Friday, 13 December 2013

Plannerisms Planner

In my last post I explained how I chose which planner I would use in 2014. I eventually decided on the Plannerisms planner and I want to share my first impressions and how I intend to use it. Over a few weeks it has evolved into a more complex set up than I intended but is still reasonably compact and I think workable.

 If you want to see the features of the planner and how it was designed to be used see Plannerisms where Laurie has posts and videos which explain it all. This post is about how I intend to use it which is slightly adapted to suit my needs.

Firstly, it is similar proportions to the large Moleskine but slightly larger and the paper is a similar colour. I love this as I find A5 books just a little wide. Not a big deal at all but I do prefer it.

The only thing I am not so sure about is the cover. I am not careful with my planners. They need to go where I want, when I want, and just deal with it. I haven’t done much with this at all yet apart from put the elements together and write in a few key dates and I have already scratched the cover in several places. I am a little worried about how it will look a few months into the year.

The annual goals page is where I will write my ‘master to do list’. I guess it will encompass annual goals but probably a less grown up and focused version.

The 2014 year planner two page spread will be used to give me an overview of finances for the year. I know basically what goes out each month so will not record those things but have started to make a note of annual bills such as car, pet and house insurance. Another thing I will use it for is to track certain things over the year. For example I often get headaches and they are often clustered i.e. several for a few weeks then none for a month. I want to see if there is any pattern and to see how long the clusters last. Finally, I will use it for an overview of holidays.

The monthly pages will be used for birthdays, anniversaries, monthly to dos, and to make a note of things I may want to refer to later such as major purchases. This way when I am looking for something, I only have to look through 12 pages rather than 53.

Before each month spread there is a two page spread for monthly goals. I think I will find this useful to instead write notes for the month. For example if I am going away I can write my packing list.

The weekly pages are where I will put appointments, daily to dos and reminders. The space at the bottom is ideal for meal planning and notes.

There are a few note pages at the back which I will be using for my 'waiting for' pages. I find having a list of things I am waiting for so important and couldn't be without it.

Now, what finally sold me on this planner was that I could fit a Moleskine cahier in the back pocket. Everything in one place, just what I wanted.

However one of these is unlikely to last me the year (I predict that I will need 3 or 4). Therefore in order to keep important information with me I have kept the Plannerisms notes booklet in the back for this purpose. There aren't a lot of pages in this booklet which is fine with me as it doesn't take up much space and will only contain important information I can see myself using regularly throughout the year.

Finally, I have an unused Moleskine address booklet that I will use as an index so I can reference information I may want to find again. 

So really I have ended up with a strange Filofax/bound planner hybrid where individual pages aren’t moveable but sections are. I don’t have to worry about weight but I still have a large page size. Will it work? Time will tell. I admit that I am already eyeing up my flex to see how I can get it to fit to protect the cover. Hmmmmm……..

Friday, 29 November 2013

Planning decision for 2014

My previous post is kind of an introduction to this one so if you didn’t read it this post may make more sense if you do. You can find the post which lists my criteria here.
I considered the following options:

  •         Notebook
  •          Bound planner
  •          Bound Planner and notebook combination
  •          Homemade planner
  •          Filofax compact
  •          Filofax A5

This was how I started:


Large page size
Lightweight and compact
All in one place- unless need 2
Can create own monthly layout
Can create own weekly layout (and change if I want to)
Squared paper
Plenty of room for notes
Easy to archive
Time needed to set up monthly pages
Time spent on weekly pages- can’t enter information in advance
Likely to need more than one notebook per year
Can have exactly the layout I want but requires time investment.
Needing more than one will cause a problem – maybe 1 every 6 months so only need to draw out 6 monthly spreads to begin with

Bound Planner
Large page size
Lightweight and compact
All in one place
Monthly and weekly pages
Forward planning is easy
Perhaps some room for notes
Easy to archive
Set monthly and weekly layouts
Unlikely to have squared paper
Limited if any room for notes
Soooo many planners around but very few with monthly AND weekly layouts (if they have monthly layouts tend to have very limited space
Planner & notebook
Large page size
Monthly and weekly pages
Forward planning is easy
Plenty of room for notes on squared paper
Quite easy to archive
Extra weight
Not all in one place

Again have to find the right planner to go alongside the notebook
Homemade planner
Tailored page size
Tailored monthly and weekly pages
As light as I can make it –no extra unused information
Squared paper
As much notepaper as I want
Time investment
Will need to be spiral bound so maybe not as robust
Sounds good but don’t think I have the time to do this in time for 2014. Could use notebook until it was completed but idea of having a partly used notebook and planner not starting at the beginning of the year makes me feel a bit funny (not the good funny…) possibility for 2015 though
Filofax -compact
Tailored monthly and weekly pages
As light as I can make it –no extra unused information
Squared paper
As much notepaper as I want (ring size permitting but can remove and replace throughout the year)
Can add in extra pages if needed throughout the year and put them where I want
Small page size
Pages sometimes get lost
Get obsessed with dividers and moving things around
More difficult to archive
As much as I love the Filofax system I spend too much time faffing. If I really settled into a system and felt confident that I would stick to it and not faff and could deal with the page size I would definitely consider this for 2015
Filofax – A5
Large page size
All in one place
Tailored monthly and weekly pages
Squared paper
As much notepaper as I want
Can add in extra pages if needed throughout the year and put them where I want
Large and heavy
Pages sometimes get lost Get obsessed with dividers and moving things around
More difficult to archive

As much as I love the Filofax system I spend too much time faffing. If I really settled into a system and felt confident that I would stick to it and not faff and could deal with the weight I would definitely consider this for 2015

All the systems had a number of pros and cons so I had to decide which cons were deal breakers and which pros were essential.

I decided that small page size, heavy weight and time investment were the deal breakers this year.
This left me with the bound planner and maybe the planner and notebook combination.

This meant I had to find a planner which sounds fun and straightforward. WRONG! To begin with it was fun wasting time looking at every planner in TK Maxx, WHSmith, Paperchase, John Lewis, Staples etc.. but when I still couldn't find what I had pictured in my head I started to feel frustrated. I wanted a monthly layout that had enough room to actually write in as well as weekly pages which had room for extra notes. The closest I found was this one in Paperchase. I was about to order it when I thought about Laurie’s Plannerisms planner.

After having a look at the layout I wasn't sure if the weekly layout allowed enough room to write each day as the columns are quite narrow. So, as I am currently using a notebook which allows me to change layouts on a whim I drew out an approximation and used it for a week. It wasn't what I had originally pictured in my mind but it seems to work and having watched the video and seen that it was a similar size to the large Moleskine (which have the perfect proportions for me) and I could in fact fit a cahier in the back pocket (somewhat addressing the 'all in one place' issue) I was sold.

I ordered one on the Collins website and am at this moment waiting for it to arrive (hopefully today or tomorrow).

I will let you know in the New Year if all my research hours have been worthwhile.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Preparing for 2014

There have been no posts for a while as my screen time has been taken up with a project I am working on. It is taking me longer than I thought but when it is completed all will be revealed here. As this is a time sensitive post I am interrupting my ‘other uses for a filofax’ posts to go over my plans for 2014.

Now if you have seen my previous posts you will know that since September I have been using a notebook as my planner. It was developed from the bullet journal idea although, as I don’t believe the bullet journal was meant to encompass forward planning, it hardly resembles the original.

I had originally intended to carry this on for 2014. However, I need some form of forward planning. For 2013 I had drawn out monthly spreads for September to December for my appointments which took up 2 pages per month.

In addition to this I had recently felt the need for weekly spaces. I ended up using a page to roughly plan my week when I was doing my weekly review every Sunday.

If I did this for 2014 I would use 76 pages of my notebook just for the monthly and weekly pages. Apart from the time I would have to invest (madness!), it would take up so many pages of my notebook that I would need more than one for the year. I would then end up either drawing out monthly /weekly pages again or carrying 2 notebooks.

Not going to happen.

Therefore I reviewed my system and worked out why I have loved using it so much.

What the notebook method taught me was that the following works best for me:

  •         Large page size
  •          Lightweight and compact
  •          All in one place
  •          Monthly pages with space for to dos
  •          Weekly pages with space for to dos, notes and meals
  •          Squared paper
  •          Notebook for daily planning, idea capture, lists and general scribbling

I like that the notebook means that I don’t have to think about sections and I can use as much or as little space as I want per day so there is no wasted space.

Next I had to work out how I could retain as much of this as possible whilst still being practical.

The options on the table were: carry on using a notebook, find a bound planner, make my own planner or use a filofax. My next post will explain how I made my decision.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Baking Binder

I keep 2 A5 Kendal Filofax organisers in my kitchen. For the sake of alliteration I will call them my ‘baking binder’ and my ‘food folder’. I am not suggesting that this binder is the most practical one to use in the kitchen and it is certainly not the most economical but I love using them. I have previously used a plastic ring binder which could be wiped clean easily if anything was spilt and could be replaced at much lower cost. However, it didn’t appeal to my romantic notion of passing on a beat up but still beautiful book of family favourites to my daughter who loves to cook.

This post is about the baking binder which actually contains recipes and tips for all types of puddings, bread, breakfast foods and preserves.

Recipes have been organised using the A-Z dividers. Only recipes I have used and  liked (obviously) go in these sections. 

Other recipes I have yet to try go behind these sections, roughly divided into cakes, biscuits, bread etc. I didn’t want to file them all under A-Z  as I want to build this into a family book rather than a generic recipe book. This way the recipes at the back get used and filed, used and thrown away, or occasionally I decide I’m never going to make something and it also gets thrown away.

As well as recipes, I stick or write tips that I have read or found out for myself. I make notes of how things worked and ideas for how I could change it next time or settings that work best (tailored to my oven). I also include notes on who particularly liked them and if I made different versions for different  family members.

If the recipe is out of a book I reference it so that I can get it out of storage if I need to. (I always store the book as I feel like if I am still using the recipe I should keep the book).

That's just about it. A good looking binder with recipes in. Nothing radical but it makes me happy when I use it.

If you use a binder for favourite recipes what do you do to organise and personalise it? Any tips would be gratefully received. 

Friday, 18 October 2013

Notebooks and letting go

Returning to a Filofax as my planner seems increasingly unlikely. For my planning I am continuing to use my notebook method (I feel that it is now so far removed from the original that I can’t even call it a bullet journal tribute anymore). I have not only remembered people’s birthdays, but I have also written and sent the cards! Projects that have been sitting stagnant for months have moved on and in some cases been completed. There is nothing magic about this way of planning and for some it would be worse than useless, it would be an active waste of time. However, the notebook and my brain have been getting along famously.

Having said that I still own a number of Filofax organisers. Several of them even have a use. Others I am considering letting go of, most likely starting with the personal size that I have never really got along with despite really, really wanting to.

Before I do anything too hasty I thought I would dedicate a post to each of my ‘in use’ binders and open the floor to anyone who could suggest a use for the remaining ones. They are after all really rather lovely.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Bullet journal tribute

It has now been two weeks and I still love using a notebook as my life organiser. In fact I love it more and more as time goes by. I even love that it has squared paper (before reading about the bullet journal I had never really thought I would like writing on it. I thought it was just for maths and in fact I had bought this when I started a maths course, then decided it was too good to use). It houses appointments, to do lists, actions, reminders and any thoughts I want to get out of my head or commit to a better memory than my own.

As much as I love the look of a Filofax, when using it as my organiser I spent more time trying to make it look a certain way than actually using it to organise. It was packed with post its, coloured paper and huge amounts of lists. I had worked out colour coding so that it would be easier to see at a glance what was going on. I thought it worked really well.

Little did I know that it actually only worked ok.

If someone needed information I could probably provide it. It would be somewhere under ‘information’. If I wanted to write notes I would turn to ‘notes’ and there would be some blank pages. If I wanted to write down an appointment I could write it in the diary.

See, I told you it worked ok.

However, since using a notebook I have spent much less time ‘planning’ and more time actually doing. If I need to write an appointment it goes in the monthly sections at the beginning. Everything else is just listed under the day I am on. It is simply listed. I don’t have to think which section it should go in or if I have to start a new list. I don’t spare a thought for the colour I am writing in (everything is in black). Once I have written it I don’t wonder if I should move it to a different section or rewrite it because it is a bit messy. There are no thoughts of ‘actually if I wrote that again on coloured paper it would be easier to find' (only if you remember that you wrote that bit of information on that particular colour).

I can’t say that the bullet journal ‘purists’ would approve of my method and I can’t say it would work for anyone else but it sure seems to be working for me.

A monthly spread is enough for me as I don’t have many appointments. I have 3 sticky tabs in this notebook and the monthly spread has one of them. I tried to do without any but found I wanted to use those 3 pages daily so I conceded. It is my system after all and I shall do with it what I wish!

Above is October’s layout which is the same as the one I used for September. I have drawn out November and December on the following pages but have left some lines in pencil in case I want to adapt things later. The yellow stickers are the only stickers I use. They are to show my daughter’s athletics as she sometimes has practice and/or competitions several times a week. I am taxi for her so have put them in my appointment spaces but the stickers leave room for any additional appointments I might have. The layout is quite simple and self-explanatory. The box on the right at the bottom I used for meal planning in September. It worked well so I will do this again.  

Following the monthly spreads I have one page for forward planning. I just list any appointment I have for 2014.

After that I have a page for my master to do list and a page for 'waiting for' (This has my second sticky tab).

Then it gets straight into the daily lists. I only use check boxes and bullet points. Check boxes for to dos and bullet points for everything else.


When I have completed a page I review it. I decide if any of the information needs to be transferred anywhere else (somewhere else such as my filing system or shopping list, not somewhere else in the notebook) or if it needs to be referenced in the index.

 I also make sure the to dos are marked in some way. A completed ‘to do’ will already have a tick.

If, on review, a ‘to do’ is no longer valid it gets crossed out.

If, on review, I decide I still want to do it but it isn’t something I need to do now, I ‘downgrade’ it to the monthly or master to do list. (Equally things on the monthly or master to do lists can be upgraded to the monthly or daily list with an up arrow).

If there is anything left I assess why it hasn’t been done. If it can be done quickly I do it then (somehow I find it more motivating to complete a small task if it is to ‘complete’ a page). If it is a bigger task it is probably something I just don’t want to do. This has only happened once so far and I briefly swayed between booking it as an appointment and rewriting it with a ! next to the check box. I decided on the latter and it worked as it nagged me every time I looked at the page.

This method of addressing to dos is much more successful than when I used a Filofax as I wrote a to do list on a post it and just transferred it from week to week.

At the back I have a chart for my weekly and seasonal tasks. My final sticky tab is here.

Finally, I have an index at the back so I can locate any information I may want to return to.  I assumed that some letters would be used more than others so had a guess at which ones and allocated space accordingly (quite a bit for S, not much for Q etc.).

Now I know that all this could be done in a Filofax. But I just wouldn't. For me I think, as far as planning goes,  'Filofax versus notebook' is like 'thinking versus doing'. 

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

A Blank Slate

Last week I spent a couple of hours preparing a post about what I was going to do to save my planning system. In this post I had claimed that until the end of the year I would be using a personal Filofax (never worked for me, highly doubt it ever will). My reasoning was that it was portable, should I get that elusive PT job and it would look good. For some reason I put off posting it. Towards the end of the week I realised why I had put it off.

I love the idea of a stuffed Filofax. The sight of a Filofax with bits of paper sticking out makes me go all funny. However, there is no point in me gathering together enough inserts to pack one of my binders full to bursting if I don’t really know what I want.

I realised that the idea of the Filofax was better than the reality at the moment.  What I really needed was to start from scratch and let my days dictate what system I used rather than try to make my days fit around the inserts I had.

Then I thought of the post on philofaxy about bullet journaling. I watched the video and decided that I would have a go at something similar. Once I had made the decision it seemed obvious what I should do. I wrote a list of information and everyday stuff I liked to carry around. Everything that wouldn't go in a notebook I put in the pocket Chameleon. It kind of ended up like my pocket Malden but without diary, notepaper and vast amounts of lists.  

Next, I rifled through my significant pile of ‘notebooks that are too good to use’ and found the exact notebook I wanted. I had briefly considered filling a binder with notepaper and using that but knowing me I would faff about with dividers and moving pages around, rewriting and taking pages out. I like the idea that it will be a record of what works and what doesn’t work. It will be a record of formats I have tried and how they evolve. About an hour later I had prepared myself to settle in the notebook for the rest of the year. It was quite an eye opener to see that given a blank slate I designed a format completely different to the one I had been using previously.

I have only been using this system for a few days but I reckon that even if it doesn’t become my permanent system it will definitely show me what I want from a planner.

My next post will be a closer look at the details of this current system. 

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The best laid plans...

My intention was to prepare a few blog posts before I went on holiday. As it happened I ran short of time and I thought it best to prioritise packing and the suchlike.

The holiday was great. It was the first time we had been to Portugal. If anyone is interested the weather is brilliant, hot but with a cool Atlantic breeze. Some beaches are packed but there are some small areas which are just idyllic. However we missed our puppy SO much. Judging by the greeting we got when we got home he missed us too!

Our next holiday will have to be dog friendly.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Convincing Myself

Recently my status has changed to ‘in between jobs’. This change was partly due to not being happy and partly due to a conscious decision by my husband and myself to change some things about our lives. That isn't, however, what this post is about. This post is about my organisational system.

When I was working full time I used two Filofax binders to organise myself and my family. The A5 one stayed at home and had the family diary and other reference documents in it. I also used a pocket sized Filofax as my wallet, diary and portable information system. This worked great for the whole time I was working. Same binders and more or less the same set ups.

When I left work I stopped using the pocket Filofax because I rarely needed to have my appointments to hand and didn't really leave the house as often or for as long. Therefore I decided to use just a wallet instead. It didn't work. Well it worked as a wallet it’s just that I often found myself without something that I needed. ‘Go back to the original system’ was the obvious response.

That’s just what I did. The only differences were that I wanted to carry on using a separate wallet for now, and I didn't need the diary. Because of this I changed from the pocket Malden to the pocket Chameleon as it has smaller rings.

I didn't like it.

I didn't like the page size of the pocket as I wanted something I could write in more rather than just use as reference and scribbled notes for reminders. We have recently got a dog and now he can go out and about after his vaccinations I find I am spending much more time outside.

A rethink was needed. After a brief attempt at making over sized pages for the pocket and using it as a notebook I decided to step into the unknown and try a compact.

I have never got on with personal size as the rings get in the way so have often wanted to try a compact. If I had ever been able to easily get my hands on a compact chameleon I may have tried that. I had already bought a compact Holborn but there were parts where the surface of the leather was missing and I wasn't happy with it so it was returned.

The thing is this time I had made up my mind that I wanted to try a compact but I hadn't seen one I really liked. This is how I ended up with an aqua Saffiano. As I wasn't feeling the love I wanted to get one from the cheaper end. Not my favourite colour for a Filofax – my others are either brown or red. Having said that it doesn't feel too bad for a non-leather organiser and I think it is doing the job. It is MUCH easier to write in than a personal and still fits everything I want in it.

The only issue I can foresee at the moment is when I want to use my small cross body bag rather than my massive ‘prepared for anything’ bag. Consequently I am not ruling out a return to the Malden pocket at some point. As I write this I realise I am trying to convince myself to settle with something I don't love. The 'well you've bought it now' side of me will make me use it for a while. Maybe I will learn to love it...

One day Filofax will make an Ochre Malden compact (no not the zipped one) and I will live happily ever after.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Holiday Memories

As my children grow up I realise more and more how important my memories are to me.  My daughter in particular enjoys talking about things that were said and done. I am so glad that I took so many photos when they were little. However, it is only more recently that I have been keeping written records of holidays.

Initially I tried sticking in bits and pieces that I picked up over the holiday but as I was using bound books they became overloaded and splayed out making them impossible to close properly and difficult to store.

Last year I took a personal sized Filofax to help tackle the ‘overloaded’ issue. In addition to this it meant that I would be able to add and move things as well as use a variety of paper. Unfortunately it just didn’t work for me, I hardly used it and I ended up using another notebook I had instead.  I don’t really know why I thought it would work as I have never been able to settle in a personal Filofax. The rings just make it too difficult to write or draw in it. In spite of this I still liked the idea of having a more flexible journal and decided that this year I would make my own.

Firstly, I cut cardboard to size and covered it in scrapbook paper to make the front and back covers. The hole punch just managed to cope with it. The book is bound with binder rings I got from Amazon. I had previously bought 1” ones for another project which are brilliant. These are 1.5” and I am not impressed. I bought six, one of them broke when I opened it and another wouldn’t stay closed. I am not convinced these will last well but am hoping that if I don’t open them too often they will last the holiday and I will be able to find an alternative later if needed.

Next, I trimmed paper to put inside,  just various pieces I had around the house including some watercolour paper.

I also cut some watercolour paper into small pieces with my silhouette so I could do small sketches and stick them in.

I folded some scrapbook paper in half and sealed the bottom to make a pocket per day to keep some of the paper memorabilia that I collect. 

The book itself is much bigger than I usually take (A5) so I am keeping it in a Belkin tablet case to protect it. This case also has a front pocket, in which I am keeping the rest of my supplies.

I have a travel watercolour kit (and also a travel watercolour brush –not pictured). Any watercolour people out there may well think I have the wrong combination of colours in there. They may well be as I am no artist but they are what I feel like taking this time.

I also have a variety of pens in a variety of thicknesses, some waterproof and others not.

After all this effort here’s hoping it works for me and I come back with a journal packed with family memories.

Anyone have any ideas for keeping a holiday journal if I find this isn't a good method for me? Anyone interested in seeing the results?