Talk to me about planners

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life114 Comments
The year was 1985. I stumbled into the downtown Seattle Nordstrom, slightly under the influence of what I’ll call maybe two or three Old English 800s (I was in college, people), accompanied by my then roommate, Carolyn. For whatever reason, we liked to go shopping while buzzed (trust me… this isn’t a cautionary tale about under-age drinking, I promise.)

For some time, I’d had my eye on a tool that I thought just might help me to be a slightly better college student, the original Day Runner planner system. Oddly enough, that was something you could buy at Nordstrom back then. At the time, it retailed for around $50 (for the binder and inserts) and Carolyn, a slightly more free spirit than myself, saw me eyeing this forest green plastic binder and said, “That thing will absolutely ruin your life. I can’t be part of this,” And she turned and walked away. Me? I plunked down my Mom’s Nordstrom card and thus began my on-again, off-again life-long relationship with planners.

For the past several of years, I’ve relied on using my Mac’s iCal to keep me on task, but last year I felt the pull of physical planning when I saw Elise Blaha Cripe’s gorgeous Get To Work Book. Everything about it is smart and functional. It really speaks to the way I work and does feel geared more towards work tasking, which is something I always need help with. It’s clean. It’s minimal. It’s cool. It sits on my desk and I’ve been using it every day since last summer.

But then in early January I was at CHA and spent some time at the Simple Stories booth, talking with them about their Carpe Diem planner system. I started to get a little geeked out at the idea of a little binder-style system, one where you could pick and choose the stuff you wanted to include.

And that led me to start searching information about planners and all I can say is: HOLY FRICKING PLANNER! It’s like this whole ginormous world and I have no idea how I missed out on this emerging culture.

One of the planners I found on my search was the Simplified Planner from Emily Ley. Intrigued after seeing they were all sold out, I contacted her support team and they directed me to a retail shop (with awesome customer service!) that still had them in stock. I couldn’t help it. I had to order one under the guise of doing research. But the truth is, the design and color had me swooning.

And then I realized it: after being what I would call an early adopter to the culture of planning back in the mid 80s, I’ve kind of returned to a newbie state. There is SO much out there.

Heck, last Fall I designed a planner myself, the Creative Planner from Scrapbook & Cards Today magazine, but I don’t think I realized how big planning had gotten, even after designing a set of planner stamps that work with the planner I designed.

And speaking of stamps, then I saw my new friend Kelly Purkey had a whole line of planner stamps and I realized that this is a world I know very little about, but would like to learn.

And many of my industry friends are into this, too. Example: Stephanie Howell, my friend and blogger, has got a whole new Instagram account on planners.

I heard talk at CHA that planners are what scrapbooking was 15 years ago. Is that true? I find myself super intrigued by all of this.

The other thing that got me thinking about this is that in my Fit class, we’re essentially creating a fitness planner to document our year.

I guess my question today is: what the heck is up with planners? What do you use? What do you love? What do you wish was out there that isn’t? And most of all, why do you love what you use?

While you share your thoughts, I’m on a quest to dig up that old, green vinyl planner. I’m so curious to see what I filled it with at the tender age of 19.

Sorry, Carolyn. It actually didn’t ruin my life after all.


Cathy ZielskeTalk to me about planners

114 Comments on “Talk to me about planners”

  1. #1

    When your latest blog post popped into my email box I couldn’t quite believe it as I had just done the last read through of my latest blog post due to post in a few minutes and it’s all about my first month using the Simple Stories Carpe Diem Planner.
    During 2015 I think I read every planner review post and looked at every planner on the market. I have had so many planners over the years and never stuck to and used one for more than a few weeks of January.
    When the CD planner hit the preorder shelves I knew this was the one for me. I guess there is one for everyone and it’s all about finding it.
    I was over excited to have it in my clutches and it has not dissapointed.
    For me the biggest plus was having a ring bound case that I could adapt, adjust and add to. I knit and crochet so having project pages that I can pop into my planner is a must.
    It’s taken a month to get comfortable with using a planner and having it work for me, and now I can use it with confidence.
    I love the get to work book but it was a little too goal based for me.
    I see my planner as being a mini book/album of 2016 when I bind it up at the end of the year, complete with photos and ephemera.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    1. #1.1

      This post popped up while searching to see if the CD planner pages would fit in the Heidi Swapp memory planner and I thought I would quickly update my comment.
      I moved from using my CD planner as a planner and now use it as a diary and I guess it turned into a mini album, with photos and ephemera. This is why I now need a big fat binder to hold it all!!
      I splashed out on the Get to work book in June and love it!! it’s my list and task book and I don’t feel bad at crossing stuff out (which I hated doing in the CD planner).
      I also bought a websters pages personal size binder to use for all my knitting and crochet project notes, lists of stuff to make and needle/hooks I own. It lives in my project bag so I have all info I need to hand.
      Didn’t ever expect to run three planners but they work and i’ve now stopped looking or i’ll just get confused!

  2. #2
    Kirsty D

    Back in the 90s I had a funfax at primary school 🙂 in 2014 I found Erin condren planners and got one which I used during 2015, but this year I decided to go for a happy planner. I also have a compact saffiano Filofax that I keep in my bag for work stuff only to keep up with my shifts etc.
    Then I was a bit naughty yesterday and bought a Kikki k wellness planner as they had 20% off (and I had another £5 off on top) and the idea sounded just what I need at the moment.
    I have a “happiedori” for misc note taking and I have a love doki version of a hobonichi (a fauxbonichi lol) for my journal keeping when I need to get things off my chest.

  3. #3

    I have been using some form of planner for the past 5 or 6 years. I started out using Lang engagement calendars and one year made my own art journal type planner. This year I switched to the Carpe Diem planner after looking at tons of planners the last 4 months or so. It has just enough room for each day to write what I need and I like being able to add to it. I’m currently writing down everything I eat in a separate notebook but considering adding those pages to my planner so it’s all in one place. I considered adding photos to my planner but decided to keep those separate.
    I enjoy using different color pens & markers in my planner and have added some washi tape here and there. I also colored and stamped on some hole reinforcers that I’ve added here and there also. I don’t foresee adding any more than those embellishments. I’m not a fan of all the stickers and stuff added. I’m a clean & simple scrapbooker/planner.

  4. #4

    I’ve been a planner girl since 1995 and my first real job after college. I started off with Franklin Covey because my company sent me to a Covey class and they gave us a coupon to use towards purchasing one of their planners. I used that system for a couple of years and found it really didn’t work for me so I switched to Day Runner. I used that for a couple of years and made it work, just like the covey ones. But still neither worked very well for me. Then it hit me that I was a graphic designer and I could design my own, specifically for what I needed, for which ever job I was performing at the time. And so I did, for roughly 10 years I created my own. Last summer on Pinterest I saw the Erin Condrin planners and realized they were very similar to what I was creating on my own but hers were spiral bound where as mine were 3-ring binder bound. So, I added up the amount of time it took me to design, print, cut/trim, and hole punch the ones I was making and came to the conclusion that the Erin Condrins were costing just about the same amount. So, I bought the Erin Condrin for work and then picked up another for home. So far, I am a happy camper a few months shy of a year in. I don’t go crazy with decorating my pages. I write my to-do’s and deadlines and things I need to remember and that’s it. I cannot get into the multi colored pens, wash tape and turning every page into a work of art. These are “work – get it done” planners and I save the creativeness for my scrapbooking projects and other creative endeavors.

  5. #5

    I consider myself a planner girl at this point. I have 3. One that I call “traditional” where I keep track of appts (but I still use my phone because I need the alarm to go off and remind me), track what we have for dinner, track my work outs, etc. I decorate this one with stickers made for planners (hello Etsy!). I use a Carpe Diem planner for this with inserts from an Etsy seller that look similar to an Erin Condren vertical planner.

    The second that I have is a memory journal and I use the space by each day to write 3-4 sentences about whatever is on my mind at the end of the day. I am in a couple of Facebook groups that have prompts just in case nothing is on my mind but it’s just a brain dump of thoughts. It helps me clear my mind before going to bed. I decorate this one with a combo of planner stickers and scrapbook supplies. This one is a coil bound Erin Condren horizontal planner.

    The third is a Filofax. I made my own inserts using A5 cut kraft paper and a design I bought from Etsy. One side has room for each day of the week and the other side is a dot grid. This one has taken the place of Project Life for me. I jot down a few lines about each day on the left and then include photos from the week on the right. This one is definitely scrapbook supplies for decorating.

    I like the size of planners, I like the versatility (especially with ring bound) and I like how they challenge me to capture memories in different ways.

    I still haven’t found my perfect planner. I want something clean and graphic but with room for me to embellish. I want something with trackers built into each day for exercise, meal planning, etc. And I need something vertical for that. I don’t like daily planners because my days just aren’t full enough to justify an entire day on one page. And I want it to fit in a binder without overhang. I love my Carpe Diem but the inserts for it don’t work at all for me (which is why I bought my own but even those aren’t perfect). I’d love to have kraft paper. There’s something about kraft that just warms my heart.

  6. #6

    Like you, I got into the first wave of planners in the 80’s, but with Filofax and Franklin Covey planners. And then I got back into the game about a year ago with the GetToWorkBook and other planners that just don’t fit my current life. I finally landed on a Traveler’s Notebook (another trend you may have missed) and a VERY simple week-on-two-pages undated planner insert from YellowPaperHouse. I can decorate it if I want, or use it plain, and it’s always with me since my Traveler’s Notebook is also my wallet/purse. I also carry a bullet journal (another new concept,, writing journal, and wallet insert for credit cards and cash in my TN, and it has a place for my phone. Easy.

  7. #7

    I’m on my second year of using an Erin Condren Life planner. I like the vertical format, divided into three sections, less formal than divided into hours (though she has an hourly format and a horizontal format now too). Last year the planner had three headings each day, morning, day, night, but this year they’ve left them blank. I use my digiscrapping skills and supplies to make my own functional stickers, including new headers of Today (events and appointments), To Do (checklist style), and the third section contains a sticker to track exercise (with icons to circle for cardio, weights, flexibility and rest day), a sticker to track my house goals (which load of laundry, which cleaning zone, and which organisation zone I’m working on), and a space for meal planning. Every week the stickers stay the same, just In a new colour scheme. I actually use a few tricks for recolouring that I learnt from one of your classes 🙂

    As in scrapping, my planner style is colourful, yet simplistic, with hints of whimsy. I tried to go all out like some people, but got overwhelmed quickly. I now have a happy medium that satisfies my need for a functional planner, not too busy, and fun to look at and use.

  8. #8

    Wonderful topic! I’m a frugal, DIY person. I use a Franklin Covey 7-ring 8.5×5.5 Classic planner with simple pages I’ve designed using Photoshop (I’m inexperienced with Indesign or I’d use it). I like the 7-ring binder because I can print two planner pages on a 8.5×11, cut, punch, and insert. My planner is clean and simple. I don’t like the predesigned, bound planners because I can’t customize them. I prefer a paper planner to electronic based systems for many reasons. I think a line of Cathy Zielske planner pages would be FANTASTIC!

  9. #10

    I use the Erin Condren planner. It is a place where I capture tidbits of my everyday life, quotes, notes, funny and no so funny things. At the end of the year, I throw it in a box designated for planners. Someone once said that planners are like scrapbooks of your life. I have never really gone back and looked at them but someday I will. Enjoy ~Ann

  10. #11
    Laura A in Oregon

    I love my Get to Work book and have used it almost exclusively since July. It fits my need to make multiple lists and I have adapted her style of highlighting completed tasks. Each weekend, I make two headings: TO DO and TO GO, which I glam up. I also took Kelly PUrkey’s idea and separated my book into two six month books which I had rebound at Office Max, so that the physical book I carry is not so big and heavy, I don’t use the Project Pages well, but do like the extra blank pages included for making Master Project Lists, packing lists, drawing out ideas, etc. I like having all of my lists in one book, although I am starting to think about whether these are books that I will save, as I have so may scrapbooks, journals, etc.
    I love looking at other people’s planner pages, too!

  11. #12

    I had a planner crush during my teen years, but have been using planners only as a place to keep notes for project life during the past 6 years. Now I own a Midori traveller’s notebook, and it is seriously, the best thing ever. You should give a look on these too 😉 and there is whole world of faux ‘doris (you can search on pinterest or etsy) .

  12. #13
    Kimberly O.

    I tried to get back into planners but it just didn’t trip my trigger. I have two Personal size black leather Filofax planners and one pocket size Filofax. I even created my own inserts on my computer. I think I liked planning my planner stuff more than actually USING it. I’ve gone back to my digital way of life. I like my Google calendar because I can access it anywhere. Every so often I get a twinge of thinking I should at least have a journal… but I should probably just use my phone (phablet) or one of my tablets. Man, I sound like a Debbie Downer. I’m not!! I love reading about other people’s excitement of planners. Maybe I just don’t have enough going on in my life that needs planning. 🙂

  13. #14

    Love my Erin Condren vertical planner. This is my second year and the only planner I’ve stuck with

  14. #15
    Deborah P

    I’ve never actually used a planner. I had good intentions to do so, but those quickly fell by the wayside. Until the Bullet Journal concept. That, I can do. Having said that, however, in 2015, I got out of the habit and that fell by the wayside as well. I’m about to get back into it, however. I like crossing things off my list and doing it on scrap paper that gets thrown away is not as thrilling as looking by at pages of crossed off items. Reading the above comments makes me think that I may do some hybrid system. A combo Bullet Journal and Erin Condren-style three columns similar to what Alissa described. This is interesting – thanks for starting this discussion.

  15. #16
    Laura Vancura

    I am a planner addict. I am still old school at work and use a combo of Outlook and Franklin Covey. For my family life / creative work this year I am using Inkwell Press’ A5 inserts (LOVE the paper quality and Tonya (owner/creator) is so inspiring.). Inkwell also has menu planners and fitness trackers, both of which I love as well. I have a Get to Work Book but it hasn’t seen much use thus far in 2016.

    I used Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner last year for family plans but the paper was too thin for me, as was Erin Condren’s planners that I have used in the past. I am not a decorator, but definitely a long list and note maker.

    1. #16.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I definitely think the Simplified Planner paper is a little thin, unlike the paper of the Get To Work Book, so nice and much thicker. 🙂

  16. #17

    When I was employed (I’m now retired), I started with a Franklin Covey because they sent us to class and then provided the basic inserts free every year. We had a local store where I could buy other pages/accessories, and I sometimes made my own pages using their punch. After a while, it didn’t work for me because I attended so many meetings, and I tended to take a lot of notes, so I moved all my notetaking to a free government spiral notebook, and I just kept my personal calendar on a Lang pocket calendar. After a while, I moved to Planner Pads. I loved that they were spiral, so they would lie flat and didn’t take up much space in my bag. I also loved the “system.” What I didn’t love is that I couldn’t add pages of my own. I’m pretty visual, but I was time poor, so I didn’t doll up the pages any. I used Planner Pads until I retired. Since then, I’ve carried a pocket calendar. We’ve always had two months of MS Word printed calendars on the inside of a cabinet door, and everyone’s stuff goes on there. It’s much less busy since the kid went to college, but it’s still useful. It lets us know where the other happens to be if it’s not a routine day and we forgot they would be home late, etc. This pocket calendar/month on a page system works for us, but I’m still feeling the pull of having a calendar/diary where I can capture stuff that I don’t do when drawing/painting. Not sure what it is, but I’m into binding journals, so I’ll probably just make one, see how it works and then modify.

  17. #18

    I purchased a Day Runner back in the day. It cost me an arm and a leg in import taxes. For years I had what ever cheap ones my local shops had. Not finding anything I liked. Then I came across Erin Condren and Inkwell Press last year. Inkwell Press was sold out, so I went with a vertical Erin Condren. I’ve been using that for about a month now. It’s too much space for my simple days. I do love the colour pop it gives me, the interchangeble covers, but I don’t like that the EC pens bleed through the paper. So I’ve purchased an Inkwell Press Flex Imperfect planner during the imperfect sale in january. I expect it to arrive any day this week. I love the mission board in IWP. I tried to re-create that in my EC but not loving my result. Hopefully the Flex layout will be more my style – and besides all that I’ve heard really good things about the IWP paper quality. So for this year I’m trying to decide between IWP or EC…

  18. #19

    Wow-this is my #1 indulgence: planners! I have tried EVERY planner on the planet – ask my family, and take a look in my home office drawer filled with every type of planner known to man….

    I am currently using (AND LOVE!) the Passion Planner. Check out Angelia’s story, her company mission, and her AMAZING product. It’s sleek, leather bound, no bulky ring binders. Most of all, I love her pay-it-forward business plan.

    Her business is EASY to support – the product rocks, she’s authentic, she works SUPER hard, and oh, did I say her product ROCKS?!

  19. #20
    Ari C.

    I had an Erin Condren planner for some of last year, and then—as part of my quest for minimalism and simplicity—switched into a Midori Traveler’s Notebook. I love that you can choose which inserts go in it—gives it the flexible feeling of a 3-ring system—but it’s also made up of bound notebooks that are small and easy to store (key, for city living!) if you want to hold onto them when they’re filled up. I throw that thing in my purse and it comes with me everywhere. I’m currently using a week on 2 page notebook for my daily planning that has the days of the week set up horizontally on the left and a full grid page on the right for taking notes.

  20. #21

    Hmm..I’m kind of perplexed by the planner craze. I have tried to resist it in some ways. I’ve always used plain notebooks for to-do lists and schedules. I got away from that (I sorta went thru this anti-planning phase) and just used my calendar on the iPhone & Evernote. But I realize I do better with a physical planner.
    I like the Midori notebooks, and have been considering that system. I’ve sorta dabbled all over. What I figured out for me, is I don’t really want a planner, I want a log. Somewhere I can keep track of things, mostly things that have actually already happened.
    I don’t think I will decorate mine to the extent of others, but I am going to try using some washi tape to designate certain things (think color coded).
    After researching forever, I am using the Bullet Journal system for lists & tracking things. Right now just using whatever notebooks I have on hand. If I stick with it, maybe I will consider a better system.
    I’m still not really sure it’s what I want to do. However, my ‘what to scrapbook’ notes are scattered in different places so hoping this streamlines. However I don’t think I will stop using Evernote, Google Drive ,etc. I still like my cloud based systems too.
    Typing this just makes me feel like I don’t really have a planner system right now!

    1. #21.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I love using Evernote, but I mostly use it for work stuff. Some personal stuff. I love that it’s on my phone and my computer.

  21. #22

    Back in the day, I was a Franklin Covey planner girl. I used it at work constantly and took time management classes regularly. Then online calendars appeared and my bulky planner was put away. When planners became really popular again I was intrigued and jumped in with both feet. However, I found it all very overwhelming. It was taking time away from my other creative interests and I had no interest in it replacing my online calendars or carrying it around with me, so I gave it up. The only paper planner I use now is the Creative Planner. It stays on my craft table and I use it to record my crafting goals every month. No fancy stickers or stamps, just my color markers and highlighters. Works great for me!

  22. #23

    I used the Simple Stories planner in 2015 and am using the GetToWorkBook for 2016 and I’m happy with both choices. On the monthly calendar pages I use my Fit class walking stamp to track days I walk, I use narrow post it notes for my kids sports or any appointments that may change, a few stickers for birthdays or other special things and I write things I know won’t change directly on the day. I use a blue pen on the weeks/daily columns, I make to do lists and cross out stuff I finish in red. I track what I eat and how many glasses of water I drink. I have my OLW listed and quotes and how I want to focus on it. I am participating in Lain’s LayOutADay and have my daily themes in there too. I write down other projects I’d like to tackle so I can track my progress. It’s so nice having everything in one place.

  23. #24
    lynne moore

    I love planners. I love to look at them. They sit on my desk, acting all pretty. They are best friends with my stamp sets; which also sit on my desk, tables and crafty drawers acting all pretty.

    But I tend to return to a flat, full-month calendar to keep track of my life.

    I adore the Carpe Diem binder tho. Getting up the motivation to actually use it for more than a pretty thing.

  24. #25

    i love the hobonichi techo cousin and i have a lovely plaid cover for it 🙂 it makes me happy just looking at it! do you want to see?:

    my inserts are the Jan-June and the July-Dec so I don’t have to carry the whole system all the time. in this book, i keep more of a diary or a common-place type of book.

    my workhorse planner right now is a GTWB though i am not sold on the spiral system. i am originally a filofax girl (original all the way) and i may need to go back to that system. i wonder if elise would consider making inserts for a filofax…hmmm. that would be fantastic!

  25. #26

    I bought a day runner back in high school and I still have it – it’s a great notebook and I felt so dang grown up with my zippered planner. I used it sporadically and when I got a smart phone, I started using that for all my appoinments, etc. A couple of years ago, I realized that my phone was slower to use than a pocket calendar, so I went to that. I increased the size and used a Mead monthly/weekly planner all of last year and I loved it. Meal plans, multiple appointments, to-do lists all in one place. I pampered myself with the Get To Work book this year. I am loving it even more. It was a splurge but I appreciate the project pages and extra space for making lists. Less messy lists crammed into my purse on post-its and scrap paper! I have a separate planner that I use at my desk at work but I do love the GTWB for my personal life!

  26. #27
    Ruth Tacoma

    I use a spiral bound (can’t take pages in and out) planner by iBloom, which I love. I do love the larger size and it doesn’t matter is the planner is 6×8 or 9×11, I still can’t get the dang thing in my purse. But I like the extra size of calendar space the larger format provides.

    I love that the iBloom has project planning pages and a section each month titled: My Goals for This Month; My Gratitude List; Relationships to Invest in This Month; What’s Going Well; What’s Not Going Well; What Needs to Change. Just love that page!!

    I use both my Outlook Calendar on my computer/phone/iPad, as well as my paper planner.

    I did also get an erasable pen in a couple of colors because they are more fun than pencil, but I detest scratching things out (unless I cam checking something off a list, of course, which is a whole ‘nother obsession). I love this because I can erase things that change dates or that I cancel.

  27. #28

    I am using the get to workbook for, well, work. My job changed this fall and involves a lot of project planning and this seems like a good tool for that. I’m only a month in but so var it works well for me. I’m not putting meetings in just tasks and working through them.

  28. #29
    Karen S

    I started out using a Franklin Covey planner many years ago. When I left the workforce, I stopped and used a simple week at a glance calendar that I picked up at Target or some office store. That’s all I used for several years until two years ago.

    I keep my day to day appointments on google calendar so it can be shared with family members. I’ve never found it easy to use my phone for a to-do list though.

    Two years ago I used a moleskine for my planner. It worked ok but I still thought something was missing. Last year I used the toolsforwisdom planner and it was too much.

    This year I’m using a bright, colorful Franklin Covey weekly planner and so far I’m liking it.

    Being a planner geek myself, I will be stalking this post and comments to see if there is something better out there for 2017!

  29. #30

    I agree with the comment about planners becoming what scrapbooking was 15 years ago. It all seems fresh and new and every new release of stickers/stamps.tape etc. is exciting. II use the Cozi app on my phone. I just started using an Erin Condren planner in January as a family planner and memory keeper. That’s where I use stickers and clips etc. I’m hoping it helps me be able to catch up on Project Life journaling also. I have a pretty basic planner from Target in my purse for appts, phone numbers, some receipts or coupons. And then I have my FIT binder where I’m tracking my goals. We also have a “Master” calendar on the fridge to keep track of everyone’s crap (I have 4 kiddos). My biggest issues is keeping it all in sync.

  30. #31

    Lain Ehmann did a True Scrap Planner Love event last year. It was a bit overwhelming to me, but there was quite a bit of information.
    I think I prefer to have a minimalist approach to calendar and to do planning, meaning just write it down and mark it off. No fancy stickers or embellishments. No different colored pens.
    The fit class is a scrapbooking project and I love the bitty stamps!

    1. #31.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Yeah, I’m not sure I would put a lot of stickers in, but I love the idea of using bitty stamps and such!

  31. #32

    I was once very into having a planner and taking it everywhere. With the emergence of smartphones I stopped carrying one. I find my iPhone is really good for remembering dates but not so good for dealing with daily tasks. When I set a task reminder I ignore it since I have so many reminders like “Go to the doctor” and so on.

    After you and Ali Edwards were talking about the Get to Workbook, I bought one this year and I love it! I use for work only and I’m amazed at in the last month how much I’ve been able to finish.

    I’m interested in how everyone uses their planners. I’m keeping my pretty basic because I know I’ll fall into the trap of buying all the planner accessories and spend more time “designing” then actually planning.

    Happy planning!

  32. #33

    I’m new to the planner world. I mean, I always had whatever free academic planner they gave us in public school and would always doodle in mine but it was mostly to write down my homework. In college, I bought cheap-yet-cute planners from Barnes & Noble to write down my homework (and on one wonderful adventure, a few notes on what I did each day and the photo count on my camera).

    Cut to now and I fell in love with a friend’s Erin Condren and suckered my husband into ordering me one. Last week I didn’t *do* anything so it’s a pretty bare spread but overall I’m enjoying having 3 boxes to track different variables in my life. I change up what I’m doing from week to week but there’s usually some variation on to do, current projects/crafting, and special things I love. Two weeks ago involved manatees…

  33. #35

    I had a black zippered planner binder back in the day — I know I still have it somewhere. I bought Franklin Covey inserts for it.

    I’m *wildly* tempted by the gorgeous planners and accessories, but (a) the ones I’m most attracted to would really stick out in my workplace (b) it would kill me to toss it at the end of the year, but I don’t want to store years worth of planners either (c) I use Outlook at work and a combination of Google Calendar & email to keep things on track at home and (d) I really don’t need a new creative pursuit to “make” me spend money. 🙂 But the nice thing is that the surge in planner product interest will hopefully help out papercrafting companies!

    On a totally separate topic, I am really wishing for some CZ-designed Project Life cards for things like Reading, Watching, Eating, Wishing, Wearing, Shopping (or Buying?), Looking Forward To, etc. I can’t seem to find a stamp set to cover all of those things. (Maybe there is already a set like this?)

    Happy Monday!

  34. #36
    Judy in Huntsville AL

    I’ve used a planner for most of my adult life….and I’ve always decorated a bit and color-coded according to family member, work, etc. (Still have them all in a drawer at work too.)

    I think the planners of today are a little more journal-like… and my work / social (ha) life is so full I just don’t have room for all of that (and don’t want to have a second planner.)

    Still, this year I have pumped it up a bit and am getting a couple of kits to play with…and it’s adds a little fun to each week…

  35. #37
    Nikki Collins

    I am using a new product, found on Kickstarter – Basics

    It’s goal oriented and has room to journal/plan. I tried Heidi Swapps’ beautiful planner last year, but it turned out to be overwhelming, trying to find pictures, keep up with my schedule and so on. I also realized that being single, it really did not make sense to scrapbook an album and keep a planner for posterity. Too much work – actually, not much work, just lots of feeling like I was dropping the ball.

  36. #38

    Ho-lee-crap! Don’t think I have seen so many lengthy comments on your blog before! Yep, planners are all the rage right now, and Kelly Purkey’s stamps are on point! Have fun – oh! I’m using the Get to Work Book. I need the room for to-do lists and love the goal setting motivation it provides.

    1. #39.1

      Ugh auto- correct. Bullet journal… Not biller journal (what is that for, a debt collector or ducks??)

  37. #40

    I used Franklin Covey planners in the 90s, and LOVED the Busy Body Book as a working mom because I could keep the schedules of my family, vertically/each week in the 2000s. Then the Busy Body Book closed up shop and I tried the whole iCal, Google Calendar, Cozi, Outlook thing, but found I really missed the paper planning because writing it down made it stick in my brain better. (I used my paper planners to help me remember key dates when I was scrapbooking. So, there’s that.)

    So a few years ago, I started using the Erin Condren Life Planner, and I haven’t looked back. It’s colorful and has plenty of room for everything I need to write down. I combined it with scrapbooking and washi tape last year and now I love it even more!! I love all the planner stickers on the market and I’ve even made some myself.

    It helped me do a great job on my December Daily. I journal things that happen, write down how much snow we get, cute things my kids said, you name it. I love the scrapbooking/planner love crossover — now I have even more places to play with stickers, washi, colored pens and more.

    Pro tip: Pilot Frixion pens are my go-to! They are completely erasable and come in beautiful colors. Handy for planning when things change.

      1. #40.1.1

        FriXion pens are the BEST EVER!! Definitely check them out. JetPens is a great place to get them. Free shipping over $25. They have all the sizes, all the refills, all the goods. I’ve used these for many years (retractable – I hate losing caps) and love them more than any other pen. Which is saying a lot for a pen/pencil junkie!

      2. #40.1.2
        Kimberly O.

        Just keep in mind that the “erased” ink will return if it gets too cold or it will “disappear” if it gets too hot. I love using these pens though for work. My notes never leave the office (for the most part).

  38. #41
    Helen High

    Hey Cathy! As I mentioned on IG earlier today, I literally fell into the planning world late last year. I was looking for something I don’t even remember now, and found a woman that plans and posts her videos on YouTube (there seem to be millions out there), from there I too discovered Simple Stories and their Carpe Diem planner, found it on sale and bought it. I’m not a big “write it down planner” type of girl, but the concept was just so awesome and I really liked that I could put in the numbers myself and organize it my way, BUT as I got into it a little more, I realized that I really like the vertical weekly format that has been made pretty popular by Erin Condren, so I’m still finding my way. I do enjoy the decorating that it involves (I think that’s the scrapbooker in me talking) and it’s nice when it come together.

    I would agree that the momentum with people starting to use paper planners again does feel like my early days getting into scrapbooking. People have summits and meet all the time to scrap. Like you, I was so shocked that planning had gotten so big!

    There are so much out there with respect to stickers and I’m sure Etsy loves me right about now with all I’ve bought lately, but there’s just something so cool about it. I’m gonna try really hard to keep it going because a girl with a plan, well she makes plans! LOL

  39. #42

    I’m a SUCKER for planners. (Although I never could get into Day Runner…see below) I have tried many, but what I’ve loved for the last 3 years is this:
    1. The Staples Arc notebook (1/2 sized page) + dividers
    2. Miss Tiina’s everyday planner ( She has SO many printables. She also offers a ton of freebie coordinating bits on her blog. This year I bought her unplanner package which means I can customize it for any year.

    My setup:
    1. Weekly Journal: labels for each day down the side, 4 lines to each day. Used to make my notes for PL.
    2. Monthly calendar – 2 pages per month.
    3. Weekly Docket: I am not a daily-by-the-hour person. It just overwhelms and depresses me. This is 2 pages per week – one page to note appointments and such and one page for lists (there are 5 sections).
    4. Menu plan, FIT checklists (I put them 2 per half page)
    5. Projects: a page or two with detailed task lists for any projects I’m in the middle of.
    6. Blank weekly journal pages
    7. Completed weekly journal pages
    8. Blank notes pages for meetings and such.

    The nice thing about these (similar to a binder system) is you can move pages around as needed. Take out sections when you don’t need them. Punch papers that you want to insert. Etc. etc. I have another small one I use for all my completed monthly calendars + weekly journals once the year is over. And a full size one (8.5×11) for scrapbook planning.

  40. #43

    I used a planner in the late ’90’s when I graduated from college. Then somewhere along the way I went digital (with an early Palm) for a few years and eventually became a SAHM who only needed one wall calendar and a weekly to do list on a piece of paper. Over the years I’ve tried a bunch of apps, but I never stuck to digital planning for long. In fall 2014, between my kids getting busier and me going back to work PT, I decided to take the plunge back into planners. And wow–I couldn’t believe how the world of planners had changed! Even so, I couldn’t find something I loved. It needed to be small enough to carry around (so 5×7-ish) but have lots of writing space and a vertical layout.

    I ended up having to make my own and bind it with Arc discs from Staples. (Discbinding is like what The Happy Planner has, and I think it’s the best of both worlds–small like a spiral binding, but you can customize and add things like a 3-ring binder.) 2016 is my 3rd year of using a DIY 5×7, and I’ve finally got it just right. I want pretty pages but don’t want to take the time to decorate, so this year I used my digital scrapbooking supplies to make 12 different inserts, one design for each month. (There are a few digital scrapbooking designers offering inserts like this, but they tend to release monthly while I print and bind a complete year at once.)

    After a year and a half of drooling over everything else, I finally caved last month. I ordered a Platinum Carpe Diem intending to use it for planning a big trip and some house projects. But it was bigger than I realized, and I’m not going to want to carry it around on vacations. So now I’m going to use it as a health and recipe binder. (I got too good a deal to just return it.) I’m waiting on a personal size Gold Color Crush to be my travel and project planner. I also have a DIY Traveler’s notebook that I use to plan out my Project Life pages. So far I’m not using a planner for memory keeping. I scrap and I use an app to type up journaling that I can copy and paste into Photoshop while I’m scrapping, and that’s enough.

    As for what I’d like to see in the market, I’d definitely be interested in buying things like dividers and specialized inserts in personal or A5 size. I love washi tape, but I’m more of a collector who uses it once in a while. I don’t use many stickers or stamps.

  41. #44

    Oh-I second the recommendation from one of the comments to use Pilot’s Frixion pens. I won’t use anything else! They’re erasables that really do erase nicely. They’re heat sensitive (it’s the heat from the erasing friction that actually makes them disappear), so the one word of caution is that you can’t leave your planner in a hot car or the ink could vanish. If that ever happens, it will reappear if you put the planner in the freezer for a bit.

  42. #45

    I love scrolling through all of the gorgeous planners on the market today. Truthfully, though, I just know I wouldn’t use it. I use my iPhone’s calendar, Wunderlist and Notes. I always have my phone with me and that’s what makes it so simple. Would I love to pretty up a planner? Absolutely, but it just wouldn’t happen. Just being honest with myself.

  43. #46
    Beth Holmes

    I’ve been using a planner called The Uncalendar ( It’s quite different than other things out there that I’ve looked at and I’m liking it so far. I actually keep my calendar for work and for personal on two separate Google calendars tied to my work and to my personal gmail accounts. I use the paper planner which is 8.5 x 11 and has a week on a two page spread — mostly to plan out tasks for the week. There are lots of customizable boxes of different sizes as well as a weekly calendar on the right hand size with vertical columns. I start each work week entering my apts. and goals for the week. I dedicate one box on the left side to weekly tasks, and one to things I’d like to do, and for at the top of the left page for work tasks I must get done. There are separate sections for mostly calendars and for project planning. Check it out. It’s not fancy, but very useful.

  44. #47

    I love calendars and planners! I splurged and purchased an Inkwell Press planner and I can’t say enough good things about it. I use it as a journal ( when I’m inclined) in addition to the standard planner items. Plenty of pages for notes is such a bonus and the paper is almost magical (probably not really ) because ink does not bleed through. *sigh*
    “Things don’t have to change the world to be important “. – Steve Jobs

  45. #48

    I am perplexed by the planner craze. I loved planners in school and in my early career, but I’ve been all-digital for several years now: calendar, notes, etc. on my phone. Plus, some helpful apps like Evernote. I love pen and paper, so it was a difficult transition at first. But now, I can’t imagine going back to paper. Everything is right in my pocket, easily searchable, with unlimited space. And I am a serious notetaker! Lists of quotes, my favorite movies of the year ranked, ideas for my kid, recipes I want to try, places I want to visit… It’s all there.

  46. #49

    I use a 3 ring half sheet binder and make my own dashboards and inserts with my Cameo. I use washi tape for hole reinforcement and decoration. I also make my own journal sheets the same way.

  47. #50
    Louise Fortune

    Im glad that you have decided to address this “planner fuss” on your blog I have been viewing this recent phenomenon from the sidelines, not quite understanding it, the whole time making notes in my FILOFAX – thats the eighties name for a planner by the way. YES I still use mine, I have an A5 version for my desk which serves my work-from-home-job and I have a personal size one for all my creative needs.
    I thought I needed a planner but it turns out all I need to do is exchange my utilitarian post it notes and papers for “pretty stuff” add some wash tape and clips and add a charm or two to my trusty red leather filofax and hey as if by “scrapmagic” it becomes an on trend planner. OKAY I’m off to go buy some pretty sticky bits.

  48. #51

    I use the Erin Condren vertical planner and I love it. I like the sturdy covers that can be customized, as I’m a sucker for monograms. I think my favorite part is the pocket. That’s where I keep all the important papers for things I will be needing, like the instructions for jury duty that unfortunately came in the mail yesterday. I used to have to shuffle around my desk to find things like that, and now I know that I can find them in the pocket of my planner.

  49. #52

    The company I worked for in the early 1980s sent us to Time Systems training, the precursor to the Franklin Covey system. I fell in love and have been using planners ever since. When Time Systems went out of business I switched to Franklin Covey. But now that I’m retired I’m missing my planner. I no longer need anything as robust as FC. This year I bought the Creative Planner from SCT which is great but a little too brief. So I’m in the market for something a bit more structured that’s still fun and creative.

  50. #53

    What a propitious post for planner prattle! Planners, it appears, are not passe! after decades with my little leather, zipper-bound Franklin, I decided my iPhone was all I needed. Lately, though, the call of paper and pen has beckoned. Things came to a head when my granddaughter texted me a picture of the Erin Condren planner she bought with the Christmas money we gave her. What, a paper planner? Suddenly it seemed like the perfect solution to my desire to scrapbook, sketch, and write more. But I thought my needs were so specific that I had to make my own (especially since it is February and many great planners are sold out). Alas, I have been catapulted into organizer overwhelm, making my little Franklin (it may be dormant but it has never left my desk) look better and better even in my retirement from paid work. So much for printing and organizing my own. Time to do a little more research and a little less printing and hole punching. Thanks for this discussion!

  51. #54

    I’ve used a planner of one variety or another my entire life, starting in high school. Mostly it was a calendar to keep track of appointments, etc.

    In 2014 I found the Documented Life Project group and kept a very artsy planner in a moleskin diary and LOVED it. Last year the DLP went to an art journal and dropped the planner aspect, so I went searching for a replacement. I tried a Midori for awhile, but it never really stuck for me.

    Then I found the 6 ring A5 style binders and really loved the ability to add and remove pages and try different page styles as my needs and interests changed. I’m now sold on the ring binder style, but still working on the perfect set-up. I had a subscription to Cocoa Daisy’s page inserts for 6 months, but just let that go because of cost. I have a Webster’s Pages Color Crush binder that I ADORE, but didn’t like their inserts either. I think eventually I’ll be printing my own pages.

  52. #56
    Tina Joergens

    Yes to all of the above (I tried to read them all)! I am a planner addict and have been since before Franklin met Covey. Somewhere in the early 2000s I started making my own scrappy dividers and gluing on quotes made with Sizzix cut letters. I used the business card holders for family pictures. I was a bit ahead of the game. I think I’ve tried them all and most currently the Get To Work Book. Love the paper quality, don’t love the size. It’s more task oriented and I’m looking for more journal. Also, trying to fit my square-peg-self into someone else’s creation never works out well.
    So, inspired by the FIT files, I’ve created my own system to fit an half-sheet ARC system. I recreated a monthly calendar styled the same as the FIT calendar and my daily sheets are styled like a FIT graph sheet. I’ve printed it on mixed media paper, so it’s up for what ever medium I want to use. Plenty of room to laydown task list and/or journaling. It is my “project life” and I’m loving it. Thank you Cathy for the inspiration!

  53. #57

    I got The Desire Map Planner (daily edition) for Christmas this year from Danielle LaPorte, and I love planning my days around how I want to feel! I was a hardcore Franklin girl right out of college, but fell out of the planner habit when I left work to stay home with my kids. I’ve dabbled in other systems over the last few years just because I love the idea of being so organized. And I’ll be looking at the products others have listed because I can’t resist!

  54. #58
    Carol Anne

    Franklin Planners ruled and ruined my life in the mid to late 90s. Evernote and Google calendar are my planners, although I have electronically co-oped the best parts of the Get to Work book for my personal use. And I still don’t use it consistently. Paper would be no better.

  55. #59

    Last year I used the Heidi Swapp planner more like a scrapbook to document my life. I created a homemade planner for keeping track of the daily to do lists and tasks.

  56. #60

    Over the years I think I have one of every size filofax made! Some as my personal diary but most for work. I love planners but have found they no longer work for me. I find them to heavy to carry (and my handbag doesn’t need to be any heavier). Plus I like to keep my diaries and found binding filofax pages just wasn’t the same as a complete diary.

    Last year I did lots of research before deciding on the way to go. In the end I went with a Moleskine weekly notebook diary. On the left hand side of the page is the week diary. On the right hand side is lined note paper. It’s perfect size for me, place for making notes from phone calls etc. It’s also acid and lignin free. It has pocket at the back and with an elastic band around it I can keep notes/letters in pages. I write in there with different coloured pens which splits up topics nicely.

    I’ve gone for the same diary again this year though was tempted with all of the lovely planners now on the market!

  57. #61
    Liz Sawyer

    Fantastic post Cathy & love the comments from people. Hot topic… and you would design a fantastic planner I bet!

  58. #63
    Melanie A.

    I have been using the Franklin Covey planner for over 20 years. I still use it as well as my Outlook calendar. However I decided this year I wanted something else to go along with this. something a bit more colorful that I could snazzy up. I ended up getting the Papertrey Ink Moments Inked planner and love it. They have these great little banner stamps and a die you can cut them out of sticker paper or card stock and it is so colorful on its own.

  59. #64

    I’ve used a Filofax for something like 25 years now! (When I started out, I used Filofax inserts in a Dayrunner binder, because the Dayrunner was cheaper…!) Nothing fancy — no stickers, no stamps, no washi tape — but I do use different coloured pens to note different things (black for bills to be paid, red for birthdays & anniversaries, purple for notes about the weather, etc.), and I make notes about what happened during the day, so it’s also a bit of a journal/diary. I used the week on two pages calendar insert and have sections for notes/lists, business cards for various service providers I use, and addresses book.

  60. #65

    I’ve been so enamoured by the whole planner craze and have been VERY tempted to give it a try. The problem for me is that I rely heavily on the “Repeat” function in Google Calendar. Repeat daily, weekly, monthly, bi weekly, M & W every 2nd week, every 3rd Tues., etc. I just can’t imagine managing those events by hand in a paper planner. And, of course, I’m much calmer knowing that my calendar is on hand and current at all times in my phone. I envy people who are able to maitain those chunky, colorful, doodle-covered planners, but I’m just not wired for those. My entire family would fall apart after a month of paper planning, LOL! That being said, I’m really enjoying planning and tracking my health and fitness for your FIT class and the Simple Stories approach gives me the “paper fix” I’m missing in my digital calendar.

  61. #67

    Holy wow that is a LOT of comments. I’m just going to pipe in to say that I really wish planners cane in smaller chunks (quarterly editions would rock). I use the GTWB and it it’s the first system that has come close to working for me, but the goal setting and project pages haven’t resonated for me. Plus, the size is too big for me to carry it everywhere. I rely heavily on iCal, Notes, and Reminders for tracking personal appointments and obligations, and it’s the easiest method for coordinating grocery lists and house plans with my husband. We have enough trouble staying on the same page. Having a non-shared calendar would be a disaster!

  62. #68

    I have a Happy Planner that I use to make daily to do lists. At the end of the month I print out my everyday moment photos and make layouts on the weekly pages. I can make it as elaborate or as quick and simple as I’d like. And because it’s a disc planner I have a punch to add cards or other memorabilia. My little version of PL 🙂

  63. #69

    I have a Happy Planner and use it for my daily to do lists. At the end of the month I print out my everyday moment photos and make layouts on the weekly pages. I like that I can make it as elaborate or as quick and simple as I like. And knowing there are many months ahead takes away some of the pressure to create the perfect layout. I also love that it’s a disc planner so I can use a punch to add cards or memorabilia. My little version of PL 🙂

  64. #70
    Kathy Meredith

    I was a Franklin Covey planner gal. Our work paid for us to go to a class, and the journey began! It is fun to go back and look at some of my journal pages. I did Heidi Swapp “capture 30” last year, and got the 365 planner for this year. I love all the planner products!

  65. #71

    Your post gave me a good chuckle. I am a Day Designer girl. I tend to make a lot of checklists when planning and love the Day Designer layout. Then, for the sake of being able to keep track of ideas and notes while mobile, I use Trello for all my blogging plans. I don’t “decorate” or embellish much, so simple and plain works for me!

  66. #72

    I am totally a paper planner, I cannot function with electronic calendars. I started with the little pocket size free calendars that Were given out at the Hallmark store I worked at in high school, then I moved on to Franklin Covey planners when I was in college & needed more space for my assignments,then when I was pregnant with my first son I switched to spiral bound because they were still the larger size of my Franklin Covey without the bulk of the binder at the time I used time.mine which I could pick up at borders, about 4 years ago I found the Erin Condren Life Planner & it works perfectly for me to keep track of my lists my husband’s work schedule and the schedules and appointments for us and our 5 boys (all color coded). I have my system of color coding and with each addition to our family I just found a new color to add to my system…any excuse for more pretty pens

  67. #73

    I work in technology, so I caved to peer pressure and gave up my paper planner about 15 years ago. In December, I realized that if I don’t begin focusing on my personal goals, I am going to blink and have another year pass without accomplishing more than everyday tasks. So I threw my reputation to the wind and purchased the Commit 30 planner for 2016 and it has already helped me focus and achieve. I love it – I just wish it were a bit larger (I don’t have tiny handwriting).

    I live by my Outlook calendar at work, so a planner with “times” wouldn’t work for me. I am using the three sections for
    “To Do” type tasks (schedule Dr. appointments, make valentines for school, etc.),
    “Goal” tasks (set up network coffee, write chapter 3 of book, write blog post, etc.), and
    “Appointments” (for the family).

    It is working wonderfully and I already feel like I have accomplished more that I did all last year. I purchased the L2E planner stamps and have used them to label holidays and birthdays – and I love the water glasses so I can color in my water intake (another personal goal) each day.

    Enjoy your journey!

  68. #74

    I’ve always had a paper planner as it’s how I kept my life together. About 5 years ago, after I got my first iPhone, I left the paper planner and everything was digital for me. It worked really well until I started going to school. This is when I knew I needed to see my entire life at a weekly glance. Between work, school, family, etc I couldn’t rely on my my phone anymore. This is when I grabbed a monthly calendar and it worked for a bit. I then was introduced to Erin Condren planners and it’s like I was in high school all over again. I’m a type A personality and need to have everything laid out and know exactly what’s coming up next. It also allows me to be creative since scrapbooking has taken a back seat. I have fallen in love with InkWell Press planners and next year will be using this. IT allows me to make monthly goals and really focus on them.

  69. #75
    Mary Kay

    Planning *is* what scrapbooking was 15 years ago, and I can tell you why you weren’t aware of it. The community of rabid–er, very enthusiastic– plannerphiles is mostly new to paper crafts. Many of them are younger than your average scrapbooker (often college age, as you were) and they have no interest in what we think of as memory keeping. They don’t read your blog (or any paper crafts blog) and they don’t think of themselves as crafters for the most part. They are *planners.*

    They are also potentially the salvation of the paper crafts industry. I told any vendor who’d listen at CHA that if they weren’t targeting the planner market, they were missing the boat, and I believe that with all my heart. Some listened and some didn’t, and as a result I could predict for you which companies will still be around in two or three years. It’s that big.

  70. #76

    Always kept a planner, but started to really use iCal. Still do. But you can’t really write daily to do lists and other lists in there. Tried using Notes, but I just didn’t like it. So I just started carrying around those student notebooks with the black/white covers. Can’t remember what they are called. Now planners have come back and I think of the hundreds of full little notebooks I have thrown away when they were full. Who knew?

    This year I got the large Lilly Pulitzer planner, because I am pretentious like that. It has section where I can add packing lists for all of those resort vacations I will be taking. Ha! Actually I just love Lilly’s luscious watercolor like prints. I’m a sucker for them. Those and Liberty of London. I have several notebooks with those historic, tiny little flower prints. But I digress.

    The Lilly Planner is good but not great. It is spiral bound so you can’t add anything. It comes with stickers like little umbrella drinks, and little wine glasses, and little citrus fruits. Also, I have much longer to-do lists and goals than a real Lilly girl. Hers probably says “have assistant buy fresh limes for margaritas. Buy more of that great sun screen. Get a spray tan.” and “Goals-lose 5 lbs so I can go from a size 0 to 00.” So maybe next year, I will check out one of these other suggestions. Get thee behind me, Lilly Pulitzer.

    1. #76.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I agree about the iCal. I LOVE the idea of having my calendar in digital form, but honestly? The design of iCal both on the phone and the computer is seriously lacking. 🙂 I’ll have to check out Lilly Pulitzer. Never heard of it!

      1. #76.1.1

        Minnesota… I forgot. Lilly Pulitzer is a somewhat high end brand that promotes the Palm Beach lifestyle. Southern society ladies and sororities LOVE Lilly. Story goes that Lilly sold citrus juices in the 50s in Palm Beach. She was always getting juice stains on her dresses so she came up with prints to that hid the stains. They are bright, bold and colorful. When I wear anything Lilly in NYC, I stand out like a tropical flower in a sea of black. I bet the same would be true in Minnesota!
        PS I only have a few Lilly things because there is a store close to my house and I’ll go in to check the sale rack. Also, there is a huge sale in August and everything is cheap! It is so big that it always crashes the site at least the first couple of days. I have never bought anything at full price!

  71. #77
    Libby W

    I am using a Staples Arc system with Simple Scrapper inserts, picking and choosing what suits me – month on two pages for planning appointments & events & any reminders, then the month’s memory log for recording craft victories and what really happened. This is on my desk, no decorations but pages for notes, ideas, sketches… I also have a Happy Planner in the craft room with lots of bits for decorating; this is to be more scrapbook-like and include small photos, but I need to actually print the photos, and be a small record of the year. Keeping up is what I find a challenge.

  72. #78
    Jane Booth

    I too was a die hard Daytimer many years ago and it had my whole life in it! Then along came kids…4 before I said enough is enough! ? I tried to keep up the way I was accustomed to planning but it wasn’t working and slowly went by the wayside …I tried other systems before finally succumbing to a big family calendar ro keep up with my large brood…and jotting notes to myself on random pieces of paper that we’re getting scattered so that wasn’t working…just happened to fall down the whole Traveler’s notebook rabbit hole quite by mistake and am excited again about keeping important things together in a unique way that works for me now that my kids are older. These little gems have quite stolen my heart! They can truly be whatever you need them to be!

    Love love love everything about them! There are entire Facebook groups that share the way they are using them. There are no right or wrong was to use them. They perfectly suit my current needs and make me happy in the process! ?

  73. #79
    Jane Booth

    I too was a die hard Daytimer many years ago and it had my whole life in it! Then along came kids…4 before I said enough is enough! ? I tried to keep up the way I was accustomed to planning but it wasn’t working and slowly went by the wayside …I tried other systems before finally succumbing to a big family calendar ro keep up with my large brood…and jotting notes to myself on random pieces of paper that we’re getting scattered so that wasn’t working…just happened to fall down the whole Traveler’s notebook rabbit hole quite by mistake and am excited again about keeping important things together in a unique way that works for me now that my kids are older. These little gems have quite stolen my heart! They can truly be whatever you need them to be!

    Love love love everything about them! There are entire Facebook groups that share the way they are using them. There are no right or wrong was to use them. They perfectly suit my current needs and make me happy in the process! ?

  74. #80

    Another bullet journal here! I can change it to fit whatever I need at any given point. I actually have 2 now, one for work (I’m a teacher and I put A LOT in it that I don’t want in my personal planner/journal) and one for myself (which is more of a journal than a planner). I change it regularly because my needs change based on the time of year! Check out

  75. #81

    Loved my planners until the third time left it on the roof of my car and drove off without it. Seriously. Then I used those pretty book calendar/planners as both a diary and a planner, and they have come in handy to go back and look up my history. (Big mistake was throwing out some because of the hurtful event at the time.) Now it looks like it’s time to use that system again, for me is much handier than turning on my laptop and trying to find the right folder. Enjoyed all the comments for new ideas!

  76. #82

    Hi Cathy, I just wanted to say thanks for bringing this up. I’ve been a GTD-er and using digital for the past few years and honestly was just not cutting it for me. I feel like I am dropping the ball too often and that I have way more on my lists than I can ever get done, so I haven’t been able to break the post-its habit and my brain is not serene and empty the way GTD has the potential to make it. Thanks to your post I started looking into planners and set up a Bullet Journal. I just needed another way to keep track of things besides digital. After just a couple of hours of reading and setting up and filling in the planner, I feel so much better. It’s that moment when you didn’t know what you needed and suddenly you have it and the future stretches out looking peaceful and productive. 😉 So I wanted to come back and say thanks. That’s it! 🙂

    1. #82.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Fun! I do like the bullet journal concept. Turns out, my own college aged girl uses that approach and I had no idea. She showed me her journal when she was home on a break. 🙂

  77. #83

    I was a Franklin (pre-Covey merger) girl for many, many years and adored that system. As life settled a bit being a SAHM, I found little use for all those daily pages, so I mostly lived off a wall calendar. Then life got busier and I went back to the Franklin for a bit. Since then, I’ve used a basic weekly school planner, created my own versions in Moleskines and my own printables and a pseudo-Bullet Journal. Thought I really wanted a Day Designer early last year, but missed the deadlines, and ended up with a Midori Traveler’s Notebook. Well, after I made my own Passport sized little Midori, thinking I was saving money. Ha! Loved the Midori, but then wanted a daily planner again, so I got a Day Designer at Target (a bit different than their flagship, but it worked okay). Decided a daily wasn’t working as well as weekly, so I hung in there until Inkwell Press released their 2016 planners and I have that one now. There’s a choice of the vertical days or horizontal. It has a lot going for it. It lives on my desk most of the time. I love that it has a page for goals in the beginning, but then one for each month, so you can break them down. It has plenty of pages in the back for other projects/stuff/whatever. It has a good note page with each month. A couple pockets in the back. An elastic to hold it closed. It’s really quite wonderful. Although sometimes I think I may go back to my Midori Traveler’s Notebook. I like the components and being able to take it along a little easier with me. But I’m also fickle, so who knows? I will likely either stick with the Inkwell Press or go back to the MTN next year. Both offer some structure with plenty of flexibility, which works well for me. 🙂

  78. #84
    Kari Bharucha

    OK so I saw this post awhile ago, and was super excited. I was thinking about moving to paperand this post was one after my own heart. I love your simple style so I knew it would speak to me. I’m gonna check out the stuff you designed. Well I kept that blog entry as an open page in Safari on my iphone for ages (many months) so I would not forget about it. I just now finally got around to reading it. Love it!! I have since looked around (a bit – but trying not to get too distracted by all the lovely stuff out there) at all the scrapbooking related journaling/planner/calendar stuff out there. You are so right on, holy cow! So exciting. And dangerous for those with scrapbooking afflictions.

    Here is how I got to the point I am today in this whole planner process and the “new” thing I found that has me finally thinking I have found my solution.

    I used to use a Franklin planner. This was BEFORE they were known as Franklin Covey. I was introduced to that system by my aunt when it was a new thing she started using in her job as a director of the buyers for a large company. I loved it! it was like a mini-scrapbook too. On occasion I’d read back through things and it was great to reminisce. For at least the past year I have been feeling that I need to get back to paper. I even considered going with the Franklin-Covey system and went looking for my old binder. It was a nice size, a color I still like and I figured I might as well go back to something that worked well for me in the past. I was looking forward to reading through the last one I used. I think I last used it while in nursing school something like 15 years ago. Though I’m not very certain of that. I was pretty sure it made the move to MN with me soon after graduating from nursing school. Alas I could not find it. So I continued on my quest. A binder and a planner together can get pretty pricey so I was not willing to jump into my original plan with an all new system. Though I loved my old system it was pretty bulky even though it was a smaller sized version. And the reality is as a mostly SAHM most days I don’t have the need for a full page, or maybe it was even two in that system, for each day. Also the system is lacking a weekly overview which appeals to me.

    After going to what was then called a PDA, fairly early on and making everything digital, I now feel the digital realm is not working so well for me. Part of the difference for me, I think, is that since PDA’s have been replaced by smartphones, fablets, etc…AND we have no LAN line, I now find I am on the phone trying to schedule something and though it can be done it does not work well for me. I find it SOOO annoying. Also I find I can get my thoughts our more easily on paper and so I still prefer to have journals, notebooks, etc…around. I have tons of them around, some for certain things, some not. This makes finding things hard sometimes when I forget which one I used when on the phone getting quotes for 10 cubic yards of woodchips. At the time my choice seemed logical, and like something I would not forget, but it was also at least partially driven by which journal or notebook was most easily accessible. I have been thinking about the transition back to paper a LOT. I have browsed planners at Barnes & Noble, online at Amazon, at scrapbooking related sites and blogs, all over the place.

    Well I don’t have the time to read ALL the comments above, though I really want to, and may even leave the tab open on my iphone for awhile to remind me to read though it all eventually. But along the way I found the Bullet Journal. It was so simple but I was intrigued. It seemed like something I should look into more but it didn’t quite strike a chord with me making me think Eureka! And the Bullet Journal itself is not cheap. I like the composition journal type layout and that the background marks are very faint but it isn’t quite what feels like it fits best for me. Close but not quite. He mentions of course that the technique can be used in any notebook or journal but I didn’t have anything that spoke to me. Again I kept a page open in my Safari browser as a reminder. Then I found the Bullet Journal movement. Blog posts, YouTube, Vimeo other videos, all sorts of ideas. OMG, I am in love! One of my favorites so far is Carrie Crista. I love her Beginner’s Guide to Journaling videos. I just found them this morning and I have already watched several. I feel like is the perfect way to incorporate artsy & scrapbooking stuff if I want (& have time) and leave it out when I don’t. It is a way for me to keep everything together and organized but yet allows total freedom for you to customize it to your mood, your quirks, and your priorities. And because it is essentially a blank book it allows you to change things up as needed. If priorities and your schedule change dramatically then change your journal to match vs. trying to find the perfect solution to fit your new priorities. Plus you can get a book as big or small as you like. You can have monthly pages, weekly pages, daily pages or all of the above. . The weekly page can be on 1 page or 2 or even more I suppose if you have a small book or a super busy schedule. The month can be set-up in list format (as the orginator of Bullet Journal intended) or as a more typical calendar layout. It is up to you. Oh the freedom.

    So to give credit where it is due I will link to original Bullet Journal. They have an awesome blog filled with ideas too. It was “invented” by a guy named Ryder. I love many of his concepts and how he intended the journal to be used. Like the use of an Index, use of simple list (typically bulleted) which he calls logs, and collections he uses to gather related information. I really like how he set up his 6 month overview in what he calls the Future Log. And his way of tracking months and days in very simplified logs. I don’t know if his exact method will work well for me but the concepts are great.

  79. #85
    Kari Bharucha

    Oh and the Bullet Journal is awesome because people have ideas for using them in all sorts of cheap or inexpensive notebooks. And all you really need to get started is a notebook and a pen. So I will give a quick shout out in this abbreviated post.

    This blog post is awesome! Love the dry humor. Sounds like something Cathy would appreciate too.

    And I love this girls artsy style and customization: Carrie Crista

  80. #86
    Kari Bharucha

    OK, so I tried to post a brief recap with a few links but the one for the video ended up as a huge preview screen, not what I had intended at all. Ooops!

    Anyway, I recently found and have fallen in love with the idea of a new(ish) trend bullet journaling. I really think it is going to be my solution for getting back to using paper for organizing my life. I love that I can incorporate gratitude journal entries into my daily log if I so choose. I think Cathy’s current stamp sets would be awesome for setting up a bullet journal. I’m sure I could incorporate all sorts of crafty things if I so chose though I suppose that sort of turns it into something else all together. I guess I’d say I feel like I’m most likely to create and use a hybrid version of the bullet journal concept. I was day dreaming and thought of a perfect idea for me: inserting some pages from my mini coloring book sporadically into the bullet journal. I have a smallish bag that currently holds that small coloring book and colored pencils. I think I could feasibly find a small enough journal that it and coloring supplies could fit in it instead of the coloring book.

    Bullet journaling is a productivity and planning tool created by Ryder Carroll, a NY-based digital product designer. Here is the site for the original product.

    I thought this blog post is especially brilliant.

    And I loved Carrie Crista’s Guide to Bullet Journal videos. Granted they are the only ones I have watched so far. I love the South also though so I find her twang comforting too I think.

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