Here's a blog post I've been excited to write for a while! This one is an introduction to my brand new, all singing and dancing desk-top planner. It's a long post, with a lot of photos, but if you enjoy being as organised (and creative) as me, then I hope you'll enjoy it...
For a while I've been trying to think of a way to combine all my note taking and planning into one system. I'm using a Project Life (Becky Higgins) album at the moment for scrap-booking purposes and I really like the flexibility that using a ring binder gives you. A few hours of internet research and I discovered that Project Life also sell planner inserts, with weekly and monthly pages. Lots of people use them (just ask YouTube) and I thought this could be the ideal solution for me.
In the end I opted for a Simple Stories binder in pink. Simple Stories are similar to Project Life in that they are a company who sell scrap-booking items, photo pocket pages and planner pages. Simple Stories, along with Project Life, can be found at UK craft stores like HobbyCraft. But I tend to buy online (I'll have a list of all the places I shop, that ship from the UK, at the end of this post.) This binder is a 6x8 size, the standard 'smaller' size for scrapbooking but relatively big for a planner. It's bigger than a Filofax Original. It's not exactly handbag friendly!
I like the faux leather albums the best as they wear well and wipe clean. The Simple Stories binder comes with metal corner protectors and a metal label holder on the spine. There are two rings inside, which snap open and closed very firmly. I'm starting to customise and decorate my planner, so I wanted to write this post to show how it's been working for me.
So here we go... above you'll see the first page of my planner. This is what people in the planner world call a dashboard. I have a protective acetate sheet (which I made myself) that holds some sticky notes and paperclips whilst also protecting the intro page. I've blocked out my phone number for obvious reasons but isn't this such a pretty first page! This floral design comes from the Project Life 'Bold Planner Pages' which I'll show you more of as we go through. The mini bulldog clip up at the top has a very important job - it holds together pages so I'm not flicking through everything just to get to today's page. I clip things together and I can quickly turn to today.
You can see the acetate dashboard which I cut down to size, rounded the corners and punched holes into. I used double sided tape to attach the sticky notes. I like having my sticky notes here so I can quickly grab one to use within the planner. Also, if I'm in a rush I can scribble down an idea or appointment on the dashboard and then later come back to it and place it properly in the correct section; whether that's the weekly page, month-at-a-glance or the notes section at the back.
Here's a better look at the Bold Planner Pages from Project Life. In the pack, you get every month of the year. Each month starts with a beautiful floral design and each month is a different colour. It's yellow for May and as you can see you get a handy section for birthdays, big events, goals, appointments, things to do, people to see and places to go. At the beginning of each month you can fill in these boxes with everything you can think of for the upcoming month. May looks a little sparse as I'm just getting going with this system.
Then we have the week-on-a-page. A weekly schedule at the top with check boxes (and the ability to prioritize) followed by the days of the week and decent sized boxes to fill with notes or to-dos. At the end of each week there's a 'Favourite Memory of the Week' box which I like. It's a nice touch and means you can look back through the planner for memories should you want to.
What you can see on the left next to the week is a daily page. These daily inserts are from Simple Stories and each day of the week gets one full page, apart from Saturday and Sunday which share a page. I haven't photographed these too well, but I'm considering writing a second post which goes into detail about how I use the daily inserts and using the bullet journal system everyday. (Let me know if you'd like to hear more about that in the comments.)
The weekly and daily inserts carry on in the same way throughout the year all the way to December. I started this planner in May 2015 which means I'm saving the January-April pages for 2016. The inserts are not dated, you can date them yourself, which means you can start using them at any point during the year and if you have a week where you don't need to use the planner at all, it's not wasted. Each month has a different colour scheme (June is orange) and a different front cover design. Scroll down to see a photo of June's front cover!
I keep the current month at the front of the planner and the rest of the year at the back. In the middle, I have my own unique sections, separated with my DIY top-tab dividers. The first divider separates all my blog ideas, notes and important info. Anything to do with This Fashion is Mine goes here. Before, I had notebooks and scraps of paper everywhere that were easily misplaced. Now all my notes are in one place. I made my dividers using craft paper and laminated them to keep them strong and durable. I can move them around whenever I feel the need and I used letter stickers to title each section.
Here's another mini clear dashboard to hold some sticky notes. Again, this is acetate cut down to size, I opted for a ruler shape which can be moved around throughout the planner to wherever I need it most. I put this before my monthly blog calendar and you can see why...
This is my blog calendar for the month of June. A little empty for now, but it's slowly filling up. I used to use Google Calendar for organising my blog posts (you can read about that here) but now I use Google Calendar solely for work purposes. I made these month-on-two-page calendars on Photoshop giving myself lots of room to write down ideas and a notes column on the right. When blog posts are just ideas or still being written they go on as sticky notes. I can move these around and nothing is fixed. Once the blog post is published I write it down on the date it went live with pen.
I'm finding this calendar very useful at the moment and I'd be happy to write a post in the future which goes into depth about blog-post planning and keeping yourself organised. I'm also hoping I'll settle into a routine with these blog calendars and then I can share that with more detail.
I have a divider for work notes, craft and DIY ideas and then just a miscellaneous notes section. One of my favourite dividers is pictured above because I love the teeny heart paper so much! I use regular lined paper from a refill pad to write notes on. I cut it down to size and punch holes. It's a bit thin, so I tend to only use biro on those pages but it's cheaper to use what you have than buy something new. Taking apart of cheap notebook that you never use it also a good way to create notes pages.
That's my bullet journal key on the right which I use throughout the notes sections and on my daily planning pages. If you're not familiar with bullet journaling, have a quick Google search. I only recently discovered this 'method' myself and it's not hard to understand, it's super easy and has been working really well for me.
After each new monthly divider (hello, June) I have a home printed month-on-a-page layout. This is the one thing the Project Life Bold inserts were lacking. Sometimes I need to plan ahead or fill in my diary with appointments that are 3 weeks away so having a classic calendar layout is helpful. I found these free printables on Pinterest and had to mess about with the sizing a little bit but I just printed them and punched holes in the right places. I'm not mega keen on these because I have to turn the planner sideways every time I want to look at the calendar or add something to it. But I'm already coming up with some ideas to make my month-on-a-page work better.
Here are some of the planner supplies I've been using regularly...
- Staedtler Fineliners - great smooth pens for writing in my planner with.
- Memento black ink pad and letter stamps - for noting days of the week or dates.
- Sticky notes set - lots of colours and the pointy flags are very handy.
- Paperclips, mini bulldog clips - for holding pages together or clipping papers into your planner.
- Craft Paper sets - chop them up and make peronalised dividers or bookmarks.
- It's great for list makers like myself. No more sticky notes or scraps of paper all over the place.
BEST THINGS ABOUT MY PLANNER SETUP
- Blank inserts. Unlike other planners such as Filofax, my pages are undated, which means I can use them whenever I like, writing dates as I go. If I don't use the planner for a week (whilst on holiday for example) I haven't wasted paper or valuable space inside the planner.
- Being able to customise with a blog calendar and dividers that work for me.
- Having ONE place for all my notes, dates and important information.
Crafty Charlie (UK craft shop online)
Hey Little Magpie (UK craft shop online)
There's still some way to go before I get this planner working perfectly. I'm not rushing into buying lots of new stuff before I've figured out what I actually need. I'm enjoying designing my own inserts and dividers. If you'd like to see some DIY tutorials on how I've made things for my planner, let me know in the comments. I can conclude that in the short space of time I've been using this system I've been more productive and organised. I enjoy ticking off the to-do boxes and making plans for the next day. I'd like to go into more detail about bullet journaling and using the planner pages to work towards goals and get things done.
I'm curious, how many of you use a planner every day? What's your favourite method for planning?