I’ve been really into planning for the past 4-5 months and I’ve become a bit of an addict. I post a lot of sticker hauls on my Instagram stories and have had lots of questions so I thought I would share how I plan and what I use everything for. Some of you might think that my system is a little bit too elaborate and excessive, and I tend to agree, but it’s been working well for me so far so I’m continuing with it. I’m also still trying new things out and figuring out the best combination of planners and systems for my needs so that’s another reason why my routine might seem excessive. Hopefully, for those of you who are looking to get into planning, this post will help you decide what kind of system you want to try out.
Currently, I am using a bullet journal and two vertical, week-on-two-page planners, as well as trying out pocket sized printables. I also use a wide range of planner stickers from a large variety of etsy stores, and stickers from the MAMBI books that are available at Michaels. But let’s go into my planning journey so far.
I’ve done my organisation and planning electronically for as long as I can remember… well at least since 2011. And I still do. I update my Google Calendar religiously and make use of the reminder functions in Google Calendar as well as on my iPhone. I use Asana to keep to-do lists for team projects/experiments that I’m part of at work. But I realised that I wasn’t checking my Asana very frequently and would only really open it up in my browser when I remembered a task that I needed to do. I wanted to be a bit more organised and have written to-do lists that I looked at every day. I used to keep a weekly to-do pad on my desk at work but it didn’t allow me to update it whenever I thought of something to add to it. So I decided to try out bullet journaling.
Bullet journaling has been great so far. I’ve been doing it since September of last year and it helps me to reflect on the day that I’ve had and plan for the next day. I plan in my bullet journal every night and it helps me set goals and tasks that are short-term and achievable. The best thing about the bullet journal is that it is completely unstructured and if you stop using it temporarily, you won’t have wasted any of the pages. You can also put in different ‘collections’ throughout your bullet journal. For example, when I’m participating in an Instagram challenge, I like to write down the prompts for each day in my bullet journal so that I can easily access it. I also write down gift ideas and track a whole bunch of things, like my reading and my book hauls. There are no right or wrong ways to bullet journal and if you make a mistake, it doesn’t even matter.
Pros of bullet journaling:
- Lots of freedom and room for creativity
- All you need is an empty notebook and pen
- Great for planning as well as journaling your days
Cons of bullet journaling:
- Can’t really think of any
Bullet journaling supplies that I use:
- Leuchtturm 1917 A5 notebook in Taupe – plain pages (I would recommend a dot grid notebook because it makes everything easier. The store I went to were sold out of dotted notebooks so I had to settle for a plain one).
- Faber Castell Pitt Artist pen in S
- Pilot Frixion Ball Erasable Gel Pen in Black with 0.5 nib
- Planner stickers to decorate – mostly from Fox and Cactus and Once More With Love (this is definitely optional though!)
Pocket Sized Printable Inserts for the Travelers Notebook
I have recently been trying out alternatives for my bullet journal. I have been playing around with pocket-sized printables that are designed as inserts for the Travelers Notebook. I don’t personally have a Travelers Notebook because I couldn’t really justify buying one when I already have so many planners. But I really do like the inserts. The idea of the Travelers Notebook is that you have many mini notebooks that are housed within a (usually) leather cover. This makes it easy to remove old inserts and only carry what you absolutely need on a particular day. The most popular Travelers Notebook that I’ve seen is Foxy Fix.
I decided to try out some inserts because I wanted to find something light, portable but also functional for when I travel. Even though my bullet journal is quite small and unobtrusive, I want to be carrying as little as possible when I travel. Also, I like to carry my bullet journal with me wherever I go, including when I go shopping or out with friends on the weekend, and I’m finding my A5 bullet journal to be a bit too big to fit into my smaller purses.
The inserts that I’ve been playing with are by Annie Plans Printables on etsy. The ones I use are the pocket sized, Monday start, month/weekly/daily GRID inserts and they have a week-on-eight-page design. The first few pages of the month include a month-at-a-glance and a tracker for your habits. It then goes into the first week of the month. The first page of the week has a Monday to Sunday horizontal spread and it also has a little flap where you can put some extra notes if there isn’t enough space, which you can see in the picture below. The next seven pages are daily pages for each day of the week. On the left is an hourly timed section and the right has a grid. I use planner stickers in these inserts to pretty them up!
I really, really love these inserts but they’re still relatively new to me so I don’t know if they’ll be replacing my bullet journal. I’ll definitely be using them when I travel though.
Pros of Travelers Notebook inserts:
- Very portable
- Don’t have to be used in the Travelers Notebook
- Most are sold monthly so you can stop using them any time without wasting money on a whole year’s worth
- Are functional (if you can find the layout that works best for you) but can also be glammed up
- Great for people who like DIY projects
Cons of Travelers Notebook inserts:
- Most stores offer printables, which means you need to print, cut and assemble them yourself
- Each printer is different so you may need to experiment before getting them perfectly right (as you can see above, my printer has weird alignment, so the pages in my inserts aren’t perfectly aligned)
- Costs can add up if you use them regularly (relative to buying a cheap notebook for bullet journaling, for example)
Supplies I use:
- Printables from Annie Plans Printables
- J. Burrows A4 Premium Digital Paper in 120gsm with silk finish (you want to make sure that it’s a thicker paper than what you would normally use for printing but you can use any brand, of course)
- Fiskars paper cutting tool (you can also use a ruler and scissors, or an exacto blade on a cutting mat)
- Stapler to assemble (can also just hold it together with an elastic band)
Vertical Week-On-Two-Page Planners
I currently use two different planners with vertical layouts. These planners stay at home and never leave my house. The first one that I purchased was a planner from the Recollections brand at Michaels. I picked it up when I was in the US last year and it was $29.99 USD (but only around $15-16 if you use a 50% off coupon). I’m not sure if they still have them in stock, because I heard that Erin Condren are suing Michaels for infringment… yikes. But if they are available, I highly recommend them. They come in vertical and horizontal layouts, and they also have a lot of different options for wedding planning, pregnancy planning, meal planning etc. I actually bought the wedding planner for Jeann. The paper quality in these planners are fantastic and they’re nicely designed. From what I’ve seen of the wedding, pregnancy and meal planners, I think they’ve been extremely well thought out and do half of the work for you!
In my Recollections planner (the one with the unicorn cover), I use lots and lots of planner stickers, including sticker kits from different etsy stores. Of course, the stickers are optional and you could totally just plan with a pen like normal people do haha. I plan in my Recollections planner every Saturday or Sunday for the week ahead. So while I use my bullet journal for planning for the next day, my Recollections planner is used for slightly more long-term planning. It helps me to think about the week that I have ahead and what I need to achieve in that week, which makes day to day planning a lot easier.
This planner also allows me to be creative and planner stickers just make me so happy. I generally do ‘no-white-space’ spreads in my Recollections planner, where the entire two pages are covered in stickers with no white space in each daily column.
I also have an Erin Condren Life Planner in the vertical layout. This planner is expensive. So you might be wondering why I have it. I use this planner for memory keeping. I still use sticker kits in it but I plan in it after the week has already happened. I reflect back on the week I had and put in what I actually did each day. I usually fill in this planner either at the end of the week, or sometimes at the end of each day (because sometimes I have a really short memory). I do ‘white space’ spreads in this planner just to keep it interesting and to make it a bit more creative. Most sticker kits that are sold are also formatted for the Erin Condren vertical planners, so it’s definitely something that I don’t really regret paying for because the stickers work so nicely in this planner.
You’re probably confused as to why I need these planners in addition to my bullet journal. Well, I don’t need them but I like to have all of these options. These vertical planners always stay at home and I have them open on my desk and consult them when I’m at home. When I’m at work or on the go, I carry my bullet journal with me. Often, they will all have the same daily to-do list in them but I only have my bullet journal to refer to when I’m not at home.
Pros of vertical planners:
- Can use lots and lots of pretty sticker kits!
- Allows for a lot of creativity and beautiful spreads
- Makes planning something that is fun to do
- Easy to see everything you need to do that week with a week-on-two-page layout
- Most of these types of planners have removable covers so you can switch them up
Cons of vertical planners:
- The planners can be expensive! (The Erin Condren Life Planner starts at $55 I believe. You can customize it to fit your needs but usually each customization is an extra charge. You could end up with an Erin Condren planner that costs $80 before shipping).
- Stickers are expensive (while they’re really pretty to look at, the cost of the stickers adds up)
- Everything is just expensive
Supplies I use:
- Recollections 12 month spiral vertical planner
- Erin Condren Life Planner with a vertical layout, in the neutral design (my cover is personalised with my name)
- Sticker kits from etsy stores (see the list down below for some of my favourite stores)
- Pens (see list below)
Favourite Etsy sticker shops and pens
Favourite shops for sticker kits:
These are my favourites because of the format of their kits. They have all of the stickers that I like to use in my spreads and there’s nothing missing from their kits that I wished they had. The Red Velvet sticker kit shown above in my Recollections planner is by Erica G Designs, and the ‘To me, You are Perfect’ kit in my Erin Condren spread is by Little Paper Prints.
There are some other shops based in the US that are super popular in the planner community. I haven’t bought from these stores because of the expensive international shipping rates (~$17-18 AUD) but you should check them out if you’re based in the US! These include Scribble Prints Co., Little Miss Paperie, Caress Press and Glam Planner.
Favourite shops for character stickers & functional stickers:
- Once More With Love
- The Coffee Monsterz Co
- Fox and Cactus
- Keena Prints
- Stick With Me Shop
- Peacefulmind Design
- Pilot G2 Retractable Gel Pen in Black with 0.38 nib (for writing in my planners on matte stickers)
- Sharpie Ultra Fine Point Permanent Marker (for writing in my planners on glossy/vinyl stickers)
- Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pen in S (for drawing headers in my bullet journal)
- Pilot Frixion Ball Erasable Gel Pen in Black with 0.5 nib (for writing in my bullet journal)
- Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen in Medium with black ink (for writing in my bullet journal when I feel like it)
This was a pretty extensive post so congratulations for making it to the end! It’s been a lot of fun sharing my planning and organising routine/system with you all.