Thursday, June 30, 2011

Woman's Success Planner Review

Yet another casualty result of lurking on Plannerisms...In the comments section of this post, Anna mentioned the Woman's Success Planner.  Go ahead and look (because you know you want to) I'll wait for you here. Ok, ready to go? Good, let's do it:

So naturally, I went and had a wee looksie too.  Well, it looksied fabulous, so I spent $ I shouldn't have and  buysied the Q3 to check it out.  It arrived yesterday, and I thought I'd share it with you, because it's fabulous!

The planner is spiral bound (loves it), and the covers are that nice laminated cardstock stuff. It should hold up well even if you  don't want to purchase the leather folios that go with them (although I can't imagine not wanting to, they're delish).  The planner comes in 4 quarterly divisions.  I have mixed feelings about this.  In reality, one quarter should be enough to carry around.  However, I like to look back at my stuff and I'm not sure I wouldn't miss having the whole year together.  On the plus side of this, though, the planner is only a little over .5" thick, and that makes it super portable, so that is good.

(The answer is, I don't have any damned idea why I didn't rotate this when I uploaded it, you'll have to move your neck. Sorry *head slap*)

See that little logo? Here's the genius explanation of it from the inside cover of the planner: "The logo for The Success Choice, LLC represents *choosing to bloom (flower) *amid your challenges (swirl) *in your continuous journey (circle) *toward perfection (square).  I WISH I was that smart...alas and alack..mostly a lack...ANY HOO,

Here is the inside cover:
This tells you about the planner and how to use it, and is continued on the inside of the back cover.

Next is a two page layout for 2011 Midyear Planning that includes space for your vision, your goal status, goal actions, and goal roadblocks.  There's  also space for ideas about how to overcome roadblocks.  A goal setter's dream planner, this is.

The next two pages have: (left side) a 3 year planning calendar with last year, this year, and next year;
(right side) the beginning of the month page.

Now is probably a good time to talk about the paper.  The regular weekly pages are on the nicest ivory colored  recycled looking (not sure if it's actually recycled) paper with bits of stuff imbedded in it.  It also has a bit of a tooth which I adore, and takes fountain pen ink perfectly, with almost no show through on the other side of the paper.  The month pages, however, are a brown (looks like a paper bag) heavy card stock. GREAT sturdy paper, but if you don't like anything but bright white paper, this may be a no-go for you.

Next is the monthly layout, with suggestions about things to do called "Blooming Ideas" on the right side of the right page, and notes space on the bottom of the pages.
Then, at the beginning of each week, you have this page that includes weekly tasks, a menu planner, and space for a shopping list.  Here you can see my major problem with this planner...the line width. Only about 1/8" throughout.

Then you have the weekly layout.  I took these pictures on top of Clairfontaine paper, which is VERY white, so you could see the color of the paper.  The weekly layout is genius, and task oriented instead of appointment oriented, although there is space at the top of the dailies for AM and PM. At the bottom, there are places to record your water intake, veggie intake, exercises, and daily tasks.  You can see that the daily tasks are numbered, and go along the bottom of both pages.  When you complete them each day, you just color in or cross off the appropriately numbered circle. How incredibly smart is that?? As you'll see later, I have appropriated this idea...

At the end of each week, there is a Weekly Review page (more utter brilliance) and two pages for Notes, one on the right of the Weekly Review page, and one Notes page on the back of this page (that would be the left side, and on the right is the beginning of the next week).

At the back there are 9 months of future planning pages (the layout is a blocked month on one page with notes at the bottom), so it goes through June 2012.  Then there  is one page of Future Planning, with a 2012 and 2012 calendar, and monthly boxes through June 2013. After that there are 6 Notes pages like the ones at the end of the week. This would be great for contacts or other permanent or long-term lists that you carry.  Alternately, you can purchase from the website an address book that is smaller than the planner and can be moved from quarter to quarter.

After the Notes pages, there is a clear plastic sheet for business cards, and one clear plastic envelope. These are a bit flimsy, but remember that each one of the planners is only for one quarter, so they should hold up fine for that time period--provided they're not overstuffed by the user *ahem*.  Then on the back inside of the planner, is the continuation of the information from the front inside, as I talked about earlier.

Now, I think this planner rocks, frankly. I wish I could use it, because I think it's just a stroke of brilliance (Filofax could take some notes here).  However, the fact that the lines are so narrow does me in completely.  There is just NO way I can use this as a planner! I'm glad I bought it though, because I learned LOTS. I have appropriated some of their ideas and adjusted my Uncalendar accordingly.
On the top under "What Needs To Be Done This Week?" I have blocked off space for a check box (so satisfying when you can check it off!) and placed routine weekly tasks like clean the fish tank (blech). I usually get this done any way, but I like having the routine reminders.

Then in the small green box on the very top right, I have put "Daily Tasks" and assigned them each a number.  I have then put the numbers 1 through 5 on the middle blue line on the daily spaces.  When I complete each task, I cross off the number! This is really helpful for establishing a routine, because honestly? I suck at routines...I hate them, but am comforted by them at the same time.

On the left side of the weekly page, I have added some of my categories from my Planner Pad, and also added a Weekly Review space in the green lined box up top.  I think this is genius, and it's nice to go back and figure out what you were doing and also to be able to make readjustments to your plan(s) for the future.

I haven't added much to the monthly blocks (aren't they nice and LARGE?), but I did add in the note space at the left of the monthly calendar a "Need" and "Want" list.  These will be waiting a LONG time it seems...*sniff* but I totally digress.

At the back of the Uncalendar, there are 12 note page (2 pages) layouts.  These are so smart, they allow you to add notes to your monthly calendar.  **As an aside here, I have decided that I could probably get by with a monthly calendar with note pages, and may switch to the Moleskine monthly next year.  This added to my daily log book should be close to perfect, even though it requires me to carry 2 books.

On the left side of the page, I keep a running prayer list.  I haven't included that so that I can protect names, lest anyone should be made uncomfortable.  You can see at the bottom I've added RAIN. Yeah, I'd love it if you'd put rain for New Mexico on your prayer list too, if you're the praying type. Thanks!

Then I have a mid-month review sheet that I cut out from my Planner Pad.  I don't know where I got this, but it is really helpful.  Now to build in a routine for using it...On the right side of the notes page is oodles of space to use however.  I've not allocated this space yet, any ideas? I LOVE the idea of all that space though!

So I have learned a few really valuable things here: 

1. The Woman's Success Planner is just a stroke of pure GENIUS, and even if you don't use it as your main planner, the investment of at least one quarter as a reference guide is money really well spent.  If you are goal oriented at all, and have smaller writing than I do, GO FOR IT! You won't regret it at all. (Also, you should totally get the Address book and Leather Cover for it, then you should do a blog post!)  And if you're a dedicated Filofax user, you can STILL put the quarters in the back or front of your Filofax to fill in any gaps that the Filofax inserts might be leaving in the planning of your life.

2.  I like a honkin' huge planner. I write big, and I like having some white space around what I write any way. (I totally miss having a leather binder though, with a pen loop and space for "stuff") Also, I am NOT creative, and need the help of others to figure out how to use my planner it its best advantage. I guess I feel like since I don't have some big high powered job (or any job right now, for that matter) that every day life is irrelevant to plan.

3.  I may be able to get by with just a monthly planner, and then use a lined notebook as a daily log.  I am still using this format as per my last post. I can always add the week info into the log book, also as per my last post.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Daily Log

So a couple of weeks ago, I was still again lurking on Plannerisms (my favorite new hobby, apparently), and I came across some posts (Which I can't seem to find. Just go peruse the whole blog, it's all good stuff any way and you'll enjoy yourself) Laurie did about using a planner as a "daily log book".  Since this is how I was primarily using the daily pages in my Filofax--albeit being frustrated by the lack of space--I decided I would work on this idea.

I found an old Piccadilly notebook that I got on sale at Borders a couple of years ago lying around gathering dust.  It looks just like a Moleskine, and is the same type of format replete with elastic cord, ribbon page marker (which I hate) and pocket in the back.

I just opened a page...and started. No planning, no laying out...I just went. I dated one week by dating the left hand page of a leaf, and then allowed 2 pages per day.  Then I decided at the end of that week that a leaf with the week ahead on two pages would be a good idea.  This way I could put any tasks for the week, any things to "research" (what I call all the time I spend online. It sounds so much prettier than "killing time"), blog ideas, etc.  I mark it with this yellow flag, so it's always easy to turn to. This "weekly" page keeps evolving, and I really like that.  I love that every week I can vary the format, the print, the color of pens, whatever I want. FREEDOOOMM!

As for the Piccadilly--I actually don't like it and wouldn't buy another.  Mind you, it's better than Moleskine by a long shot: much better paper and no nasty chemicals (read their site, I swear! It's a Prop 65 warning for CA residents because Moleskine uses a "plastic softener" PLUS, they're made in China. I'm trying to stop buying things made in China.  Just a personal conviction).  However, I find that the lines are WAY too narrow for my writing, and that there is a fair amount of show through on the pages (you can see that in the page above) especially with fountain pen ink.  I also prefer paper with a bit of "tooth" to it, and these pages are very slick.  It takes my fountain pen ink (Private Reserve in Fiesta Red, if you're interested) a fair amount of time to dry.  Frixions work fantasmically on it though!  Here's the page I used to test my new ones on:

I think when I finish this notebook I will try either the  Ecosystem Notebooks or the Exacompta Basics notebooks.  Both of them have a bit of tooth, and the Ecosystem is recycled AND made in the U.S. Plus, I've decided that I really prefer white paper to ivory.

But meanwhile back at the ranch: This "log book" experiment is working WONDERFULLY well.  On the daily pages, I just write the weather, things that are going on (lots about fires lately, sadly), things the kids do/say, thoughts, feelings etc. There is OODLES of space, as I can determine how many pages I need per day--I LOVE THIS PART!!

The only things I'm still having trouble with are:  1. Where to put contacts. I don't want to have to re-write these, and right now they're still in my Filofax Topaz (which is wearing at the corners already *sniff*. Crummy leather)  2. Where to put lists.  3.  Some routine tasks are not making it onto my weekly pages.  Of course, with my life having come to a grinding halt this summer, it's not all that critical, and I have plenty of time to work on solutions to these issues.  I think that as this is working so very well, even if I return to a "regular" type planner, I will continue with the daily log book.  This means that my planner choices and needs have changed very dramatically--and you know what that leads to---Yep...MANY MORE HOURS ON PLANNERISMS!! (Doing RESEARCH, I said! RESEARCH)

**HUGE thank you to Laurie, without your blog I would be so lost...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Uncalendar Review

A few weeks ago, as I was going through another gut wrenching episode of planner angst, I was again lurking on Plannerisms (My favorite site for inspiration!).  As I was going back through posts searching for a planner that I thought might work for me, I came back across Laurie's review post on the Uncalendar.

I hadn't considered this planner seriously before, and I'm not sure why--so I ordered one (the 8.5" by 11" Lifestyle size, but they also make a Half Size), and may I say that Uncalendar has one of the best websites/storefronts EVER.  Other planner folks (*ahem* Planner Pad *ahem*) could take some notes on this user friendly interface!  After you create a profile, you can log back in and track your order (Super handy for those of us who are obsessed concerned about when we'll receive our fix merchandise). Also, there is a section called The Training Room with all kinds of handy additional information about how to use the Uncalendar to its best advantage.

I got the Uncalendar pretty fast (the Uncalendar company is in Arizona, and I'm in New Mexico. How convenient...), and then almost as soon as I opened it, I came to a screeching halt.  I'm going to wait a few minutes while you go look here and here and here at the insides of this planner.

Are you back? Good. Now you can understand how overwhelmed I was at the empty boxes on the left side of the weekly planning pages.  I simply have NO idea how to set these up.  I tried using the categories that I described in my Planner Pad post, but that was a no-go. Plus, I have to admit, that as papers go, the Uncalendar paper is marginally better than Filfoax paper--especially compared to Planner Pad paper which is an outstanding quality.  This limits the pens that I can use to doodle/draw/mess in my planner, and that frustrates me; as do the primary colored boxes.

I didn't take any pictures of the Uncalendar, because the Uncalendar website shows the insides better than I can, and to be honest, I haven't written anything but dates into this planner at all.  I plugged in 2 weeks worth of dates....and then did nothing else.  I went back to my Planner Pad for the time being, and have NO idea what to do with my Uncalendar.  I may use it as a lesson planner for my kids--any other ideas?

Now, this is not Uncalendar's fault.  It is lovely, really, and the notes pages in the back of the planner are GENIUS. A whack of those can be ordered from Uncalendar by themselves, which is totally worth it folks, because these note pages rock.  Just don't expect to be able to use your Lamy Safari on them.

Verdict: For me, another planner fail, but a really nice planner for visual/creative types, and if you even think this will work for you, order it.  It's certainly inexpensive enough to try out, and even if it doesn't work, you can use the notes pages any way, so not a total loss for sure.  The customer service from Uncalendar is spectacular, and this company is unhesitatingly recommended.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Planner Pad Review

Here is my long overdue Planner Pad review. This should be part of a planner review series of about 3 or 4, so stay tuned! More to come!!

I first started using Planner Pads a few years ago. I read "Take Back Your Time" by Jan Jasper (one of the best time management books ever), and Planner Pad was one of her suggested planners because it has a good week to view set-up:
The first year I used them, I used the personal size, and that was ok, but I didn't have much success the first year. Not Planner Pad's fault though, I just didn't know what I wanted in a planner, and I had a hard time figuring out how to use all the blank space at the top. I ordered one again for the next year; again epic fail.

Then I moved on to other things, namely FC or just generic Wal-Mart offerings. Then about a year ago I saw this video. I immediately ordered the personal size Planner Pad, decorated it, and proceeded to use it until my Granny died. After that, I couldn't use it any more because it made me sad, so I ordered the Executive size to start January 2011. I decorated it, and had every intention of using it...but I had also gotten interested in Filofax by that time, and I've waffled between the two ever since.

Planner Pad, however, has many virtues, and I've really begun to like using it. It comes with a black cover that you can have imprinted with your name for an extra fee.  To me, the black cover is super boring, and I really prefer decorating mine.  (Right now it also houses a quote, a picture of Colin Firth [yummy], and some info I cut out of a magazine about financial stuff).  I seal both covers with packing tape when I'm done decorating.

 Inside on the second page (first page is Planner Pad company info), there is a page for Personal Information, that holds the standard name, address, and ICE space for that information.
Then there are eight pages of Important Phone Number pages, broken down alphabetically, with a varying amount of lines according to the letter. (For instance, more G's than Z's). 

After that there is the current year dates, next year and the year after that, all in regular calendar format on one page. Then there are 3 annual planners, again for this year, next and 2013. Then there is one page of holidays (only American and some Canadian, unfortunately), then a page of USA time zones. Sadly, this planner does not have world times zones, which would be REALLY useful!

After that, there are the Notes page and month page that are standard every month. Then, the week pages start.  On the week pages you have space at the top for categories/to-do's or whatever you want to use it for, then under that you have spaces for to-do's for each day, then at the bottom are the appt. times for each day. Here is the way Planner Pad suggests you use their system, but I use mine a little differently because I don't have many time specific tasks.  I still use the top for categories, and I link a couple of the top spaces to use more space for fewer categories.  I use from left to right "Dreams" this takes up two spaces; "MIT's" most important tasks, this takes one space' "Work On" one space; "Research" for online stuff, two spaces; and "Blog" one space. 

Under the Notes/Calls space at the far right I put extra notes or reminders, then I put my weekly Gratitude List under that and above the Expenses section.  I use the Expenses section for extra notes. Right now, I'm using the appointment space at the bottom as a journal of sorts for daily events as they happen. It works ok, but this space is not really optimum for me, and may be the deal breaker with Planner Pad. :O(

After the week pages for the year, there are 3 yellow note pages, and then 12 yellow pages that Planner Pad lists to be used for Goals/Projects/Calendar, but which can be used for anything.  There are the days of the week printed really lightly at the top of the page, and then horizontal and vertical lines, but of course those can be written or drawn over however you wish.  I use these pages usually to tape/glue in other stuff I want to keep or be reminded of.  The very last page is a yearly calendar with last year, this year and next year on it.  You can also buy "Insta Pockets" from Planner Pad for the front and back so you can stash other stuff in your planner. I always buy these; this year I only bought the back one because I don't like having junk in the front. 

Planner Pads are very durable, and hold up well to a year's worth of abuse easily. Planner Pad paper quality is outstanding, and can hold up to everything but Sharpie markers (although Sharpie pens work fine).  I use a lot of Le Pens for the colored stuff and boxes and highlights that I draw around my random writings, and they work beautifully with absolutely no bleed through. Also, the Planner Pad can't be beat for the ability to attach ephemera! There is plenty of space, and the pages hold up well to glue sticks, rubber cement, staples, washi tape, and paper and binder clips.  In many ways, this planner works really well for me EXCEPT:

1. Appointment times are useless for me, and a waste of space
2. No pen loop (but not a deal breaker, really)
3. Not really conducive for those "listy" items like Books to Read, Internet usernames/passwords, Bucket List, and the like (although I did start keeping the things I need/want to buy on the Notes page that is opposite the Monthly blocks page, and that works well)
4. I use the Executive Size, and it's a bit bulky to carry around
5. There is not enough daily "journaling" space, although that is easily remedied by using a Moleskine or other notebook for that purpose

Any way, hope you like the review. Kimberly Wilson recently tweeted me, and said she would do a "How I Use My Planner Pad" blog post, so I will let you know when that comes out; it should be fab just like her! I can't wait...

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!!


PS: All pictures are cut out of magazines by me, and added to my PERSONAL PLANNER! None have been sold or used in any way so as to violate any Copyright! Picture on back inside page is of Angelina Jolie, because I think she rocks.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Random Wrap-Up

So I just wanted to check in and post a few random things. Thanks to all of you who have read and commented on my blog!! And a huge thanks to Philofaxy for the links!

Random #1--I had posted on FB about how smoky it was here because of various fires in AZ. The wind blows SO hard here, that we get all the pleasantness from said fires. Here's what it looked like the other day:

 About 20 minutes after I took this, it got worse. By sunset, you couldn't see 2 blocks away. Getting really tired of this really quickly! (Mind you, I'm thrilled to not be in tornado alley, so it's all good).

Random #2--Did I tell y'all that a couple of weeks back I bought a black Baroque off of eBay? I love this design, and was happy to find the black one, and at a GREAT price I might add.  Seller was FABULOUS, and I had my planner in 2 days! (If she's still on eBay, I'll link her on Twitter and FB this next week, with her permission). I'm obviously not using this as my main Filo, both because I'm using my Topaz, and because I'm having MAJOR planner issues. I have a plan though...I've been doing some spiritual "exploring" and deciding about what I really believe--so right now the Baroque is my Tarot Journal and "dark grimoire" of sorts. I put a bunch of blank note paper in it from my Topaz and Domino that wasn't being used. I absolutely love it. (I think I'm cursed w/ funky smelling Filofaxes though, it smells funny like the Topaz did):
 Baroque next to the Topaz

Inside front, showing the pattern of the inside cover. Same pocket set-up as the Malden.

Back inside cover. I love that it has the pattern inside, kind of like a "secret". Fun.

Random #3--I bought a Parker Planner after seeing in on Plannerisms, and I got it on Friday. 
Inside front cover.
Beginning of the week, and first page.
There's only one problem with it really...

It's TINY. Now, I know what you're thinking, and yes, the dimensions were on the Parker Planners website. I'm a visual sort though, and sometimes dimensions don't sink in until I actually see something in person. This planner, while it is GREAT, is obviously not going to work for me, and may end up being a blog giveaway...stay tuned for that. (Wish they made this format in a planner about 4 times this size, it would be brilliant).

It actually was helpful in deciding what I really need/want out of my planner though, and certainly not a waste of $/time. They are really reasonable, and would be perfect to drop in a bag if you don't want to carry around your full-size planner.

Random #4--My kids are budding photographers/fashion designers, and I thought I would share their latest work. Obviously, their victims models were thrilled:

And, that's about it I think...NO WAIT! Thank you to Steve from Philofaxy for the smashing Skype chat this morning! Can't wait for the next one!!