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.
This 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.
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.
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.
The 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.
The 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:
This 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:
I 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?