrapbook" as I can write around the items I've included) and sometimes I type them out on the computer in a cursive script (for speed - I'm a lot quicker on the computer than I am with a pen).
    Love my Arc...

  4. Ha! I was scouring your blog, looking for HELP because I've not been able to use a dated planner successfully in over 6 months. It's really getting problematic. Then I read this post-and realized that the one thing that does work is using a daily undated notebook.

    I still do the same thing-not every single day any more, but most days. A lot of days it might just be the weather and perhaps something I'm obsessing over buying (a bag, video games, board games, whatever) or some decision that I'm trying to work out; but this system still works really well.

    I WISH I could find a way to add a dated planner to it--at least a monthly planner I guess. Maybe I'll just print one and cut it out of something--but I'm just ocd enough for cut & paste like that to bug me, so I don't know if that will work either. Hmm...

    1. Halfway through your comment I thought, "All she needs is some monthly planner along with the undated daily and she'll be all set!"

      Does your notebook have a pocket? You might try one of the Quo Vadis pocket-size monthlies.

      I used the Visoplan for awhile, tucked into my planner:


      But I didn't like having to turn my book sideways to see the monthly pages. I KNOW, I KNOW, I'm picky. But, the boxes are nice and big and the paper is my favorite white 90 gsm.

      QV also makes the Exaplan which has an upright format but Sat/ Sun share a square so I haven't tried this one. Also I'm assuming it's probably a little thicker than the Viso because it has more months (21) but again since I haven't seen one IRL I can't say. Here's the product link:


      Those are both pocket size so could slip into any planner or notebook.


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  5. LOL that's too funny. Last pm I figured out the same thing. Worth a try any way! I think I've been making this planning thing too damned hard-leather binders, sections, daily, weekly, monthly, color coding, blah blah blah. Maybe I've been making things too difficult, and I just need extra simple. Thanks for your help!! For the gazillionth time I'm grateful for you and all the work you've put into your blog :D


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