Back in August of this year when I wrote my preliminary thoughts on the Inspired Stories Daily Planner, my sister was of the opinion that I would not keep using it. I must say, I was inclined to agree with her, and so it comes as a great surprise to me that this past weekend saw me finishing the whole book. Here, then, are my final thoughts on this product.
In many ways, this has been an experimental planner for me and over the course of the four months I’ve been using it, I have tried out a number of options to make the space work. Just as I found at the very beginning, the real bugbear in the whole planner is the weekend spaces. Having Saturday and Sunday share a page, and just making the areas for those days dot-grid layout, was an annoyance. It worked okay in the first couple of months when added planner stickers to provide a layout I could work with, although the contrast between all the space provided for weekdays and the lack of space for weekend days was very noticeable. I also tried taping in full-page layouts myself, which seemed bulky. For the final month I just sucked it up and used the dot grid layout as best I could, but I find them messy and less coherent than I’d like.
Now, in an entirely contrary statement, I’m going to admit that I don’t really need all that space every day, although I found the layout very pleasant. I kept on using it, but sometimes it seemed like I was filling things in just for the sake of using the page. I noted the headline from that day’s horoscope in the space marked for “Today’s intention” and then filled in the three main tasks I wanted to complete in the pink boxes. I think that was probably the most useful area of the whole page. I mainly kept the “Important Times” area to note anything that did indeed have a time associated with it, but those were few and far between so occasionally I mapped out my day as shown in the photo above. I wish I could say that the lack of appointments was due to 2020 wreaking havoc with my plans, but I just don’t have an appointment-filled type of life. The task list was used for the smaller tasks and then the notes area for any random thing I wanted to either remember, or quickly note down. For most of the book, I did fill in the “Best Thing About Today” area, but fell off that wagon for the final couple of weeks. All in all, though, I felt the planner was overkill for my needs, which echoes the issue I had the last time I tried a day per page planner. That was back in 2017 when I used a book by The Happiness Planner which, in a similar vein, sought to get you to structure your life vision in a format chosen by the designer. I didn’t find in either case that I gained any great insight or increased productivity from expanding the amount of detail in my day-to-day planning.
Is it contradictory for me to complain of a “lack of space” in the weekend days whilst claiming the weekdays gave me “too much space” – am I falling into a Goldilocks trap? To explain, my issue is more concerned with the lack of uniformity than with the actual physical space. If the designer wants me to plan my days in a certain way, then they need to provide a consistent space for each day of the week. To require quite rigid planning for five days then just give a loosey-goosey grid for two days irks me. I think it is especially annoying as I use my “planner” as a reminder of things I’ve done as much as a schedule of things I’m going to do and I want to remember what I did at the weekend just as much as what I did in the week.
As to the rest of the planner, well, I made a half-hearted stab at filling in the goal-planning at the beginning then didn’t refer to it again. I filled in precisely one thing on the four monthly layouts that I set aside to use for future planning. I enjoyed adding a weekly quote, but I much prefer this in a week to view diary where I can see it during the whole week. I turned to the weekly overview page each evening just to fill in the tracker for my exercise and calorie-counting, and I noted a “Top 3 tasks for the week”, plus any deliveries that were due to arrive during the week. I used the page more than I thought I would, but I find the combination of weekly and daily pages a little awkward; there seems to be a lot of obsolescence in having monthly and weekly and daily pages, rather than just one format. My natural tendency was to have the planner open to the daily page and only occasionally refer to the weekly one, thus I came to feel the weekly overview wasn’t necessary. I filled in the Weekly Review page on a Sunday but I never felt this was adding any great value to my life. Now, perhaps this is because I keep a journal and so I already have reflection and evaluation built into my routine; these review pages might well be useful if they were the only place you were analysing your progress. I don’t think that I filled in even one of the occasional “fun” extras like gratitude or inspiration lists; again, I felt that was covered already, either in the planner itself or in my journal.
I must mention the paper quality which was a bit like Dorothy Parker’s acerbic observation about a nice, but often ignored lady:
Yet – if the passing mark is minus D –Dorothy Parker
She’s passing fair.
There were problems with fountain pen ink bleeding through the paper from some pen and ink combinations, not from others. Again, this contributes to the planner sometimes feeling messy, and lends it an air of being a little temperamental. It also serves as a reminder that just because paper is thick doesn’t mean it’s fountain pen friendly; a lot of thick papers are too absorbent to play nicely with fountain pen inks.
How would I sum up my months in this planner? Well, as I said at the beginning, I’m surprised I stuck with it and since I did I have to admit that it was by no means unpleasant. I can see that a daily layout would be useful on occasions and that is something I’m going to be looking at as I move into my Filofax organiser for the new year. That said, this past couple of weeks I’ve been increasingly looking forward to getting back to a week to view, horizontal diary layout which I haven’t used for a few years now. I think I will take forward the “top 3” tasks idea because that was probably the thing that I found most useful in the entire planner. I will miss having an area to write out part of my horoscope each day, but I do add the icons for days which are particularly auspicious and I think that will be enough. I wouldn’t be tempted to buy this planner again, although I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone who was interested in a guided daily planning system and who didn’t mind the dot-grid weekends.
I’m intending to give the computer a wide berth on Christmas Day, but keep your eyes peeled at the weekend for a preview of a totally different ring-binder and planning system I recently bought. Then next week I will give you a peek into my future with my Filofax A5 all set up and ready to roll; although to be honest I’ve already moved in and am using it this week with a couple of pages added just to see me through to the end of 2020.