Planning, plotting and possibly scheming

…name the series and episode I’m paraphrasing in the title so I know you’re a geek too. Misery loves company. Shiny?

Disclaimer: None of the companies mentioned in this post are sponsoring me. They don’t even know who I am. The views and blunders are my own. Thank you. 


Anyway…this is going to be a series of posts. Because I keep thinking of new things and shipping times vary.

I love paper. For years, I wrote everything longhand. Notes, letters, planner entries, stories, etc.

Then about ten years ago I got a Palm Zire and started doing all my planning there. A progression of portable electronics and the need to save space (we were living in Japan at the time) turned me into an electronic user almost 100%, with the exception of artwork.

But…I missed paper. So I’ve slowly started inviting it back into my life.

One of the things I wanted to try doing again, is using a paper planner. And the possibilities are endless.

My husband will be the first to tell you that I research things to exhaustion. Usually by the time I buy something I’ve investigated it for weeks.

But having a baby has removed some of my mental…shall we say, sharpness (a.k.a. I’m a walking zombie). So, to my surprise I found myself at the end of 2014 with three planners on the way via snail mail without my usual in-depth research: the Erin Condren life planner, the Passion Planner and the Plum Paper planner (links follow).

The Erin Condren arrived and the best way I can describe it is: pretty. It’s cute, colorful and has pre-printed inspiring quotes.
I disliked it immediately. I have no problem with color on a planner, per se. Color makes life fun. But if you throw too many colors on a page, it’s almost like typing a text message conversation ON ALL CAPS. It’s  pretty much yelling and after a while, you get fed up with it. You can’t wait until that month/color scheme is over because you’re so saturated with it.
So, for me, the colors were too much and I’ve never liked pre-printed quotes. While they aim to be inspiring, designers forget that they never apply to everyone. Plus, at a base price of $50, pricey.
So I turned around and sold it on the same day.
They have announced a June release with many redesigns. The colors have been toned down and it doesn’t look as crazy (to me) as it once did. Some of the accessories look interesting.
Here’s a link to it. It will take you to a free account sign up page. When you sign up you get a discount code and because you clicked my link, I get some credit (creating your account gives you your own referral link). ERIN CONDREN LIFE PLANNERS.

The Passion Planner arrived and it was a sad moment. I really, really wanted to love it. The compact version had made so much sense during the Kickstarter. But unfortunately. the compact nature of the planner itself hinders its use. The weekly space just wasn’t large enough to be useful (at least for me). On top of that, since I became a stay-at-home Mom, I don’t really need an hourly breakdown of my day to keep track of everyday. I pondered many uses for it, but with little time to think about anything other than wether I was wearing clean socks or not….it just didn’t work.
The planner went bye-bye as well.
But it might work for you (and they have a larger version that people love). PASSION PLANNER.

The Plum Paper Planner rings in 20 bucks cheaper than the Erin Condren and offers many layouts. There are no pre-printed quotes, and the colors are a lot less in your face. I made the mistake of ordering one that had a similar layout to EC, which I hadn’t yet realized I didn’t like.
I started using it, then lost track of it and it ended up sitting alone on a table. I wish I had researched the other layouts better. They also have a Monthly notebook layout that would’ve worked great as a Bullet Journal (more on that later), but it wasnt out then.

Alas…the famed, oft seeked, elusive “Planner peace” slipped through my fingertips three times in a row.

So I finally sat down and did what I should’ve done in the beginning. And if you’re looking for a planner,you should do it too: plan.

It sounds silly, really. To plan for a planner. But allow me to explain.

You have to ask yourself: “what do I want out of a planner?”

– track activities hourly?
– flexible tracking?
– planner+journal capabilities?
– do you want a lot of color?
– does a lot of color on a page distract you?
– do you want to decorate it yourself?
– do you want a planner system that grows and evolves with you?
– how do you feel about freestyle/DIY approaches?
– do you want to keep track of stickers, washi, colored pens and stamps?
– can you find or make the time to plan?
– how big/small would you like a planner to be?
– if it’s too big and you have to carry it around, will you get fed up with it pretty fast or be ok?
– etc, etc…

The more questions you ask yourself, the easier will it be to discard all the planners that wouldn’t work for you. There’s a staggering amount of planning systems out there and narrowing them down helps out a lot. Specially if you’re going to spend money on it.

My needs were:

– I like to write and I like to draw. So I knew I needed something that would let me do that.
– I’m always short on time (and attention span) these days. So no fancy decoration or plotting needed.
– I needed something flexible.
– Because I already carry a diaper bag plus a purse (and a baby!) around, I need something small to carry in my purse. Having two planners (a home/desktop and a purse version) just wouldn’t work for me.

Three contenders rose up to the challenge: the Bullet Journal, the Midori (specifically the Fauxdori varieties) and the Hobonichi.

The Bullet Journal is the cheapest of them all. All you need is a notebook you like. And although the entire system can be explained in a short video, it can be as simple or as complicated as you want. If you Pinterest/Instagram/Goodle Bullet journals, you’ll spend an entire day finding different versions of it.

The Midori Traveler’s Notebook is basically just a leather cover into which you carry notebook inserts. You can have a variety of inserts on a variety of subjects/tasks. But they come in two sizes that are a bit awkward for me. The Fauxdori (DIY faux Midoris) versions can be any size you want. Like the Bullet Journal, the Midori system can range in level of customization. Some Fauxdoris are very decorated and some are kept nice and minimalist. I like the later version.

The Hobonichi is a Japanese notebook/journal/planner. It’s available in A6 and A5 sizes and there’s an English version of the A6. It’s bound and broken down in a variety of sections: yearly, monthly, weekly and daily spreads. The paper it’s printed on is thin, but high quality, which makes the book compact despite the number of pages included. I would love to get my hands on one to feel the paper and decide if I really want one. I love the look of them and the layouts are very workable. Next year’s edition hasn’t come out yet, so I have time to ponder.

The Bullet Journal and the Midori are a match made in planner heaven. They complement each other beautifully.
I love the Moleskine Cahiers and my first few attempts at a Bullet Journal/type layout seem promising. I’m going to hit the craft stores next week and get the material to fashion myself a Fauxdori/Bullet Journal. I will post about this next week.

I’m also playing with designing my own planner templates. Which will probably be yet another blog post.

Have I achieved Planner Peace? Not yet. But I think I’m on the way.

See ya next week with – hopefully – my adventures in Fauxdori making.