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Thursday, April 30, 2015

WeekDate 2015-2016 Academic year planner: new features!

The new 2015-2016 Academic year planners from WeekDate have lots of great new features!

One of the new features is the new chipboard covers that I will go on and on about in a minute.

First I want to show you the weekly layout. The whole concept of WeekDate planners is Only Write It Once: you write your recurring weekly events in the space at the bottom, and as you turn the weekly pages your recurring events always stay visible so you don't have to write them over and over each week.

I love the new, clean-looking font and timed daily columns!

At the right side of the page under the name of the month, there is a lined area to write tasks and reminders for that week. You could also list daily goals there and check them off each day as you complete them. There is a fold-out flap that is a great space to use as a dashboard to stick notes for more task lists or other things you need to keep in view all the time.

That flap folds in to mark your current week's page. There is a handy reference calendar for the school year there.

The weekly pages have US holidays printed on the day spaces. Week numbers are indicated, which I'll refer back to in a minute.

The space down below the week pages stays visible all the time. The daily columns are divided into threes so you can add times for morning/ afternoon/ evening, or different categories like school/ work/ home. This is where I can write my kids' afterschool activities, and even which weeks are garbage pickup or recycling. (Even weeks garbage, odd weeks recycling.) You write scheduled recurring events in pencil so you can easily change them seasonally. At the right is a lined space to write tasks to do each week like cleaning schedules, or to list things that happen every month like dates bills are due, to keep these always visible.

Embedded in the weeks are monthly calendars! Hooray! The page opposite the month is lined for notes, reminders, tasks and goals. The month calendars have a highlighted label at the right of the page so it's easy to find the month calendars within the weeks.

The day spaces have plenty of space to write in and have holidays printed in the day spaces. These calendars are great for overviews of due dates, deadlines and holidays.

Another new feature I love is shown below: the Time Tracker. I haven't quite decided yet how I'll use this, because there are several ways it can be used. I might circle holidays and deadlines in red, then fill in the circles as the days progress to have an easy visual as the days get closer. Or I might fill in the circles with color codes to indicate when I do cardio or strength exercises, for a quick overview on my exercise. You could use this page to track goals, progress, or as a countdown.

The paper is spectacular, nice and smooth with no show-through on the back side of the page even with my rollerball pens.

Now, the new chipboard covers: they are fantastic. They are firm so you can have a solid writing surface while holding the book in your hand. They have rounded corners so they won't catch in your bag, and a wire binding so the book lies flat and can be folded back on itself to save space. There is a peekaboo window that shows the design of the cover inside. Creative folks could decorate the outside of the chipboard using markers, stencils and/ or stickers to personalize it.

Here is the chipboard cover open showing the inside cover design. This one is the "Adventurista" design, there are several designs to choose from. The inside surface of the chipboard cover is a great place to put sticky notes, write quotes, or anything else you want to keep handy.

Here is a closer look at the Adventurista design!

Here is the inside of the back cover. I might stick one of those clear plastic pockets in there to hold papers and cards.

Here is the back of the chipboard cover, hand stamped with the WeekDate logo.

WeekDate planners are entirely made in the USA. And even with all these detail upgrades, they have stayed the same price as last year.

The planner is very lightweight, on my scale it's only 233g/ 8.3 ounces so it's easy to carry everywhere. The book is approximately A5 size, the cover is 6 1/2 inches wide (6 3/4 including the spiral binding) and 8 3/4 inches tall. It's a great size with lots of writing space and it's still easy to carry in your bag.

Thanks very much to WeekDate for sending me this planner to review! My daughter immediately wanted one when she saw it, so I ordered one up for her too. WeekDate ships worldwide, and I have to say $13.95 to ship to the UK is really good.

The WeekDate academic-year planners go from the beginning of August to the end of July. They are now shipping! WeekDate also makes January to December planners in a slightly different format that incorporates monthly recurring events too. The 2016's will be ready to ship soon so keep your eye on WeekDate.com for those!

WeekDate planners are great for people with ADD/ ADHD, those juggling work/ school/ family, and anyone who is busy because they keep everything visible all the time so nothing slips through the cracks. I'm all for a planner that makes my life easier with minimal effort!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

New poll: What size and type of planner do you use?

There's a new poll over there in the sidebar, please vote! I know I've asked in the past what size planners people use, but this poll adds another dimension: the type of planner.

I'm interested in size, to know if people work out of big or small pages, and type, to know what styles of planners are popular right now. I know I get a lot of Filofax users here, so I'm expecting plenty of ring binder answers. But with the growing popularity of Midoris and Hobonichis I'm expecting lots of those too.

If your planner doesn't fit into any of the categories I've set, please post a comment here telling us what you use.

I'm hoping this generates a lot of discussion among planner users, especially for folks who might be struggling with their planner so they can see what other people use and get ideas for what might work for them.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Allowing ourselves to get bored with our planner

I had a planner epiphany this morning. Follow me as I walk you through my flash of brilliance.

I've been looking at planner websites for a long time. Starting about 8 years ago I checked Philofaxy every day, back in the day before Nan invited Steve and me to be authors. Now Steve (along with Nan, Anita and myself) posts interesting updates every day. But back when I was desperate for ideas on how to best use my Filofax, Philofaxy's infrequent posts were my only source.

Similarly, I checked the Quo Vadis blog daily and commented frequently in a desperate attempt to find my perfect planner. I've loved Quo Vadis planners since my first experience with them and was instantly hooked. The Quo Vadis blog was a great resource for learning more about the planners and how to use them. Now I'm the Quo Vadis blogger (and if you know me at all you'll know how absolutely thrilled I am) and it's still a great online planner community.

All of this was back before Twitter, Facebook, You Tube, Instagram, Pinterest, etc etc etc. Philofaxy and Quo Vadis blog, and a few people's pen and ink blogs were my only sources for planner information.

Now if someone wants information on how to use their planner, they are flooded with information. Pick a brand of planner: Filofax, Midori, Hobonichi, Franklin Covey, etc you will find blogs, videos, Facebook groups, and loads of other online information about how to use, and especially how to decorate your planners. This is something I've talked about before so I don't want to repeat all that here.

But it brings me to my point: I think because there is so much visual interaction in our day to day lives with the internet in front of us so much of the time, we unconsciously expect that same level of interaction from our planners. Which of course is impossible for paper planners. They don't beep at us, show us links to other pages, or suggest things we might like. Personally I like that about paper planners, because I need a break from screens.

But I think a lot of people are used to a high level of interaction from the things they use (laptops, phones, tablets etc), and I think this might be where the planner decorating fad comes from. The act of decorating their planner, and seeing the result feels more interactive than a blank page.

It's great that some people find a creative outlet in their planners, but so many I've seen seem to miss the point of a planner. Maybe they would be better off decorating a scrapbook or art book instead. I've even seen people stressing out over decorating their planner: What should this week's theme be??? I can't find the materials I want to decorate my planner!  In the end, your planner should keep you organized and help you get things done. You don't need to decorate it.

And it's not just decorating. It's finding new binders/ covers/ colors/ dividers/ etc. These things are great, and anything that makes you enjoy using your planner makes it more likely you will actually use your planner. But so often, people get caught up in the other things and end up disappointed with the functional aspect of the planner itself.

In the end, all this effort is ultimately futile because our paper planners will never be as interactive as an online experience.

We need to allow ourselves to get bored with our planners.

And that's not a bad thing. Far from it. In fact, right about the time when you become bored with your planner is when it's working. Just working. It's not exciting. It's not new or flashy or wow. It's just working.

Often when people get bored with their planners, they think something must be wrong. So they abandon the planner to try something new. I've definitely done this, countless times.

But the next time you get bored with your planner, think before you abandon it to try the next thing. Think about whether the planner is actually helping you get your tasks done and remember your appointments. Think about whether it's effective at keeping you organized and up to date.

If it's not, fix it. But if it's working, keep using it. And give yourself permission to feel bored with it.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Midori Traveler's Notebook

I want to apologize to everyone who has ever recommended I try a Midori Traveler's Notebook (including Rori, Steve, my mom, and many others) and I ignored their advice. I have plenty of excuses: I didn't want to get into another planner system. I thought I was wedded to bound books and the booklets seemed too impermanent. It was a rabbit hole I didn't want to go down.

But recently I changed my mind. We had a weekend trip over Easter, and as I always do when I travel I discovered my bag is too darn heavy. So when I got home I started thinking of ways to lighten up the load. One thing I did was to buy a cotton crossbody bag to use instead of my (nice but heavy) leather one. Then I started thinking about my planner situation.

Long story short, I've switched around my planners a lot this year. A lot. Every planner I've tried this year has been big, and most have been heavy. And, I was still using a large Moleskine notebook as my Bullet Journal (as detailed in this post). I was tired of carrying so much stuff around.

Now I can't remember what made me think of trying the Traveler's Notebook. My mom sent it to me awhile ago, probably more than a year ago. She used it for awhile then switched to something else, maybe a fauxdori?

Anyway, I like the Midori, the brown leather, and the way my mom had already decked the whole thing out with several pockets, a pen loop and some other stuff.

Here is the cover, I love the character marks! I have updated this photo to show the thistle charm (representing Scotland, where I live) that arrived after I originally published this post. At the bottom you can see the Thor hammer I got in Iceland last year hanging from the pagemarker.

Here is a closeup of the thistle charm. I just love it. I got it from charmmakers.co.uk and the shipping was fast.  There are a few thistle designs to choose from, I got this one. There's a really cool page on their website showing how they make the silver charms, I had no idea the process was so complicated!

Here is a closeup of the Thor hammer. It was actually a keychain the but the keychain part broke off. I didn't know what I was going to do with it but this is a perfect purpose for it!

I have four booklets in the Midori: Monthly, weekly, daily and lists. I'm using the undated monthly booklet (refill 017), the undated weekly + notes (refill 019), a grid booklet for my daily pages (refill 002) and a blank booklet for my lists (refill 003). The monthly booklet has 14 months of month-on-two pages calendars plus some pages for notes. The weekly booklet has 6 months of weeks. The grid booklet has 64 pages so about 2 months of dailies.

Here is how I have the four booklets in the cover: Three are held in using elastics. Two side booklets are held together with the orange elastic. The brown elastic that is attached to the cover comes up between them to hold the middle booklet. I saw this online somewhere, I don't know if I would have thought of this on my own!

Here is the back of the book. On the left is a card pocket that goes through to the front under all the booklets so I have pockets front and back. It is awesome. My mom sent it with the MTN. It holds some positivity cards she also sent, love them. Those are staying in. On the right is the blank booklet that I'm using for all my lists.

The photo below shows the inside of the back booklet showing how the back cover is attached to the inside of the MTN cover. My mom stuck a clear plastic side-open pocket inside the back of the leather cover. The booklet's back cover fits in there perfectly. It is held securely with the clip-on pen holder.

I'm using the monthly pages in two ways: as a forward planning overview, and as an index. I fill in a brief summary of what happened each day, for example the day I filed my taxes or when my kids stayed home sick from school. If I want to see details, I know the date to look up in my daily pages. I used to use separate monthly pages for these two purposes, one for future and one as my index, but using one for both definitely simplifies things.

In my weekly + notes pages I use the left schedule page for all planning, and the right page for my weekly lists for both home and work. I know the digital-style spaces at the top of the left page are to be filled in with the dates to look like digital numbers, but I don't do that. I just write the month and year.

I thought the grid pattern on the notes page would bother me but I like it. Something I really like are the slightly heavier lines that come out from each day's space, so you can divide the notes page to correspond to each day if you want. I use the divisions to create separate categorized list spaces for personal, home and work.

I use the grid booklet for my daily pages. Most of the time I'll use one page per day, on busy or eventful days I'll use more pages. I don't normally post images of what I write, but here you can see an example of a less-eventful day. If I don't fill a day, I still start the next day on a new page.

I keep my lists in the blank booklet in the back of the cover. Here is an example of one of my lists: things I usually get at Costco.

Nobody is more surprised than I am that I'm using a Midori. I resisted for such a long time. Wanting to lighten my load motivated me to experiment with it. But I think what really clicked was when I discovered the Midori archival binder (refill 011) online and I realized the booklet system, stored properly, is just as permanent as any bound book.

I know there is an endless flood of Midori and fauxdori info online. Videos, blogs, websites, DIY, etc. I'm avoiding all of that. I've just come through so much planner difficulty over the past few months, I just want something simple but effective.

These are very early days but so far the lightness of the whole thing (443g including my pen) is delightful. I love having just one book to grab, not two. I love being able to carry all my planning and my journaling in my bag all the time, not having to leave my planner at home because it's too heavy. I was surprised to discover just how wonderful the paper is, and the page size is almost as large as Moleskine's large pages, just a little narrower. So I still have the big pages I like, almost A5 size, but in a book that weighs significantly less than my personal size Filofax.

So to everyone out there who has been singing Midori praises: I finally get it!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Did you ever want a planner just because of how it looks?

Boy am I guilty of this, bigtime. There are certain planners I like and want, not because I think they will work well for me (in fact some don't work for me at all), but it's all about how they look.

The biggest one in this category for me is day per page planners. I just love how they look, all chunky and like there must be lots of important stuff written in there. Despite trying many times over the years, I just can't use them as my planner. I need a week view. But I was hugely successful in 2013 jumpstarting my journaling by using a dated day per page diary. I've since switched to undated notebooks for journaling, but still gaze longingly at day per page diaries from time to time.
I love how these look!

I think most of us who have ever used a Filofax have desired one (or several) based on their appearance only. To our credit, that is half the point of the variety of Filofax binders available. I actually use binders more based on how they feel (like the delightful oiled leather of my brown Kendal) than how they look. But I do adore my gorgeous ivory Deco for its sheer decadence.

C'mon, fess up: have you ever wanted a planner just because of how it looks?