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Friday, October 31, 2014

Bullet Journal downsizing?

Here's the post about my Bullet Journal downsizing I promised. Sorry for the delay!

On purpose, I brought no planners with me on our trip to Iceland. I did bring my Bullet Journal notebook, to record my trip. But all my planners were left at home. I wanted to focus on my trip and not think about my normal daily routine.

We hadn't taken a trip outside the country in 2 1/2 years, so it had been a long time since I needed my planners to be truly portable. When I only needed my planners at home, they were free to get larger and larger, like planner Pleistocene megafauna.

In my normal daily life I use two books every day: my Bullet Journal notebook, and my weekly planner. Both had become rather large.

My Bullet Journal notebook is a large Moleskine, with my gorgeous but heavy leather Oberon Designs cover on it. The notebook and leather cover combined weigh about 600 g. I stopped carrying it around with me about 3 days into my trip, because we were walking so much and it's heavy.

My weekly planner had inflated into an A4 size notebook that I had hand-drawn weekly pages in. For planning, it's great. But it doesn't fit in my bag.

The whole time I was on my trip I thought, as soon as I get home I'm downsizing my books! This happens just about every time I travel. It's like a planner Big Bounce, with an inflationary period (when my planners get larger and larger) followed by the inevitable contraction (when I get fed up with the lack of portability).

As soon as I got home I moved into my Franklin Covey Compact size binder for all my planning, even far-future. I wrote all about my new setup in this post. It's not lighter than my A4 notebook/ planner, but its smaller footprint allows it to fit into my bag easily.

For now the main question is what will I use for my notebook/ Bullet Journal. I've been using unlined large Moleskine notebooks all year, and for the most part they are great but there are a few issues. Some things like lists that need to be carried over when I switch to a new notebook (every 3-4 months) will be solved by putting them into the ring binder.

The whole time I was on my trip I thought, I absolutely must downsize my Bullet Journal! It might be enough to leave my beautiful leather cover off the notebook. Or I might switch to this gorgeous A6 day per page diary I ordered from Aspinal. It cost a ridiculous amount of money, but I've been wanting one for the better part of a decade so I finally took the plunge. I love the idea of a little leather book I carry with me everywhere all year.

(PS my photos in poor light don't do it justice. Here's the website with better images.)

If the A6 page isn't big enough for me each day, I could use a notebook, but smaller than what I've been using. The Paperblanks Midi size notebooks are 4 3/4 by 6 3/4 inches, which are nice and portable. I've had this gorgeous Lindau cover one for a few years, waiting for a purpose. This might be it.

But now that I'm back home and using my notebook again, I'm resistant to change something that has been working so well for me for a year now. I'm even resisting changing to the lined Moleskine I planned to switch to in January (this awesome Hobbit one) because I'm liking blank pages so much. Maybe not using my leather cover will make it light enough. Or, maybe the weight and size don't matter when I'm not traveling, and next time I go someplace I'll just use a smaller notebook for that trip.

I'll continue to use my current notebook (large unlined Moleskine, my 4th this year!) until the end of this year, then decide whether to convert to the little daily book, or another notebook.

Aw, didn't you guys miss my planner angst? Just when I thought I had my planner situation figured out forever, my needs changed and everything was overthrown.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bullet Journal brain dump and new signifiers

Sorry, in my last post I said I would discuss which books I might use when I downsize my Bullet Journal. But after a few days back home using my Bullet Journal like crazy, I realize it may not be necessary or even possible. More on that in, hopefully, my next post.

But this morning I came up with something I really like and wanted to share with you right away.

I did a brain dump of all the things I need to do today. I didn't take any time trying to arrange them on the page according to type of task, I just got them all out on paper as I thought of them. But then when I looked at my tasks, I realized some needed to be done at home, some on the computer, and some were errands I need to make a trip out to do.

I needed some way to sort these tasks so their contexts would be more obvious. I tried to think of little icons to put, but I'm not a drawer or doodler so nothing came to mind. I went for just letters, which makes more sense to me.

Below you can see my list. Please don't be too distracted by the rock covering a name. (When looking around for some small item, I realized I have rocks all over the place. I like rocks.)

Anyhoozle, if you can read my handwriting you'll see E means Errand, H means Home, W means my daily dog-walking, and that sloppy unidentifiable thing is an @ which means something I have to do at my computer. (I don't have a smartphone so I have to do emails when I'm sitting at my computer, which is not all the time.)

I really like this, but I wonder if icons would be better so I don't start confusing letters. Can you think of any better signifiers I could use to distinguish different types of tasks, especially ones that need to be done in different locations?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Back from Iceland! And back to Filofax! (Actually, FC!) (Updated: and back to Filofax!)

I got back yesterday from 2 1/2 weeks in Iceland! It was AWESOME. I'd been wanting to go for literally 20 years, and I was so happy to be there. It's amazing. But back to planners for now.

***Update is all the way at the bottom of the post before the Iceland photos**

I didn't bring any planners with me at all on my trip. I wanted to focus on my trip and not on planning.

Big mistake.

In the absence of all my daily tasks I'm normally constantly reacting to, my mind was free to wander and think about other things. And as usual on long trips, my husband and I talked about future plans, holidays, investment ideas, etc. Without my Filofax I had no place to write all our big plans. Every day I wished I had brought it with me on my trip.

I haven't used a Filofax as my planner in a long time, for various reasons. But I do keep my long-term and monthly recurring planning in it as well as long-term records and lists. I decided I need to use this all the time as my planner, not just as something I look at only once per month.

For awhile I had trouble with annually recurring things creeping up on me. Several months ago I came up with a brilliant (if I do say so myself) solution:

I use month on two pages grid calendars with the backs of the pages lined for notes, so I can splice pages between months without obscuring the month view. These are the Philofaxy free downloadable month with notes pages. I added month tabs (from PlannerPads.com).

For each month I have a blue page with things written on it that happen in that month every year. Birthdays, school breaks, holiday planning, even things like when the salmon are leaping at our local waterfall goes on the blue pages. Then I move them to next year's month when the month is over. This keeps me from having to reinvent the wheel every year.

After the blue page I have a yellow page of specific expenses for that month. This way big expenses don't take me by surprise. For example in June you can see my car is due for its annual inspection, and we have to pay our car insurance. You'll notice as foreigners having our UK driver's licenses for only one year we pay a hideous amount for insurance. But I digress.
Also between the months I put things specific to that month, like trip planning, birthday party plans, back-to-school checklists, etc. That way I can plan ahead (even far into the future) for these events, and the information is in front of me when I need it.

I have month on two pages with notes all the way through the end of 2015, then I have the Franklin Covey month planners for 2016 (which came with my 2015 weekly pages). These are printed back to back, so when the 2016 month pages with lined backs become available later next year I'll have to transfer everything over.

After those pages I have a blue page for each year for the next 20 years. This sounds ridiculous, but it's to keep track of when we are each due for things like vaccine boosters (since we've had vaccines in several different countries over the years, the doctor's office isn't aware of when we're due). I also have to keep track of when our passports and visas are due for renewal so we can do that well in advance because I can't afford for those to expire!

After that I have one year of the Franklin Covey weekly pages. I like the FC weekly pages best because the backs of the pages are lined, which is where I put my weekly to-do lists. This is the Blooms pattern.

 After my weekly pages I have my tabs as follows:

You'll notice my son decorated my divider a couple of years ago. :) In my tabs I keep info like household cleaning schedules, car maintenance records, financial info, etc.

By now you might be thinking, this is a heck of a lot of pages to put into a Filofax. And you are right. I was disappointed to discover I couldn't fit all these pages in any of my personal size Filos. But it all fits perfectly in my Franklin Covey Compact size binder (which I posted lots of details about here).

With all these pages it is a fatty-boo-batty. And it weighs 830 grams. But I feel so much better having my whole-life planning in one place!
Buuuut, (and there's always a but, right?) what about my Bullet Journal? I have determined via years of trial and error I must have a daily record book separate from my weekly planner. But on my trip I got really tired of carrying my large Moleskine in my gorgeous but heavy leather Oberon designs cover. So I had already planned to downsize my Bullet Journal. But what will I use? More on that in my next post.

***Update: after a few days of using my big and chunky FC, I realized I really did need to downsize it. I wasn't taking it anywhere with me, much to my detriment. So I took out some weekly pages, leaving only 6 months' worth in, and discovered to my delight the pages fit just fine in my personal Kendal Filofax. It weighs in at a totally reasonable 640 g. Hooray for portability!

And now, some photos of Iceland!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

2015 WeekDate planner

WeekDate planners are back for 2015 with more gorgeous cover options including this one (my favorite) in the Color of the Year, Radiant Orchid! It's called "Color Blind."
Other cover options include a beautiful white and blue pattern called "Plays Well With Others," a bold orange and black one called "Fully Charged," and a minimalist black design called "Young Exec." You can click through here to see them all.

I love WeekDate planners for their unique, sanity-saving layout that allows you to write recurring events only once (really!) and see your entire schedule in one glance. At the top you write monthly recurring events, at the bottom you write weekly recurring events, and in the middle you see two weeks at a time (!) of your daily plans.

The month layout has a genius color scheme that allows you to easily see on your daily pages where you are in the month. So you look up the column to find what's happening on that day every month.

In the bottom section you write all your weekly recurring events, then look down the column to see everything you need to do each day, scheduled and recurring. It's great for avoiding double bookings, even weeks in advance. 

There are also month at a glance calendars with two months in view so you can have an easy visual of bills due, deadlines, holidays and travel.

The pages open out big but the planner folds down super slim and so light you can easily carry it with you everywhere you go, so there's no more half-booked or over-booked days. In the photo below you can see the planner folded with a pencil to see how slim it is!
There are so many ways to use this planner. You can use the weekly recurring section to write your class schedule, after-school activities, and weekly meetings. Week numbers are printed on the weeks so you can designate odd/ even weeks for your rotating bi-weekly meal plans, household cleaning schedule, even the pickup days for garbage/ recycling/ yard waste so you don't have to write those over and over again in your calendar. It's a massively powerful planner in a slim and light package.

Warning: these planners sell out every year so if you want one you should hurry to order! They are available at www.WeekDate.com.

Huge thanks to WeekDate for sending me this planner to review!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Dictatorial planner

I know I'm overscheduling myself when my planner starts to feel like a dictator, telling me what I should be doing every moment of the day. I know my planner isn't going to be all fun all the time, but when there's too much work and not enough fun written into my days I know things are off balance and it's time to back off a little.

Of course there are times when this can't be helped, like during especially busy times. But as long as it's temporary and I have something fun to look forward to, I can make it through. Something else I want to try, which isn't my natural tendency but worth experimenting with, is to prettify my planner pages with stickers or colors so at least it's nicer to look at all the work I have to do.

Do you ever have times when you don't even want to open your planner because you know there's nothing fun in there? How do you get through those times?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Week Dominator planner

I have to admit, normally I ignore Kickstarter requests (so PLEASE don't bombard me with yours!) because it seems like everybody and their brother is plugging something on Kickstarter these days. Yawn.


When Jesse emailed me to tell me about The Week Dominator planner, well, with a name like that, how could I resist!!!

And wow, check this out: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/77516971/the-week-dominator-a-beautiful-canvas-to-tackle-go  I want one!!

It's got full size (8 1/2 by 11 inch) pages so there's loads of room to brain dump and sort your plans. The weeks are undated so you can use it only when you need it. There's space for your schedule, notes, and gratitude (!).

There's also pages for weekly reviews and tracking, dot grid pages for notes/ sketches, and what's working vs not working. It looks like you could rule the world with this thing.

The entire year comes in two books of 26 weeks each so there's plenty of room for all the features and nice thick paper without the book weighing a ton. Other features include a vegan leather hard cover, and a wire binding so the book lays totally flat.

As soon as I've got this in my hands I'll post a big review of it. I love seeing planners like this!