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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My epic search for The Perfect Notebook

Who knew this would be so difficult?? I know I'm picky about my notebooks, but aren't most of us who love paper and pens?

**UPDATE: I bought a scale and have added the weights of each notebook in the photos below. I have finally figured out my weigh threshold! Details below.

As you may have read in my Journal Evaluation 2013 post, in January I'm switching from using a dated day per page diary as my daily record and journal (as I've been using this year) to an undated notebook for more freedom and flexibility of use in a slimmer and lighter book. Whatever notebook I use has big shoes to fill,  because I adore the Time Traveler day per page diary I've been using this year. The soft cover and white paper are so pleasing to me.

So I started going through my enormous notebook stash to choose which one I would use first. I want something that I will enjoy using as much as my Time Traveler diary.

I'm stumped. Of all the notebooks I own, none jump out at me as The Perfect Notebook. Cue new quest!

First of all, I already have such a ridiculous number of notebooks I really cannot justify purchasing another one. And anyway, half the reason to use a notebook instead of a dated diary is to start using up my stash. So my choices are limited to my considerable selection of notebooks already on my shelf.

But, please post comments with your notebook recommendations for future purchases! I'm always on the lookout for a better notebook. Please keep in mind I'm in the UK and I try to avoid ordering from other countries because the import taxes and fees are outrageous.

Here are my criteria for The Perfect Notebook:

1. Size: it must be between 5 by 7 inches and 6 by 8 1/2 inches. Bigger is too big, smaller is too small.

2. It must have a sufficient number of pages to last at least a few months, but not so many pages that the book is too thick and heavy.

3. I must enjoy the paper. Bonus points for white, smooth and thick. Points removed for too dark paper, and pen bleed-through.

4. I must enjoy the cover. Interesting, attractive, and nice to hold. Bonus points for soft, I love soft-feeling covers.

5. At this point I am only considering bound books, no spiral binding (of which I have several) and absolutely no ring binders (of which I have many).

6. It must stay open on its own! It doesn't need to lie dead flat, but it must stay open on a surface without self-closing.

7. It can't be too heavy. That's why I decided to stop using a dated diary, so half the point of a notebook is to use something that's easier to carry around.

8. Line ruling between 5.5 and 6.5 mm. Wider wastes page space, narrower cramps my handwriting.

9. It can't be too expensive or too difficult to replace. This is the notebook I'll use for everyday stuff. I can't feel like the notebook is too precious to write as much as I want in.

***UPDATE: 10.  I finally bought a scale and weighed all of these books. After some weighing and experimenting I discovered my threshold of how much weight I want carry for my notebook and planner combined is 700g. My weekly Plannerisms planner weighs in at 324g, which means my notebook ideally will be below 376g.

Surely that's not asking too much, is it??

Below are the notebooks in my stash that come closest to fitting the criteria above, but shockingly none of them fit all the criteria. I have shown my 2013 Time Traveler diary in the top left for size comparison. The Time Traveler is 6 inches wide by 8 1/2 inches tall and is the upper limit of what I want to carry.

*Update: my Time Traveler daily diary weighs 503g, so the weight of it combined with my Plannerisms planner totals 827, above my threshold of 700g. (Incidentally, I also weighed my A5 Filofax, which tipped the scales at 1039g. So for those of you who wonder why I don't use an A5 Filo instead of my bound books, that's why.)

All of these notebooks are *almost* perfect, but miss the mark somehow. Here's what I mean:

First up: the large Moleskine Hobbit notebook.
Large Moleskine Hobbit ruled notebook: 342g

The large Moleskine notebook is the perfect size, in my opinion, so I will use it as scale for the other notebooks. And at 342g it is well below my threshold of 376g. Below I have shown it next to my Time Traveler diary to show it is slightly narrower. And of course since it is a notebook with fewer pages than the day per page diary, it is less bulky.
Time Traveler Day Per Page diary 503g, Moleskine 342g

More things I like about it: It lays flat. I like this Hobbit cover. It has my favorite ruling, 6mm. I like the layout of the page with space at the top and 30 lines below. It wins points in all categories except for the paper, which has a lot of annoying show-through and even some bleed through with my pen of choice (Uni-ball Signo RT 0.7).
I like this pen because it is an archival quality rollerball and is comfortable to write with.

I haven't filled up a page with writing yet to see how much the show-through would annoy me. And because Moleskine's paper tends to change, it's not much use to try it on a different Moleskine notebook to test it. But below you can see where I used this pen to start numbering the pages. Not only is the 3 annoyingly visible from the opposite side of the page, but so is the 2 from the previous page.
My worry is that I'll start using this notebook and get aggravated by the show-through. Because this cover is limited edition, I don't want to use it part way and discard it out of frustration. Once I start using this book, I want to commit to filling it.

You may remember from my post late last year that I intended to use this notebook as my journal this year, but later decided to use a dated day per page instead. So, I've been excited about this book for a year now and would like to use it. Despite the paper, it wins in all the other categories and is a contender for the notebook I will start using in January.

The other major contender for my January notebook is the Alwych 5 by 8 inch notebook:
5 by 8 inch Alwych notebook 328g
You may remember I got several of these notebooks a few years ago right before I moved from Scotland to Indonesia. I love these notebooks! This size is perfect, I love the retro cover, it's light at 328g and it could go everywhere with me. And, it's from Scotland! What could possibly be better??

The paper is nicer than Moleskine paper, and I like the colored page edges. This would be perfect, but heartbreakingly it doesn't stay open on its own! I don't know if it eventually would with training.
So close!! The good news is, if I try this notebook and stop using it either to use a different notebook or to go back to using a Time Traveler diary in 2014, it wouldn't be a tragedy because it's easy for me to get these notebooks now that I'm living in Scotland again. So, this is also a very strong contender for my notebook to start in January.

The next runner-up is the Daycraft Signature notebook I got recently. I used one of these a few years ago as a self-drawn planner and really enjoyed the soft cover and smooth paper.
Daycraft A5 Signature softcover notebook 325g
This is another safe contender. I know I would enjoy using this notebook, because I always enjoy Daycraft Signature notebooks.
But, I just used another Daycraft Signature notebook last month, the Inspiro, and as much as I enjoyed it I would like to use something new, like the Hobbit or Alwych. Still, this would be a safe one to use as a trial because it's easy for me to get another one here.

Here's one that's so close but missed the mark: the Rhodia Webnotebook. It's the perfect size, the soft cover feels nice, and the paper is smooth and thick. But here's where it falls down. A minor issue is the prominent branding on the front. Come on Rhodia, put this on the back cover at the bottom please.
Rhodia large Webnotebook 364g
But my real problem with it is the paper color. It's a real shame, because the paper itself is so smooth and thick. But wow it is dark. I have shown it below in comparison to the white paper of my Time Travler, which I love, and the Moleskine paper top right, which is already on the dark side for me. The Rhodia paper is a dark apricot color, and I don't like looking at it. Too bad.
I'm planning to use this notebook for work whenever I get a job because I do like the size, the cover and the smoothness of the paper. But the dark paper color is too annoying for me to use it for everyday personal use.

Below are two Paperblanks notebooks I love: the Ultra Darwin journal (left) and the Midi Lindau journal (right).
Paperblanks Darwin Ultra journal 574g, Lindau Midi journal 284g
The covers are wonderful and the paper is fantastic. But, there is a Goldilocks problem here.

The Ultra journal on the left measures 7 by 9 inches, too big to carry with me everywhere. Update: when I weighed this book I discovered it's 574g! Definitely over my weight threshold of what I'm willing to carry around. The Midi journal on the right is 4 3/4 by 6 3/4 inches and only 284g. As nicely portable as that is, I need a page size of about 5 by 8 inches each day so this is too small. I have shown the large Moleskine in the middle as the just-right size.
For some reason, Paperblanks offers only a few covers in their Maxi (5 1/2 by 8 1/4 inches) size, and none of them turn me on. So frustrating! If they offered the selection they have in their Ultra size as Maxi size books, these would be my notebooks of choice. Unfortunately, my search goes on.

Below is the large Moleskine next to a Leuchtturm notebook I partly used a few years ago. Leuchtturm paper is superior to Moleskine paper by miles, and has the added advantage of numbered pages and an Index already built into the book.
Moleskine (L) 342g, Leuchtturm (R) 391g
Unfortunately Leuchtturm notebooks are wider than I prefer, and are just a little heavier than I like to carry everywhere. (I need to buy a scale and figure out just what that threshold is!!)  *Update: I was right! At 391g, the Leuchtturm is over my threshold of 376. It wasn't my imagination thinking it was too heavy! It actually is.

Below you can see the width difference with the Mole:
I compared this Leuchtturm notebook to the Rhodia webbie, and despite them being almost identical in size the Leuchtturm is noticeably significantly heavier. *Update: at 391g the Leuchtturm is heavier than the Rhodia Webnotebook at 364g.

I used Leuchtturm dotted notebooks as my self-drawn weekly Plannerisms planners before they were published, so I know I enjoy using these notebooks. This particular notebook is unlined, but in the future I may spring for a soft-cover ruled Leuchtturm. That just might become my notebook of choice.

Here are some Clairefontaine notebooks that are so close yet so far away. Below I have shown them with the large Moleskine again for scale.
Clairefontaine A5 harcover (L) 421g, Fabric bound (R) 295
Clairefontaine paper is my absolute favorite in the world, so it seems like it would be an easy choice to use these notebooks, right? Well, no.

First of all, the hard cover one on the left is too big. I measure it at 6 3/4 inches wide and more than 8 1/2 inches tall, which makes it bigger than I want to carry. *Update: at 421g it's definitely past my threshold of 376g.
The one on the right is A5, nearly 6 inches wide by 8 1/4 inches tall so it's just within my size parameters, and at only 295g it's nicely lightweight. But my problem with it is the cover. The laminated card cover with fabric binding has the advantage of being lightweight, but it's not very durable and the bigger issue is it looks like a school book, which is actually what it's intended for. Clairefontaine notebooks need better covers, in my opinion. They have these laminated card ones, or other cardboard like ones.

What I want is a Moleskine or Rhodia-like cover. Rhodia is made by the same parent company as Clairefontaine, but I've already discussed why I don't like the Rhodia's dark paper. Exaclair, please put white Clairefontaine paper in a Rhodia webbie cover! If that existed, it would be my perfect notebook.

The Habana notebooks come close. The covers are wonderful but the notebooks are more expensive than I want to spend for my everyday notebook, and size is an issue: the large is too big (6 1/4 by 9 1/2 inches) and the small is too small (4 by 6 inches).

So, you see my dilemma. I have a lot of excellent notebooks, but none are exactly what I want.

I haven't yet decided on which notebook I will start using in January, but I will let you know when I decide. I need to choose the right one, a notebook I enjoy and that works well for me. I'm afraid of my notebook experiment failing because of using a notebook I don't really enjoy or that doesn't fit my needs well enough, causing me to stop using it.

Do you know a notebook that fits my criteria above? Please post a comment so the next time I'm notebook shopping I can check them out!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Journal evaluation 2013

About this time last year I wrote a very angsty post called Journaling, journaling, what to do? (Click here if you would like to see it). I was kind of at the end of my rope with the whole journaling thing. I wanted to capture and record family memories, but didn't have the time, energy or discipline to journal on a regular basis. I felt horrible that those memories were not being captured like I wanted.

Fast forward to now. As you may have seen in What I'm Currently Using, I've been using my Time Traveler large day per page diary this year as my daily catch-all, including journaling and notes.

All year I've gone back and forth with it. It's big. It's heavy. I didn't want to carry it everywhere. But I kept going back to it, because I loved it and I was consistent in writing in the large dated pages. This was a really huge thing, consistently filling in each day. For some reason I was unable to do this in previous years. This is the record I've been wanting for years and years.

After using it most of the year, here is my evaluation.

Things I have enjoyed about it:

I adore the book itself. This has been a huge factor in my consistency in using it. I love to hold the soft cover, I love the white paper and the way the pages look. I love the different sections of the page with space at the top, the timed section and the bottom notes area. I love the maps and features. Click here to see my review and to see all the things I love about it. 

Writing in this book every day has been a joy. I've used other day per page books in the past that I didn't enjoy nearly as much: the paper was dark and not nice to look at every day, the cover was boring or didn't feel good in my hands. My pure enjoyment of this book has definitely been an incentive to write in it every single day.

And, this is going to sound crazy, but you know that thrill you get when you see someone you love, or your pet, that surge of good feelings when you see their face? I get that when I see my Time Traveler. Whether it's sitting on my desk or peeking out of my bag. Yes I know that sounds nuts, but I really love this book

As I mentioned above, I've been very consistent in writing in the daily book. I back-filled pages from the brief periods when I used a different book, and now looking back there is only one page, one day from the whole year when I didn't write anything. As a result, this book is a wonderful record of my life this year, and what I and my family did each day. That is what I've been longing for and missing for years. I can see what we did every single day this year.

This record has been extremely useful, not only in remembering fun things but in documenting things too. Earlier this year my son was having ongoing symptoms and the doctors didn't know if it was asthma, allergies or what. Luckily I had noted in my book when the symptoms started, what they were, when they got better or worse etc. I was able to draw up a timeline of symptoms, meds tried and results, and other notes so every time we saw a new doc they got the whole story. (Result: no asthma thank goodness, seasonal allergies.)

There were times when I didn't really feel like writing, but I was able to back-fill later. Because the pages are dated, it didn't mess up the chronology at all.

Something else I've really enjoyed is writing nature observations like when certain flowers bloomed, when the leaves came out on the trees and when they started turning in the fall, bird sightings, hours of sunrise and sunset (we get a huge variation this far north!) etc. Now I wish I had done this last year so I could compare. I look forward to continuing to track these things so I can compare them year to year.

And now I have all of this bound into one book, with the year stamped on the front, for my year perfectly archived.

But, it hasn't been all peaches and cream with this book all year. As I wrote back in June, there have been pros and cons to using this book.  As I've said, it's big and heavy and I don't always want to carry it everywhere. As the year goes on it becomes more and more precious, which is risky to take it out of the house. There was no place for my lists (solved by a booklet in the back pocket (a Planner Pad Insta-pocket I put in.)). Even though the large pages are usually plenty big for each day, there have been times when I wanted to take notes or draw a map, and I had to decide what was worthy of being written on the one page for that day.

So last month when Rori told me about the Bullet journal system, the showdown began. I switched to using a notebook with the same page size, but since it was much slimmer than the daily book it was easier to carry around.

Advantages of the notebook were numerous. Unlimited space to write each day. I started my daily records from the front of the book and my lists from the back, so I always knew where to look to find anything. The book was more portable so I took it everywhere, resulting in more things being recorded. And, using a few notebooks per year would allow me to actually use the stack of awesome notebooks I have sitting around.

I used the notebook for about a month, and after some trial and error it was working really well for me. But then, inevitably, I missed my Time Traveler diary so I went back to it. I realized I would be extremely disappointed with myself if I didn't finish the year in my Time Traveler day per page diary. I'm so close to having the entire year in the book, it would be a shame to miss the last couple of months.

So I back-filled the month into my Time Traveler day per page book, and will continue to use it for the rest of the year. It will be great to have my entire year encapsulated in the book. I've been using my Plannerisms planner all year for planning and goals, so I can archive the two books together for a complete record of my year.

Come January first, I'll have a decision to make: start in a new Time Traveler, or switch to an undated notebook?

I think I'll use a notebook for the first month or six weeks and see how it goes. The potential for capturing things is greater in the notebook with unlimited space each day and better portability. But the risk is that I may fall off the wagon without the pre-dated pages prompting me to write something into them each day. Because the bottom line is, I've written something in just about every day's page this year, which I haven't done in previous years. So despite the limitations, the day per page book is extremely valuable for consistent record-keeping and journaling.

At least I know I can succeed with the large dated day per page book, so I can happily go back to that if the notebook isn't successful.

Can I reach even higher levels of records and efficiency in an undated notebook? Or will it be all too easy to fall off the wagon and stop writing? January 2014 will be an interesting test!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Free For All Friday No. 7: Planner Love

For some reason I feel like I should LOVE my planner. I don't know why, considering it is just an organizational tool. I don't love my computer (although I do rely on it and when it broke down recently I was pretty upset).

But I do have an emotional attachment to my planner. Some of that has to do with the contents. I write a lot of details in my planners and value them years later as records of my life.

But technically I could do that with any (archival-quality) notebook. I also want to love my planner itself. I've had planners in the past that I've adored, others I've had a love-hate relationship with, and others that were pretty much just organizational tools.

Do you LOVE your planner? Or is it just a tool for you? Or something in-between?

And as always on Fridays, feel free to discuss anything planner-related!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Making It Work

I've been thinking about something I wrote in my Planner Fail post: when I say I'm going to "make it work," that's an indicator the planner has already failed. That said, there are ways to make a planner work for you, even if it's not your functional ideal.

There are lots of reasons why you might WANT to use a planner that doesn't work flawlessly and effortlessly for you. Sometimes there's an emotional attachment to a planner and you just really want to use it. Sometimes you really could use a larger planner, but you can't stand to lug it around.

Whatever the reason, there are ways to make a planner work for you.

Issue: You need a larger page size, but want to use a smaller planner.

Ideas: One option is to write smaller. Depending on your limits of dexterity and eyesight, this could make it possible to use a smaller page size effectively.

This has been an issue for me in the past. I like a big page, but I don't always like a big book. Once I was getting frustrated with the small weekly pages in my personal Filofax. I wanted so badly to use my beautiful ivory Deco but struggled to make those small daily spaces work for me. While I was fretting about it, my husband pointed out, "You could just learn to write smaller." Actually, yes, I could.

Another option is to use a two-page spread instead of one page. This will allow you to stretch out your thoughts in a smaller book.

If you are using a ring binder, you can put an extra page in when you need more writing space. This works well in weekly pages, allowing more space for lists or particularly busy days.

Issue: You want to use a ring binder with smaller rings. There are lots of reasons for this: you love a particular binder with smaller rings; you are tired of carrying a thick binder and want to streamline; or you could use larger rings but need to stick with the binder you've got.

Ideas: The only way to use smaller rings is to have fewer pages on the rings. Evaluate what's on your rings and make some decisions about what you really, actually need to carry around everywhere with you. There are probably a lot of pages you could leave at home in a separate binder.

Another option is to use a different diary format. Weekly instead of daily will save you loads of pages. Do you really fill each daily page? Maybe you could use a weekly format most of the time and clip in an extra page for especially busy days. Also, you could use monthly pages for forward planning and only keep a few weeks of weekly or daily pages on the rings to help you slim things down.

Do you have a planner that you want to make work for you? What are your issues? Please comment so we can all give you some ideas!

Monday, October 21, 2013

2014 WeekDate planner!!!

Anybody who has been reading my blog for awhile knows how much I love WeekDate products. I think their Only Write It Once approach is sheer genius. It solves the problem of recurring events without rewriting (and without that annoying self-propagation events tend to have in electronic devices).

I have reviewed several WeekDate products over the years, including the brand-new Academic WeekDate planner I reviewed here last week, the WeekDate White wipe-off wall planner, the WeekDate monthly calendar, and the WeekDate weekly planner several years in a row.  I adore them.

So imagine my dismay when I found out a few months ago this company might not make planners for 2014. WeekDate is a very small company, and their products are all made entirely in the US, no overseas printing, which is more expensive than big-company mass production. They didn't know if they would be able to afford to continue production.

So I was extremely relieved when they pulled through after all and were able to print 2014 planners!

The 2014 WeekDate weekly planners are available in four colors: this sky blue "Fresh Focus," grassy green "Grounded," red "In Control" and black "New Exec."
The 2014 WeekDate planners are a slimmed-down version of previous years' planners, with a lower price. There is no more vinyl cover, which is fine with me. This year's planner is so incredibly lightweight and slim, it weighs next to nothing in your bag. It is 9 by 4 1/4 inches when closed.

But it folds out with loads of writing space! There are sections to write monthly recurring events, weekly recurring events, and your daily specifics.

This year you can see two weeks at a time, for excellent forward planning!

At the top you write monthly recurring events, for example things that happen on the third Thursday or last Monday of each month. There is a color coding system to show you which week of the month you are in. Then look up and down the column to see everything happening that day.

The space below the current weeks shows your recurring weekly events. So those after-school activities, weekly meetings and trash pickup day only get written once, and are visible all the time. So when you need to make an appointment weeks in advance, you ALREADY KNOW what's happening that day, without having to rewrite it week after week!
At the left side of the bottom section is a space to write things that happen on the same day each month, like bills due or pay days (on the first and 15th of the month, for example).
*Updated because I meant to add: this bottom section of the cover folds in to hold your place, so every time you open your planner you can turn directly to the current week.

At the left of each Monday there is a space to write that week's tasks and goals.

A new feature this year: monthly calendars! These are great for overviews of bills due, deadlines, travel and holidays.
US holidays are printed on the days in the monthly and weekly calendars.
There are also year overview calendars of the current and next year.

Another new feature this year: the planner can fold into a tent shape to stay propped up on your desk!

And all of this folds up so slim and light!

So now you have a choice of which type of WeekDate planner to use! If you have monthly recurring events, you want the 2014 WeekDate planner. If you have weekly recurring events but not monthlies, you want the Academic WeekDate I reviewed here last week.

Click here to see the entire WeekDate product lineup. And, WeekDate ships internationally!

I really appreciate WeekDate sending me this planner to review. I really hope they are able to continue producing planners! These products are too awesome to go extinct.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Free For All Friday No. 6: Planner Delusion

I have to give credit for this to Marieke who commented on my FFAF no. 2 post:

"The question I would like to ask is: Does anyone else have planner delusion, when you think your next planner will solve all your time management issues and make you super efficient, just by having it, or is it just me?"

Oh yes, definitely! How many times have I thought New Planner X would make my life so much better/ happier/ more efficient/ more productive/ more fun/ more etc. I think Planner Delusion fueled my search for the Perfect Planner for years!

Does anyone else suffer from Planner Delusion? What are some of your experiences, fulfilled or unfulfilled?

And as always on Fridays, feel free to discuss anything planner-related!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Attention everyone who has used your planner all year: how did you make it work?

Recently I had a post request from a reader who wants to know from people who have been using the same planner all year. How have you made it work? And especially if your life changed this year, how did you adapt your planner usage to be able to use the same planner all year?

Please post a comment! Thanks!

Monday, October 14, 2013

WeekDate 2013-2014 Academic year planner!

This is a completely new format from WeekDate, and I am extremely excited about it!

You may have seen my WeekDate reviews before (click here and scroll down to see them all). This planner is a new design, similar to the original WeekDate design, made for people with recurring weekly events but not recurring monthly events.

These planners are excellent for students and for parents with kids in school. Finally a way to easily keep up on your and your family's entire schedule, with no re-writing!

The Academic year WeekDate planners are being run as a test product this year and are in very limited quantities. I'm so happy to get one!!

The 2013-2014 Academic WeekDate planners come in two cover designs: this soothing sage green called "Calm Down" or black and white "No App For That." (I LOVE that name!!!)
This planner measures a little more than 6 inches wide (including the spiral binding) and 8 1/2 inches tall. I haven't done it myself, but you can also remove the pages and cover from the spiral binding and punch them to fit an A5 Filofax, Classic size Franklin Covey or any other binder that holds 5 1/2 by 8 1/2 inch pages.

Below is the weekly layout. Click on the photo to see a bigger image so you can really see what is going on.
The top part is a normal weekly planner where you write daily specifics. Below the shortened pages is the inside of the covers where you write your weekly recurring events. This is always visible, even when you turn the weekly pages. So you write your class schedule, kids' sports practices, weekly staff meetings, cleaning schedule, and anything else that happens each week, only once. No more re-writing!  Further below I'll show you some examples of ways to use this planner. But first I want to show you more features!

Below is a closeup of the left page with the planner pages at the top, and the recurring events space below. US holidays are printed on the day spaces.

In addition to the weekly layout, there is a fold-out area of the back cover that would be perfect as a dashboard, long-term goals, bills due monthly, and anything else you want to keep visible.
I was delighted to discover MONTHLY GRID CALENDARS! Hooray!!
These are perfect for overviews of due dates and projects. Holidays are printed on the day spaces so you can work around them.
There is also an annual reference calendar for all of 2013:
And for all of 2014:
And there are a few pages in the back for notes.
At the right of the weekly pages there is a lined space for tasks and notes.
Below are some examples of how to use this planner. These entries are all fictitious, but they will give you some ideas of use.

Write in pencil everything that happens every week in the bottom section. You can see I've written things like kids' after school activities, school things to prepare for each week like PE and library, my exercise schedule and weekly weigh-in.
In the fold-out dashboard area I have a sticky note with month goals.
Here is a closeup of the left page. You can see when I scheduled the parent-teacher conference, Monday was the only free evening to have it. The greatest thing about this planner is, even when you schedule things weeks in advance, you know exactly what is already scheduled each week without writing it on page after page!
Below is the right page. Weekend days each have a full column, which is wonderful for those of us with busy weekends! Also the weeks start on Monday, keeping the weekend days together for easy scheduling.

 Here is something I really like: I wrote my weekly and every two weeks cleaning schedules in the recurring section, so I don't have to rewrite my cleaning routine every week. I wrote 1-5 and A-C in my weekly page, for the satisfaction of checking them off. You can see that 1-5 are the same each week, and A-C tasks alternate according to even or odd weeks. Week numbers are printed right there on the page, so I always know if it's the week to wash the bathroom rugs or to clean out my car.
Here you can see my to-do list, and my goals for the month always visible. This flap folds in when the planner is closed and serves as a pagemarker.
Below I've shown how to use the monthly grid calendars as general overviews for deadlines, travel, and events to plan ahead for.
This planner is spectacular for anyone with a lot to keep up on. The unique design makes sure everything you have going on stays visible so nothing slips through the cracks.

Something to note: the cover material for this year's academic planners is a thin card. Next year's version will have a thicker material for the cover. Personally I like the thin cover because it is so lightweight, this book weighs next to nothing and could easily go with you everywhere.

Another thing that will be different next year: since these are a test run they got out a little late this year, they started in September 2013 and go through September 2014 to give you an extra month of planning. Next year's version will start in July or August.

WeekDate products are made and printed entirely in the US, which is not easy for a small company to be able to do these days. In fact they weren't sure if they would be able to print WeekDate planners for 2014, and I'm so happy they did! I think the whole WeekDate concept of Only Write It Once is brilliant and I'd hate to see it go away!

You can find out more about WeekDate products at www.WeekDate.com. WeekDate ships all over the world! You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter. Follow them for great time management tips!

WeekDate is running a fun Facebook activity: take a picture of yourself with your WeekDate Academic planner in front of your school sign or city landmarks and post it on their Facebook page. It will be cool to see where everyone is using their WeekDate Academic!

Huge enormous thanks to WeekDate for sending me this planner to review! It's fantastic! What a relief for people with recurring weekly events.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Free For All Friday No. 5: funny/ pretty planners

I need my planner to function in a super-productivity way. So even though I couldn't use planners that are mainly pretty or funny with just enough space to jot an appointment time, I still admire them for their enjoyability factor.

A couple of examples (note: I don't get commission on these in any way, links are only so you can see what I'm talking about so I don't have to steal their photos):

I love this Hebridean Desk diary by Mairi Hedderwick. I looked at this in the bookstore the other day and loved the beautiful watercolor paintings on each week's page.

Also, I love Dilbert so this weekly planner looks like lots of fun.

What planners do you like because they are pretty/ funny/ enjoyable, whether you actually use them or not?

And as always on Fridays, feel free to discuss anything planner-related!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Philofaxy All-Stars Guest Post: DIY fish's color coding index system!

Huge thanks to DIY fish for this awesome guest post!

All Stars Guest Post:
Get organized with Life-Mapping format Color Coding System
Hello, fish here!
I am so excited to be able to have my “All Stars Guest Post” on Plannerisms. Thank you so much Laurie.
In this post I would like to talk about Color Coding and how to use Color Coding with Life-Mapping format inserts for Filofax. (You may click here to know more about the Life-Mapping System.)
I am digital devices addicted. I like to use my iPad to draw and iPhone to record important notes. But this won’t hold my love back from the traditional way of writing and drawing. Digital devices are fast in many ways but they just can’t give me the fulfillment of writing with a pen. On the other hand, I have to admit that the traditional way of writing does fall short of something that digital has. One of the most important functions is the search engine. To locate an event in Google is just a click away but you may have to spend hours to find a special event in a notebook which may only have 100 pages.
To solve this problem, I designed the Life-Mapping format Color Coding System which was inspired by a dictionary ~

1.     Create your own Color Codes, Color Symbols etc. For example ~         
2.     Make an Index Page Marker (click here for tutorial)

3.     Fill the Color Codes in the grids
a.     Align the color codes vertically on the Page Marker.
b.     Leave some empty boxes in between different color codes.
c.     Once done, this position must be fixed throughout your binder.
4.     Always put the Index Page Marker behind the page that you are writing. This is my recommendation. Index Page Marker is your guide but not your Today Ruler. If you put it between your today pages, it will block your way.
5.     Use Life-Mapping inserts, (you can find free downloadable LM inserts on my BLOG or more interesting designs in my Etsy Shop )  
a.     leave the side index bars empty first;
b.     Then, you can write wherever you like on the page. For example ~

“Call Bank” is my important reminder.
c.     Put the color code beside it.
d.     Fill the color code in the side bar. You need to follow the position of the “Index Page Marker” you made.

e.     More examples
f.      You can create symbols and use washi tapes too

6.     With this system, you can search and locate your important notes easily. Just bend your pages like this ~
What I wrote here is just one way of using Life-Mapping format Color Coding System. I believe there must be other ways of using. So try it, experience it and make it yours.
Life-Mapping - Get Organized, Get Creative