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Friday, February 28, 2014

Free For All Friday No. 25: Are you Team Bound or Team Rings? Why?

It's the age-old planner dilemma: bound book or ring binder?

I've been debating this for years. I wrote a post detailing some of the pros and cons of each years ago, yet still flit back and forth (in my mind, at least) of which is best. As much as I would love (and have loved in the past) the flexibility of a ring binder, I use bound-book planners for their archival permanence and large page size in the slimmest and most portable book because I have to carry my planner with me all the time and I need the writing space of big pages.  I do use a Filofax as my home binder, another for my permanent addresses and contacts, and others for various purposes, but these stay at home.

I know I get a lot of readers over from Philofaxy, so I know a lot of you are ring-binder planner users. I would love to know how you get past the small page size/ heavy ring binder issue.

Are you Team Bound or Team Rings? Why?

And as always on Fridays, feel free to discuss and/ or ask anything planner-related!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Journaling lessons learned

Apparently I can only figure things out in retrospect. After journaling off and on for more than 25 years (youch!), here is what I have learned.

For a few years I lost the journaling habit, much to my dismay, which I detailed in this post (Journaling, Journaling, What To Do?). 

Then last year (2013) I got back in the daily journaling habit very successfully with my day per page diary. I wrote about that journaling success here (Journal Evaluation 2013).

Part of my success was that I redefined how I thought of journaling. Now it's not my innermost thoughts, it's more a record of what I and my family did each day. I get a lot of inspiration from this woman's post on how she uses her journal to capture everything about her life, from the mundane to the great.

This has completely freed me from any journaling constraints. The result is an excellent record of my life, which is what I want it to be.

Here are some lessons I need to keep in mind for the future when journaling:

1. Write something every day.  I like to be able to see an account of what I did every day, even if it's only, "Rainy day, sat on the couch and read a book by the fire all day." (Which never actually happens, by the way, but you get the idea.)  When I look back through my book and days are blank, I feel like I've lost days of my life. It's not helped by the fact that I have a terrible memory, so this record really is essential to help me remember what happened and when.

2. Use whatever book I'll actually use (and carry with me all the time). Over the years I've gone back and forth between dated day per page diaries or undated notebooks. Right now I'm having huge success in an undated notebook and am thoroughly enjoying not worrying about overfilling pages. I just use it. It's so liberating.  But there are advantages of using a dated day-per-page book: it's already dated, and the whole year is in one book. The bottom line is, I need to use whichever type of book I will actually use every day, and I need to be able to carry it everywhere with me. This is the most important thing, having it with me all the time. The reason I fell off the journaling wagon was because there was a barrier to getting out a separate book to write in. When I have my daily book with me all the time, more things land there than I would take the time to haul out a separate book at home to record. I like to capture all the little things, and that's most likely to happen in the book that's with me all the time. 

3. Use an index. I have tried several types of indexing, and I have found the best way for me to find information and events is to use a monthly calendar where I write a summary of events each day. This is similar to how Patty uses her index pages in her Franklin Covey planners. When I use a monthly index, I can see patterns (like my kids' illnesses, if I'm exercising regularly or not, how often we're filling the heating oil tank, etc.).

4. Tape cards directly onto the day's page.  Recently I went searching through all the card holders in all my old Filofax binders looking for the card of a self-catering apartment where we stayed in Dubrovnik several years ago. I can't find it, dang it. If I had taped it directly to the page in my journal when we stayed there, I would know exactly where to look. I did this in my Diary 2000 for places we went and stayed, and now I can still find those cards easily. Similarly I need to write details on the daily pages so they are easy to find years later like restaurant names, names and email addresses of people I meet, and those other types of details. I never know when that information might prove useful again.

I've captured some wonderful things in my daily books over the years, despite my inconsistent use of them. In my Exacompta Daily Pocket diary from 2001 I have the hand-drawn map of how to get to a friend's flat in Paris. In my Textagenda I used in Nepal I have details of teacher trainings and daily Nepali life. In my Diary 2000 I have details of that very eventful year. And in all my diaries since my kids have been born I have all those little memories that I would otherwise forget.

Journaling is a journey, and I've learned lots along the way. Now I feel like I finally know what I like to record and how I like to record it! But of course that can change when my life circumstances change.

Do you like to record your days? What have you learned works for you?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Quo Vadis Exatime 17 (personal size Filofax compatible) 2014 week + notes diary insert

Several months ago there was a lot of interest among Filofax fans about these Exatime 17 inserts from Quo Vadis. These were going to be available for the first time in the US, and everyone was looking forward to the superior paper.

This insert was very generously sent to me by Mstraat, who ordered these from PaperBistro.com. These 2014 inserts are now sold out on that website, but they do have a selection of other inserts still available and I hope they will have the 2015 diary insert available later this year. **Edited: I am happy to confirm that the 2015 inserts are now available! Click here for the page.

This Exatime 17 diary insert is a multi-language week + notes format which fits Filofax personal size/ Franklin Covey compact binders. Click on any of the photos for a larger view.

I'll take you for a walk through the pages. First page is information:

I've put a blue personal size Filofax page on top, and you can see the Exatime 17 pages are slightly wider than the Filofax personal size pages:

Next is a chart of moon phases and patron saint days for 2014:

Next are planning pages with months as columns. Holidays for France, Great Britain, Germany, Spain and Belgium are indicated:

There are three months per page, so the entire year covers four pages.

Next is a chart of holidays for Europe and the US.

Next are the weekly pages:
The left page has Monday through Saturday in French, English and German, lined and timed with holidays on the day spaces.
I measure the ruling at 3 mm.

The right page has space for notes, and Sunday. The Notes spaces are not lined, but they are sectioned so you can easily see notes corresponding to a particular day, or you can use the page for categorized lists.

The last pages are monthly column planners for 2015, again with three months per page.

The paper is ivory, 85 gsm and elegantly smooth as you would expect from Quo Vadis.

Thanks again to Mstraat for generously sending me these inserts! It's an excellent format, and I really hope they will be available to US folks again for 2015. If I hear any news about it I will be sure to let you know!

***Update: I have confirmation from Quo Vadis that they plan to bring these back again for 2015! Hooray! So keep your eye on PaperBistro later this year for the 2015 inserts.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Free For All Friday No. 24: How Much Does Your Planner Weigh?

I'm always trying to balance page size and functionality with the size and weight of my planners.

My system this year is my Plannerisms planner, which weighs about 325 g, and my large Moleskine notebook which weighs about 340 g. I normally don't mind carrying both together, unless I'm going to be doing a lot of walking and then it's a bit of a drag. But after years of trial and error, this seems to give me the largest page size (approx A5) in the most comprehensive system (monthly and weekly planning, goals and tracking, daily records, lists and notes) for the least weight.

Sometimes I think of trialing a personal size Filofax version of my Plannerisms layout, but my personal size Filofax with the pages in is more than 500 g. Considering I would still use my large Moleskine as my permanent archival record book, the nearly 850 g total weight would be more than I want to carry everywhere.

I also fantasize about having everything in one A5 size binder, but with all the pages in it weighs in at a hefty (and non-portable) 1040 g.

Have you ever weighed your planner? I'm curious to know how much planner weight people carry around.

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

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Organised Mum Pick and Mix Filofax compatible inserts and 2014 diary

Recently I bought a bunch of the Organised Mum Pick and Mix inserts for my personal size Filofax: the 2014 Family diary, the Shopping and Menu Planning, the Finance and Budget pages, and the Family Schedules, Events and Occasions. (The only packet I didn't get was the Addresses one.) These inserts are all fantastic, great value for the money, and they work extremely well together. Let me show you what I mean.

There are tons of photos in this post, don't forget you can click on them to enlarge. My photos are not the best due to lack of adequate light this time of year. I can assure you the pages look much nicer in person! The paper is pleasantly white, and the grey print is easy on the eyes.

The Diary pages have a Family grid layout so you can see what each person is doing each day. There are 5 boxes for each day to use for each person, home vs work, morning/ afternoon/ evening, exercise/ blogs/ dinner, or any other use you can think of.  Right now Organised Mum isn't sure if they will make these for 2015, so I am on a campaign to try to convince them to! These pages are an excellent layout and very efficient use of space on the personal size pages.

The left page shows the dates, moon phases and UK holidays each day.

At the top of the right page there is a month reference calendar. At the right there is a lined area for Things to do and Next Week.

Here's how I use these pages. The first three squares each day are my morning/ afternoon/ evening. I put my weekly goals at the top of the left page. One square on the right page is for both my kids (they don't really each need their own square yet) and one for my husband. Instead of Next Week I use that space specifically for household cleaning and chores that need to be done that week.
Be sure to see Crazy Life Of J's excellent post with her video on how she uses these Organised Mum diary pages too! I especially like her photos of her weekly pages with everything jumbled together in each day, and her change over to the Organised Mum pages with her days organized into categories for herself and her husband.

These diary inserts come with lots of other pages too, which I will not show because I don't want to give everything away. These include Useful Numbers for quick reference, and Dates To Remember for things like renewing insurance, passports, drivers licenses, boiler service, and any other dates that recur. There's a vehicle maintenance record for four cars, and a back-to-school checklist.

There are also monthly pages, which are extremely useful. The month is on one page with the back of the page lined for things to do that month.

I'll show you in a minute how I use these month pages with other pages spliced between. The only thing I would change about the diary packet is to make the months on two pages with the back sides of the pages lined, so you can still splice things between the months but have larger daily spaces on the month planning pages.

Next, the Personal Finance and Budget pages.This packet is excellent value for the money, and helps you save money too by helping you track your finances. There are pages for each month, which are labeled for the month but not dated so you can start at any time and use them for a full twelve months.

Each month has a page for Things To Do that month and monthly income:

Bills and Direct Debits:

Daily Outgoings on a double-sided page so you can track the totals each day of the month:

Monthly spending totals for your categories:

Savings, repayments, and final monthly totals:

I'll show you in a minute how I use these with the month pages from the diary inserts. But first:

The Personal Family Schedules, Events and Occasions pack is my favorite besides the diary. There are loads of useful pages including Weekly Routines pages to track five people's weekly schedule:

More wonderful pages: Weekly Don't Forget list so you can list all the gear you need to take to each person's scheduled events each week like sports gear, music, dance outfit, water bottles, etc. It's nice to have this to refer to at a glance so I don't forget anything!

More great pages: Holiday/ vacation planning, packing lists, holiday to dos and shopping:

There are also Party Planning pages with guest lists, invitations sent and RSVP, to do and shopping, gifts list and thank-you cards written.

There are also loads of wonderful Christmas planning pages! Pages and pages of Christmas plans, cards...

Here's my favorite: Christmas Countdown pages to plan tasks 3 weeks, 2 weeks, 1 week before Christmas, and Last Minute:

Menus for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and other holidays:

And here's another wonderful planner: the Summer Holiday Planner so you can see the entire summer on one two-page spread:

So here's how I splice the Financial and Holiday/ events pages into the month pages. This is July, when school ends and we are planning a trip to the US to see family:

Here is the back side of the July monthly page, which I haven't started filling in yet. I put the blue page in, it tells things that happen every year in July, so I can easily move it year to year. I have one of these blue pages for every month's annually recurring events like birthdays and holidays.
 Next I have July's Financial pages:

Next I have the Summer Holiday Planner since that's when the summer break starts:

Then I have the Holiday plans and Packing List to start preparing for our US trip:

I'll start filling in things to do and buy while we are in the US:
So I have all the pages I need to prepare for, and use during, our summer holiday right there in July where I need it and can refer to it easily.

Here's another example: in August the kids go back to school, and we have my child's birthday party.

The Family Diary pages have the Back To School checklist built into August so you can't miss it. I won't show it, but it's extremely useful for making sure you have everything your kids need, ready when school starts.

Next I have the August Financial pages:

Then I have the Party Planning pages (from the Family Events and Occasions pack) for the birthday party with pages for Invitations:

Party To-Do and Shopping, and Gifts and Thank-yous:

Party Plans and Ideas:
So all the back-to-school and party planning pages are already right where I need them in August.

Last but certainly not least, the Personal Shopping and Menu Planning pages. I keep these in their own section for easy reference.

There are weekly menu pages which are printed back to back. These could also be used as undated weekly diary pages, exercise trackers, or lots of other purposes actually:

You could also do 2 or 4 weeks of set menus, then rotate them for simplicity and variety.

The shopping pages are double-sided with categories to organize your lists easily:

There are also Essentials lists, which I really like. These make it much easier to write your weekly shopping lists when you can see what you normally keep stocked so you don't forget any essentials.

So there are the excellent Organised Mum Pick and Mix inserts and 2014 Personal Diary Insert. Organised Mum, please make all these inserts and the diary again for 2015! 

The paper is white, which I prefer, and the print is gray which is easy on the eyes and doesn't interfere with color-coding. I don't know the paper weight, but it is fantastic. Absolutely no bleedthrough and almost no shadowing at all even with my Signo RT gel pens, which bleed through other papers. There is no problem at all using both sides of the pages, which is especially important with the diary pages of course, but also means you can use both sides of all the pages to the fullest, getting the most for your money.

Organised Mum ships internationally!

If you have any questions about these inserts please let me know and I'll be happy to answer!