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My year of calendars

My year of calendars

I started this year with some serious calendar goals. After two years of using the Passion Planner (which I loved), I was making the switch to bullet journaling! Or something like it. I was going to DIY my personal calendar/journal! (More on my thoughts on bullet journaling in a minute). I was also going to maintain a separate work calendar! And I was going to keep project notebooks! I was going to be SO ORGANIZED!!!

I spent weeks researching and choosing the perfect notebook for my new calendar, and days - DAYS! - organizing the layouts and drawing spreads. My calendar, my work calendar, and my project notebook were within arm’s reach at all times!

And then I filled my project notebook and had to get a new one. But I still had important notes in my old notebook, so I had to keep it around. So now I had FOUR notebooks to keep on my table at all times.

This lasted five weeks.

I hate paper. HATE IT. Ask anyone. The planner and the project notebook have always been the exceptions to the rule, but they were both more manageable before I was doing full-time seamstressing. Juggling four notebooks was just too much!

And then I remembered: I have an iPad! That thing I use to watch Netflix in bed is probably good for other things too!

And OMG I was right!!! I found the Goodnotes app and it CHANGED MY LIFE!!! I was able to move all my notebooks to my iPad and my life became infinitely better!

Goodnotes is a notebook/handwriting app in which you fill a page (a full screen, no more no less) with handwriting, turn to the next page, and do it again, just like a real notebook. You can have multiple notebooks open at once, accessible through tabs just like a browser. And because it’s digital it can also import images and pdfs and stuff for easy annotation. So rather than having to sketch costume design references, I could just drag in reference pictures! Instead of drawing calendars, I could import them! It was amazing!

I started this experiment with my old iPad Air 2 and an Adonit Pixel stylus. It was clunky but it worked. After about two months of daily use I upgraded to an iPad Pro 10.5 and an Apple Pencil, which I’ve continued to use almost every single day since purchasing it. The iPad finally gave me the paper notebook experience I wanted with the digital storage I needed!

(Both the iPad and the Pencil were updated this year. I’m including link to the newer 11” iPad, although I haven’t upgraded yet myself. As an Amazon Affiliate I would LOVE YOU FOREVER if you bought an iPad through my link!)

But on to the real point of this blog- the calendar evolution.

I started the year with a two-page weekly spread of smallish daily boxes and big to-do boxes.


When I switched to the iPad my goal was to get an entire week in one view. I switched to a single-page weekly spread with very small daily boxes and big to-do boxes divided into general to-dos, work projects, personal projects, and wins. And this was, surprisingly, the spread I stuck with for the majority of the year!


In May I added a “Countdown” box, counting down the weeks or days to important or fun events


And in August I got super stressed and bogged down with work, so I switched to a daily spread which I kept up with until DragonCon.


After that it evolved into a kind of daily/weekly hybrid.


I kept that going until October when my life and my stress levels went back to normal, and I went back to the old weekly spread.

At the same time I was keeping a journal as a separate notebook. There I was doing monthly and quarterly evaluations, where I would answer the same series of questions, and also doing freeform feelings writing. I’m not showing you pictures of any of that!

Under another separate notebook I kept a work calendar. This started with just a big monthly calendar highlighting important dates and a loose idea of when I should be starting and finishing each project.


In June I started to feel really overwhelmed by all the work I had to do before DragonCon, so I mapped out a daily work schedule from then until DragonCon. I listed every single day and what I planned to work on each day, along with a complete list of commissions I had to do.


I actually wound up loving this layout and kept it up after DragonCon. I’m not sure why the list format is more appealing than the calendar grid format, but somehow everything seems a whole lot less daunting when it’s listed out like this.

So here we are at the end of the year, and I feel like my DIY journal has been a success! It went through lots of evolutions, but that was the exact reason I decided to go the DIY route- so it could evolve with my needs as the year went on.

My 2019 calendars are all ready to go. I’m using the big monthly list format again for my work calendar and the weekly spread for my personal calendar. The daily spread is still in my back pocket for when I get too stressed. Also I made a full year planning spread and a full year goal tracker.  I had versions of both of these in my 2018 calendar, but I’ve made them prettier and more functional this year :)


I’m making these pages available for purchase on Etsy. When I first started playing with Goodnotes I couldn’t find many templates I liked. I’m sure I can’t be the only one who appreciates a simple, minimalist spread, so I’m putting these out there so maybe we can find each other :)

And finally, I want to talk about bullet journaling. I love the idea of bullet journaling. I love the original, simple, minimalist idea, and I also love the creative expression it’s turned into. I don’t consider what I do bullet journaling, because it is neither the simple list making of the original idea, nor is it the elaborate arts and crafts project that is all over instagram. But I’ve been reading about it for years and following so many blogs and instagrams and Pinterest boards about it, it’s definitely influenced my planners. I think all of us who DIY our planners are doing the same basic thing for a lot of the same reasons, so maybe by putting this blog up and making those pages available, I’m part of the bujo community now? I’m not sure. But I think I’ll keep posting the occasional post about my little DIY calendars, and if the bujoers want to grant me membership into their club, I’ll take it :)

Happy New Year, everyone!

 (And one more time in case you missed it- my planner pages are for sale on Etsy! 

2018 awesomeness

2018 awesomeness

Favorite tools: Sewing essentials

Favorite tools: Sewing essentials