The new year will be here before we know it and that means it’s time for yet another attempt at organizing my life. Ever the optimist, I’m convinced that THIS will be the year I get my
sh**, er, ACT together. And what better way to start than with a shiny, brand new planner? I hadn’t really even started to sort through the many options when my daughter and I did our monthly grocery shopping last week. She, on the other hand, had already done her homework and made a decision. I tend to overthink these things but when I realized I could get a planner for half price (about $13) I decided to trust Lisa’s choice and just buy one.
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Over the years I’ve used many planners, calendars and other organizational tools. I can’t say I’ve ever had one that was 100% perfect and I’m not sure that’s even a reasonable goal. And even if I had a perfect system at one time that doesn’t mean it would continue to work as my life has changed and evolved. The system that worked for me as a full-time hospice nurse/case manager wouldn’t have worked during the years I homeschooled my kids. And that system wouldn’t be right for me now as a full-time blogger, business owner and community volunteer.
Would you like to see some of the various planners I’ve used over the years?
Day Runner/Day Timer:
This is what I used as a hospice nurse/case worker. I actually liked this quite well for that stage of my life. It has a zipper so I could put nursing notes in it with no concern of them falling out. There are sections for all sorts of records, a large envelope at the back for receipts, pockets for business cards, address book (this was pre-smart phone days), project lists, etc. The handles made it easy to carry and it has a professional appearance. I bought mine back in the mid-90s but this one looks very similar. My inserts were Day Runner.
I’m going to repurpose this for my community volunteer work. I serve on the boards of Ada Homeless Services and Abba’s Tables (a soup kitchen), as well as our city’s Multiculturalism Committee. I think it will be handy to keep current minutes, agendas and pertinent papers for these organizations all in one notebook instead of maintaining separate binders for each. Every few months I’ll take older papers out and file them.
I wanted to like this one. I’ve bought inserts several different years. But for some reason it just never did anything for me. I think part of it is the size – 5 1/2 x 8 1/2. It’s too big to put in my purse but not big enough for me to be comfortable writing very much in it. One thing I did like was that you could purchase various types of inserts and personalize it to your needs.
The Mom Agenda:
I enjoyed this one at the time I was using it. It’s pretty, a decent size (7 x 9) and my life wasn’t terribly complicated at that point. The Mom Agenda is still available and they now have lots of other types of organizers.
I buy an Anne Taintor wall calendar for my kitchen each year. I really get a kick out of the vintage photos with smart aleck quips. When I saw this little planner I couldn’t resist. It’s small, 3.75 x 6.75, but I figured I could easily carry it in my purse which might make up for it. I did use it 2 or 3 years. The calendar you see in the photo above was a Day Runner refill. If you just need something to jot down appointments and want it small enough to carry in your purse, this isn’t a bad choice. I checked to see if it is still available and it is…if you want to pay over $100 for a used one from 2004. Isn’t that crazy?! They don’t appear to be making planners anymore. If I could really get $100 for mine I’d sell it in a heartbeat. Any takers? 😉
Graphique de France:
I spotted this at our local Hasting’s and as an Audrey Hepburn fan, I couldn’t resist. The pages are 6 1/4 x 8 1/4 (or thereabouts). The cover is pretty sturdy, the monthly layout is clean, there are also weekly pages and notes. The pink elastic band is a nice way to keep your place in it. I don’t recall what I paid for this although I’m guessing it was between $10 and $15. I don’t see a 2016 version available but here is the 2015 on Amazon. It doesn’t have all the features I currently need but for a simple appointment calendar it wasn’t bad.
ARC System by Staples:
I have three of these but I didn’t buy them as planners. You can purchase calendar inserts but mine are basically project notebooks. This was the first one I bought and I use it for our music business, Happyland Music Alliance. I also have one for writing projects and a third I bought specifically for the Blog Elevated Conference I attended in September. I really like these for projects and meetings. The leather covers look classy and professional. With calendar inserts they could certainly make a nice planner, especially if you prefer the 8.5 x 11 page size. Here is the link to these on the Staples website. I would say these are better suited to business rather than home organization, though.
If you are still reading, you are probably wanting to hear about the one I actually bought (for goodness sake!). Well, without further ado:
The Happy Planner:
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
There are several varieties of these but the major difference between them is the cover. Lisa and I bought different ones. I think she’s planning to do a post about hers so watch for that on The Retro Housewife Goes Green. The Happy Planner pages are 7.75 x 9.75. It uses the ARC system like the notebook I showed above this. That makes it very customizable because you can purchase a punch and make your own pages. There are also lots of people making and selling inserts for The Happy Planner, as well as all sorts of accessories. This planner was developed to appeal to scrapbookers and you wouldn’t believe what folks are doing to decorate the pages. There are many YouTube videos on this as well as Facebook groups devoted to Happy Planner users.
I don’t know that I’ll be spending a lot of time covering my planner pages with stickers, washi tape and other decorations. To be honest, if I have free time I’m more likely to color in an adult coloring book, play the piano, read or do a puzzle. But you never know. I might buy a few stickers and become totally captivated by the process of playing with my planner. If I do, I’ll be sure to share photos.
So that’s my new planner. Oh, I almost forgot! Here is the carrying case I just ordered for it:
Now I want to hear from you. What do you use to keep track of your life? A calendar, paper planner, something digital? I’d love to hear what system works for you. Leave me a comment.