Old Year/New Year
So, wow, 2017 was insane! And by "2017", I mean MY 2017. Society's 2017 was straight-up batshit, but that's not what I'm here to talk about.
I'm here to talk about time management. And school supplies :)
If I've learned anything in the last year, it's that I suck at time management. Honestly, I've always known that, but I've known that as a slacker employee who didn't really care. I always imagined that, as my own boss, I'd be super motivated and efficient and organized. I'd build costumes all day AND cook my own meals, get a full night's sleep, work out, and fix my hair EVERY DAY.
The reality is that I build costumes all day most days, I function on naps and coffee and cereal, I've had "go to the dry cleaners" on my to-do list for two months, and I can't remember the last time I balanced my checkbook. I really need to fix my time management problem. Bad.
Lucky for me, it's New Years! Which, sure, blah blah new years resolutions blah blah blah. But on a practical level: new years means new calendars!
I discovered the benefits of using a paper planner a few years ago. My husband suggested I start a mood tracker to see if I could find connections between my craziness and external factors, and I found that I really liked writing everything down on actual paper. I still use my phone for specific calendaring - If I have to be somewhere at a certain time, it's on my phone's calendar. But it's also on my paper calendar, which serves as journal for looking back as much as it serves as a forward-looking planner.
The other cool thing I learned about keeping a paper planner is the value of to-do lists. There's the obvious value - having a reminder of important tasks, but also it keeps me sane. When I find myself getting stressed or overwhelmed, I can make a to-do list and feel better, calmer, more in control, and better able to take the next steps. Keeping it in my head gives me option paralysis. Getting it on paper turns it into an actionable plan!
So for the last 2.5 years I've been faithfully using the Passion Planner. I don't care so much about the goal setting features, although it is a nice exercise and has been handy in starting the business. What I really like about this planner is the weekly layout. It has equal columns for each day of the week, half-hour rows that go all the way to midnight, lines for personal and work to-do lists, and a great big blank space for whatever. Plus inspirational (but not cheesy!) quotes. It was perfect for me up until a few months ago.
I found myself, in the last few months of this year, relying more on weekly to-do lists than daily appointments. I know I have a bunch of stuff to do, the details of when I do it don't matter as much. What I needed in a calendar was less daily space, more weekly space. As this year ended and I started thinking about moving into a new calendar, I just couldn't get excited about using my new Passion Planner. I knew it wasn't right for me. I still love it, I love the company and the founder and #pashfam, but my needs have changed. I'm seriously, a little sad about it!
And so I went on a quest for a new perfect planner. Here are my requirements for the weekly layouts:
- Saturday and Sunday's boxes must be the same size as the weekdays
- A very large space for to-do lists
- Another very large space for freeform writing
- If times are listed, they have to go to midnight. Or 10pm at the very latest
And my requirements for the rest of the planner:
- Monthly layouts
- Lots of blank pages at the back for notes
- Nice thick paper that ink doesn't bleed through
- White or very light off-white paper
- Either A5 (Moleskine) or B5 (composition book) sized.
I looked at a thousand planners. Not met all of my standards :( I was gonna have to DIY this bitch!
I've been intrigued by the idea of the bullet journal for some time. I like the customization and personalization. I like how it combines freeform with structure, and order with creativity. But I had a few potential problems with it. Mostly, I was afraid I'd procrastinate my way out of it. There would be weeks where I wouldn't want to deal with drawing a new weekly spread, and so I wouldn't, and so my calendar would die. I also couldn't quite figure out how to keep it organized. I know bullet journal theory is that you use the next page for whatever. If you want to make a journal entry, do it. If you want to make a reading wish-list, do it. Add it to the index and it'll all be ok. Yeah no. I want my planner divided up into clear sections. I want planner pages together and notes and journal pages together. To mix them up would be chaos! CHAOS!!!!! And I thought, I could get a notebook and draw out the entire year at once, but then I'd lose the potential for future customization. It all seemed way too daunting.
But the pull was strong and I couldn't find anything else that met my requirements, so this year I'm taking the plunge! I'm going to bullet journal (sort of)! I'm going to get a fancy notebook and fancy pens! Yay!
So I entered the second stage of research: finding the perfect notebook. The Passion Planner was A5 (about 5.75" x 8.25"), which is a nice comfortable size. I use a composition book for my work notes, and I have a 2018 work calendar in the same size, so I could get behind a planner in the same size. Because I'm also kind of into the idea of the traveller's notebook, and I'm really excited about making a notebook cover to hold all these composition books together!
Again, I searched a million different notebooks and a million different review sites. I found a blog where somebody had reviewed something like 35(!) different notebooks and then made a spreadsheet of each, including their size, paper weight, paper color, total pages, and other features. And I want to marry this person and be her best friend FOREVER!!!!! Between that page and my own searches I narrowed my notebook choices down to the Tekukor A5 dot grid notebook and the Apica Premium CD B5 graph paper notebook. Both are 192 pages of heavy, nearly-white paper, both have 5mm grids. The Tekukor has pre-numbered pages, three ribbon bookmarks, a nice wide elastic band, and a black hardcover. The Apica doesn't have those features, but the specs are right so I'm going to give it a chance.
I made a plan for page ordering, chose some favorite layouts to start with, and patiently waited for delivery. Both notebooks were supposed to be delivered on Friday, January 29. The Tekukor was, but the Aplica got delayed until Tuesday, and then again until Wednesday. I was really bummed because I wanted to pick my favorite before the new year and spend the weekend drawing on the other one, but that, sadly, did not happen. But I did manage to figure out the page ordering of the books, drew a few test spreads on regular composition book pages and drew a few necessary pages in the Tekukor. I still couldn't decide which format I liked better, so I decided I would draw the same spreads on the Apica when I received it, use both for a week, and then decide which one I like best. And maybe even do a full review of one or both notebooks someday!
My initial layouts are very barebones and not exactly Instagram bujo-worthy, but here they are just the same:
My weekly spread. This will probably evolve as the year progresses, but this is what I need right now.
I'm going to use this monthly spread as a general overview - vacations, Star Wars release dates, etc. I like the idea of the bog monthly overview, but in reality I rarely even look at it.
This will be a full year at a glance when I'm finished with it. Which, historically, I use more than the month-per-page spreads, Drawing all those lines and numbers was tedious and I got bored so I took this picture and walked away. Originally I'd planned on just doing the numbers, but they just looked like a giant random blob of numbers so I added the lines for order. It looks much better now :)
After a ridiculous comedy of errors from UPS, I finally received the Apica, and, wow, so worth the wait!!! The bigger pages make all the difference in the world. The to-do list and free space are the spaces that typically see the most action; I just don't have enough daily appointments to justify my per-day boxes taking up so much of the page, so the larger pages just make more sense.
I drew my weekly spread in the Apica and spent about four days making identical entries in both notebooks. (In the comparison shots, above, the only difference in content is the extra text on the right side of the Apica's page, added at the end of the week.) I instantly liked the Apica's size better. The number of lines per day are the same in each book, but look at all that extra free space in the Apica! That space is exactly what I need and want.
Both are high quality books with good solid binding and bright heavy pages that are an absolute dream to write on. The Tekukor's size was familiar and comfortable, but the larger pages, plus having my planner, work calendar, and note/sketchbook all a uniform size, make the Apica the clear winner.
Expect future updates on how I'm tweaking my new planner system and how I'm getting better at time management :)
Happy New Year to you all! Thanks for reading and supporting this whole crazy endeavor! I look forward to another year of creativity and building and fun, and I wish you all the same <3