planner status, September 2016 edition

Today is officially autumn, so it’s time for another review of my planner system. Summer and July are now a distant memory. As the leaves begin to turn, am I still experiencing planner love this September? Yes!

Have I made any small adjustments over the past few weeks? Of course! I’d love to think I’m a most productive person and that’s why I’m always refining my methods, but I think it’s more because when something becomes too habitual I just do it without thinking. It’s important for me to be mindful about my planning and by making small (and often large) changes to how I do things, it helps keep me focused.

September 2016 Planner status

Current, September 2016 planner system setup:

Occasional Players:

  • Hobonichi Avec July-December volume
  • Jr Sized Circa/Arc hybrid


I made the log book switch after I realized how much I loved the tiny and subtle 3.7mm grid of the Hobonichi. That size is hard to find here so I am using 4mm grid instead. I love having one book to grab, even if it’s a bit big and heavy.

The format of the Quo Vadis PrincipalĀ® is working well for me. In time I will find a better way to utilize the timed sections of each day, every week I make small adjustments. This week I used colour to shade in my time blocks. It’s not been as effective as I’d hoped. I don’t know what I’ll try next week. Some days the sections I’ve allocated to planning for work feel limiting (personal stuff gets the big roomy middle). However, I am more realistic in my planning and a bit deeper in my focus. If it doesn’t fit in the box, it must find a new day! I don’t know why I didn’t get friendly with correction tape before and just switch Saturday & Sunday. It didn’t take me very long to get used to the new layout of the week.

Yes, the Hobonichi is an Occasional Player. I love it, but I haven’t figured out how to fit the A6 into my workflow. I’ve thought about getting the cousin for 2017, but I’m also intrigued by the Stalogy Editor’s Series 365Days Notebook, but am quite happy with my current system. I may acquire a separate notebook for daily drawing and doodling practice, but as of right now my occasional doodling suits me fine.

Itching to change:

It’s been both wonderful and frustrating to return to one master logbook. I miss being able to spread out my week views across all the notebooks and the planner at once. Photos help, but they’re not the same. Yes, of course I wish all the notebooks were the same size, but I gave up on that. I need my main future planning book to be different. I guess bigger is better in this case!


Most surprised by:

The community that has grown up around the bullet journal! I was ignorant! A friend of penguingirl, shared with me many links to the talented people influencing the direction of planners and journals. While I still don’t decorate my planner, I do like it to be laid out cleanly and in an aesthetically pleasing manner. So I guess it’s no surprise that I’ve gone a monochrome grey-black. I’m still using my highlighter rainbow in the planner book, but I leave it on my desk. If I finish a task while I’m out, it gets a standard ✗. It’s taken me some time to be comfortable with both the grey mildliner and the brush pen on the same page as they are different greys, but the highlighter travels easier as it’s smaller and fits in my pen pouch.



I still have one or two things I would love to change (and would likely require magic), but this is finally the system I feel I can trust.

2016 planner status update

It’s already the end of February (how did that happen?), so today’s post is a check-in with my 2016 planner system.

Overall? I’m still very happy with this year’s configuration. I love the size. I’m using it throughout the entire week. It works how I want, however, I am starting to notice a few trends in how I use everything … or not.


First, I love the cover, the notebooks, and my (custom) pen pouch. The multiple books are working brilliantly, for the most part.

As I suspected I’m not entirely happy with the layout I designed of my week plan book or for my task and routines. But that’s ok. I have time to think about it, trial new designs, and continue using what I have as they still work much better than anything I’ve had before. It’s also why if you follow my planning photos on instagram, you’ve already seen two new notebooks pop up in the past week. One is my teacher’s lesson planbook that I’ve had for years, the other is far from my normal picks for notebooks, it’s an A6 notebook!


While I love time blocks, I discovered I really don’t need the granular detail I designed for the time slots; what I do need is more space for mapping tasks to days. The teacher’s lesson plan book will likely influence the revised design for my next plan book.

One of the changes in how I work relates to the recording of my day-to-day work, more is being input electronically, and that’s ok. I don’t like to duplicate information and if the electronic system is working for me, I’ll embrace it. I love my newest logbook volume, a delightful Tomoe River Paper A5 notebook, however I discovered even before I first opened it that I’m writing only a half page most days.

That led me to wonder if a smaller size would work.

On Sunday I stopped by Kinokuniya and picked up an A6 Kokuyo Campus notebook. To my complete surprise, I’m loving the size. I also like that I can easily fold it to my current systems and it doesn’t stick out or feel like it’s not part of the system. I love ISO paper sizes! While I only have four days of data, it appears that I can easily record all that I need to, even on full days. The size works with any pen I take to it — my handwriting is often incredibly varied depending on the pen, nib size, and ink colour.


What’s working the best is that it fits nicely on the tiny table by the couch, so I’m writing more notes at night while we watch TV & finish up loose ends to the day’s work. This is a time when I’ve been struggling to record items and would often try to remember them the next day.

Now that I’ve discovered this size, I am definitely looking into the possibility of adding a Hobonichi Techno to my arsenal.

How are your systems working? Is anything urging you to try making a small change?


my 2016 planner system

It’s that time of year. I’ve had numerous questions over the past few weeks about my planner system, based in large part on my morning coffee posts. I’ve made a few changes since my last update post in October.

While I love the concept of having only one book to schlep around, I discovered I very much detest flipping back and forth between weekly, monthly, and daily views. I like to spread out and see it all at once.


Drawing all the pages of that planner took me forever. Ok maybe not that long, but I was tired and worn out by the last page. I loved the end result, but I knew I wanted to try to automate some of it. More on that in a bit. A future post will discuss how I manage my hybrid digital/analog system.

So I looked at just about every available planner I could find. I did not look at printables. Why? I knew from my experiment last year that printing my own was not a cost effective solution for me.

One day in October, after a client meeting in the morning and renewing my driver’s license in twenty minutes after lunch, I stopped in Kinokuniya, and looked around. I looked at all their offerings (many of which are difficult for me to search for online). Nothing quite grabbed me as being the planner, though it was nice to finally see a Hobonichi planner in person. They are nice and hopefully soon I’ll pick one up to facilitate my daily drawing practice.

Realizing I was going to miss my train unless I left the store soon, I picked up a monthly book to give me some time to make an ultimate decision. I chose an inexpensive A5 book that offered lots of blank space and began with October. I already was sketching out projects throughout 2016 and needed something better than the post-it notes that were accumulating in the back of my logbook.

I also picked up a new notebook cover, I wish I’d known that JetPens had them as I like the format of this one better, but it’s ok. I’m very pleased with the one I brought home. I added two eyelets to the bottom and threaded elastic to turn it into a new traveler-esque A5 notebook. It’s much sturdier than my old filofax flex and my pen pouch from Miriam fits much nicer (note: mine is a special custom pouch and wider than standard). I love the outside pocket that wraps around the cover, in the front I keep a few index cards and I found a sheet of paper (US letter size) folded in half fits beautifully in the back.


Inside the front cover is the monthly notebook. Is this book perfect? No. Will I change it? Not right now. I have plans but they first require that I learn more about integrating data files with inDesign.


The back cover holds my book of drafts: book review notes, meeting scribbles, anything that ultimately is recorded elsewhere, but I don’t want mixed up in my general log book. I also have a notebook of lists: books to review, more books to review, what knitting is in which project bag, those sorts of lists. They aren’t very photogenic. I tried.

The elastics in the middle hold the books that I’m constantly cycling through. The order changes frequently as I pull a few out to work on, then put them back in. The order doesn’t matter. That’s the beauty of this system and that I’ve finally started to buy notebooks with unique covers (and label them).


One notebook is my current knitting notebook.
Another is my logbook. This is one I’m going to modify in the future and have some of the basic format waiting for me each day. I do like a new page per day and focus check boxes to assist my daily planning. I believe having some of the structure waiting for me when I first sit down will help me plan easier.


The next two are magic, custom books that I designed and were printed and bound by FrasizzleMade. Taylor did a beautiful job checking that it all worked when multiple sheets were bound together. Her paper choices are fountain pen and highlighter friendly. The printing is crisp. The following images that show the interiors of these notebooks are samples spreads I created in Photoshop so you could see something without my blurring everything.

The first covers my weekly overview list of tasks and progress on my routines. I love it! This layout and breakdown works. I’m looking at it daily. I’m not overwhelmed. As I work on a task it gets a highlighted dot. When it’s complete, I highlight the entire line to check it off.


The second is my week plan book. I am very pleased with this first version. This book will last until June so I have time to make design change decisions. The vertical planner at the top of the spread is for time blocking. Weekly planning, bookkeeping, and the weekly review are all hard coded in. Below are granular planning blocks for various tasks and day-specific routines. I couldn’t quite figure out what I wanted to do with the right column so I left it a generic lined box. Last week after using the book for a month, I realized it would be perfect for recording income and expenses so that’s what I’ve started to do.


I hope you enjoyed this tour of my current planner system. In the coming weeks I hope to add additional insight into how this system ties into my digital planning systems. I am also editing a framework to help guide you through navigating and evaluating all the various planners systems that are out there and finding what works best with you and developing a daily planning habit.

Happy New Year!

planner status and … planning

I know I’m not alone based on the queries I’ve been receiving lately: “I’m not happy with my planner this year, I want a change, please can you help?!”

I understand. While overall I’m still using my filofax faudori flex, I’ve made a few changes and I’ve been thinking about what I’ll do when January arrives.

When I reached the last few pages of my logbook at the end of August, I picked up a softcover grid filofax and drew out the remainder of the year, loosely following the Hobonichi A5 Cousin.

My goal was to see what I thought about incorporating both my planning and work logs into one book.

To my surprise this format is working well. I still often use the flex and several books throughout the course of my day, but it’s nice to also travel light with the essentials if I need to.

I was also pleased to discover that the hand-drawn format isn’t distracting or upsetting to me this time. Yes, I wish I had made different pen and ink choices, but it’s not disastrous as previous hand-drawn planners. It took longer to be ready than I expected, first I sketched the layout in pencil, then over several sessions I inked it in. The Hobonichi Cousin and a few other pre-printed options because while I’ll always need to add in a few unique-to-me things, I like having some of the basic structure set up for me.

The biggest shock is that I’ve started to use washi tape. While I’ve drawn my outfits, the weather, and am particular about my task-complete highlighter du jour, I don’t decorate my planner. In my research for new planner options I came across a whole world of decorated planners I never knew existed. I have friends who art journal, but that’s different. Yes I find all the stamps and stickers fascinating, but my planner is a tool and while I like my tools to be designed well and asethetically pleasing to me, I have been things to do with my time.

However, I’ve been fascinated by washi tape for years, but haven’t gotten it. Friends have sent samples and after trying a few pieces, for the most part, I’ve passed them onward.

After taking all the time to draw the planner, I realized I wanted a consistent way to mark multi-day events that wouldn’t bleed through the light weight moleskine paper. I also learned that Hans and Greta (my current foster kittens) love post-it notes. So when I discovered solid coloured washi tape, I found a use for it.

What changes will I make for 2016? Time will tell. I have numerous quibbles with most of the planners easily available here in the States. I’m hopeful to visit Muji and Kinokuniya soon to review notebook and planner options and will then make a decision. Who knows, maybe I’ll try the custom route again.

Are you pleased with your 2015 planning system? What changes are you thinking of for next year?

current state of the Planner

On Instagram the other day, a follower commented on one of my morning coffee & planner posts that they wished they were as organized as I am. A picture doesn’t tell the full story; I rarely feel as organized as I look. Right now I’m in a transitional phase revising, refining, and refocusing some of my work and I also made a planner change two weeks ago.

planning system March 2015 edition

Overall my 2015 systems have remained the same, the method of tracking my planning has a minor modification that is mostly just a return to my 2014 method.

While I really enjoyed my custom system, I kept refining it every few weeks and printing out new pages. When both the ink jet and laser printers needed to be fed new ink on the same day, I realized enough. I wasn’t printing copious amounts of high colour planning pages, but the printing I did added up.

After purchasing ink that Sunday afternoon, I went across the strip mall to the local art supply store. My primary goal was to research watercolour supplies, however I also hoped that there might still be some 2015 planners on the shelves. I was lucky, there was a sizable selection and they were even half-off. It was a difficult decision to chose one. I cannot overstate how I love the size of my log books. However, I do not like how most planners here in the states make Saturday regular and Sunday tucked into the corner.

That doesn’t work well for me. I don’t need to track much on Shabbat and I often work on Sundays. There is a lovely Time and Life Planner that provides “equal weight” to each day, but it’s a very special order and my planner budget was tight this year. I also would love to try a Hobonichi Cousin, but again, that requires planning ahead!

Back at the store, if a Dashboard Weekly Planner had been in stock, I likely would have purchased it. I know if the Colour a Month planners came in the large size I would likely use them for my log books. As it was I wavered wondering if I should use the 12 Month Weekly Planner/Diary Vertical (large) or even return to the 12 Month Weekly Notebook (large, softcover with notes), a design I used for several years. I almost picked up an Excompta 2015 Visual Planner Refill but wasn’t quite happy with the layout even though the page size is closer to perfect.

In the end, I returned to the format I knew and enjoyed from last year, and picked up a Trinote refill. Beyond staring down my budget, why didn’t I go with something different? I wanted to settle in as quickly as possible and get on with doing.

The rise of bullet journal(er)s has given me some new ideas for my own logbooks. Overall my day-to-day format has remained the same. I now record the week’s tasks on a left-hand page and facing it, the routine tasks and habits with a grid to check. The half-filled boxes just mean I partially did the task. A dot in the box is if I didn’t have my highlighter du jour handy. I apologize for the extensive blurring (you can click to see the images full size) it was taking longer to create a page I felt comfortable sharing in full than to edit it.

In the Trinote I’m writing with whatever pen is handy, and have fallen back in love with Pigma Micron 01s as they don’t smear when I highlight over them. I do wish the 01 size came in hunter green.

I am currently optimistic that this system will work well as we continue through the year. I feel mostly settled in to the new system and while it doesn’t travel with my everywhere (my log book does) it’s working. I still haven’t decided how I’ll use the priority boxes at the top. I’m not the only one with questions about how I’ll use them and expect I’ll just start doodling the day’s weather.

How is your planner system working for you? Have you made changes? Are you starting to look at the academic planners with longing?