It being slap-bang in the middle of the year, this seems like a good time to reflect on what I am enjoying right now about my planner setup, not to mention what has changed or not changed since the beginning of the year.
I started the year in my Filofax Classic Pastel A5 Notebook in Vista Blue filled with my own design of weekly layout printed on cartridge paper; I already had a well-established routine for using the weekly vertical layout. In that first week I see I brought in the Waterman Inspired Blue ink which has become my favourite for use in my planner, although I do make the effort to move away from it every now and again. The year began with me using anything which wormed its way into my brain as my quote for the week.
On Tuesday 21st January 2020 my new disc-system notebook arrived from William Hannah and the planner year began in earnest. I re-printed my diary pages, keeping the same layout, from 23rd January onwards onto William Hannah’s sumptuous pre-punched notepaper which makes fountain pens sing for joy and their inks light up on the page. For my knitting friends, imagine a colour dyed on cotton yarn then the same colour on pure silk and you’ll have an idea of what a good paper can achieve.
The next change came early in March when I set myself the goal of using a quote each week from the UK Top 50 Singles from that same week in 1974 (the year the novel I am writing frequently refers back to). There have been a couple of times when there were no songs in the Top 50 that fired me, and instead I have referred to the UK Album Chart of the same week to find something I like, but mainly I have to say 1974 was a fine year for pop! To date I’ve used quotes from Diana Ross, Melanie, The Carpenters (twice), Gladys Knight and The Pips, Slade, Terry Jacks, David Bowie, Wizzard, Sparks, Abba, Bryan Ferry (twice), Elton John, Roy Wood, and Charles Aznavour. For this week there were six songs I could equally happily have quoted from, although the slight melancholy of “She” suited my mood the best. Every so often I come across a group I had mislaid in my memory and I take a little side-turning to listen to more of their music, this week it’s Mott The Hoople.
Soon after that change I ordered a pack of A6 lined paper from William Hannah and began to use that each week for a list of my main meal plan plus any random jottings that don’t need to be kept such as measurements for something I am looking at online or a book I’ve seen mentioned and want to check out. I keep my main diary pages in an archive book (also from William Hannah, if you disappear down the rabbit hole you might as well become a rabbit) but I dispose of any ephemeral notes.
Of course, in late March we started our ‘stay at home’ response to Covid-19 in the UK and at this point I began to experiment a bit with some very low-key decoration on my weekly pages. A few stickers here and there, mainly to use up an old Kikki K sticker book so I could dispose of it. I recently ordered a few decorative items from an Etsy shop which will slowly start being incorporated when I feel the need (there’s a link to the shop at the foot of this post). One idea which has really stuck is to draw a small box by each item I want to get done on a day and to colour it in when I’ve done it. This is hardly revolutionary in the scheme of things, but has proved to be surprisingly effective to me. My method of planning is to fill in my appointments on the relevant day as they come up (as far as the 3-month period that I carry in my notebook allows) and then I add a quote for the coming week together with any regular tasks – such as writing my blog posts – during my Sunday planning session. However, the majority of my tasks only get added at the beginning of each day so that I can take account of how I feel, anything that is happening around me and, me being British, the weather.
April also saw me do my “planner hack” to make it easy to carry a slim metal ruler with me at all times and I have to say that’s worked really well.
Through the “stay at home” period my interest in astrology has increased and about a month ago I bought an e-book which included a breakdown of days through each month where particular areas of life might come to the fore. I added symbols for these to my daily planner pages for the rest of the year and then went back and filled them in retrospectively just out of interest. The daily horoscope book I had last year actually noted the monthly highs and lows and I used to fill those in, but I had to buy a different brand this year and it isn’t written in the same way.
As far as the notes section of my notebook goes, this has remained pretty much the same. It’s just lined pages which I use for notes. Some things stay in there pretty permanently – my over-arching To Do list of longer-term ideas, books to read, reminder of how to cast the I Ching coins and the Key For Identifying The Hexagrams (I only have an e-book of the I Ching at present and it’s quite a faff to refer to the key diagram on my phone). I did add a section for my goals pages, but to be honest I’m not much of a goals person so that is fairly dormant. I think, to be kindly, I would say it is pending further consideration – I’ll get rid of it in due course if I don’t find myself referring to it.
All in all it’s been a year of tweaks rather than any major changes and from a broad overview it looks like I’m coasting along with a system that pretty much suits me down to the ground. Which I am, and it does, but I am human and prey to questioning myself and I am also a magpie who cannot resist a pretty bauble so I frequently try out other things to see if they might be better than what I’m doing now. Just last week I tried using a vertical layout but printed in landscape rather than portrait format. It was really good in that I could get Monday to Friday on the ‘top’ page with more room than I have in my portrait-style design and then Saturday and Sunday plus my ‘focus’ column and quote box on the ‘bottom’ page. However, I found it less easy to use than my standard portrait format so that was a dead-end. I have also put in endless hours trying to decide whether to buy a hole punch so that I am not tied to always buying William Hannah’s paper, although I will always want some in my arsenal, and I have still not come to a firm conclusion about that. Tied in with this is the question of whether I want to be 100% discbound, or if an A5 Filofax is likely to come into play, or even an A5 system holding individual notebooks in a pretty cover (I looked longingly at Citrus Bookbindery, also linked in my footer).
I have been eyeing up the A5 Original Filofax binders for years, wishing they would release a lovely blue version. However, Filofax had their Fuchsia A5 Original reduced in price and then an additional Spring offer meant I could procure it at almost 50% off. I decided there would never be a better offer and, to be honest, they were never going to release the blue of my dreams until I bought something else! So now I have that sitting prettily on my shelf if the whim should strike me to use rings. The benefits of the Filofax are that I already have the hole punch so it’s simple to make pages for it and the rings are large enough to carry a whole year of weekly pages. The downsides include the size – if I decide to use it, a decision will have to be made on how to carry it about with me – and those rings are very intrusive compared to the 20mm discs I’m currently using. On the whole I’d say my heart is with the William Hannah notebook, but I’m happy to know that I have a suitable Filofax waiting in the wings. As an aside, I still find the Filofax paper atrocious with fountain pens, although I know from the internet that many people have no issue with it. I did notice that the inserts in the binder I bought were the 2013 and 2014 iterations so perhaps they were older stock (I went for the undated diary pages, although those were printed in the blue ink which I was under the impression meant they were a more up to date item).
Phew, did you stick out to the bitter end of this? If so, you probably need a rest break and a good cup of tea! Thank you for spending your time with me today and I hope my ramblings have been of some interest to you, although they may just have made you slightly less interested in planners than you were before.
Take care and be kind to yourselves so that you can be kind to others in their turn.
Etsy stickers and decor bought from SortStuffOut. I had a good experience shopping with her; reasonable if not ultra-quick at getting the order dispatched, but very fair in explaining that one item was different to the photo on her shop (to be honest I wouldn’t have noticed if she hadn’t pointed it out) and refunding some of the postage when she found Etsy had calculated it incorrectly. She also has a blog about planner items which is how I found my way to her shop.
Citrus Bookbindery make visually stunning journals and Traveller’s Notebooks/inserts. They look high quality, but I don’t have personal experience of shopping with them.