Friday, April 6, 2018

My DIY Reusable Custom Planner & Organizer

Things have been busy lately, and as I’m sure many of you can relate, it can be difficult at times in terms of time management.  I have always been one to write “lists” to keep myself organized.  Often, I would grab any piece of paper I could find, lose or in a notebook and scribble down my list of things “To Do” for that day.  I’m surrounded by notebooks full of my lists, or the backs of envelopes with lists written on them tucked away in my purse.

As a business owner, who is engaged in the community, and a mother of 2 kids, I need more than a list, I need to plan and be organized.  I have over the years used many different sorts of “planners”.  Often, I find that there are components that I like and use, but that entire sections go unused as they don’t fit my purposes.  It’s not just time management I need to focus on, but projects that I am working on for my business, personal/family and community.

This past year I did find three great planners that I really enjoyed.  Rituals for Living Dreambook and Planner by The Dragon Tree, and the Productive Flourishing Momentum Planner by Productive Flourishing.  What I liked most was that they help to define and direct focus on long term goals (12 mos) and breaking them down into quarterly objectives, and then into reasonable actions in months and weeks.  The Dreambook is ideal for creatives, and really encourages you to think in terms of not just work but life as well.  The Productive Flourishing Momentum Planner is excellent from a business and time management prospective.  I also found several aspects of the SELF Journal by BestSelf Co to be very beneficial in terms of project management, especially in breaking down project goals.

I decided in the last half of the year that I liked many aspects from all three planners, as well as some from others I have used over the years, and bought a 3 ring binder and cobbled together a “planner” consisting of the pages I chose to use from the Dreambook, SEFL Journal, and Momentum Planners, and a page or two from other sources.  All of the sources were available as digital downloads, so I was able to print off the pages I needed and cobbled together what I referred to as my “Frankenstein Planner”.  It worked, and I was productive and organized. It was particularly helpful in a time when I was unusually busy with unexpected obligations that I somehow got sucked into.  But there were several “cons”.  Namely it was bulky, it used a LOT of paper and ink (the same “blank sheets/templates” being printed off over and over), and it was a pain to remember to print more pages off every month.  After several months the inconveniences become too much and once again I abandoned yet another “planner”.

It infuriated me that I had come so close, I did really like what I had cobbled together.  But I needed something that would be more efficient.  My first thought was to find an app for my iPhone.  Unfortunately, I didn’t find one that fit my needs.  Then I remembered having come across some time back a “smart notebook” that acted much like a dry erase board, but in a spiral notebook form!

Enter the “Everlast” executive notebook by Rocketbook.

The notebook is pretty cool, it is spiral bound – so it is easy to open flat or fold over pages.  You can only use Pilot FriXion pens and markers on them, and that’s ok as they are easy to find in stores and come in a rainbow of colors.  They (the pens) write smoothly on the pages and can be erased (suing the eraser on the pen), and they dry quickly (within 15 seconds) onto the surface.  When your done taking notes, you can use the notebook app on your phone and it will scan the page and send it to whatever drive (google, dropbox ect.) or email address you have directed the app to send it as indicated by the symbol you mark at the bottom of the page.  Pretty cool.  But wait, it gets even better when you are finished you can use a slightly damp cloth and wipe it all clean.

The manufacture is adamant that you can only use the FriXion pens and markers, and that using anything else will be permanent on the page.  And that got me thinking…. What if drew, with a permanent marker a “template” for each custom page I wanted in my planner into this notebook????
I posed the question on Amazon, and fortunately the manufacturer replied that yes, indeed people have used a permanent marker to create templates and that they have been used quite successfully that way.

Eureka!!!!!  That was exactly what I had wanted to hear!

My calendar "Template"
So I purchased a notebook, and after consulting with my local art store, decided to purchase and Sakura IDenti Pen (permanent marker), a ruler (my kids had managed to lose mine), and created my own light box  (I was about to order a cheap LED light box tracer because it was cheap, but had managed to find everything I needed to create my own light box: a clear plastic storage box I had lying around, that I threw a few battery operated LED lights I had into, and then placed a clear frosted clipboard I had on top as a writing surface).

When the notebook arrived, I printed the pages off, and used them along with my DIY “light box” and traced out my templates. 
It took some time, and I did make a few mistakes, but in all I am
Easy to erase!
extremely pleased with the

The note books are a bit pricy, but you can reuse them a thousand times, and the cost is about the equivalent if not less than a ream of paper and ink to print off a years’ worth of one paper planner let alone multiple paper planners!  The thirty-Six page, 6”x9” executive notebook is also more convenient in comparison to my overstuffed 1” three ring binder that served the same purpose.  The pens are a little pricier, but you can buy them in bulk and get refills to reduce that expense.  What is truly
priceless is that they are completely customizable and you can use the Everlast Rocketbook to create not just your own planner/organizer, but templates for your classroom (journals, writing projects…) , or frequently used forms  – the possibilities are endless!

So get out there – get creative, get organized, be efficient!

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