Plan with me!

Hello, people! Today I’m going to be showing you my diary! Or my planner, or my journal or my… whatever you prefer to call it.

I’ve been keeping a diary since 2011. It’s always been the Moleskine Weekly Notebook, usually in hardback red, occasionally in softback black and always in Large except one occasion when I accidentally bought a Pocket one. But this year I decided to deviate from that. I wanted to DIY one and despite having used a more-or-less A5 one for the last six years, I went for A6 and I chose a Paperchase Agenzio Pixel small grid notebook. It’s really cute and really distinctive!

plan1

This is what it looks like – I’m so sorry it’s not as much in focus as I thought it was!

It’s hardback, it’s bright and colourful, it has a good strong elastic band around it to keep it closed and the website says it was £8.

The first thing I did was sit and draw out twelve monthly grids at the beginning, each in a different colour. I figured out the height of each grid pretty easily but the width of individual days does vary a bit from month to month. Here’s February:

plan3

The original plan was to leave the space at the top and bottom for writing in but then I accidentally coloured in the top of January so now it’s a habit. At the bottom is a tracker for my real blog, I Am a Polar Bear (a blog about travel, adventures & the frozen north). I post Tuesdays and Saturdays and you can see that every box is coloured in which means that every post is written and scheduled, as it should be since it’s now well into March.

Important things are colour-coded in these layouts. The pink splodges are comedy gigs and they’re my business, so I’ve made them unreadable. The colour code is written in the back of the diary but I’ve been using the same code for six years so I don’t need to check it very often.

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In the back – because I’m skipping to the back to show you the colour code – there’s a pocket and I’ve written my code on it. I will not be using that apple green for my blog next year; it’s just too light to see easily. Work in Serious Black, which makes it easy to pick out. Guides and Rangers in various relevant shades of blue, comedy in pink, travel in orange, doctor in Serious Blue. I keep a couple of paperclips here in case I want them.

I’ve tried bullet journalling and it doesn’t work for me but I suppose I kind of use a hybrid system here. You’ll see the front later but the weekly layouts run out just over halfway through the book, so I use the back for notes and so on and I number the pages backwards. So right at the back there’s an index and then I have a list of useful phone numbers, a page or two of notes and ideas, a list of books to read, I track what I’ve done for my Voyage Award, I have two double page spreads of blog schedules for I Am A Polar Bear, a habit tracker for social media use (which I hardly use; either the tracker or Twitter), a habit tracker for my Norwegian lessons, a few more pages of notes and a page of notes from my Girlguiding District meeting in January. There should be more than enough room there to last me the whole year.

Let’s go back to the front and back to the actual planning.

plan2

Inside the front cover is my name and contact details, written beautifully along curved lines and I’m not going to show you. On the first page of the actual notebook are my 2017 Resolutions and then on the next page, the monthly layouts start, as you saw above.

After the monthly layouts come some things I want to keep track of. I’m only going to show you one of these:

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This is my “Books I Read In 2017” page. Actually, there’s four pages and each page has a lovely rainbow border top and bottom. Number, title, author, date started, date finished. This page is marked with a green flag because it’s something I want to be able to find easily.

After this comes a similar thing for the comedy I’ve seen (two pages, neon border with added black boxes, pink pen; act, show title, venue, date), Other Things To Track (jewel-tone border, green pen; exactly what I write depends on what I’ve seen/done/don’t want to forget), two pages of travel plans which was something I made great use of in my Moleskines and wanted to reproduce here (orange, green and blue border, orange pen; each trip listed with flight details, dates, accommodation etc) and finally a travel log (same border & pen; location, nights, beds, miles travelled, comments). I always used the insert that slots into the back of the Moleskine for tracking things like comedy and books and activity and I like that DIYing means I can put it right at the front.

And now, at last, we’re onto the actual planning!

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This is a reasonably busy week in February and I’ve blurred out anything important.

So, on the left we have a weekly spread, where Saturday and Sunday are weighted equally with the rest of the week because most of us probably do more at the weekend than we do during the week when we’re at work and it doesn’t make sense for those boxes to be half the size of all the others. On the right is a notebook page, on which I can make a to-do list and write down anything else important – all colour-coded, of course. On this page we have a reminder to sort out travel arrangements for Sparkle & Ice (a big winter camp I did with Girlguiding), book my First Response update session, find a hotel for my weekend in London, sort out my accommodation for the Edinburgh Fringe, order some birthday badges for two of my Rangers and phone someone urgently. At the bottom there are the times for the Sparkle & Ice travel – see, I’ve looked it all up but I haven’t ticked the box at the top to say I’ve done it. I’ve also realised I need to do a home contact list. In the middle of all the Girlguiding stuff, I’ve got some notes on a project I’m placeholder-titling Tiny Fictions.

Back in the weekly layout, I’ve coloured in the top in stripes, I appear to have written the days down the side in Norwegian, I’ve noted the days I’m at work in black (blurred out because my workplace is a matter of national security), I’ve got Guides and Ranger stuff, there are blogs there to write, book work to do, a comedy gig blurred out in pink on Saturday and a trip to London in orange at the weekend.

If you look closely, there’s a little notch cut out of the top, on the left hand side. That was a bad idea I had. The notebook is 26 squares wide, so I thought I’d cut a little notch of two squares wide for each month, moving it across every time the month changed so I’d have little tabs to open it up easily. This does not work. They’re too small and I went and cut those notches out of fifty-two pages.

What does work is putting a little pink flag in the beginning of every month and labelling the bit that sticks out with that month’s initial, except that November and December overlap because the notebook is one square too short.

Yes, these pages took forever to do. I hand-drew all fifty-two of them and hand-labelled them in a rotating sequence of pens. And I’ll do it again next year if I can find another squared A6 notebook by about October.

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This is just a blank week to show you what it looks like before I get to work on it and it happens to be the changeover week from July to August.. You can see the August flag and you can see all the other monthly flags a bit better now. You can’t see the notch cut out of the top; it’s right next to the word July. Because this is so far in the future, I haven’t got round to decorating the top of it but I will, hopefully.

So we go on like that until December and then another pink flag at the top marks where the diary pages end and the journalling pages begin – or more accurately, where they also end, since they begin at the back. And you’ve already seen all I’m going to show you of the back.

The one thing I haven’t shown you is that I mark the current week with an adorable blue aeroplane-shaped paperclip which makes it incredibly easy to find today.

And I really think that’s everything I can possibly tell you about my diary/planner/journal. Do you have any questions? I know you have questions, I know the internet loves planning and planners. What pens do I use? You’ll have to ask. Let’s get to know each other. Ask me questions, tell me features you’ve included or features you think I should include.

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