The Search for the Perfect Personal Planner

The Search for the Perfect Personal Planner

Note: This post was originally published on my blog for authors.

Near the end of 2014, I found the neatest planner, a weekly/monthly planner published by MintGreen. It had a durable, plastic cover, a spiral ring binding, was printed on recycled paper with soy-based ink, and was slightly smaller than letter-sized. Two pages for notes and a two-paged monthly calendar were included between each month, along with a generous notes section in the back and a ton of other useful, pre-printed pages.

It was dang near perfect.

I’ve used that planner all through 2015 and scribbled notes, to-do lists, and completed tasks in it. I’ve planned marketing campaigns, publishing schedules, and series in it. And it’s gone everywhere with me, first tucked into the over-the-shoulder, leather laptop bag my sister and her family gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago, more recently in the travel-ready backpack I gifted myself as a late birthday present.

Gotta have something that’ll easily pass TSA checkpoints for all those trips I want to take, right?

I’ve been searching for a 2016 MintGreen planner just like my 2015 one for months now. Last month, resigned to the fact that my local Wal-Mart was never going to get the letter-sized ones in, I broke down and bought a 6×8″ planner just like my old one. Next year’s schedule is filling up, rather more quickly than I’d like, thanks much, and I absolutely had to have something to write everything down in so I can stay organized.

So a while back, I broke out my brand new 2016 planner and started making notes in it for the first of the year…and realized almost immediately that it’s just too small. Now, please understand that there were weeks in 2015 when my letter-sized planner didn’t have enough room in it. As soon as I started writing 2016’s to-do items, all those 2015 weeks’ pages, with their overflowing abundance of color-coded scribbles, popped into my head.

“Stop fooling yourself, baby doll. This ain’t gonna work,” I muttered, and so I set off on another journey through the land of online retail sellers for a new planner.

After several frustrating searches on Amazon (during which I discovered that MintGreen didn’t even make the larger sized planner for 2016), I stumbled onto the Arc notebook system. The basic disc-bound notebook has leather covers and comes with sixty ruled sheets. That’s not enough for me, so I searched around and discovered refills, plus undated weekly calendar sheets and project planning sheets. To top things off, they even make tabbed dividers so I can organize my new planner by months, projects, notes, or whatever I need.

What makes this so great is that, at any time I want, I can remove old months from the beginning and add new ones to the end, so I never have to worry about hunting down another planner again (until I wear this one out, anyway). Plus, there are tons more accessories available to help those with different needs, making it a flexible, customizable system that’s perfectly adaptable to anyone’s lifestyle.

The downside is that it’s fairly expensive. The basic notebook was $24.99 on Amazon. Refill paper runs between $4.99 and $5.99 a pack, depending on the kind, and the tabbed dividers go for $4.99 for a five-pack. Obviously, I needed more than five, so I ended up spending nearly $15 just for the dividers.

Is this system worth the expense? Eh. I’ll let you know in a few months when I’ve had a chance to settle in and really test it. My gut tells me it’ll be worthwhile, though, especially given the frustrated knot forming in my stomach every time I even think about having to start over and search for something different.

If you’re interested, there are tons of videos available on YouTube detailing the different ways disc-bound notebook systems can be customized. My favorite so far comes from The Organised Nest, but maybe it’s just the narrator’s Aussie accent that’s drawing me in. She uses DIYFish inserts and is way more organized than I need to be, but her discussions may be rather useful, particularly for fans of Life Mapping or those who plan their time down to the second. More pre-printed planning sheets of all kinds are available at Amazon and Staples, as well as through websites like Jane’s Agenda and independent shops on Etsy.

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