Planners, notebooks, calendars, and journals. 

Kickstarter Bullet Journal, Hobonichi and Midori stacked up with my novel revisions. And my fountain pens.

About two years ago, I realized that digital planner was not cutting it. I didn’t use my calendar on my phone or my computer, and I was still trying to keep track of things in my head. That used to work fine for me only one list on my computer and the running one in my head. Now, however, I had two kids to keep track of, a job, a house, and my own personal goals and I was forgetting things.

I used to start each school year in college by buying a date book, and then filling it with course calendars, show calendars, work dates, personal appointments and it was brilliant. I kept this up while I was working in theatre as well.  Once I got out of theatre and before I had kids, life was pretty simple, and I stopped. I still have these and they are lovely little snapshots of how busy I really was.

When I realized I was having a problem keeping track of things I researched and purchased a Filofax, the British cousin of Day-Timer, and started writing it all down again. I put in daily tasks, and decorated the pages, and carted it everywhere.

And then I kept researching planners and I learned about the Midori Traveler’s Notebook. A simple leather cover with notebook inserts that ranged from sated calendars to blank watercolor pages.

And then I learned about the Hobonichi Techo, another Japanese datebook/planner that was immensely well laid out book with a page a day, on amazing paper that holds up to water color and fountain pen.

And the, I heard about Bullet Journaling, a system of task management similar to the Frankly-Covey/Getting Things Done method, but instead of using expensive proprietary materials, it just used a gridded notebook.

Hobonichi Techo and a brand new Hobonichi Cousin for 2016.

All of these now reside in my stack of daily journals. And you know what? I use them all. Not all every day, but most days several of them see action. My Filofax lives in my purse and has my calendar of appointments and holidays and all the various schedules for the family. (Which is echoed on the giant wall calendar in my kitchen.) My Midori has my novel and story planning and the long hand writing I do when a computer is not an option. My Hobonichi is a daily journal where I just jot down what we do each day, and paste in small pictures of bits of paper that chronicle our daily life.

Then there is my Bullet Journal. It is sadly the most neglected of the group, and it needs some reworking. I used it for daily task lists, but daily I was writing:

  • Dishes
  • laundry
  • tidy
  • read out loud
  • write/journal
  • make dinner
  • homeschool

I’ve found that a list that highlights the repetition of my day to day life and makes it even more boring does not induce me to look at it frequently. Wanting to look at my journals is key to actually using them, and yes sometimes that means decorated pages and overly saccharin stickers. Plus I kind of knew the routine, and did I really need to check off the same 5 things each day?

As I approach NaNoWriMo, I know I need to start tracking and planning my writing.  We are heading toward getting our windows replaced soon, and I need to get the house to a point where someone could potentially replace the back wall of my house (yes, that’s a possibility thanks to faulty siding and dry rot) and we need to move out of our storage unit at the same time. Enter my Bullet Journal.

I have a lot of books to keep track of things, but so far the system is working out. I didn’t mention my homeschool notebooks – one for daily schedule and one for tracking project work – or my various art books, but those are there too. Sometimes I look at the stack and wonder if one would suffice and maybe, it might, but I haven’t found the perfect system to track all of the things yet.

What kind of calendar, planning or journal set up do you use? Are you a multi-book person or do you believe in one journal to rule them all?

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