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Monday, June 24, 2013

Planner help for the "unorganized"

Recently a reader emailed me asking if I could write a post to help folks who are "unorganized" to use planners.

First, let me clarify. "Unorganized" is not the same as "Disorganized," in my opinion. "Disorganized," to me, sounds completely scattered with no order. "Unorganized" has the potential to become organized.

Second, a disclaimer: I am not organized. My house is not tidy. (In fact, I like it cluttered. That's just me.) I never know where I should put things. I have piles on my desk because I'm out of sight, out of mind and if I put things away I forget about them. Just about the only place I AM organized is in my planner, and that's because I have to be. If I don't write it down, it's gone. I have to write everything down.

So with that in mind, let me talk about whether I can help you or not.

There are three types of people, I think. Some I can help, and some I can't. Which one are you?

1. You need to write things down to remember them. You rely on paper, lists, your phone or whatever planning tool works for you. You work best if you plan ahead and write your tasks down so you can work through them.  (This is me.) If you fall into this category and want ideas on how to use a planner, or how to use one more effectively, I can definitely help you. Read on.

2. You keep it all in your head, more or less. These are the folks who never use a planner and really do keep it all in their head, or at least it seems that way. For these people, writing things into a planner is just a redundant extra step and the effort of remembering to write it, remembering where your planner is and remembering to look at it is more trouble than just remembering your stuff to do. My husband is like this. He never uses a planner. But, not actually. He uses Outlook at work to schedule meetings and appointments. He uses project-tracking software and budget software at work. I keep track of all our personal stuff and our kids' schedules, so he doesn't have to remember any of that. This system works for him and a planner isn't necessary.

If you are the type of person for whom writing it down is more of a hindrance than a help, I'm sorry but I won't be able to help you. Unless you fall into the third category:

3. You don't write things down, but you really ought to. These are folks whose lives previously were simpler and never needed a planner before, but as things get more complicated in your life you really do need some way to keep track of things. Maybe you've just started university and find you're missing exams and deadlines. Maybe you've had kids or started a new job where suddenly you have more to keep track of. If you're not used to writing things down, but you need to, I can definitely help you but only with effort from you.

If you aren't used to writing things down, but you need to, it will take effort to make it a habit to write everything into your planner, carry it with you everywhere, and look at it often. You'll have to look at it first thing in the morning, in the middle of the day at again in the evening AT MINIMUM. You'll need to write everything into it, everything. You'll need to plan your day the day before so you know what you're supposed to do each day and can prepare for anything you'll need to do or take with you that day.

I have written some posts already on using your planner that will be useful. My Using Weekly Planners post has the basics on how to effectively use your planner. That post is part of my How To Find Your Perfect Planner series.

Patty at Homemaker's Daily has written several posts on effectively using your planner, you should definitely check them out. Her post How To Avoid Planner Overwhelm will help you figure out the basics of what you need, and you can build up your planner usage from there.  Use Your Planner! will help you get into the habit. Strategies For Making Your Planner Work Well For You will help you take the next step. And definitely don't miss Advance Planning Prevents Unpleasant Surprises and 5 Examples of Planning As You Go to learn how to use your planner to really plan, not just react.

The posts linked above have a lot of information and tips on effectively using your planner. Is there anything else you would like me to cover, more generally or more specifically? I'd be happy to do a post on anything you think would be useful. Either post a comment or send me an email: Laurie at Plannerisms dot com.

What are your tips on effectively using a planner?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Rhodia Academic-year week+notes planner

I had never seen one of these in person before, so I am especially excited to review this Rhodia Academic-year planner!! Quo Vadis blog offered to send me a planner or notebook to thank me for my interview on their blog. I wanted to try something I'd never tried before, but it was a tough choice because Quo Vadis has so many wonderful products. I've heard so much about the Rhodia planners I wanted to try one. Now I see why everyone likes these planners so much!
The Rhodia planners come in small (4.5 x 6 inch) and this large size (approximately 6 x 9 inches), in two formats: January-December and this 13 month academic-year July-July planner.

Here is the back of the info band. It tells you that this planner has my favorite paper in the world: the 90 gsm, acid-free, ultra white and super-smooth Clairefontaine paper! It's made for fountain pens and is a joy to write on.

Exaclair very generously supplied this planner to me, and even gave me the choice of which color cover I wanted, black or orange. I didn't have any orange-covered planners so I went for the orange! It's a really nice color, not too bright and will make the planner easy to find on my desk and in my bag.
The faux leather cover feels really nice, and is firm yet has some flex to it. There is an elastic band to hold the cover closed.

Inside the pages are printed in gray and orange. Below is some more information about the planner and the company that makes it, Quo Vadis.

I'll take you for a walk through the book. First is the Personal Information page, and a page with international telephone codes.

Next there is a chart of minimum and maximum temperatures, and a very handy planning calendar with last-this-next year at a glance.

Next spread has a timetable for your regular weekly schedule. There is only one of these, so if your schedule changes each semester you'll need to use pencil on these pages so you can change it.

Next is one of my favorite features of Quo Vadis planners, the Anno-Planner which shows the entire year (in this case, the academic year) at a glance. This is great for long-term planning of holidays, major deadlines and projects.

Next are the weekly pages! What a fantastic layout!!
This planner starts July 1, 2013!  (Hooray, only a few days until it starts!!!) The week on two pages layout has your whole week on the left page and the entire right page gridded for notes, lists, graphs, sketches etc.

The days are timed from 7 am to 8 pm with moon phases and holidays for the US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand indicated on the day spaces.

The right page has the week number and month at the top of the page, and last-this-next month at the bottom of the page with the current week highlighted.

I really like this feature, it makes it very easy to see where you are in the month.

This planner goes through the end of July 2014. There is a ribbon placemarker and tear-off corners so you can choose how to mark your page.

After the weeks there is an Anno-Planner for the following academic year for future planning.

Next are the maps! I love maps in planners and Quo Vadis planners have some of the best.

At the back of the book are two pages for Notes and eight bound-in pages for contacts (or they can be used for more notes).

Inside the back cover there is a full-length pocket.

The back cover has the Rhodia logo subtly embossed at the bottom.

I am extremely impressed with this planner! Not surprisingly, since Quo Vadis planners are of the highest quality with great formats and of course that spectacular paper.

6 by 9 inches sounds big but because the book is so thin (less than 1/2 inch) it's still very light, and its slim profile and rounded edges make it easy to carry everywhere in your bag.

Huge thanks to Exaclair for this planner, it's fantastic!

**Edited to add: the 2014 Rhodia planners are available in the UK from Bureau Direct:  http://www.bureaudirect.co.uk/2014-rhodia-diaries/c621

In the US, check the Quo Vadis Planners page to find out where to buy: http://quovadisplanners.com/catalog/rhodia

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What is the purpose of a 17- or 18-month planner?

I see this question often on comments or reviews of 17- and 18-month planners, and I'm always surprised by the question. Personally, I like to plan as far ahead as possible in my planner so more weeks is always better.

17 month planners begin in August, and 18 month planners begin in July. Both go all they way through December of the following year.  These types of planners are very popular and many people prefer them.

But, some people argue, why not have a 12 month planner that begins either in August or January? Those extra months are just going to go to waste.

Well, I disagree.

First, the reasoning behind a 17- or 18-month planner is that you can start the planner at the beginning of the academic year and plan all the way through the end of the following calendar year. These planners are often geared toward students, and moms of kids in school. It's more convenient to schedule the entire school year in one planner.

So then why the extra months? Why not just have the planner end in July and start a new one again in August?

Well, there are several reasons:

Some people really do like to plan all the way to the end of the next year.

Some people (like students who will graduate at the end of the school year) need to transition to a January-December planner

And, some companies only make 17- or 18-month planners and don't have separate academic-year and calendar-year versions. With both the academic and calendar years covered, they have a wider potential customer base.

To those folks who say the unused months are wasted, I say, never!! Those pages can be used as Notes pages, and don't we all want more notes pages in our planners??

**Edited to add: now that we are almost at the end of the school year, I am realizing just how valuable an 18 month planner can be. As our after-school activities are ending for this term, they are being scheduled to resume in August, some at different days/ times than they currently are. If I were using just a 12 month academic-year planner, I wouldn't be able to schedule these new times for the autumn term. Being able to plan the entire school year in one planner, and then plan the start of the new school year in the same planner, is hugely valuable!

Do you use a 17- or 18- month planner? Why?

Monday, June 17, 2013

bloom 2013-2014 academic-year planners

If you're looking for an academic-year planner with a colorful cover and excellent design, check out bloom daily planners! They are pretty and affordable, with a huge selection of cover designs that are similar to the cover designs of some planners that cost almost 5 times as much (which I will not name but I think you know what I'm talking about)!

The bloom academic-year planners go from August 2013 through the end of July 2014. They have a week on two pages format with month on two pages grid calendars embedded in the weeks. They measure 5 1/2 by 8 1/2 inches and are slim (less than 1/2 inch thick) so you can easily carry it everywhere in your bag.

Student Media Group, the makers of bloom planners, sent me four cover designs to review. All the planners have the same features. I will walk you through the books so you can see all the features of these excellent planners!

The cover below is the Floral Stamp design, which (not surprisingly!) is my favorite! I love the colors!
The flexible cover and spiral binding are not at all bulky.

Inside the front cover there is a year at a glance calendar for all of 2013. The Personal Info page has details on how to find bloom planners on their website (www.bloomplanners.com) and on their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/bloomplanners).

Next is a list of holidays for 2013-2014, and an excellent page for writing your goals for the year!

Next there are three pages for writing your class schedules each term:

And then there are NINE PAGES for Notes! Hooray! You can write and track your goals, write frequently used contacts or back up the numbers in your phone, note your class requirements, or anything else.

At the beginning of each month there is a full size monthly calendar with holidays printed in the day spaces and an extra column for notes, monthly goals, things that must be done that month, financial totals, etc. At the top of each monthly page there are inspiring quotes from famous women to help motivate you.

The week on two pages spread gives you plenty of space to write each day. There are month indicators at the page edges to help you easily find the month you are looking for. I like the holiday symbols in the day spaces. Below you can see the snowflake on the First Day of Winter:

Below is the Teal Chevron cover design:

The pages inside the Teal Chevron planner are printed with a pink design. I like the lip print on Valentine's Day!

Here is the Avocado Trellis design:

The page colors inside match the cover:

Here is the Mustard Ikat cover:

The pages have a cheery yellow design. Inside the back cover of the planners there is a year at a glance calendar for all of 2014 for quick reference:

The coil binding allows the book to fold back on itself easily to save space on your desk:

I love the gorgeous cover designs! Look through their huge selection of cover choices, and good luck trying to decide on just one!
Bloom also has full-size 3-ring binders to match some of their planner designs, so you binder and planner can match! See their binder selection here.

You can buy bloom planners at www.bloomplanners.com, and at Amazon.com.

**Edited to add: www.bloomplanners.com ships internationally!!

Many thanks to Student Media Group for sending me these samples of their new bloom weekly planners to review!

Friday, June 14, 2013

What do you need your planner to do for you?

The purpose of a planner is to keep you in control of your life. Everyone's needs are different, and your planner can be anywhere from basic to complex.

Ideally your planner should be your life management tool. Below are some functions of a planner. How many of these do you need your planner to do?

Appointments: The most basic function of a planner is to schedule appointments. But a planner can be so much more.

Tasks: I need to write tasks directly into my planner, prioritized daily, weekly and monthly so I know when I need to do them. Seeing my tasks alongside my schedule allows me to see what I need to do and when I have time to do it.

Goals: I use my planner to set, track and record my goals so they are in front of me all the time.

Academic: assignments, papers, exams and homework all need to be tracked in your planner so you get everything completed on time. You can also use your planner to track course requirements and grades.

Projects: Whether at home or at work, your planner can help you track progress, milestones, deadlines and deliverables.

Family: There are several brands of family organizers with a weekly grid pattern that allows you to see what each member of the family is doing each day. Some planners even have carpool pages, babysitter information pages, and places to track after school activities.

Financial/ Budget: Your planner is a handy place to keep track of your finances and budget. Some planners have dedicated budget forms to fill in monthly to help you stay on top of your financial situation.

Meal planning: Some planners have specific meal planning spaces in the weekly pages to encourage you to plan ahead for meals so you can save money on shopping and know what you're making for dinner every day.

Food diary: People who are dieting can use a planner to record all their food every day to help them eat healthier.

Medical/ health tracking: Your planner is a good place to record medication, blood pressure/ sugar levels, weight, exercise, symptoms and anything else you need to monitor your health.

Record-keeping/ archival: Some people need to keep official records at work. Others (like myself) like to keep records of their days to remember when things happened. Paper is a great way to archive information. Chronological records in a planner can show progression or evidence.

Journaling: Your planner is a great place to capture thoughts, events, hopes and dreams. It's also an easy place to jot cute things your kids/ grandkids say and do.

Art: Some creative people like to do a sketch each day, decorate their planner pages, and use their planner as an artistic outlet.

Holiday planning: Some planners have pages to plan Christmas, vacations, parties, events, birthdays gifts and cards.

Which of these functions does your planner do for you? Are there other functions you need beyond these? Which planner are you using and does it do everything you need/ want it to do? Please post a comment!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Brush Dance 2014 Date Books: Simple Pleasures, Perennial Grace and Mindful Living

Many huge enormous thanks to Brush Dance for sending me these beautiful planners to review! I absolutely love Brush Dance products. I have had the pleasure of reviewing several here on Plannerisms and they are just a joy. So when Brush Dance offered to send me some of their new 2014 Date Books to review I of course said yes and I could hardly wait until they arrived because I knew they would be great!

And they are, wow!!

Brush Dance Datebooks are famous for their beautiful imagery and uplifting quotes. They are 6.9 by 8.5 inches, with hard covers and metal coil bindings. The fountain pen friendly paper is thicker than most paper so there's no bleeding or show-through to the other side of the page, allowing you to use all your favorite pens!

The Brush Dance Date Books have lots of themes to choose from so you're sure to find one (or several!) you identify with. Some people frame the monthly images because they are so beautiful.

I have to admit, the Simple Pleasures Datebook is my favorite for 2014.
The Simple Pleasures Datebook, journal and wall calendars are about the joys of home, companionship, a good book and a warm bath.

Each of the Datebooks has a pocket for papers and receipts, and tabbed monthly calendars embedded in the weeks with a new image and quote each month. Click on the photos for a larger view.

The tabbed months are on heavier card that will stand up to use all year. The monthly calendars have holidays for the US, UK, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand printed on the day spaces, with lined space for Notes below the month grid. Phases of the moon, solstices and equinoxes are also printed on the days, which I really like.
The weekly pages begin at the beginning of each month and end on the last day of the month.
There is a week per page. I really love the bright blue ink they used in the Simple Pleasures pages this year, it looks great! There is also a subtle decorative background design at the edges that looks so nice.
At the end of each month there are several notes pages for lists, tracking goals, finances or anything else you want to write each month. I love the border design and again that blue color is so pretty!
The coil binding allows you to fold the book completely back on itself to save space on your desk and still see your week in one view. Holidays are all printed on the day spaces in the weekly pages too.

I have to admit the July quote actually made me cry, because this is exactly how I feel about my house. It says, "I am grateful for the lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, and floors that need waxing because it means I have a home."
After ten years of dreaming of owning a traditional cottage in Scotland, last year that dream came true when we bought our house, our first time as homeowners after two decades wandering the earth. I don't particularly enjoy cleaning, but each time I sweep the floor or clean the kitchen it feels like an affirmation of love for my home. That's why the Simple Pleasures datebook really speaks to me this year.

Anyhoozle, back to the datebooks!

Every month has a tabbed divider to easily flip to the month you're looking for.
There's also a tabbed Addresses section at the back of the book. Love the design!
You might remember I used the Simple Pleasures 2012 pocket calendar last year and loved it!

Here is the Perennial Grace 2014 Datebook.
The Perennial Grace Datebook, journal and wall calendars celebrate nature and peace. The Perennial Grace 2013 Datebook is my favorite this year, and I cut it apart to turn it into a week + notes format in my Success Choice binder. Later I regretted cutting it up and bought another one!

Here is the pocket and tabbed months. I love the beautiful images of nature in this datebook!
Here is the weekly design in the Perennial Grace 2014 Datebook. The colors and patterns remind me of sitting outside in a garden looking at flowers and trees.
This is my favorite quote in this datebook. It says, "The bird of paradise alights upon the hand that does not grasp. -John Berry"
Here is the pattern in the Address pages:

Here is the Mindful Living 2014 Datebook. The Mindful Living Datebook and wall calendar are about self-awareness and improvement.
The images in the Mindful Living 2014 Datebook are soothing and calm.

Here is a view of the month tabs, they look so nice. This is my favorite quote in the Mindful Living Date Book this year, it is so true.
The colors and design are very handsome and can be enjoyed by men and women.

Here is the design in the Address pages:
I have the Mindful Living 2013 pocket calendar (which I featured in a giveaway last year) and I love the positive quotes!

Each of the Date Books has an elastic closure for keeping the book closed in your bag. The closure strap can also stay out of the way on the back cover when you're not using it.
If you are looking for a planner that will make you feel good and is beautiful, for yourself or as a gift, take a look at the Brush Dance 2014 Date Books. You're sure to find something you'll love!

Brush Dance also has a huge selection of wall calendars, mini wall calendars, journals, cards and bags that are all beautiful and functional!

You can buy Brush Dance products at BrushDance.com, on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, and at Calendars.com for international shipping.

Thanks again to Brush Dance!