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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Quo Vadis ABP2 daily planner

This is a planner I've had my eye on for years and years but have only just now gotten around to ordering it.

This is the European version of this diary which is printed in six languages.
I like the format with the timed column at the left and designated space for notes. It's the perfect size for a day per page planner: 12 by 17 cm (4 3/4 by 6 3/4 inches, the same size as the QV Textagenda and Notor). And it has the super-smooth white Quo Vadis paper that I love. Click on photos to enlarge.

But I'm wondering if all the languages will annoy me. I might highlight the English days and months to make it easier to find dates when flipping through the book.  I do like that holidays are indicated on the day spaces. Moon phases are too, although you don't see it on this page.
I love the timed column at the left with times from 7am through 9 pm with lines for the half hours and lines before 7am for early morning reminders. I like seeing my day chronologically as a vertical column so I think this format will work really well for me.  The Notes section at the side will be great for lists and notes.

At the bottom of the page there's a space for reminders, and month calendars.

 Some other features of this diary:

 The personal information page is multi-language.
 There is a page to note school holidays, and an annual reference calendar.
At the back of the book there is an annual calendar for the following year. Then there are the awesome Quo Vadis maps of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Benelux, the British Isles, Italy, Spain and Portugal, and all of Europe. I love the maps!
 At the back of the book are lists of public holidays for all the countries this diary covers.
Something that may or may not be an issue for me is the tiny spacing of the lines. I have shown them here alongside a Moleskine day per page diary.
The Moleskine ruling is 6 mm, which is pretty standard and is easy to write in. You can see the ABP2 lines are miniscule by comparison. Which isn't a bad thing, because I can fit a lot more writing on the page and it allows the schedule column to have a lot more timed lines.

The lines are tiny. I measure the ruling at 3.5 mm.
 To be honest I'm not worried about the ruling, I think it will be fine.

But during the process of taking these photos I did discover something that does really bother me. The book doesn't stay open on its own, which is unlike every other Quo Vadis planner I've ever used.  I was extremely disappointed to discover this because part of the joy of a Quo Vadis, besides the glorious paper, is the book stays open on its own for easy writing and reference.

So to figure out why, I compared it to my Quo Vadis Textagenda which is the exact same size and has the same paper.  Below I have compared the bindings and you can see the difference.
Textagenda stays open on its own. Binding is flexible.

ABP2 must be held flat. Binding is not flexible.

ABP2 when it's not being held open.

This really bothers me a lot. I don't think the book will stay open on its own even with training because of the way it's bound. I guess I'll have to hold it open with a binder clip or something.  This makes me really sad because I was SO excited about this planner and thought it would be The One for 2013!  But the not staying open is a huge disappointment.

So I ordered up the Quo Vadis ABP1, which has the same column + notes daily format but is 5 1/4 by 8 1/2 inches instead. The lines will be larger, and I'm hoping it stays open on its own. As far as I know the ABP1 is only available in the US, so I had it sent to my mom who is coming to visit me soon so she will bring it with her. I don't know how I'll feel about the larger book, usually that size is too large and heavy for me to carry around but I'm hoping the soft cover will make it light enough. We'll see.

I might still use this book, because the size is perfect. If I can get around the lack of flatability I think I'd love this planner.

I ordered this planner from Quo Vadis UK and the shipping was super-fast.

Dang it!  Just when I thought I'd found The One, it doesn't stay open!  The search continues...

Friday, September 28, 2012

How the Planner Industry Feels About Digital

Here is a reply from my planners friend to follow-up on yesterday's post about the future of the planner industry and how people "inside" the paper planners companies feel about digital planners.

How do the planner / organizer paper product companies feel about digital.

I know this has been like the DMZ battle group for paper lovers and digital lovers but the truth of it is that the traditional companies are caught in the middle.  I remember reading an article where they asked Lett’s CEO how he feels about digital and why Letts has no digital offering.  The basic answer was Letts is a paper company and people will always use paper so there is no plan right now for digital products…(sorry if I remember it wrongly but this was what I remember from the article).  I feel this is the wrong approach.  There is no just paper or digital argument…it doesn't make sense.  When I read how people debate about paper is better than digital or looking down at people who use paper or digital I just think it is so sad….to a point of WTF.  Look just let people use what they want to use.  If we can make products that can cover most of the users that is good business for me.  From a personal stand point I really don’t care.  All I care about is how you use our product in any format.  So please don’t badger people who use one or the other…just get along with each other.

For a paper company you need to offer as many different products as you can, to give more of what people want to buy.  Let it be paper or digital.  We have done many hybrid paper digital products.  And yes we even had a full branded product that merged paper with PDA….well….you know what went extinct or transformed into.  Doing a pure digital product is so damn hard that if you don’t understand it don’t even try because you're just dumping money in to a big black hole.  If from the start you know what you're doing and what you want to do then all will be good.  Case in point is that you would think a paper planner company can come out with a cool digital app.  Look at mead and Fc the apps they came out with are crap….I mean so bad I don’t even know why I just paid money for it.  Those guys have no idea what they want to do so they just convert all their paper product ideas in to an app….which is bad…because they fail to understand that the digital industry works at lighting speed…and product reviews can make or break your app.  When you have only 1 star or less on your app…then your app will never be used….people won't touch it with a 10 foot pole.  They forgot the fact that people who use digital planners have a totally different mind set from paper based users.  If you don’t understand how people use digital planning don’t make a planning app or convert a paper planner into a digital one just for the heck of it.  We learned a hard lesson when trying to do our digital app and to a point I said…I have to can this project or else it will do more harm than good.  I have to do more research and learn how people plan and use the product all over again.  There is no way I can beat Apple’s own calendar…haha.

The really good planning apps are not even from established companies.  They are from people that have really good planning solutions that the digital format allows them to do it.  I would say their design and formats have turned a bright light on the industry.  It has given us another way of thinking about doing formats on paper.  I see these apps and the way they organize and color code and design I think to my self….wow…why I have never thought of that ever before.  Even our designers now are borrowing ideas from these apps for our future planners and formats.  There are so many good formats digitally that can really revolutionize how paper planners can work and do.  Even to a point where I was thinking…why even put a dated planner…just make more creative undated planners and let people customize what they want to put in.  Why not put more color coding or even more good visual points and offer more content?  All these things can really make my product look much better than what others have on the market.  

Anyway my 2 cents on how I feel about paper and digital…I use both and I love it.  For me nothing beats a blank note book yet.

Thanks again to my friend for contributing this very interesting insight into the industry!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

The future of the planners industry?

Recently I was talking to a friend of mine in the planners industry about things like the open letter to Filofax's PR company, my list of planner companies who listen to their customers, and Letts being sold. He gave me some shocking news that he has heard Moleskine is also up for sale! We got into an interesting discussion about the future of the paper planners industry and he said it was okay for me to share his viewpoint with you all. Here's what he had to say:

Hi Laurie:

After reading your post on Filofax and companies who don’t listen to their users I would like share some of my thoughts.

1-       For planners and organizers there are always difficulties in keeping in line with what the core customers want and what we can produce to bring in new users.  In this sunset industry (some people would say it is sunset) it is more and more important that we grab the younger youth customers.  Even younger kids who are taught by their parents or teacher to keep in the habit of being organized.  Those are our future market and customers. 

So what does this say about the core or hard core users.  Number one rule is do not rock the boat.  We learned this the hard way.  Especially the formats and cover design.  Slight changes of fonts, color or cover design will greatly impact these users and 90 percent of the time they will hate it.  The solution is to not change the core products for these users but minor adjustments such as more color cover offerings or different texture covers.  On the guts side will be updated information sections and different paper selections plus slight updates of the formats over time so the end users can adjust to it.

2-       Filofax:  They have the same problem as many of the other companies including us is that will this be a profitable business in the future or will it die off 10 years down the road.  This stuck in my head for the past few weeks when I see what is happening in the market trend is that “Do we want to become the king of the typewriters”.  Will this happen in the planner and organizer industry…most likely yes within the next 10 years.  The goal is to find your direction…find your focus in what products you want to develop and offer.  As business goes it is shrinking every year and we must find new ideas to grow.  

The key is not to lose focus of what you are developing and always keep the end users in mind.  

Here are my thoughts on Moleskine.  I do apologize that I might be harsh on this but I am not standing from the consumer side but from a branded company side.

Moleskine is a great brand with a great product image…with something that started out as a simple product and turned into a global niche brand that everyone tried to follow….but is it just an empty shell with no clear direction on where to go.

Moleskine started out in semi selective markets where the cool folks picked it up (Designers, Celebrities, artists and such)  with it they gathered a hard core user base who thinks they are more creative than the mass public.  They feel using Moleskine put you in a higher level of consumerism.  However in a global market a brand cannot make money on just the few folks.  Would Moleskine's popularity be where they are now without the mass public snatching up their product?  The answer is no.

However here is where lays the catch 22 problem.  Which means if you become popular it is hard to be cool with your hard core users.  Also you need to make $$ so you have to mass market sale the goods and then expand your company.  There is no in between.  You either will be small and mostly unknown and cater only to the hardcore users and risk the greater chance of not being able to do more or go broke doing it….the other choice will be to go mass market and earn more cash to build an empire (with the side effect of less quality and more quantity and more different products that your core groups will not like or have to do up special product ranges for mass retail chains so everyone can have a Moleskine and it will not be special anymore…) .  So in reality they went with the mass market route.  When you see it in Target with a cheap look and in less than pleasing displays or end cap programs… it means your brand is just like all others….nothing special.  It only means that parents can now justify buying a cool Moleskine for their kids and not think about “Did I just spend that much money for a blank note book??”

The problem now is that they have expanded into all these different products and sold everywhere…online and retail.  With the heavy down turn in economy in developing countries and shrinkage of developed retail market channels going bust it will hurt the company if the finance is not up to par.  And this is what is hitting them now I feel.  Going mass market means your profit %% is much less and a simple currency drop can wipe you out. Maybe they are ok still or maybe not but the bottom line is the bottom line….$$ comes first.  The brand will be here as long as people use paper to write on.

This is a fascinating glimpse inside the business of planners and what companies are going through right now. I do understand the industry is in general decline and that some will go out of business. But I think people will still be using paper planners 10 and more years from now. I just think there will probably be fewer people using them than now. Companies have to decide what their niche market will be. Mass production? Very high quality? Whatever it is, it will become a test of Survival Of The Fittest and only the few companies who manage to keep afloat will still be around 10 years from now.

What do you think?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Do you know where your addresses are??

I used to be really organized with my addresses and contacts: they all went in my A5 Filofax, in the A-Z tabbed section. That was my master addresses list, the one where I kept the contact details of everyone I know.

But during the past several months while preparing to move, actually moving, living in temporary accommodation for 2 months, in our house for a few weeks without furniture, then swimming in boxes after our shipment arrived, I haven't been so organized. My big Filofax was in a box somewhere, the address pages removed and stuck into my carry-on bag. I couldn't be bothered to track down my bag every time I needed to write a new password or address, so I just wrote them into whatever book was in front of me at that moment. Since I use several planners and notebooks, my addresses quickly became scattered.

I thought I was the only one having this issue until recently a Twitter friend admitted she doesn't have a central location for all of her addresses and, "It's a problem."

Do you keep all of your addresses in one central location, whether electronically or on paper? Or like me do you have addresses, passwords and contacts in multiple locations?

Friday, September 21, 2012

New planner super-productivity

You know when you're using a new planner and suddenly you are so much more productive? You tick off your tasks in prioritized order, arrive early and prepared to all your appointments, have your goals neatly outlined and know what you're supposed to be doing every minute of the day?

I call that "New Planner Super-Productivity."  And I think it has very little to do with the actual planner itself and much more to do with the amount of attention you're giving it.

It's exciting to use a new planner!  It's fun to try a different format, size or brand.You spend a lot of time with your new planner playing with it and trying new things. 

But after a few days or weeks, the fascination with the planner's newness wears off.  You start forgetting to look at it as often. Your productivity levels fall to near where they were before you started using the planner. Eventually you might even decide it's a Planner Fail despite your initial super-productivity.

This isn't necessarily the planner's fault. Most likely, it will work for you just fine if you continue to pay attention to it. You shouldn't need to pay attention to your planner nearly constantly, because that's too high-maintenance. But with a reasonable amount of attention, most planners would work for us just fine.

The bottom line is, you have to write in your planner and look at it often for it to work well for you. One of my main rules of planner usage is, "The More You Use It, The More Useful It Is."

So when choosing a new planner, make sure you get one you will enjoy using and will pay attention to. Maybe it's attractive to you, or super-cool. Maybe it feels great in your hands, or you enjoy writing on the paper. Maybe it's fun to use, or it just really does make you more productive and efficient.

No matter which planner you choose, the most important feature is whatever will get you to pay lots of attention to it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Planner companies who listen to their customers

I have decided I will no longer spend my hard-earned money on planner brands whose companies do not listen to their customers. I should not have to fight with a company to be listened to.

So instead, I am going to list companies who listen to their customers, provide positive dialogue, and go out of their way to make their customers happy.

Quo Vadis really stands out as a company who goes the extra mile to listen to their customers and make us happy. They have an excellent blog where they create a real dialogue with customers. They ask us what's important to us, what we need and what we like. They bring back planner formats due to popular demand. They interact with customers on Twitter. Dealing with Quo Vadis is like chatting with a friend. They are awesome.

Paperblanks also interacts well with customers via their blog, Facebook and Twitter. They are fun to chat with and I love seeing their new designs.

Uncalendar is a small company run by real people who do excellent customer service at a human level. They love their customers' comments so much they post them *all* on their website.  They recently joined Facebook too.

Brush Dance is run by great people who really care about their customers and are passionate about their (wonderful) products! They also communicate directly with their customers via their blog, Twitter and Facebook.

WeekDate is another company who communicates directly with customers and does everything in their power to make us happy.  I love getting their time management tips on Twitter and Facebook.

Success Choice is another small business run by real humans who really listen to their customers and make changes to their products based on customer suggestions. Their products are of the highest quality and designed to enrich your life.

Personal Planner UK is run by really nice folks who offer the ultimate in totally customized planners. You can find them on Facebook too.

There are a lot of excellent planner companies out there!  What planner companies have you had positive experiences with?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A moment of silence please

This weekend I had to throw away a planner. And not just any planner: it was The One That Started It All

It got absolutely destroyed in the move. Our boxes endured extreme heat in transit while being on a ship in the tropics. We were warned, but dang. The vinyl of the cover absolutely melted and disintegrated. It was a sticky mess. I took out the pages that still had some meaning to me, and the rest of it went into the trash.  You can imagine my grief!

So, a moment of silence please for the demise of the planner that started me on my life's journey to Planner Nirvana.

Goodbye old friend! Thanks for everything.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Procrastinating? What do you need?

I recently realized that when I'm procrastinating something, it's because there's something I need first.

If I'm procrastinating making a decision, it's often because I don't have all the information I need.

If I'm procrastinating a task, it's usually because I need to do or get something first. For example, I need to change the lightbulb above the garage door. But first, I need to buy or borrow a ladder.

Other times when I'm procrastinating a task, it's because it's actually a multi-step process. Several years ago when I was preparing to move, the task "back up old desktop computer to external hard drive" was on my to-do list for weeks and I couldn't quite figure out why I was procrastinating it. When I finally forced myself to do it, I realized why. That list should have read:

1) Move boxes out of the way so I can get to old desktop in the closet.

2) Find power converter so I can plug in desktop computer.

3) Plug in and turn on.

4) Get external hard drive out of safe.

5) Locate files on computer to back up.

6) Plug in external hard drive.

7) Select and transfer files from computer to external hard drive.

That one little thing on my to-do list took up half a day. No wonder I was putting it off: I didn't have a realistic, actionable task on my list. I needed to break it down into steps.

Something I'm trying not to procrastinate right now is unpacking our moving boxes. But the secret to unpacking is, you have to have someplace to put the stuff when you open the boxes. The movers mixed all our stuff together (that I had spent WEEKS organizing) so that each box I open is a mess of kids' toys, old baby clothes and mementos, kitchen items, things that belong in the garage, etc. It's a nightmare. So before I can unpack, the first step is to decide where things are going to go, and get those locations ready.  Then when I open a box I can actually put things away instead of wondering, "Where am I going to put all this stuff??"

Another major reason I procrastinate is being afraid I'm going to screw it up (also known as "fear of failure").  I'll put something off for a long time when I'm afraid I'm going to do it wrong, or badly.  Of course the better thing to do in this case is the opposite of procrastinating: start early so I have plenty of time to do it well. If that doesn't get me going, again I ask myself what I NEED.  Maybe the answer is, I need some help to do it well.

What are you procrastinating right now? Can you figure out if there is something you need first?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Personal Planner Winner!

I'm happy to announce the winner of the Personal Planner giveaway, as determined by Random.org, is:


Congratulations!  Please email me at laurie at plannerisms dot com so I can put you in touch with Personal Planner UK to get your very own Personal Planner!

For those of you who didn't win, don't despair: Personal Planner UK has given me this discount code for you! (See image at the top of this post for details.)

This code is good until Sept 30, 2012.

Thanks again to everyone who participated in this giveaway, and huge thanks to Personal Planner UK for sponsoring this giveaway!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Poll Result: Do you use separate planners for work and personal life?

Here's the result!

Out of 169 votes:

Yes, I use a planner (electronic or paper) at work and a separate planner for personal use
  51 (30%)
No, I use one planner for both work and personal
  105 (62%)
I use a planner at work but not for my personal life
  2 (1%)
I use a planner for my personal life but not for work
  11 (6%)

I'd love to hear from those of you who voted that you do use a separate planner for work and personal. Do you have to use an electronic planning system at work that everyone can link into? Or do you use a paper planner at work?

Also, the people who voted that they use a planner for personal life but not work: does that mean you don't work at a job, or do you somehow function at work without a planner?

As always with these polls, I find the results fascinating!  Many thanks to everyone who participated!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Franklin Covey Two Pages Per Day inserts in my Filofax

After seeing Patty's amazing Franklin Covey setup, I was extremely inspired to try the Franklin Covey two pages per day!

For years now I've lamented not journaling consistently. When I use a large page per day book, I capture things on the day's pages that I would never otherwise get around to journaling. But a big day per page book is heavy to carry and doesn't have enough space for my lists and other information.

So I decided to go for the Franklin Covey two pages per day. I like the structured layout, and the paper is so much nicer than Filofax paper, thicker and with no bleed-through of inks.  These are the Compact pages. The pages are a little wider than personal Filofax pages, but I appreciate that little bit more writing room.

So here are some photos! I also ordered the storage binder, and I'm glad I did because the full year of 2PPD pages fills the thing up.

I'll use the binder as Patty says she uses hers: storing used pages and pages waiting to be used.

The storage binder has genius loops that open easily for handy access to pages you need.

The months are tabbed. These are the Seasons inserts, so they have seasonally colored tabs and themed seasonal images. I love them!
I got the July 2012-June 2013 inserts on discount.

The month on two pages calendars are tabbed, and not printed back to back so you can splice in pages. The front of the first month page has an index for that month, which I will use for that month's goals:
This is the design for the summer months. The tabbed month on two pages calendars are glorious! 

Except I have only two complaints: I'm used to Monday through Sunday weeks in my monthly calendars, so having the Sunday-start weeks threw me off a little. I'll adjust. And, these are North American inserts so the UK holidays aren't printed in the day spaces. No big whoop, I'll write them in.

On the back of each monthly calendar there is a Master Task List for personal and business tasks.
The two pages per day are printed back to back so when you turn the page, it's the next day's two-page spread. But the first and last days of the month are not printed back to back with the day pages of the adjacent month, so you can splice the entire month's day pages between the monthly calendars, so each tabbed month is followed by that month's day pages, then the next tabbed month and its day pages, and so on.

The front of the first day of the month has an index page again, which I will actually use as an index to easily find info written on that month's day pages.

The back of the last day of the month has a Business Expenses record page, which I will use to record my monthly bills and categorized expenses (groceries, petrol etc.).  Somehow I failed to get a photo of that page, sorry! But it's a multi-column expenses page that you can customize with your own column titles. Very handy.

Here is the two pages per day layout in all its glory! This is the design for the autumn months. Click on the image to enlarge. On the left page there's a Task List and Daily Tracker on the left side of the page, and Appointment Schedule on the right side of the page. The right page is lined for daily notes. Every day, even Saturday and Sunday, has this two-page layout!
I write my must-do tasks for the day in the Task List, or if I need to do them at a particular time I write them on the appointment schedule. I also write in tasks that came up during the day that I wasn't expecting, to have a record of when I did what. In the Daily Tracker I write expenses for that day. On the right page I take notes, jot numbers, note the weather and (yay!) journal!  I like knowing that I don't have to make choices about what's worthy of being written on the day's page. If I need more space, I can add another page!

I didn't take a photo of it, but I keep my weekly task list on a sticky note stuck to my page marker. That way if I get done with my tasks for today, I can see what else I need to do this week and work it in. The sticky note partly covers the right page, but that's fine because I use those pages for recording, not planning so it's not covering up anything I need to do. I really like this layout: Today's schedule and to-dos on the left, weekly to-dos and recording on the right.

I'm enjoying using the monthly and daily planners. Normally I can't function without a weekly view, but so far I'm not missing it.  Right now with everything I have going on I need the month calendar to see the big picture and what's coming up (which really helps prevent surprises), and the tons of space each day for details.  As I discovered earlier this year, my limit for places to look each day is two, so this two-place planning system is working well for me.

I love the seasonally-changing images! Below are the pages for the winter months:
 And here is the colorful springtime design!
The Franklin Covey two pages per day inserts include 12 full months of tabbed month on two pages with list space on the back side. After those, there's the next 12 full months of monthly calendars, these printed back to back:
 And there's a future planning page for the next year:
So here are the pages in my Aston. I decided to put in all the monthly calendars and 3 months of 2PPD into my binder so I could have as much future planning as possible, and last, current and next month's daily pages.
I knew the binder would be stuffed, but dang. The rings were absolutely full.
Here you can see not only how stuffed my Aston is, but also the difference in width of the Franklin Covey pages on top and the Filofax pages (my tabbed sections and address pages) below. My pen nestles neatly in the space there.
But really, this is crazy. Not only do the colors clash, but the pages stick out way too far from the edge of the binder. They'll get destroyed in my bag.
 This was just not going to work.
So I went through my Filofax stash to look for a wider binder. My old friend Buckingham was more accommodating, with less page overhang:
But it was so over-stuffed I was afraid I'd ruin the binder forever.
So I took it all out and put it into my Finsbury, which is not too bad but still has a fair amount of page overhang.
 The tabs stick out pretty far, and the June tab is crushed by the strap.
So in the interest of not having my Filofax crammed to bursting, I took out one future month leaving me with two months of 2PPD. I would prefer more, but oh well. An obvious solution is to buy a (wider) Franklin Covey binder with larger rings! The one I want (Compact Antique Leather with 1.5 inch rings) is out of my price range right now, and only available from the US site so I'd have to pay international shipping. But if I stick with this system for awhile, maybe I'll get it as a birthday or Christmas present!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Guest post from Patty at Homemakers Daily: Want to See What’s In My Franklin Covey Compact?

(Yes we do!!!)

Okay here's the truth: I had originally planned to post this on Monday, but it turned out to be so amazing I just couldn't wait. Also, some good friends of mine (Rori, Zoe, you know who you are!) are rockin' new 2PPD inserts so I thought I'd give this to you to play with over the weekend. And, here's a secret: because of Patty's setup, I have ordered FC 2PPD inserts myself, and I really hope they arrive today because I am ready to launch this setup!!  So hang onto yourselves for this post.

Huge, enormous thanks to Patty at Homemakers Daily for this wonderful post with tons of photos and details on how she uses her Franklin Covey binder and inserts!

First of all, if you don't know Patty and her excellent blog, you really should go check it out. Even if you're not a homemaker, it has excellent tips for managing life in general including recipes, household cleaning and time management. No matter who you are, you have to eat, keep a clean (or at least reasonably hygienic) home and manage your time! It should be called "Life Management Daily" if you ask me!

I'm ashamed to say I only just discovered Patty's gold mine of a blog very recently. She hooked me with her posts on using her Franklin Covey planner. I asked her if she would be interested in doing a detailed post here on Plannerisms and she very graciously agreed!

Ok I'll shut up now and hand it over to Patty!  Go get a beverage and something to take notes on, settle in and enjoy!

My planner journey hasn’t been a very adventurous one. I started out with a week-at-a-glance calendar purchased from the local discount store and then a few years later graduated to my first Franklin Covey Compact. I’ve been a faithful FC user for the last 20 years. I’ve dabbled with other planners but I always come back to the Franklin Covey Compact.

The Compact pages are 4-3/4” wide by 6-3/4” high and the pages have six rings. As far as I know, there isn’t another planner with this size of pages. Comparable planners have pages that are 3-3/4” wide by 6-3/4” high. That extra ½” of width makes a HUGE difference to me.

My preferred binder style has 1-1/4” rings with a snap type fastener. Most of the planners available at the FC have 1” rings. I can make those work but I really prefer 1-1/4” rings. Several years ago I learned that FC keeps extra ring sizes on hand and for certain binders they can replace the rings with a different size (at the stores, not sure about on-line).

I’ve had my current binder 3 or 4 years and it has 1-1/4” rings. I don’t love the large fastener at the front but it was all that was available at the time. The binder only has one pen loop and it’s on the left side. I don’t like that either. I like two pen loops. FC went through a phase where they only put one loop. Hopefully my next binder will have two. I like to carry a pen and a pencil.

The inside cover of the binder has a flap for storing papers, a pen loop and a page lifter (there’s one of these at the back, too – they allow the binder to close easily).

Next I have my address pages. These are FC pages on heavy paper with plastic tabs. I’ve had this set about 15 years. I really need to replace and update the pages but I can’t bring myself to do it. It sounds like too much work and I’m afraid I’ll miss something in the transfer process!

I keep these pages in the front of the binder because I refer to them often (I include more than just addresses – I have account numbers, part numbers, refill information, etc.) and also because having them here helps level the planner. When my daily pages are open, there are an equal number of pages on the left and the right. Putting the address pages in the front makes it so the daily pages are more level. The first picture shows the pages with the calendars at the front and everything else at the back. The second picture shows the difference when you split it up and put the address pages at the front. It doesn’t make a huge difference right now but when I have more in the planner, it definitely makes a difference.

Next are the monthly pages. These are Franklin Covey Leadership pages. Each month has a front page which is an index. The index is for recording important information from your daily pages for that month. These pages make it a lot easier to retrieve information. Instead of thumbing through all the daily pages, you skim the indexes to see if you can find what you’re looking for.

Turn the page and you have the monthly calendar. It’s split between two pages with a Notes column on the far right. I use the Notes column as my pend list. Whenever I’m waiting on something, I make a note in that column with the date, the company and anything else that’s important. I mark it off or highlighter when the item is received.

The next page is the Master Task List. This is a list of things that need to be done sometime during the month. If an item has a specific day, you record it on the specific day. But if it doesn’t have a specific day, you record it here.

Behind the current month is where I keep my daily pages. Sometimes I use my homemade pages:

And sometimes I use Franklin Covey two page per day. I prefer the Original style because it’s clean and simple. Some of the designs have printing in the margins and it gets in my way. I write EVERYWHERE on my pages, including the margins, so I purchase pages with clear margins. They may not be as pretty but they’re more practical for my needs.

You’ll notice that the two pages per day have a task list on the left side of the page, a schedule on the right side of the page and a Notes page on the right. I use the Notes page for everything, including notes about phone calls, things I need to do, things my grandkids do, interesting things that happen, etc. I nearly always fill up the page.

At the top of the notes page I record information about my husband’s day. He’s self-employed so we need to keep track of what he does each day and where he works. I record it there.

At the very top of the left page I record my menu. On this particular day I made a to do that was just the things I had to do. The box at the bottom left was my daily chores and the area at the top right was my blog to do list. I highlighted my schedule to show when I was busy with commitments.

You’ll also notice the page finder. The FC page finders have a pouch that allows you to insert a piece of paper called a Weekly Compass. I usually record things I need to do sometime during the week on the weekly compass. I use the front of the Compass for the really important things I need to do and the less important things go on the back.

I keep two months worth of pages in my planner. I keep the previous month until about the 15th and then I remove it and put it in my archive book and pull the next month’s pages and put them in my planner.

Between the monthly calendars and the information tabs I keep blank paper. FC sells a Swing Pad Refill that I really like. It’s white paper with wider lines. It’s a pad, though, so I pull the pages apart. I don’t mind, though, because I really like the wider lined paper and I think it’s a better deal than the individual packets of paper.

Next are 12 tabs.

1. Bills to be paid. I have a year calendar taped to the inside of this divider so I can see dates for the whole year. My bills to be paid list is set up by week and is divided between business and personal (remember, we’re self-employed).

2. Business Accounting. This section includes a payables page (for materials that we’ve been reimbursed for but still need to be paid), a paint company page (showing all current charges and which customer they belong to), a page listing outstanding invoices, a page for the business savings account, and the business check register.

3. Personal Accounting. This section includes a payables page (for things I’ve used the credit card for – I deduct them from the checking account and place them here until the bill comes due) and a check register. Here’s a sample of the FC check register page, which I love:

4. Savings account ledger. I have four savings accounts for four different purposes but I have them all listed on the same page and keep track of the balances on one page.

5. Business Calendar. Since we’re self-employed, we have to keep a written record of what we do each day (for mileage). I record it at the top of the daily pages but once a week or so I transfer it to a calendar page like this:

6. Info. This section includes miscellaneous information including car and truck repair records, birthdays, license numbers, and passwords (in code).

7. Church. I have various responsibilities at church and keep information relating to my responsibilities in this section.

8. Blog. When I think of articles I want to write or things I need to do for my blog, I jot them here.

9. Food Journal. I write down what I eat each day and that goes here. I also keep a page finder here so it’s easy to get to the food journal page. The page finder is upside down so it doesn’t interfere with the one for my daily pages.

The last three tabs are for odds and ends that come up – temporary projects. I usually don’t label those- I just remember what’s in there.

At the back of the binder I have another page lifter and then the back cover. I rarely have anything in the flap or the zipper compartment.

The only other pieces to this planner are my archive books. I have one for each year that I’ve used my FC planner. I save all the monthly and daily pages plus any other pages relating to the year. The unused pages are stored in the archive book and as pages are completed, they’re put back. The books are stored in my office closet. You’d be surprised at how often I pull those books out to look something up.

And that’s it. It’s a small book but it holds a LOT of information!!!

Thank you again Patty! I am in total awe of your planner system!  I can only aspire to this level of planner consistency and detail.