I regularly go back and forth between digital and analog to do lists and schedules.
I break down the need for a planner into two different categories: calendars and to do lists. Sometimes the to do items have deadlines or due dates, but they still don’t belong on the calendar in my mind. They aren’t appointments.
For a calendar, I’ve definitely settled on a paper product, however. Every year, I get the 18 month Moleskine calendar, large, the red one with the week sprawled across each spread. I like to look at my whole schedule at once, take it all in in words, and not merely see little dots on a screen that you have to tap to get more information. I’ve never taken well to a digital calendar system.
My to do list, however, is another story. Over the years, I’ve settled on what I need from a to do list format, but sometimes the paper version serves me better, and sometimes the digital form is what I need. I’m currently in a digital to do list phase (yay, Trello!), and it’s serving me pretty well in terms of organization. But after a while, I kind of stop seeing what’s there. Dragging tasks from day to day doesn’t have the same mental connection as recopying them. So I’m likely to go back to a paper to do list at some point.
But planners are used for more than just calendars and to do lists. They are where you can put ideas, make sketches, keep a journal, or put ideas for gifts. They are where you can dump the information in your brain to free your mind up for new thoughts and creations. Here are some cool paper planner ideas for those who love that sort of thing (which, I’m guessing, is about half of you).
I discovered Circa through my handy Levenger catalog. People say “it’s not cheap,” but it’s definitely not any more expensive than people spend on some of the other organizing systems. And they have sales quite frequently.
One thing I like about Circa is how versatile it is. Take pages out, put pages in, reorder things. The little side bits do wear out if you’re not careful, but if you have the punch, you can literally put anything flat enough in your planner. And they come in pocket size all the way up to letter size with plenty of accessories. In addition, there are so many different kinds of pages to get for it (agendas, calendars, grids, lists, storyboards, the list goes on), it will make your head spin.
Staples has the Arc system which pretty much looks like Circa. Except cheaper and with fewer options. Or you can mix and match the two systems. I like having the affordable Arc leather cover with some of the fancy Circa things inside. Arc also comes in several different sizes, though, and you can pick it up at your local Staples office supply store instead of having to order it online, like you do with the Circa system.
In any case, if this kind of disc system with removable and rearrangable pages appeals to you, check out both systems and see which one sticks with you more.
If rings and discs aren’t your thing, check out the Midori system. Among nerdy women I know, this has become a bit of a passion (dare I say an obsession?). Get started with a beautiful leather Traveler’s Notebook and then add inserts, Washi tape, embellishments, stickers, and more. Add extra elastic fasteners. There is no end to customization of these notebooks. The countless YouTube videos available for helping you get set up stand as a testament to that. Or, you can make your own leather cover, and just buy some inserts. I have some sheets of leather that I’m going to make into journal covers myself.
For any of the above organizer systems, or any other one that you can imagine, there are some cool tools. I found that D*I*Y Planner has plenty of printables useful for all sizes and shapes of planners. Also, plain notecards or index cards, especially if you can punch them for Circa or Arc, or tuck them in a pocket, are one of the most versatile tools. Cute paperclips shaped like animals or modes of transportation will keep you organized. Add some of your own style to your organizer. What do you like?