I promised you an update on my planner situation, and - since I've been using my new DIY planner/journal system for over a month - the time for that update is now.
I'm using an A5 unlined Rhodia Webnotebook as my planner/journal. I'm comfortable with the A5 page size (it's not too large, not too small) and it's roughly the same size as the binder of my old DIY planner. Unlined is not ideal (for this, I would prefer dot grid or graph), but I chose this notebook partly because I've been using it as a journal since 2010 (an embarrassingly long time), and I want to fill it up. I'll live with the unlined pages for now, and I have a dot grid Rhodia Webnotebook (also already partially filled) that I'll use when this one is full. The great thing about this system is that you don't need to go out and buy a brand new notebook for it; you can just use any old notebook that you have around.
|Each month starts with my monthly task list (just a summary, for future reference; my detailed monthly to-do list lives on my computer).|
Ryder Carroll (creator of the Bullet Journal) starts his month with a calendar page and a task page. I start with just a task page (see above). I need to see all of the months together rather than just one at a time. Because I had already filled out the first 6 months of 2014 in my old DIY planner, for now I'm just keeping those loose pages in the back of my Webnotebook. It's a bit awkward, but I didn't want to bother copying out all those months again. In the future, I think I'll dedicate the first several pages of my notebook to an entire yearly calendar. (And I'll draw proper calendars with boxes rather than just listing the days; the dot grid format will help with this.)
In 2014, I've also switched to planning by the week rather than by the day. I've pared down my planning system enough so that all I need on a daily basis is my weekly to-do list. Instead of starting my page with a daily entry, I start with an entry for the entire week. I also use this space to track habits (such as exercise, meditation, and clearing off my desk at the end of every day) and note significant events (with a sentence or two and the date). If you're following along with the Bullet Journal system, I use Task and Event bullets. I also use stars to mark especially important tasks (usually ones from the previous week that I didn't do) and arrows to indicate when a task has been migrated over to the next week (or month, in the case of my monthly task list). So far, I have been able to fit two weeks on a page.
I also use this notebook as a journal. I begin each entry with the day's date and a title, and fit the entries in around my planning pages. Journal entries typically take up more space than weekly planning entries, so they usually occupy more pages in a month. In January, I used three pages for planning (one page for my monthly task list, and two pages for weekly entries) and four pages for journaling - only seven pages for the entire month.
|I've been using this Rhodia Webnotebook for a while, but I think now that I'll be able to fill it before the year is done.|
I mentioned in my earlier post that I was also considering the possibility of using this planner/journal as a sketchbook. I was thinking that the combination of planning and journaling would leave odd empty spaces on the pages into which I could squeeze small sketches. It wouldn't be my main sketchbook, but a companion to it. Well, I guess I simply use space too efficiently, because I haven't encountered any odd empty spaces in my notebook, and so no sketches have appeared in it yet. But I also haven't been doing very much sketching lately anyway, so maybe as I sketch more (and hopefully that will happen one day!), I'll find a way to make a journal/planner/sketchbook work.
I'm happy with how my 2014 DIY planner / Bullet Journal has worked out. I love how simple and minimal this system is, and how my planner and my journal now live inside the same notebook. I feel that this system has helped me to spend less time planning and more time actually doing. I've also been writing more journal entries, because now my journal is sitting open on my desk beside me all day, rather than being stuffed away on a shelf.
This system is probably not for everyone. If you have lots of appointments or things that need to happen at specific times on specific days, you might be better off with a more structured planner/calendar format. That would also be the case if you like to have lots of distinct sections and enjoy adding, removing, and rearranging different inserts.
As you can see from my descriptions, I haven't followed the exact same Bullet Journal system that Ryder Carroll created. I've modified things to suit the way I plan. That, I think, is the best part about this system: it is so easily modified. It's still likely not the perfect planner system, but it's what works for me right now.
What system (if any) are you using for your planner this year?