Yesterday I talked about my planning essentials and the tools I always use. Today, I’ll talk about other planners and products that I use or have tried.
Some people search for that one planner that has everything they need. I actually look for the opposite. I like having separate planners for separate things (e.g., one for my day job, one for my personal and author life, etc.). There are other planners I use, which could also work for you if you’re looking to ‘frankenplan’ and create one planner for everything. These are the Happy Planner, and Ring-Bound Planners and Traveler’s Notebooks.
The Happy Planner®
Another planner I use is the self-care Happy Planner® (available via their website, Amazon, or craft stores like Michaels). I don’t like all of the prompts on each day or week, but this is a ‘big’ size Happy Planner®, which means it has plenty of space for me to journal and track the self-care I’m trying to do. These planners are also very affordable (especially if you use a coupon and/or sale at Michaels or JoAnns), and they’re 18-months which means they’re great for pre-planning.
The Happy Planner® comes in three sizes – the mini, classic, and big. They also have memory keeping planners, too. They are a disc-bound planner (instead of rings like the Get to Work Book, for example, it uses those discs). The pages actually lift out easily, so you can remove each week to plan or journal, then clip them back in. This is why this planner is good for ‘frakenplanning’ – where you combine different elements to make the planner you love. You can remove/replace sections (e.g., adding a section on fitness or for notes, etc). I have metal extender rings on mine, to allow for extra space that stickers, washi, and photos will take up (I’m journaling with photos from an HP Sprocket; these photos fit nearly perfectly in the big Happy Planner® boxes). The covers are also changeable, and I’ve ordered some for this planner from Stylish Planners (her site is available here and on Etsy) but they haven’t come in yet.
I’m actually using 6-months of big Happy Planner® pages as vision boards. I created a separate ‘planner’, covered up the dates, and have started filling it in. I use each month and the corresponding weekly pages as visions of things I’d like to do. They’re not completely filled and that was on purpose; I want to leave room to add more motivation or ideas as time goes along. If you’re interested in seeing what this looks like, let me know in the comments and I’ll share in a future post.
Ring-Bound Planners and Traveler’s Notebooks
For the rest of the year, I’m actually trying out an A5-size Get to Work Book (GTWB) in a ring-bound planner (I’m using a Webster’s Pages one, also available at JoAnns). There are lots of different sizes in ring-bound (here’s one guide for reference). Like the Happy Planner®, you can easily shift the pages around into an order that works for you. Though my planner cover came with undated inserts, I pulled those out (except for the bookmark and a few dividers) and put my GTWB inserts in there instead. You can find inserts in all kinds of places: other companies like GTWB, Michaels, JoAnn’s, Staples, Target, and even Etsy.
Traveler’s Notebooks (TNs) work in a similar way for customizing, and they’re not just geared towards travelers (here’s a TN size guide for reference). These are the best way to frankenplan, because you can customize everything you need, and it doesn’t have to be very expensive. Basically, with these notebooks, you’re buying inserts for different things. In my yellow TN I track daily financials, so I have inserts for checklists, notes, financial tracking, and a monthly-only calendar. In my larger slate-gray Wide-size (which I use when I have day job meetings off-site), I have some simple inserts and a Leuchtturm 1917. I have other TNs, too (a lot more, actually), including the royal purple one (I just got that one and haven’t set it up yet).
Supplies and What I Buy
There are lots of different things you can do for decoration and set up for both ring planners and TNs. If you’re thinking about getting either, and aren’t sure what size to get, try buying just an insert in that size first. If you’d like a printed insert mailed to you, try buying one from the 1407 planners. They also have really affordable vinyl TN covers in various sizes if you wanted to try a cover, too. If you want to buy a printable insert (one you buy and cut down to the appropriate size yourself; the inserts have guiding marks on them so you know where to cut), there are two shops I usually buy inserts from: Jesenia’s printables and Annie Plans Printables.
If you’re ready to invest in a non-vinyl cover, there are several companies out there that produce vegan leather covers (these are the ones I have, from PrintPressions), leather covers (like Foxy Fix and North Branch leather), and even cloth covers (I’ve seen several on Etsy).
You can decorate your TNs (and even ring-bound notebooks) by adding vellum, acetate, dashboards and lots of other fun stuff. If you want to see what a setup of one looks like, you can check one from Jesenia who owns the printables shop I mentioned above (aka the Planner Sophisticate) on YouTube (here’s her recent B6 size setup and an A6 size setup).
You don’t need to do any fancy setup though. Just putting inserts in a TN is more than enough. Planning is a personal process. Don’t let anyone tell you how you need to plan. Plan in a way that works for you (and your budget).
In addition to the supplies I mentioned yesterday, other supplies I use are stickers and washi tape. I like motivational stickers in my weekly spreads. You can get a lot for a little through Happy Planner® sticker books (especially if you use a coupon at Michaels for them). There are also a lot of independent sellers with their own stores (either on their own sites or on Etsy). I also like little character stickers in my planners to track how I’m feeling each day. My favorite are munchkins from Once More with Love, but lots of people sell their own versions.
For those wondering about stickers that fit in the GTWB or the Passion Planner I mentioned in my last post, here are some options. The regular GTWB is pretty close size-wise to an Erin Condren planner (more on those below), so most stickers that work for that will work for the GTWB. If you’re looking for checklist stickers, however, I recommend these from PlannerKate’s shop (which work nearly perfectly in a GTWB). For the Passion Planner, here are a couple shops that sell stickers for that: Chelsea Brown Designs and Moore Avenue. The latter also sells Happy Planner® stickers, though most Erin Condren stickers will fit in a classic-sized Happy Planner®. In my A5 GTWB, I’m also using these mini Carpe Diem stickers and various other small sticker sheets. I’m storing them in a simple photo album that also fits in that planner.
For washi, I go to a few different sites. I mentioned yesterday that I like to use washi to break up my to-do lists, but I do also use it to decorate. My favorite washi is from Simply Gilded (especially her new 5mm washi, which is really thin and fits perfectly in my A5 planner), but I also buy solid color washi from Amazon or Michaels for color-coding my monthly calendars (here’s a really thin version on Amazon, too). For more affordable options, you can find decorative and solid color washi at Michaels or other craft stores, and I’ve even seen it at Target and Staples recently, too.
Products that Didn’t Work for Me (But Might Work for You)!
Erin Condren. I tried their hardbound planner for my day job which seemed to work okay, but the Passion Planner gives me more space to write tasks and a lot more note pages, so I like using that instead right now. I will say that I have had bad experiences with them: their Monthly notebook fell apart in just a few weeks (they don’t sell it anymore), nearly every time I’ve ordered from them something has been missing, and their customer service also leaves something to be desired – BUT I’ve heard of lots of other people who are very happy with their products, so you might like it, too! You can even find some of their products locally at Staples. If you want to try one out, find a referral code for $10 off (lots of planner YouTubers will have the code in the description of their videos).
Commit30. Their planner setup is similar to others and I liked the paper and size, but it just didn’t click for me (even though I love their purple cover and I love their quote pages). Something I absolutely LOVE though is the free downloads they offer. My favorites: the More & Less (I draft this at the beginning of the year and keep it in my planner to remind me of things/actions I want to focus on, and bad habits I’d like to break), and their weekly spread pages (one version here and another version here). In January, I used the “My Vision” pages to draft my goals in each area for the year, and I used the “Monthly Goals Overview” to chart out goals for the coming years (so each circle was a different year) to help me stay on top of life-long goals (like paying down debts, or big trips, things like that). I keep these in my GTWB, too, to remind me of long-term goals.
What planners or products to do you use? Comment on this post and let me know (if you’re receiving the blog by email, just click “Read More” to navigate to the blog page to comment).
This is Post 91 of 100 as part of the #100DaysofMKAuthorLife.
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