Every December, when my life unravels due to too many cookies and too little real work, I begin my search for a planner. I have started many planning systems. Teacher planners, DayRunner (remember those?), ARC (Staples system). Last year I began a bullet journal.
Bullet journals are wildly popular and I loved the idea of customizing my own planner, but it didn’t work for me. I disliked drawing the calendar every month and didn’t understand how to “migrate” tasks using the symbols. I became a bullet journal drop-out.
Passion Planner to the rescue! I read about Passion Planner in the Washington Post and ordered one immediately. The Passion Planner has everything! So many pages to fill! So many areas to check off and write in and—well, plan. I loved coloring in my daily schedule. But there were too many pages to fill and too many areas to write in. I felt like the planner was running me.
By June I’ve usually quit whatever system I’ve started. Why on earth is this so hard? Experts at Franklin-Covey say planners “help people feel organized and in balance. They create harmony and inner peace.” Time to grab my share of harmony and inner peace!
This year I went full-bore and bought three planners: a Leuchtturm 1917 (the notebook most bullet journalers prefer), a Passion Planner, and a teacher’s planner. I also bought fun Post-Its and pens. Then I sat down at my dining room table and, in a separate notebook (only the truly anal will understand), mapped out why previous planners had failed and what I really need.
More than one planner is overkill, according to efficiency experts. Maybe so, but I can’t find a single system that will keep me on track, organized, goal-directed, and let me be a little creative. So here’s what I came up with:
The teacher’s planner will go with me to Hollins. Last summer I didn’t carry my Passion Planner because it was too bulky and wound up double-booking two events on the same day. The teacher’s planner is thin, simple, and doesn’t take any time to update.
The Passion Planner is the workhorse. It stays on my desk and is my weekly scheduler and monthly planner. I skip all those fill-in pages about five-year goals (at my age I don’t even buy green bananas) and what I’m grateful for. I color in blocks of time, using a color key I devised. Easier than symbols. Instead of highlighters, I use twist-up crayons.
Still, the Passion Planner doesn’t have room for book lists, blogging ideas, quotes, etc. So I divided up my new bullet journal into sections about 30 pages each. Freed from monthly lists and migrating tasks, this is my fun take-with-me journal/planner. I added pockets to the end papers and Post-Its. While many BuJo devotees create gorgeous calendars in theirs, I opted for a set of calendar cards (Michaels, $1.99) anchored with clear photo corners.
I found myself writing too much under “Books I’ve Read.” I want to keep this journal a little leaner. So I cut out the pages I wrote on in last year’s failed bullet journal for additional sections, like reviewing books. This is not a journal I carry around. Because I added tabs to both bullet journals, I worried about them getting bent or torn.
I don’t want to tell you how much time I spent looking for a journal cover. Then I stumbled on these simple pencil pouches at Walmart. They’re colorful and have compartments for pens. My journals fit inside perfectly.
For writing and doodling, I use Pilot Precise pens, Pentel Sliccis, and Stabilos. I store the pens and a 6-inch ruler in a Vera Bradley e-reader case I found on sale. All the Post-Its, pens, planners not in use at the moment are corralled in a Michael’s storage box.
Leuchtturm 1917 (Amazon, different colors/styles, about $18)
Passion Planner (order direct, large size $30)
Tim Coffey teacher’s 16-month planner (B&N, $19.00)
Mead notebook insert pencil pouch (Walmart, less than $5)
Storage box (Michaels, $9.99—use a coupon for half price)
Pilot V-5 Extra Fine roller ball pens (I buy these by the dozen—they come in colors, too)
Pentel Sliccis gel pens (Amazon, about $19.00)
Stabilo 88-point Extra Fine markers (Amazon, about $17.00)
Faber-Castell Paper Crafter Crayons (Amazon, $11.00/set)
Wow! Big investment! The pens and crayons will last a long time and so will the box if the cat stays out of it. The planners aren’t cheap. Yet if factor in I’m both labor and management, with no secretary, I think it’s worth it. Plus I like color!
Check back in June. I’ll let you know how it’s going.