the planner rabbit-hole


There are two sides, separated by a void. There is no middle ground between. The title of this post will either have meaning to you or not, and that will depend on which side of the void you reside.

If you’re a list-writing, journaling, planning kinda person, if you’ve explored the online circus of delights that cater to folk like us, you’ll understand the mental-quick-sand-iness of it all.

Alternatively you might live a hundred lifetimes and never know such wonders exist.

Folks in the latter group: click away now. Anywhere. Just away. You won’t like this.

I’m going to geek about diaries. If this isn’t your jam, click away now. I wasn’t joking about the quicksand. It’s very real. (In a metaphorical sense)


A while back I happened on the system of bullet journaling.

As a long time list maker and glutton for stationery, this appealed to me on a number of levels, and for almost two years this system served me well.

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This Leuchtturm 1917 book was my travelling companion, my mental back up, home to a hundred post-its and the landing place for my brain dumps for longer than a usual diary, and I like how it provided a home for the lists that would otherwise be swirling inside my head.

But before moving forward, we need to rewind…

It was in the quest to reduce the anxiety-inducing levels of chaos I had going on in my life that lead me to discover bullet journaling. It’s when I first encountered these youtube rabbit holes: these whole communities of planners, people with planners, people planning their planners. A number of these folk have planners to organise the videos they make about organising their planners on youtube. It’s pleasingly meta and terrifyingly quicksandy all at once. That is why this is a blog post, not a video.  

As I neared the final pages of my trusty turquoise book I revisited some of the many channels devoted to listing, journaling, planning, and the like. Because it had been a while I was ready to reconsider my listing and planning options. I was ready to hop back in the quicksand.

The that thing I missed when bullet journalling was having a readily fill-in-able set up for the months ahead. (There are ways around this – downloadable-printables, suggested hand-drawn-layouts, and more. But in two years of trial n error none of these gelled with me.)

Now it was time for me to re-explore a more structured planner route for a while, to find out if I could mash up a hybrid of the bits of all the systems I like.

Back into the rabbit hole of youTube. 

In the intervening years the rabbit hole had become much deeper, much more rabbitty.

[There are squillions of videos devoted to this challenge: the quest for the system that fits an ever-changing, ever-busying life. Deep down we all know there isn’t one solution, but we enjoy the quest too much to stop. Because of all the reasons.]

I emerged bleary-brained some long while later, ready to invest more than I’d usually consider because this could be the ‘Neo of planners’, the one true solution to any papery chaos and confusion. Also, these particular journals have an almost cult like following – and I needed to know why!

Unavailable in the shops here, I ordered my first Hobonichi planner through Etsy (the 6 month: July-December version) in order to dip my metaphorical toes.

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There is no limit to how much you can spend in Hobonichi stuff: all the special covers and stickers and doodads that can go along with. I didn’t. I used a clear plastic cover intended for another this-size book & a postcard of a peacock to make it pretty.

The book itself? I’m kinda sold on it. I mean, enough to try a year long experiment and see if I can make this fit. These are my impressions after a few months…

Hobonichi Pros & Cons

Pro: Paper

One of the features that gets folk all ravey about the Hobonichi books is the super thin Tomoe River paper. It’s crazy thin, so much that a book with a year’s worth of daily,  weekly,  monthly, and other pages is still under an inch thick, but this paper isn’t so flimsy it tears and lets bleed through. What the what?

If I’m honest – that in itself is what almost sold me the first book. Then there’s the other big thing:

Pro: All the options

Daily pages with a time line for appointments, weekly spreads with hourly timelines on each day, monthly spreads with a good size box for each day. And the year with 6 months to a spread. Too much? almost certainly! But until I give it a good thorough try I won’t know which part is superfluous, so 2018 is my year of discovery.

Pro: Box grids.

I’m very much into box grids instead of lined paper. I have a dislike of lined paper which gives me flashbacks to school, but boxes and dot grids have a multifunctionality that appeals to me.  It’s a yin/yang with my outside-the-edge-what-edges?-?-inherent-inner-discord-and-anarchy.

They are in an unimposingly faint print too.

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Con: so many the options

4 months into my current half-year book, I find I’m still bouncing lists chaotically between the weekly and the daily pages. One will win out over the other before long, cos I’m stubborn by nature and hate to write the same thing in more than one place.

Right now I’m enjoying having a page that ‘belongs to today’ in order to list what I’ve got to do.  But what doesn’t get done today has to float unfinished in the near past, and that unsettles me a bit. The Bullet Journal system made more allowance for floaty ‘to do soon’ lists. I think this will figure itself out into a system before long. I’m nothing if not inventive!

So……

I have two new planners lined up for 2018: My first full year long version for 2018 A5 size Hobonichi Cousin which I anticipate will become list central and the Hobonichi Weeks which is a year full but without the daily pages so it’s just regular diary size and can travel about with me. This one’s also got dozens of blank pages at the back which I plan to utilise for the bullet journal style lists. (BuJo folks call these collections, which is just gratingly quaint for me. As is BuJo. I’m absurdly sensitive to words and things, but also lazy and will take the easier typing option.)

Moving along…

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Look! I got me a new pencil case. It’s predecessor (which is almost as old as me) has been retired to box of sentimental nonsense. The part of me that associates ‘new pencil case = new start’ did not leave when I finished school.. That was the best bit of school!

Are you a planner person?  … I figure if you’ve read this far either you’re already a lister, a journaller or a planner of some kind, or you’re considering it as an option. What’s you book of choice? I’d love to know!

These new books of mine are part of a larger getting my ducks lined up strategy.

They’re coupled with another new found interest – the Getting Things Done methods of David Allen. I also discovered him somewhere in my rabbithole adventures and was instantly hooked, I listen to GTD podcasts, I bought his book which systematically  working through.

The essence of this system is the idea the human mind is better used for thinking things up than stuffing full of things to remember. If we have an alternate, external way to store all the what-I-gotta-do-next things all that brain-RAM can work more efficiently too.

These are going to lead me into 2018 with my act far more together than ever before!

I know it’s popular to joke ‘things won’t change though’ in a self-deprecating way, but I really feel this becomes a self fulfilling ‘see – I told you I’d screw up again’ and I just don’t have time to spin in circles like that any more. 

It took getting really ill a few months ago, have most the time and energy sucked out of my days to make me realise I need to stop floundering about and get organised. I don’t know how it’s going to take shape yet, but I do know that it will. For now that’s all that matters.

 

I share my journey, my creativity and random thoughts, each month in a newsletter you could have delivered direct to you emailhole. You’ll also get special discounts on things I make like online creative classes, and actual tangible things too. All you have to do is pop your email address in here and I’ll do all the rest.

(and I’ll send you my ebook A Year full of Color as a thank you for joining)

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Your email is utterly safe to me. It will be wrapped up snug and nestled with a hot water bottle & a kitten until the spring arrives.

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the ‘because’ of art journaling


 

I’ve got old journals – the ‘dear diary’ variety – dating back over decades. Of no interest to anyone but occasionally me, I see what me-in-the-past was up to on this day however-many years ago.

At art school I began to keep sketchbooks, filled it with thoughts and plans, doodles and scraps. Mainly visual references and test grounds for techniques and materials. And they’re as rich in memories to me as the purely wordy versions that preceded them.

Last year I experimented with Julia Cameron’s morning pages in an on-again/off-again fashion. Not every morning has the space to accommodate all those words, but a bigger block is that part of me resented the paper it required for long, one-way streams of consciousness that I shouldn’t want to revisit. And the thought of scrawling longhand every last niggle and fuss didn’t sit comfortably either. I get the ‘better out than in’ motive. But I didn’t want to hold volumes of this in my life thought; that seemed to be merely displacing it from my head to another place of permanence.

 

Three things about things I do in books.
Without much connection beyond my voracious consumption of stationery.

Until I read this blog post by Deanna Jinjoe where she speaks of the power of transformation in burying words, thoughts, sentiments into the soul of our art we can transform them into a new beauty.

So the art journal I’m working through now is starting to embody this essence. With traces of the therapeutic brain dumps that keep my mind clear, intertwined with the doodles and splatterings of colour that keep my spirit buoyant.

joining the dots


One of the things I want to achieve in 2016 is a greater sense of cohesiveness.

A few weeks ago I adopted a new (to me) method of ordering my days, weeks, things, lists and such: Bullet Journalling  the ‘analog system for the digital age’. 

IMG_6670While I reside on the edge of digital geekfulness where I appreciate I nicely formulated spreadsheet, some tidy code, but all too easily get weighed down in flipping between fonts pixel to pixel tweaks, and then endless subdivided minutiae.

Unlimited possibility in limited time.

But I’m also the girl who drools at the thought of the stationery store, giddily thinking about books, the kind I can write and draw and scribble in….. Mmmmmm… and All Those Pens. In All Those Colours. 

The type of rules and systems I like are the flexible ones that adapt and evolve in a forgiving fashion.

And lists appeal to my sometime dithering confusion of too much to do/can’t remember if I did it/had an idea that I put down somewhere and can’t see it now for all the shit and kerfuffle that heaps up in my head….

And so far bullet journalling is fitting my contradictory character and fulfilling pretty much all the hopes I had for it. Organised chaos, checked off detail by detail. Coupled with an inconsistent colour-coding system that I reckon might figure itself out over time.

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Many, many part-duplicated lists, notebooks, digital documents, scribbles on envelopes, diaries, journals, sketchbooks and whatnot occupy my world. I’m gonna keep them, but they’re going to rest quietly for future reminiscences while this episode plays out.

The current paradigm is one in which all the brain-dumps are contained between the covers of this delicious A5 turquoise leuchtturm 1917. 6 weeks and 51 pages in, me & book are getting along swimmingly. I’m enjoying the process of joining the dots of my thoughts, skimming back through old notes and scavenging usable information, ongoing plans and wishes.

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… Lists of Lists … Things To Look Up … Art To Make … Projects To Begin … Projects To Complete … Books To Read … Places to Go … Bands to Explore … Quotes That Inspire … Universal Reusable Lists … Posts to Blog …

All these sandwiched between pages of What To Remember in annual, monthly & daily sized chunks.

The magic of it is: once they’re in the book they no longer take up space in my mind.

 

Book of my days


I’m making a journal for the new year, which as the Solstice starts a new moon too, I began from it then. I’m enjoying the making process, and it’s another invented as it goes along adventure. And like all the rest of them, it’s a work in progress that isn’t exactly finished (the making stage) before beginning (the using stage). Kinda overlapped.

Over the years I’ve used regular diaries, journals, notebooks, sketchbooks, heaps of loose paper and the backs of envelopes to record the events, the thoughts and feelings, the minutiae, that collectively forms my days. On assessing the amount of rescued and recycled paper I’ve amassed, this time I decided to make my own book. I was surprised how easy it turned out to be. If you’ve ever considered doing this, here’s how I did mine…

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Obsolete letterheads, beheaded.


Here’s a thing about shop bought books – you wanna stick in new bits and pages, lists and the like, scrips and scraps and souvenirs and reminders. So either you gotta make space by extracting some of the pages it was bought with often leaving the binding loose and flimsy or severed and prone to accidental page-drop…. Or you live with a bulging wedge shaped book that won’t shut flat. Which is fine, in both cases, absolutely fine.

But if it’s a book of my own inventing… can I bypass that whole thing?

This fitted with the predicament of using recycled letterheads: once the letterheaded part was sliced off, the resulting folded in half size makes for fairly small pages. Not so compatible with big loopy writing that makes up words who need space to play in. So here comes the multipurpose wide page/thin page idea!

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I’m thinking the thin pages will be ideal for post it notes and small folded pages to be stuck in. And they are list shaped too and I love a good list! Consequently my book is starting it in the reverse wedge shape and will, in time, plump out into a flat book shape.


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The actual binding part (this is Coptic, but there are numerous ways to string a book here). My teacher is Sea Lemon. She is very neat and precise and I am not, so please don’t judge her instruction by my results! I looked at a few how to videos and found hers the simplest to follow. Then went ahead, broke all the rules, and did my own thing loosely based on this technique. People fall into two camps: those who embrace the slapdash yet sturdy approach and those who wince at the evidently hand cobbled outcome. If you fall into the latter camp, brace yourself, or click away now.


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measured, templated, holes completely off the line. idk. Accuracy just isn’t in my DNA. And wonky works too.


The paper is neatly cut to size approximately and the stringing holes were measured. Perhaps not really accurately. The knots are good and knotty.


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Not beautiful, but workable. I’ll settle for that. Neatfreaks: please Tut now.


I guess my reasons for sharing the guts of this cobbled affair with you is to say – If you’re at all interested in converting a pile of unwanted paper into a book you can use for whatever you fancy – scrap booking, journaling, some form of record keeping or and fancy schmancy writing and drawing doings – then even if you’re a careless, cack-handed hurrier like me – it can be done! Go and give it a whizz. If it doesn’t work…? well if the paper was already destined for the recycling box then you only postponed its destiny, used up a little but of time and in all likelihood learnt some useful life lessons along the way.