planner status, July edition

Mid-July is a good time to check in with my 2016 system. Overall it looks similar to earlier in the year, though there have been a few modifications.


Existing notebooks
New additions

I’m settling into the new setup with Shadow’s assistance.


After many years, there is finally a consistent weekly layout and notes system that is working well for the business logbooks. I am more organized and my notes aren’t as scattered as they used to be. In addition they’re now faster to draw out as I don’t need to think about changes each week!

I am struggling with the personal logbook. For a few weeks, I tried a small Moleskine which was a complete disaster. The paper was horrid with any pen I took to it and I found the page size just wrong enough that it constantly made me cranky. I’m still quite fond of the A6 size, to my surprise, but I definitely prefer a true A6 size. I picked up two of these A6 grid notebooks when we were in Budapest last month.

The Hobonichi is to see what all the fuss is about. It is intimidating as I’ve been looking into the notebook and seeing pictures of other’s use of it for years. I do like the portability of the A6 size and love the 4mm grid and the Tomoe paper, but I’m struggling to use it as a daily logbook. Well, during the day. Right now it’s becoming more of a review diary that is finalized after the day is done. I wish it had more blank grid pages I could use for general notes. A cover that allows me to easily carry it and my A6 logbook, will likely improve things. As of today it’s still new and cute, but I find it more of a burden than a useful addition.

The Principal┬« arrived from Karen of Exaclair for review after a discussion about formats and I lamented how I wished the notes sections were tied to each day, not just the week as in the Trinote. I am only two weeks in (I made a photocopy of the spread and began last week thanks to some correction tape to revise the dates) and really like it. One big change is I’ve continued to use correction tape to switching Saturday and Sunday as it reflects my week’s needs better.

How is your 2016 planner system treating you? We’re over halfway through the year and most mid-year academic books have started. Have you made changes?

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?