Holidays have come to an end, the school year has started and everyone is back to work down this end of the world. I rather like that we roll in to the new year after a long summer break. I feel enthusiastic and ready to tackle some new and exciting projects.
And, with new projects and a new year comes new planning and the thrill of new planners, notebooks and stationery. To say I'm a stationery lover might be something of an understatement. I've always adored notebooks, pens, fresh pages and new beginnings. They promise adventure, possibility and the vague hope that I might be suddenly re-invented and able to finally master the art of juggling a million balls while appearing (and feeling) as graceful as a ballerina.
I'm a very keen planner - not a crazy "schedule my whole life" sort of planner but a "get stuff done by breaking it down into manageable chunks" sort of planner. I haven't always been good at tackling big jobs without feeling completely daunted by them. I think it's something I learnt growing up but I think I learnt it pretty young. I vividly remember looking at our messy playroom as a young girl and wondering how on earth to tidy it. It felt totally overwhelming. But, my mother was something of an organiser herself and I learnt that everything did in fact have a place and if I just started, first by picking up the dolls and putting them in the dolls basket, then the books back to the bookcase and the cars into the car basket, eventually I'd start to see the yellow vinyl floor again and I'd feel hopeful that the end was in sight. I can't say I loved it but figuring out how to tackle a job, step by step, a bit at a time, is pretty jolly satisfying.
So, planning has stuck with me and my love of planners and notebooks and all things paper has grown.
I had a homegrown system for keeping track of what I was doing for Truly Myrtle last year - a squared soft-covered moleskin journal (the black one), a wall calendar with big squares and a clipboard of printed sheets that looked a lot like these ones. I was actually planning to buy this particular pad after seeing my friend Joanne using one but eventually the cost of getting it to me inspired me to make something like it on my computer and print out pages myself as I need them.
My system worked pretty well. I'd use my moleskine to keep notes of everything that came into my head; ideas for patterns and blog posts, notes from meetings, newsletter planning - everything. Then, at the start of the week (or the end of the one before) I'd make a note of all the things I wanted to tackle through the week and roughly plan out on my weekly sheets when I might get things done. I only let myself have three boxes a day so I didn't go nuts and create a jam-packed schedule that left no room to eat or brush my teeth. My monthly calendar was useful to see further out, count back weeks to work out when I need to get things started and have a more visual idea of how much time I had for things.
But, in about August last year I found myself falling into the trap of wanting to pretty up my system and consolidate everything into one place. For a while I resisted changing what was working. I saw the very fabulous looking Get To Work Book hit the shelves and didn't get one. I started hunting around for new planners, lusted after gorgeous leather notebooks, handmade notebooks and notebooks that claimed to transform the way you worked.
Eventually, I couldn't resist any more and after convincing myself that Truly Myrtle needed a planning makeover, bought myself a 2016 Get To Work Book and had it shipped to me at no small expense.
The book itself is sturdy, not terribly attractive but the quality is really great. I love that the pages are thick, I do love the ring binding although being a left hander this drives me completely nuts too because my hand drags all over the binding and I can't write on the right side while it's flat open. It's been really well thought out, the monthly review pages are useful, the column at the start of the week for three action items is useful and I love that it starts the week with Monday and the days are laid out vertically across the page. But, I'm really struggling with it.
At first, I had blank notebook phobia. It took a whole heap of nerve to start writing in it. (Silly isn't it? I have rather a collection of blank notebooks that I can't quite bring myself to write in yet ...) Once I started it was fine. I'm not a terribly tidy planner, I don't embellish my books or use stickers and washi tape to make things pretty. I use them like a workhorse and scribble and write and cross things out. I do have pen preferences though - I like ball points or ink nibs. Nothing that smudges too badly (again, that left-handed thing).
My main frustrations are with the size - it's just feeling too small. Now, this is completely strange because it's larger than the A4 weekly spread that I was using before. But I'm wondering if it's because I'm aiming to do all my note taking, idea jotting and brainstorming in there too? Even though there are pages included for brainstorming and lists, there really isn't room for all of the things I want to write down.
I'm also finding it a bit cumbersome to find particular pages I'm after. I use the monthly calendar a lot to see where I am and how long I've got for things and although those are easy to find because they have tabs on the edges, I can't keep my weekly spread and my monthly calendar open at the same time and for some reason that's bugging me.
I'm kinda longing for my old familiar system again. Maybe it's still early days and I'm not so good with change?
Also, I've been feeling a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) on the whole bullet journal thing. I used my black moleskine a bit like a bullet journal last year. And hearing/seeing a whole bunch of people talking about bullet journals (including Joeli & Boho Berry) I'm itching to do that again.
I've also tried a couple of new things:
- Yellow legal pads for jotting down ideas that won't fit into my planner - I got the idea from Abbey and they are really great. Cheap, easy to find and not at all precious so no worries about making a mess.
- Evernote. I'm completely on the fence about this one. I was sceptical about how me and an online system would work and I'm still unsure. I'm using it for keeping notes about my newsletter ideas, plans for pattern releases and podcast interviews. It's pretty clever, I can use it on my computer and my phone and while I'm sure I'm not using it effectively, I actually have no desire to figure out how I should. I totally forget things are written in it. Maybe digital isn't for me?
- A simple school squared maths book. For keeping notes about what patterns I'm working on, have planned and when I might get them done. I think this might be one too many notebooks now ...
Now I've written all this down, I'm actually laughing to myself. I wanted to change my system mostly because I wanted to consolidate my calendar, moleskine and weekly spread into one planner. Look how many books/programmes and bits of paper I'm using now?
I think I need to go back to the drawing board.
What do you do? Do you have a fabulous system for organising your projects and planning? I'd absolutely love to hear about it.