July 18, 2015

The Best Laid Planners

     Hello, and welcome! It's July, always a busy month. It's that month that's filled with vacations and traveling and the time of the year where the garden is in full bloom. It's what we were dreaming about in January and February and March. Summer has arrived and if you're like me you're packing in the activities.
     This is also the time of year I'm always making a mess of my calendars. There are appointments and events scrolled onto datebooks with notes and addresses and directions. There's lists of projects I want to get to in the garden and around the house. I am also brimming with ideas and make myself notes for future novels as well as shopping lists. And I don't want to forget that this is the time of year I imagined would be perfect for putting my feet up and enjoying a good book on a warm summer afternoon. This is when my method of keeping a planner always seems to break down.

     I am fussy over handbags, anyone who knows me is aware that I have spent years trying to find that right purse. My requirement list is extensive and it has only been recently that I have found one that satisfies all of my needs. Even if I switch out to another bag for an evening, I have the one that is my "purse home base". I have learned this week that the pursuit for the perfect day planner is much the same for many people.

 Planners of past years

     I keep a planner, I've had several, but usually one at a time. They vary from those tiny checkbook sized date books that the banks used to give away, more years ago than I want to recall, to the monster I use today. When I opened my cleaning business the tiny one had to go. Keeping appointments and the other requirements of a schedule-based business is far too complicated to rely on a tiny day timer. Not only does my business planner require constant organization it also needs to take a beating. It gets wet and tossed into cleaning caddies and is stuffed with an unusual collection of items. It must hold a page at least the size of a half sheet of paper. I leave a checklist for each customer and it has to be stored clean and flat. The planner has to zip closed, not only to keep the contents clean and dry but because it is where I put the checks from my customers, that day's customer records and keys to their houses. A lost key or check spells disaster. I have customers who trust me and I take that very seriously.

 My Business Planner

     However, that same planner does not fit into any other aspect of my life. For one it's ugly and, because it has sensitive business information, I don't ever leave it in my car. It's huge. I like a big handbag but not quite that big. So, over time I found I kept my cleaning planner and another for my private life. Again that personal one fell to the little checkbook sized date book or whatever looked pretty on the shelves when I needed one. When my life got busier, the planning got more complicated. Last week I decided to get serious about buying a personal planner. And, with the internet to give me a fire hose of information I started my research.
     Wow! I never imagined that there was a kind of a cult of planner enthusiasts, and I mean that in the kindest way! Until I began this project I did not know there were so many people in the world who took this subject so seriously. I was annoyed by the planners I had been using. I found that I am not alone. Putting together the ultimate planner is evidently an art.

     Over the next couple of weeks I am going to share my experiences with this project. I will share links to some of the planner artists I have discovered along the way. I am far from being an expert on this but I have put together my own planner and I have every confidence, alright, every hope, it will work for me. I genuinely hope you enjoy the journey.

My current planner disaster. It is embarrassing inside. 

     So, firstly, I have established that I did not have much of a handle on planners. I knew a couple of things. They are not cheap, and if I tried to buy a new one every year it was wasteful and I would go broke. It made sense to buy a good basic one and make it my own. After my research I decided to buy a Filofax Saffiano Personal planner. These bad boys come in many shapes and sizes ranging from about the size of a lady's clutch wallet to something more like a desk sized binder. Like people, planners suit everyone from the minimalist to the avid journalist. I found I fell somewhere in between. I needed more than a slim wallet sized planner, but I was not moved or motivated to keep diaries and art-filled illustrations. The planner I bought also comes in a version that is the same basic dimensions but has larger rings to hold more pages. I wondered at one point if I should have bought the fatter planner but this one has made me think a bit more about what I am carrying with me and what I toss into my handbag.

     They come in a beautiful rainbow of colors. Like all artists I have "periods" of color. Pink has always made me happy, but in recent years a pretty peacock makes me feel inspired so I chose the teal. While I waited for it to arrive I planned and plotted filling it with dividers and pages and tools.

     Online I learned there seems to be some standards on how these delightful books work, although the contents can vary greatly depending on your personal needs. One basic is the "dashboard" page. It is, as you might imagine, the front page which is usually plastic or laminated. It is a protection page and is often used as a place to stick a post-it note. Some people write on the dashboard page with markers that can then be wiped away. Clever. So I planned a dashboard page. I was very undecided about using a pretty cover style page or a stunning painting by Robert Hagan, a favorite impressionist of mine. When the planner arrived, and I found it had a clingy sheet of plastic inside I used both. Maybe I'll call the second page the "glove compartment".

The dashboard

Up close

Page two

     Then I needed dividers. Searching online led me to many Etsy pages where you can buy beautiful, laminated dividers in a wide array of colors and designs. They were very inspirational. Since I do a lot of paper crafts I took a trip to my craft room and sorted through my collection. I have several books of lovely card-stock prints and I chose some coordinating colors, got a box of laminating sheets, a regular hole puncher, scissors, my paper cutter and a pencil.
     I started by making a template of the page size using one of the dividers that came in the planner. They also had tabs that ran down the side and were spaced evenly. I used them as well to put tabs in my dividers. The categories I am using are:

Novel Ideas

 Divider Pages - The originals and my new ones

Categorized Divider Pages

     Although the inserts and pages that came with the Filofax are very nice, in the process I ended up using few of them and eventually put together a little box just for planner supplies to store the ones I did not use. One of the things inside I didn't use were the calendar pages. They are laid out one day at a time and I much prefer a monthly calendar view. In my wanderings I found this great site where you can download insert pages free for your planner and I printed my own. I like the idea that next year I won't be searching the planet for the exact pages to fit my planner.

Month pages

     Since I like a daily to-do list I am using a sticky list on the front of my planner that gets changed out as the list gets completed. In the pocket of the planner I put other sticky papers for notes and highlighting and made a pair of pretty paperclips.  In the front slots are my personal and author business cards, things which I find I'm often looking for in a hurry.

To-do Pad

     Lastly I made a pencil pouch following the clever design located here with a Ziplock bag and duct tape. It's light, and pretty and does the job.

  Duct tape pencil bag

 The planner ready for planning

     I had originally thought I'd add "shopping" as a category in this planner and in the process decided to leave that out. Instead I'm going to make a separate shopping planner. Since I like to use my own bags when I shop and often carry coupons I am going to make a planner that is dedicated for coupons, with categories of the things I need and want to buy and toss that in with my shopping bags. Once I have put that one together I will post on that experience as well.

     I have yet to transfer my schedule into my new planner and will do that this week. Next week I will post more shots of how I am using this method of organization and how it helps manage my scheduling.

Thank you so much for visiting. Please come again!


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