I have gone back and forth between digital calendars and paper planner/agenda options over the years. The pros and cons of each can be discussed ad nauseam and the “best” one all depends on who you ask. Using a digital calendar/planner has a great many advantages and makes a lot of sense. Because the pros of the digital route are more obvious, I have included links to posts from other blogs and websites who have weighed in on the merits of paper planners at the end of the post.
The Gallery Leather Family Planner
I am at my most organised with a paper planner and find them quicker and easier to reference, complete, personalize and edit. There are so many to choose from and I have tried a large variety including options from Kate Spade, Quo Vadis, Moleskin, and Peter Pauper Press. The Gallery Leather Family Planner, which I purchased from indigo.ca (also available at galleryleather.com), is the first planner I’ve bought a second time and plan to buy again next year. I have included pictures of all of the unique pages in the slide show below.
Basic Stats and page details:
- Dimensions: 18 x 23.5 x 1.5 cm (7 3/16 x 9 3/16 x 9/16 inches)
- Soft cover, leather, book bound
- Available in 5 colours (red, violet, yellow [this is the one I have – I would describe it as gold rather than yellow], kiwi, orchid, and black)
- 17 Months (August to December)
- Weekly format with vertical layout
- 208 pages including:
- Emergency Information
- Family Information
- Important Phone Numbers
- Birthdays and Anniversaries
- Calendar for 2017 and 2018
- Each week (Monday to Sunday) is spread over 2 pages facing each other with hourly time slots marked (6 to 6). There is a small To Do list at the end of each day. The top of the page indicates the week number and also includes a view of the month prior and the next 2 months. Holidays and dates of note are listed underneath the date and day of the week.
- Time zone map of the USA
- Area codes (USA, Canada, Select Islands in the Atlantic and Pacific)
- International Dialing codes
- Toll Free Numbers and Websites with space to add your own
- Holidays and Dates of Note for 2017 and 2018 (Canada & USA)
- Notes pages (4)
- Personal Data
- Perforated lists (192) which can easily be removed
- Has a ribbon attached which can be used as a book mark
What I like about the planner:
- The design is simple, clean, and polished.
- The cover is sturdy – my previous one still looked good after a year of use.
- It is book bound so there are no coils to contend with and it is quick and easy to flip through.
- It lies open flat so it is easy to write in.
- The paper is of very good quality, smooth, and feels nice to the touch and to write on.
- The highlighters I use do not bleed through the pages at all.
- I like that it does not contain any quotations or specific trackers (e.g. water, goals, etc.) as I find these very personal and I would rather choose and implement my own. The layout of the planner provides a good framework that offers flexibility of use.
- The size is good for carrying around and offers a practical amount of writing space.
- I like that the To Do section is limited in terms of space as it helps me to prioritise what really needs to get done each day and serves as a reminder to not over-schedule action items, which I can be prone to do.
- The little tear-out lists are really handy and a great feature.
What I would change:
- There is a very limited number of Notes pages (4 in total). I would rather dispense with the pages in red text listed under the page descriptions above, as I do not use them at all, and have additional Notes pages.
- It would be practical to have a pocket at the back or the front of the planner. I stuck an envelope to the back cover to act as a pocket.
How I Use The Planner
I always keep a pencil case (the one pictured is from indigo.ca) along with my planner. Inside are 2 highlighters*, a mechanical pencil*, pencil lead refills, an eraser, an Ultra Fine Point Sharpie, a mini scissors*, and post-its. I only write in the planner in pencil so that I can erase and shift things around as needed without having to scratch it out or use white-out.
I start using the planner in September as that is when the new school/daycare year and the kids’ activities begin. I gather all the schedules and request a list of dates when activities will not be held on their regular days so that I can mark everything in the calendar. I use the planner to capture and track all work, personal, social, and kid-related commitments and I use symbols to differentiate between the different types of activities and appointments:
I tend to view my weeks as Thursday to Thursday so I complete the planner each Thursday evening for the next week. The reason for this is that I do groceries on Friday after work so Thursday night is when I usually make up a grocery list and think about what we’ll be eating the next week. I find this is best built around what we will be doing on the weekend and during the next week.
I write tentative appointments on a small post-it along with the date and time and any pertinent details and stick it on the date that it is planned for. I’ll write it in the planner once confirmed.
I use the To Do section of each day to record only tasks that are not part of my regular evening routine. These are actions I need to do on top of the regular day to day stuff. I keep a running list of these non-routine tasks that need to get done on a larger post-it that can be easily moved to the next week so that I can always keep the items in mind and find a time to designate to get them done. When the day and time to accomplish an action is identified, I’ll write it in the To-Do section of the designated day in the planner. I also use the larger post-its to write details or extra notes.
For the regular day to day stuff, my routine is captured on one page which I keep in the Notes section as a quick reference. It cuts down on the thinking and decision making time as these things need to get done in the same way on the same day pretty much each week. It keeps me on track allows me to prep more efficiently and frees up time to do other things or just relax. You can read more about what I do to prep for the next day by clicking on the image below.
I plan to add in a year view which captures recurring events and tasks like birthdays, anniversaries, annual check-ups, and annual insurance payments etc. that I can use and refer to each year. The more I use my planner, the more valuable a tool it becomes and I keep tweaking and fine tuning it as our needs change.
Are you a paper or digital planner? Why? What do you like about your system? If you have any tips or planner recommendations, please share them in the comments section below.
P.S. A few more interesting reads:
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