2015 DIY Planner Update

Okey smokey dokey! I've made some progress on my 2015 DIY planner. I'll share the set up and process with you in this post with lots of pics and headlines so you can scan the verbiage if you wish. I say that because it's highly likely that I may get a wee bit carried away.

I've included links to all the resources in each section in case you're inspired to go play and explore..

Progress & Process

This is the mess in progress. That's me having a blast surrounded by my favorite toys and my dog, Annie, providing moral support. Look at that precious little doggy face. It says, "Mom won't play with me. I'll just wait right here."

I spent the day walking back and forth between the office and the living room to get this or that and she followed me from room to room all day long.

The Why Before the How & What

Why am I making a DIY planner? Here's the deal. I've studied several time management and productivity systems over the past few years. I'll give you links to those below as I share the pieces and bits I've stolen from them. I've taken multiple systems out for multiple test drives and all of them are fantastic systems. Throughout studying and practicing and playing with them I've learned a lot about how my brain works and what I need and don't need to keep myself on track.

I know I tend to get overly involved in the task or project at hand and I can lose sight of long-term goals easily. I can be blissfully unaware of the weeks, months and years trickling by without taking action on my goals and dreams - especially the goals that live outside my comfort zone. This planner is my first take on a steady-as-she-goes-comfort-zone-master-blaster. It's a personally tailored mash-up of several systems designed to address the shortcomings and strengths of my personality. That's the big why.

The smaller why is ... because it's entertaining for me to play with things like this. I love thinking through and inventing exploring processes. I LOVE systems and, of course, office supplies - tabs, post-its, pens, highlighters, paper ... all of it. I can spend hours in Office Depot or Staples driving the sales people (and my daughter) crazy while I wander up and down every aisle multiple times - and don't even get me started on art supply and craft stores where I can get whisked away to another dimension and lose entire years. Can I hear a "Whoop! Whoop!"

The Planner

Here's the finished product. It turned out fairly slim and still closes easily with the elastic band. This is a Staples Arc System notebook.

You can click on each pic to see it full size.

In the second pic you can see my Extra-large Evernote Journal by Moleskine and the Arc System Paper Punch. If you use a disc system notebook like the Arc or the Circa, I highly recommend investing in the paper punch that goes with the system. It's an investment up front, but in the long run it sets you free to use your own papers which is probably cheaper in the long run than returning to the store over and over again to buy the pre-punched paper. Having your own paper punch allows you to use any kind of paper you like and the possibilities for your notebook become limitless.

Here's the open planner with the journal and my W.I.P tucked into the front pocket. I'll tell you a little bit about how I use the journal with the planner and how both of them interact with Evernote a bit later.

Tab 1: The Calendar and Work Section

I purchased the set of 5 plastic tabbed dividers that go with the Arc System. The calendar/work section goes behind Tab 1. There are three sub-sections here: Capture, Execute, and Lists & Plans. I made small decorative dividers for each of the three sub-sections. The card stock papers used for the sub-section dividers came from my collection of Somerset Studio magazines (they always have freebie artist papers and ephemera tucked between the pages) and the postcard letters you see came as a bonus freebie in another lovely and inspiring magazine called Flow.

I just realized I didn't include a future planning calendar so I'm debating the merits of that as I write this.

Tab 1, Section 1: C for Capture

Capture is an unordered undated list of To Dos, ideas, and questions - anything my brain throws at me that I don't want to lose goes on this list until I find a better place for it to live or until it's deleted or completed. I'm using Bullet Journal notation to identify each item.

Open square = To Do
A dot = Idea, thought, note
Question mark = things to explore, stuff to think about, and items for research

Capture is a mash-up of two systems: the Bullet Journal System and the Autofocus System. The idea is to capture everything without editing. I can bypass the decision making for now and simply get it out of my head and down on the paper so I don't lose it. I can figure out what to do with it later. Also - if I ever run out of things to do on my daily or weekly plan - here's a handy dandy list of suggestions. This is also what GTD refers to as an Inbox.

The law-ruled paper I'm using for this section came from Printable Paper.

Tab 1, Section 2: E for Execute - Tasks and Workflow

Execute begins with a tiny twelve month bar calendar by David Seah. He's an inspiring designer, thinker, inventor, and creator. I can add deadlines to the bar calendar and events by circling the date and drawing a line out to the side. Since I took this pic I added a deadline on November 20 - which will be the delivery date of my itty bitty teeny weeny ebook-let thingy (that's the working title). I need to see deadlines visually and it helps me to see the entire year at a glance. This calendar numbers the weeks so I know exactly where I am, what I'm late with, and what I'm on track with.

Next is the current month using the bullet journal method with the dates and days in list order and notations for events in November. The facing page contains a list of tasks that must be completed in November. When I set up each month, I can add activity goals from the goals section of my planner. I also added a little bit of inspiration from one of my favorite websites, Celebrate What's Right in the World, on the "Mental Note" sticky. 

The celebration of beauty is an invitation to ask your soul every day, ‘mind if I join you?’
— anonymous

Daily pages follow the current month. I'm using undated daily pages created by David Seah called The Emergent Task Planner. There are great notes on David Seah's page about how he uses these pages and why he created them. I chose to use The Emergent Task Planner because it's undated, I can print it on demand, and I don't have to carry around any more than I want/need at any given time - which leaves my planner plenty of space for thinking and dreaming on paper. The Emergent Task Planner was created to help people like me who tend to overestimate how much they can accomplish on a given day and for people like me who lose track of hours when the get rolling on a task. It gives you pretty bubbles you can use to estimate the time you think a task will take and a space to schedule those tasks and mark out the time you need.

Like I said, this is good for me because I tend to plan 10 things a day - when in reality I'm capable of and my time allows for two or three. My hope is that the more I use these, the better I'll get at estimating time needed and planning. It will also keep me from beating up on myself for not accomplishing the impossible amount of tasks I set out to do in one day - and the opposite - it will keep me from giving up and numbing out on FB because I've overwhelmed myself, yet again, with too many tasks. 

Following the daily pages, is the weekly planning page. I have a special caveat on this one: I'm NOT using this page for my schedule. I'm using it so I can plan to take specific actions on my goals every week. I'll set these up on Sunday when I review goals and assess progress, then I'll use the weekly plan to plan my days accordingly. I know I'm writing everything twice - but that's good for me. It helps me create deeper grooves and stronger connections between the synapses in my brain so I stay aware of and focused on long-term goals. I can plan weekly objectives and and daily baby steps. A long time ago I read a book by Henriette Anne Klauser called Write it Down and Make it Happen. I believe the more I read through my written goals and write down and track the tasks and baby steps, the better chance I have of actually accomplishing what I want to accomplish. It's programming. It gives me multiple opportunities to assess, evaluate, affirm and re-focus.

Tab 1, Section 3: L is for Lists & Projects

When I need to break down smaller projects or keep track of a set of items - they go in the Lists and Projects section. This section is numbered and indexed. So far I have a list of favorite websites, a list of my current work projects, a project breakdown for setting up my art room, a list of biz ideas, and a breakdown of the teeny tiny ebook-let project. The first page in this section is an index. Lists and projects can be created on the fly and removed when they're complete or no longer relevant. This section follows the Bullet Journal system. I got the dotted graph paper from Printable Paper and the lined graph paper from Print Free Graph Paper.

Tab 2: Goals

Here's the deal with the goals section, I'm not done yet. I did a lot of searching and reading. There is so much good, bad and indifferent information about setting goals online and in books! Really, you could drown yourself in it. I searched all over for the perfect goal template. I tried to make my own templates. I've read a lot of books about goal setting in my lifetime. I took them all off the shelf and poured through them. Most are wonderful and inspiring.

One of my all time favorites is The Desire Map. It turns typical goals planning on its head and the process is awesome. I have my core desired feelings in my planner in the next section. I read and think about and gut-check my Core Desired Feelings almost every day. I use them like guidance satellites. In fact it's my Core Desired Feelings that lead me to this whole process to begin with. If you haven't experienced Desire Mapping take a gander at it and consider it. (I'm an affiliate, but I haven't figured out how to set that up yet so the link above isn't an affiliate link as of now.)

Anywho - I realized I needed/wanted/desired something very specific for this section. I wanted something specifically focused on crafting a creative business. So I looked all over and ended up on Etsy looking at goal planners and that's where I found Your Best Year 2015 Productivity Workbook and Creative Business Planner by Lisa Jacobs. I lurked around on her site for quite a bit and was inspired to purchase her planner because of what I saw on her blog. Lisa spent 2014 being 100% transparent about her business, her investments, the hours she worked, and the money she earned. This nuts and bolts practicality partnered with her inspirational message spoke to me and I made the leap. Her 2015 Best Year Planner is available from her Etsy shop or from Amazon and the price point is a no-brainer compared to some of the other business planners I looked at.

I'm still at the beginning with this and love it so far so I'm excited to see what happens. 

Tab 3: Y for Why

This is the section where my Core Desired Feelings live. This is the big picture essence of me section. This is what drives me. I put very special things in this section. The first page is a payer written by Danielle LaPorte, the creator of the Desire Map. It's called A Prayer for Expectation Addicts - it's beautifully reverent and wild at the same time. I read it often. The little pic taped on the page is a pic I took during my Baby Buddha iPhoneography project. It's called Baby Buddha Take the Wheel. Larger version below.

The star paper is for an exploration of the star as a symbol. The star was given to me as a personal sacred symbol by my teacher Whitney Freya who is the creator of the Creatively Fit Coaching Program. There will be lots more info about the Creatively Fit Coaching Programs on this blog in the near future. I can't wait to share it. Can't wait!!!

I also got the star paper from Printable Paper. They have loads of fun paper to play with.

Baby Buddha take the Wheel by Kirsten Malinee.

Tab 4: H is for Happy Doodling

The only purpose of this section is to play, doodle and dream - to put pen to paper and let whatever happens happen. Ahhhhhh, bliss and joy! This section is filled with all kinds of fun papers I downloaded from Printable Paper.

So that's it. I was going to say more about how the journal and the planner work together and how both of them jive with Evernote, but that's a story for another day.

If you've stuck with me this long, you're my hero! Really, you deserve a medal. Thank you for reading and browsing. Please, leave me comments and let me know what your planner looks like, how it works, and what wonderful and fun resources you've filled it with.