is this really planner peace?

Part of this year has been trying to find a planning/organisation system that works for my personal needs. I’ve got the work life organised down pat, but it’s navigating through my dynamic personal life that’s proven to be challenging. I thought I’d write a few thoughts about the systems that I’ve used this year. But before I get stuck into it, I ultimately had a goal in mind: a planner and/or organisation system that is flexible and adaptable enough to accommodate for my (ever-changing) needs. Was it really that much to ask for?

By nature, I’m not the kind of person who has time to decorate my planner pages with washi tape, embellish with doodling, etc. I’m straight down to business, and for me, the decorations and trimmings are more of a distraction, although you’ll find me doing something really wild, crazy and uncharacteristic like using calligraphy to denote a special event. Hah. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy and appreciate the many beautiful planner pages I see on my Instagram feed, but I always wonder where people get the time to do this and do they plan to plan their planner pages? That being said, I’m a collector of conversations (my own (yep, lots going on in my head!), my own with others or overheard) and I like to log my days via what I like to call “daily souvenirs” (e.g. business cards of food haunts, pamphlets, etc.), so when I do get some me time, I go rampart with the visuals and it looks like a kindergartener’s pasta craft activity. I kid, but let’s get down to it, shall we?

I’ve tried 5 different systems/planners this year, going back and forth several times in the year to use each one, unless I thought it was totally useless and I’ve abandoned it completely. I’m not posting a lot of pictures in this entry because there are bits of info that I would like to keep private, so this is going to be a text heavy post. At the end is a run down of what I’m currently using and will be using going into 2015.

The Bullet Journal

The number of views I get a day for my rendition of the Bullet Journal system averages about 300 views a day. It’s basically my entire traffic this year. As much as I like how dynamic this system is, I’ve more or less ditched it. Below was my last attempt at adapting it to my needs.

month bullet journalThis was the monthly pages. I divided it up into three columns – morning, afternoon, evening – and then wrote down the events and appointments for each day under the appropriate column. The coloured boxes to the left of the dates was used to signify when the day was completed and was more a tracking tool for me.

month bujo layout

This was a monthly bullet journal (as opposed to daily and weekly) with a little calendar written on the top left hand corner of the page as a reminder. I used the same signifiers/bullets as I have in previous posts. In the end, this didn’t work for me because, again, my needs changed.

The Verdict: I like that it’s adaptable enough to use with any system, that’s why I’ve used some of the bullets/signifiers going into my current system. I can’t live without forward planning, and sometimes I don’t have my phone with me, or I run out of battery, and then I’m screwed. There are so many creative hacks out there to handle this, and I’ve tried them all. I also had a problem with collections. I found myself ripping out pages and sticky taping them into my new pages or I re-wrote some of them during my lunch hours. Argh! Too annoying! I think the bullet journal has some strong elements to it, but after using it for a year and a half, things like archiving (i.e. what do I do with my old books, notes, etc.) and migrating information between notebooks, has really been challenging and I need something that is less fussy.

The ring bound planner (e.g. Filofax)

I actually didn’t go out and buy an authentic Filofax, knowing full well that I’d only use it for a little while (hmm, maybe this was a self-fulfilling prophecy in itself?!). I ended up making my own out of cheap materials – an Officeworks A5 binder, DIY Manila folder dividers/tabs, and DIY planner pages.

The Verdict: This tryst ended quickly. The prepping was fun, but when I got around to using it, it felt like I was carrying around too much unnecessary crap. Did I really need to be carrying around 6 types of sticky notes and a multitude of coloured pens?! The weight in my bag certainly didn’t help with my back problems! I want to be organised but I don’t want to be a freaken packhorse! I also didn’t like how I had to punch holes into anything new I wanted to put in it, which meant carrying around a heavy arse hole punch. Yeah, I’m not a binder type of girl. (On a side note though, I bought myself a smaller version as a birthday present, and that ended quickly, too. I’m thinking of regifting my own birthday present, or maybe a giveaway if I reach a certain number of followers or views? Who knows, nobody actually reads this blog except for my mum – hi mum!) What I did like about this system is that you can compartmentalise and organise information into its place – love, love, love! And that solved the problems of the lists I wanted to keep with me everywhere I go, but the cons outweighed the pros, unfortunately.

The Hobonichi

More like a fauxbonichi. I was smart about this and didn’t go face first into purchasing it. I used grid Moleskine cahiers and HAND DREW the pages for one month.

The Verdict: The prepping killed me! And once I got around to actually using it, I didn’t fill up even close to a seventh of a page. I really liked the page layout of the Hobonichi Weeks, so I’ve appropriated elements of this into my current system.

The Moleskine week-to-a-page-with-notes

I created a small notebook with some DIY pages that looked like the Moleskine planner. I used this type of planner for many many years, and when I started uni again, it just couldn’t keep up with me.

The Verdict: I actually used this far longer than the others mentioned above and used it with the bullet journal signifiers/bullets at one stage as well. I found that I would run out of room sometimes with my daily log/souvenirs, and it got ridiculously chunky at one point with the amount of pages I taped on.

The Midori Traveler’s Notebook

I made a foamdori earlier this year, and I ended up using this with the makeshift Moleskine planner and I created a couple of other inserts as well.

The Verdict: My foamdori disintegrated after a couple of months use, so that’s more of a material/design flaw rather than a complete system failure. I had six inserts to begin with – planner, to do lists, blog, logbook, writing journal, sketch book – and boy, that created weight very quickly. Once the foamdori kicked the bucket, I wasn’t bothered making another one.

My hybrid system

My current system is a use of several systems. I made a denimdori the other day for my inserts, now down to just three – 1 x planner, 1 x combo To Do/Logbook, 1 x combo Blog/Writing journal. The denimdori was made out of leftover Japanese denim and a fat quarter with fusible web ironed on the edges for reinforcement, then I used eyelets for the holes and some hat elastic (aka tube elastic). It is handstitched, but it was my first official day of holidays, so I decided to slow down.

denimdori set upThe covers of the inserts were made from magazine pages I had lying around. It’s holding up so far, but I really need to get some rubber bands to hold the inserts together. My planner pages are weekly on one page with notes on the other side.

planner layoutThe notes side usually consists of bullet journal style annotations, but I’ve reduced the signifiers to the square, interpunction and em-dash, with events and appointments written on the weekly side. I’m also using three different highlighters for colour coding events and appointments. The other system I carry around with me is my folder:

folder detailsThis was something I picked up at Daiso around March this year. When I think about it, this has basically been in my bag with me throughout all of the system trials, and acted like a repository of random artifacts, well, documents and what not. I kept daily souvenirs here, important bills, work information, etc., that I felt would feel out of place in the system I was using at any given time. If not for this folder, there would’ve been many a time when I would’ve gone to an appointment and not had the right documentation. So I cleaned it out and sectioned it off to hold different things – personal, home, work, miscellaneous – and this is how I’ve handled carrying around important information. This is the end result:

set upI leave a spare pocket at the front to hold my planner insert on the days when I know I’m not going to need anything else. I’ve only started using it at the start of December, but it just feels right. I’m not obligated to carry both the folder and denimdori all the time and can swap them around as my needs change.

So how has your year of planning gone for you? Have you found a planning system that suits all of your needs? What have you found challenging and useful?


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16 thoughts on “is this really planner peace?

  1. Hi, its me lisaomarali!
    Well… I have reached planner peace.

    I started with a lined bound A5 Paper Luxe brand notebook, for bullet journaling, but got annoyed with the lack of calendar/forward planning, so I did more of smashbooking in it than any actual planning.
    While browsing IG hastag “journaling” I came across MTN, and from there I just got hoooooked. I bought DIYFish, and then I got annoyed with the font (haha yes) so I made my own, with nice large fonts for the month and headings. It went through so many versions.. 1.1 up to 2.4 when I finally satisfied with my format.
    Now, 3 months later, things are winding down and I’ve added a bullet journal to my system and I don’t know why but now bullet journal works for me, but it didn’t before, I guess I wasn’t used to it before or I didn’t give it enough time/chance to get used to it last time. And now my planner pages seem too much as they are Day on 1 pages.
    I’m currently designing a week on 2 pages insert to use for 2015 planning, plus my BuJo as the perfect braindumping tool.
    Non-planning inserts in my MTN includes my journal insert, a grid for my shop and lastly a lined insert to reference things (a list of lists.. my travel list, goal list, ideas, wishlist, books/movies/songs list

    Wish you luck for 2015 and happy holidays!

  2. I’m now hoping to reach “cover peace” lol.
    i see all these pretty fauxdori on etsy and go I WANT IT! There is a metallic purple one! And those watercolour looking ones.. oh so pretty..

  3. I have read some of your posts about your planners and just had to leave a comment. I think that we are pretty similar in that I, too, get sick of what seems like excess work in keeping a planner going. I have to plan forward, so the bullet journal makes a lot of extra work for copying, and I don’t want to flip through so many pages to find something. I definitely like some of you ideas and plan on implementing them myself! I do know, though, that I also get bored when I use the same planner for too long! I always think I will find the correct program or system or notebook, but I can’t seem to make the choice STAY correct. I hope you’ve found YOUR correct one… your “planner peace” and maybe someday I will find mine!!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Beth! I find I also get bored with some planners, and I think I found a good compromise with the MTN because I can change what I use in it. I hope your planner system journey goes well for yoh. Good luck :)

  4. Like you, my work side of my life is pretty formatted, though I admit I’m only about 80% of my structure I want. I think it’s more of a job duty thing instead of me at this point.

    I just started using the Bullet Journal process and it’s working for me. I freely admit, organizing my dynamic life is not my strong skill and this is going to take me a while. I do like the simplicity of it and I can’t simply ignore the reminder like I can on all of my electronic processes. I think you and several other comments have hit the head on the nail though – how to plan forward. I’ve been creating a section that allows me to remember things that need to be entered for next month. I’m going to keep at it for a little longer and then upgrade to a better notebook than the little one I’m using now.

    But I have no interest in washi tape or decorations but completely admire those who do!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Jeremy! How are you going with the things to remember section of your planner? How do you implement it – is it like a bullet journal collection, a notation at the bottom of the page, etc.? I’d be keen to give it a go if you had some examples you’d like to share.

  5. The Bullet Journal has clicked with me (it is how I stumbled over your blog), and initially I was worried about forward planning: this is the direction most of my online searching went. Calendex solved that for me, I write the note on the current page and add the page number to the day on the calendex. Easy. I do have limited upcomings though, so those with a lot that are more then a month cold get overwhelmed. Maybe. It works for me anyway.
    I tried to get my wife to start a Bullet Journal, but she wouldn’t stick with it; she now uses a Leuchtturm1917 A5 Planner, days on left and space on right page for lists etc, and far prefers it.

  6. I absolutely love this post because you talk about every kind of planner I know. Your hybrid is very clever and definitely the best choice!

    1. I couldn’t agree more, Helen! I had a read of your guest post on Plannerisms as well and I like how streamline your system is :) I was a pocket moleskine user for a few years, too, but I found it couldn’t keep up with me when I had more things to do. All the best with your planner peace for 2015 :)

  7. I loved this post! I was the same way trying a million different planners before I found the bullet journal!

    I’m finally happy in a traveller’s notebook with my Leuchtturm and a few inserts. Finally found MY peace!

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