Planner Status, looking forward to 2014

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’ve made a few changes for my 2014 planning needs. There are still a few issues I need to work out, but so far this system has been working for me over the past few weeks.

Yes, I am still using a hybrid digital/paper system. It works for me and I recognize it may not work for everyone. I do not like using an app(lication) just because it exists or others use it. I’ve tried quite a few over the years and have written about my love of some of them. I do use some with the caveat that I recognize their imperfections and don’t allow their faults to cause my systems to fail. (Trust me, it’s happened.)

My unique challenge is that I need to be able to manage both businesses (PennyWise Consulting, LLC and Little Acorn Creations), keep up with my husband, and also whatever is needed at home. My primary place of work is in my office, but my planning often takes place throughout the house or at a coffee shop. I also need to be able to take the parts that I need to client meetings. So my solution needs to be portable, but not too tiny even though I can write very small if I want.

I like the ARC/Circa system for its flexibility and the junior size is right in my paper comfort zone. I love my filofaxes for the same reason. What I don’t like about these binder or disc systems, is that if I want to take just a section out to work with elsewhere … then the pages are either reliant on a binder clip or I need to transfer them to another notebook. That is frustrating and an extra step. Or I need to take everything with me. I tend to over-bring even for a trip to the grocery store, but I’m trying to stop bringing the kitchen sink everywhere.

I first learned of the filofax flex at Philofaxy back when the line first launched. I was interested in it, but not sure I wanted to plunk down money for yet another system I’d abandon a few weeks later. As it is I could give an office supply store a run for its money, I didn’t need more.

Yet, I kept returning to a collection of small light weight bound notebooks for knitting notes and common everyday notebooks. I like that if I just need my notes to knit, I can tuck just that book into my bag and leave the rest on my desk or if I’m meeting with a client, a planning calendar and my work notebook can come with me.

But how to keep it all together? In the back of my head, I kept thinking about the filofax flex. I first used a filofax in high school, and while I try to be brand neutral, there is something about that brand that has stuck with me over the years. I read many reviews that said large moleskines fit into the A5 size. I was tired of not having a way to keep them all together if I wanted. I contemplated purchasing a choral folder but I knew that wasn’t my solution either.

In August, I finally succumbed and purchased a grey A5 filofax flex system.

Upon opening the package, I was instantly in love. First and foremost, it is GREY! Secondly, I was able to put my handmade temporary planner into it, a knitting notebook, and the current work notebook. What really won me over was i could lay out the calendar and have a notebook open as well. I found that the pen holder was nice and the elastic could hold most of my pen choices.

I began searching high and low for different planners that would fit into my new filo. I contemplated the new turntable system Moleskine but I wasn’t too keen on a hardcover. I came close to returning to the weekly with notes, but I do like having extra space per day.

flexa5diary-example

I finally decided on Filofax’s own Week On Two Pages Diary. Even though the week breaks over Wednesday, each day has a very large size box and there’s a planning section. I was delighted to discover that it began on Monday 25 November, as it is a December-December planner. When I begin my weekly planning, I put items that are general to the week in the this week notes field. Anything that has a deadline, gets its own day. I then highlight the day-of-week and whatever items are completed that day. Most of the time I follow a rainbow highlighter progression throughout the week, but sometimes I grab the wrong one. It is what it is.

flex-size

The work journals are filled with tasks and notes that are organized in the system I’ve been using for years. One that is similar in many ways to the bullet journal that made the rounds of the internet earlier this year. I’ve just never formally written up a style guide for my own work logs. I create style guides for many of my clients (both businesses), I have no answer why I haven’t created one for these notebooks yet.

trinote-example

To supplement this and help me with time management throughout the day (something I’ve been struggling with balancing), over the summer I entered a contest at the Quo Vadis Planner Blog that offered to send a planner to someone willing to test drive one of their planners and to my surprise they sent me a Trinote! A few years ago I had purchased one, but couldn’t figure out at all how to make it work for me. I think I filled out perhaps 3 days out of the entire notebook. As I’ve been working more with time blocking, I thought the format would be a good one to try. I needed to wait until the first full week of December to start putting this planner through its paces, but I am really liking the format. I don’t know why this is working for me but it is. My process is that in the morning I pencil in a rough schedule, then as I go through tasks, I ink over how the time blocks really went. It’s really working for me, much to my surprise and delight.

flex-trinote-planningprogress

However, these systems aren’t perfect. I’m sad the Trinote doesn’t fit into the filo and I’ve not yet found a similar planner that has the layout I like (and I do like the Trinote tremendously) and will fit. It’s ok, the Trinote doubles as a layer of protection for those sheets of paper that I can’t fold in half, and helps pad a file folder. For the most part, the Trinote lives in my office, so it isn’t as frustrating that it’s not combined. I am on the lookout already for a planner that merges the good things of both planners. I’m also sharpening my indesign skills, though don’t hold your breath for that. I am sad at the large size of the Filofax Diary. I wish it was in two halves, Perhaps December – June and June – January. But it’s ok. It’s not excessively large, I just would like to get rid of parts that aren’t needed (as I rarely back-reference this planner). I may resort to tearing out. I need to look closely at how it’s bound together before I do that.

What makes them work for me? I confess that I love that the covers for both planners are grey. I like the professional yet slightly quirky feel bringing a grey planner to the meeting table provides. I am happy to report that the filofax flex is just that.. flexible. I can easily replace the work notebook, without impacting any other part of the system. If I want just the knitting notebook to come along on a short road trip, I can take that out and leave the rest at home. While my day revolves a good deal about technology, I like that I can take a complete break from the computer or tablet or my phone and focus on figuring out what needs to be done.

And yes, the cats like them too. Shadow likes the Trinote (especially when I time block kitten snuggles), and Buddy likes everything.

shadow-trinote

I’m really curious how this system holds up over the coming months.

What are you using for your 2014 planning system?