I freely admit it.
There’s something about a blank book with lines waiting to be filled up with lists that just makes me giddy! I love my lists!
I want to buy every planner book I come across, and I look at them all the time. And then I end up confusing myself.
What is right for me?
What type of planner really fits the way I work?
I don’t need every planner I come across — I need one that’s perfect for ME.
And I haven’t found one yet.
I’ve purchased many, and lots of them just go unused because I flounder while using them. Then I feel guilty.
So in preparation for 2016, I started a few weeks ago, and put together my own planner. It’s made up of lots of bits and pieces from lots of other planners. I took the parts I liked, and left the parts I didn’t. I added in things I need, and left out things I don’t.
Below I’ll show you some of the pages I’m using, with links to where I got them.
In the past, with the planners and pages I used, I found I didn’t like the format of them or the orientation of them. Some of the pages didn’t apply to me, some things I needed were missing. I used all that information that I now know about myself and the way I work, and put it to use when making my new planner.
Here’s a few things I’ve found that I need to have:
Big pages — 8 1/2″ x 11″ format
I write big, and not very neatly, and sometimes I have a lot to write. Sometimes I don’t, too, and that’s OK. Forcing myself to write small on smaller pages made me dislike using the planner.
Loose-leaf binder with big rings
I want to be able to add extra pages whenever I want and in whatever position in my binder I need them. I change my mind a lot! I also want everything in ONE binder, so big rings is a must. Here’s the one I’m currently using. I got it at Target.
Mine are nothing fancy. They have the open slots to slide in the little tabs that label the dividers. I’m constantly changing the section names and the order they’re in, so these work great for me!
I prefer undated calendars with a Sunday start, oriented in portrait mode. I can use the same file year after year, and plug in my own dates. If I mess one up too badly, I can simply print another and replace it. My month spans two pages, with an extra column for notes down one side. I purchased this one from Polka Dot Posie on Etsy. It came bundled with some other forms, so I can pick and choose the forms I like, and leave the rest. This is my entire month in one view.
I wanted a Sunday start, undated, week-on-2-pages format, also oriented in portrait mode, for my more detailed weekly lists and notes. I’ve previously used landscape mode for some of my forms, and I was always turning my notebook sideways, which annoys me no end, so I learned that I need to have portrait mode for all my forms. This gives me the current week in one view. It came in the bundle from Polka Dot Posie as well, but it did not start on Sunday, so I had to fix that, and now it’s perfect for me. Down the right-hand side is a to-do list where I can write in all the things I’d like to get done each month.
No Daily pages
I’ve learned that daily pages are a waste of paper for me. For my daily to-to list, I use the most basic version of Simple-ology online. Every morning, there’s a Start My Day process to go through, and at that time, I can add in any extra things from lists in my planner as necessary. I like Simple-ology the most for its reminders. I can enter a task in the list, set it to remind me that it needs doing on a certain date, and it will pop up in that day’s to-do list when I do the Start My Day process. Once you get used to it, it’s quick and easy, and it’s easier to edit than a paper daily list. I also like the Dream Catcher, where you can add things right when you think of them, but then forget about them, knowing that Simple-ology will remind you to deal with them every morning — it keeps me from losing ideas. You can even text your Dream Catcher items to the list from your phone! So no matter where you are, you can still catch those ideas, even if you don’t have a pen and paper handy. There are more advanced versions, too, if you want more features, but again, I’ve chosen the parts that work best for me, and leave the rest. My system needs to be quick and simple, or I’ll stop using it!
I’m a quilter, a blogger, a business-owner, and I help run a cattle ranch and a household, so I need forms specific to those things. I’ve tried lots of different ones, and while some work, others I’ve ended up designing to fit me better. I’ll detail these below.
Monthly Blogging Schedule
I had downloaded at one time, a free blank monthly schedule which was landscape oriented (again, annoying, so I didn’t use it). To make it work for me, I reduced the size and oriented it portrait-wise, put it on the upper half of a page, and then filled the bottom half of the page with lines for notes and ideas about other blog articles that come up as the month goes on. I like it much better now!
Master Project List
I downloaded an editable Master Project list from Perfectly Organized on Etsy. I can keep four months worth of projects on one page. At the beginning of each month, I update the list, rotate off the month just over, add the next month at the end, re-print it fresh, and just move it along in my planner all year. My Master Project list is very very fluid, and it gets messy, so being able to neatly update it once a month is great for me. I have one for quilting, and one for my house and personal projects. I can easily add others if I see the need.
Also from Perfectly Organized, I downloaded this year-at-a-glance, portrait-oriented on two pages, yearly calendar. It’s not undated, so I need a new one every year, but so far, that has not been an issue. I can see my entire year this way. I’m also planning to use this calendar to help with scheduling my customer quilts on the longarm this year. I’m hoping it will help me — this past year was completely unorganized, and therefore, very stressful.
Address Book pages
I used to despise having to update my address book. People move, some addresses you no longer need, others you need to add, and the entire thing just gets messy. So I made myself editable pages where I can type in the addresses I currently need, with space to write in others as they come up. Once a year (or more often if I want), I can go back into the file, update it, print it out again, and it’s done. I don’t even have to print pages that didn’t change, so once you have it set up the first time, it’s very quick and easy to update. So much less annoying.
I told you about this one earlier, and made it available as a free download, if you want to try it yourself. I’m using this to track new habits I want to create for myself. For example, I’m using one to work on my fabric scraps 30 minutes a day to get them under control. I’m planning to use one for exercise in 2016. The file has a 30-day tracker, for a habit you want to do every day, and a 52-week tracker, for a habit that you only have to act on once a week, but want to do for an entire year, such as putting money in a savings account.
I found this form from Rogue Crusade on Etsy. It’s perfect for planning and listing things like the weekly tasks I prescribed for the Studio Organizing Challenge, and it’s gonna be perfect for planning out the new weekly challenges I have coming up for you next year! Stay tuned!
This form also came in the bundle from Polka Dot Posie, and this is what I’m using for extra daily notes and such — my catch-all pages. These are the pages where I don’t care if I get messy, I’ve got lots of room to write, and I can add or delete pages as necessary. I’ve also stuck some blank loose-leaf notebook paper in the back for when I might need it. I thought about adding graph paper, but decided to leave it out. I use it for quilt planning, and I have all the quilt-planning notes and papers in a separate notebook (which probably needs to be cleaned out to start the new year).
So that’s the basics I’m starting with. I’m sure I’ll find more pages to add as the year goes on. If I don’t like the order I have them in my notebook, that’s easy to change because it’s a loose-leaf binder.
I printed everything one-sided, too, which may seem like a waste, but I’ll be using the blank sides for notes and extras as well, so for me, it works best that way.
I got myself some cute little goodies to help decorate it up as I go.
I bought a new set of Sharpies:
Some washi tape, colored highlighters, Post-it flags, and cute paper clips:
And I’ve got stickers and other various notions to make it fun. I have serious envy when I see other people post pictures of their planner books and they’re so cute, and mine is just a scribbled-up mess. I’m hoping this year will be different. At the same time, I don’t want to spend all my time decorating my planner all cute, and not actually getting any work done, so . . . we’ll see!
I’ll leave you with a few links to planners I love the look of, and the idea of, but was afraid to actually purchase because of the things I mentioned above (size, format, orientation, etc.). Perhaps one of these ready-made planners will be just the thing for you.
I’ll start with my personal favorite, and the one I almost caved in to: The Quilter’s Planner by Stephanie Palmer, the Late Night Quilter. It’s designed by a quilter, for quilters. It would just about be perfect, but by the time I saw it, I was full into putting my own together, and decided to keep going with my original plan. If any planner could have swayed me, this one would have been it!
Start Planner. Also very tempting, but not tempting enough. However, it’s the perfect thing for a lot of folks — perhaps you?
There’s always FranklinCovey planners, which I actually used for years because they have large-size, portrait-oriented, loose-leaf pages, and lots of various forms to choose from. This is one kind I could possibly find myself returning to and liking, if the mood hits me just right.
Erin Condren planners. Love them! They look so fun. I really wanted one of these, too, but just couldn’t make the decision to get one.
And another one that was very tempting: Bullet Journal. Very neat method.
There are many many more, if you just look around. And Etsy has lots and lots of instantly downloadable forms and other types of planners and notebooks. You can spend way too much time looking at all the choices — trust me!
If you’re a planner nerd like me, and love lists like I do, I hope you found some of this interesting and useful. I’m sure mine will evolve as time goes on — it’s always a work in progress.
I’d be interested to know if you use a planner, and if you do, what type of planner do you use?
Here’s to a well-planned 2016 for all of us!