Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Organising in the New Year

I definitely don't like to get too sucked into the "New Year, New You" mentality. I don't think it's particularly healthy to feel like you can only change or do things differently once a new year starts - or that you have to. If you want to create change in your life you can do it any time - do it right now if it's something you want to do. No time like the present and all that. I also don't like the inevitable guilt a lot of people put themselves through when they don't achieve their often unrealistic goals (or maybe the goals aren't unrealistic but there are too many of them at once).

But I still can't help feeling some sense that it's a good time for regrouping, refocusing and reevaluating when I open the fresh blank pages of the new year's diary. I'm a huge stationery addict so I am always excited to start a new diary and calendar each year.

I am really picky when it comes to diaries, planners and calendars. I actually tend to spend a lot of time going from stationery store to stationery store every January wishing I'd chosen one sooner and spending a ridiculous amount of time comparing and umming and ahhing about which one to get. You're stuck with it for a whole year, right!? It's an important investment and the success of your organisation and planning for the year all hinges on which planner you choose! Ok, maybe not exactly, but I still search for the nearest to perfect planner and calendar that I can find.

This year was no exception. I should have found one sooner, maybe online. I was actually prepared to spend a bit of money on a nice planner this year, but as I went around the stationery stores and department stores I really struggled to find even an expensive planner that suited me. I actually ended up with a $10 Molli & Mimi one from Target because it was the closest thing I could find to ticking all my boxes.

Here is what I look for in a planner:

+ It has to be a week to an opening. I want to see my week laid out in front of me so I know what I'm doing at a glance and can plan easily. I don't need to write down a million appointments a day at this point in my life, so I don't need a whole page to write an essay about my day.
+ It has to be able to lay flat. Who wants a planner that just flops closed when you're trying to... well, plan?
+ It has to be stylish. I have to love the look of it - inside and out. I am sick of planners with beautiful covers and horrible pages with ugly font and some hideous brown-green header on every page. WHY.
+ It has to have a monthly view as well - preferably at the start of each month. So  I can my head around the month, ya know.
+ I like lined pages - and the lines can't be really far apart. This is where I get really picky about the layout of the actual pages. I write tiny and I like to fit a lot into a small space. To keep that tiny writing neat, I like small thin lines.
+ Simple, minimalist layout. I don't like too much going on on the page before I even start writing. That way I can just have information relevant to me on each page. And it looks beautiful.
+ I prefer Saturday and Sunday to be the same size as the other days of the week. I have just as many weekend plans as weekday plans, if not more.

Mostly I like a simple stylish and slightly clever diary layout. Something that is actually designed to be used easily and efficiently, to make organising fun. I always think, "will I get sick of this design quickly?"

This is the monthly view in my planner. They actually put all the months together at the front instead of at the start of each month throughout the year, so I'll see how this works out for me this year.

The week to an opening layout is really simple and clean, there isn't too much going on, it's simple grey instead of some horrible green, and the font is modern. Unfortunately Saturday and Sunday are shrunk down to fit, but I dealt with that last year so I don't mind too much.

As for calendars I couldn't find a single one in stores that I liked. Again, I just wanted something really simple. Almost like a monthly desk pad planner, but for the wall. I didn't want a big picture at the top of each month and all that - I'd prefer more room to actually write. I ended up downloading a printable calendar which matches the dot theme of the diary (unintentionally), but in a nice green. It doesn't have a huge amount of space to write but at least it's minimal and simple.

This is how I am using my planner so far this year:
+ I'm planning all my things ahead on the lefthand side of each day.
+ I'm using different coloured highlighters to categorise my activities. For example each day I have work, I highlight "work 6am to 3pm" or whatever my hours are, in orange highlighter. I highlight my workouts and health related things in green, in the hope I can better track my progress.
+ I'm using the right hand side of each day to write a short summary of what actually happened that day after the day's over. I don't do this every day, but I like to have a little reminder of what I've been doing. And it's good to keep track of what my plans were, and what I actually got done. It's good to be flexible, don't you think? For example I planned to get a lot of things done one day last week, but my bestie was free so we decided to go on a beach and shopping trip down the coast! There was no way I was going to stick to my to-do list and miss out on Zara and the beach on a 36°C summers day. 
Last year I used different coloured pens for things I had planned ahead in my planner, and past tense reflection of the days in the same diary. I also kept them to separate sides of the page like I am doing this year.

What do you look for in a planner and calendar?
How do you organise your planner or diary?

Hope everyone is having a great year so far!

Nina xo


  1. Our planner wants and needs are so similar! I'm all about color-coding and highlighting. I spent ages at the beginning of last year looking for a planner with a month spread followed by weekly spreads, as you described. Moleskin planners are my favorite, but they aren't perfectly aligned to what I want.

    Also, I love your idea to summarize each day - what a great way to keep a mini diary of sorts!

    1. Hi Ellen!
      Ah, I knew there were people out there like me ;) I haven't tried a Moleskin one before, but they are pretty! I find a little summary of the day makes me remember the things I've done, and makes it easier to compare what I planned to do, and what I actually did, to see if I'm on track with things.