Tuesday, January 14, 2014

DIY Moleskine Planner

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Is there anyone out there who doesn't love a good notebook/journal/planner? Especially when it's a pages-like-butter-Moleskine? I'm pretty sure I have an unhealthy relationship with mine. For good reason. I've been searching for eons for The Perfect Planner. I've tried pre-made ones, a binder with printed sheets, pocket calendars, and everything else. I came close with a homemade spiral bound one I put together with my own printed sheets, including planning pages I designed specifically for my own needs. It was close, but not exactly what I wanted, because I couldn't throw that in my purse. Back to the drawing board . . .

Last year, I gave up the search. I bought a Yellow Moleskine Grid Notebook, and I am never looking back.

Isn't she lovely?

Let me take you on a little tour of my beautiful planner-baby, and show you step by step how easy it is to make your own perfect planner.  Whatever that looks like for YOU.  Because, ultimately, your planner will be a reflection of your brain, so if you want one of your own, take ideas from what I've done and make something that works for you.  If you recreate mine exactly, you'll be carrying my brain around, and that would just be weird.

Ok, where do we start?  Oh, yes.  At the beginning . . .

I printed a yearly calendar and shrank it to fit.  Boom.  Year at a glance.

Now comes the fun part.  Monthly pages.  I only do one or two months at a time, because I never know how many pages I'll need for notes in between months.  Plus, I like the ritual of sitting down at the end of a month and looking ahead at the next by creating a new set of pages.  Here's a look at the page I started for February. I couldn't in good conscience show you a current/past month filled out, because, well, there are lots of kooky folks floating around that I probably don't want knowing our schedule.  So for that reason and because I love you all, I set up next month a couple of weeks ahead of schedule.

As you can see, I use 6x6 blocks for the days (except for Thursday and Friday, which fall in the crease, and are bigger to accommodate that), which leaves me plenty of room each month no matter how the days and weeks fall.  This also gives me a full column on the right to use for weekly tasks/goals/notes I don't want to forget, and space to list monthly goals at the bottom.

***Please note the wonky lines, especially down around the end of the month. Can you believe I used a ruler and still managed that? Probably had something to do with writing on my lap or on the dog. THIS IS OK. I promise. This is a Just Get It Done kind of system.  Perfection is unnecessary, and, frankly, unwelcome here. Ahem. Moving on. ***

I try to use colored pens whenever I can, because (and this is very important) I love color and I'm visual and I like coding things that way. You might be a strictly black pen kind of person.  It's all good.

Moving on to weekly pages . . .

I only set up one week at a time. You might feel the urge to count out all the pages in your notebook and draw all your monthly calendars and set up every week so you'll know exactly where to put everything and you're going to want to yell at me because you want to know these things ahead of time and how can you live like this?! Resist this urge.  You can still keep future appointments and birthdays and such on your phone or on an online calendar. With this book, you don't need to have everything planned  and marked ahead of time. The beauty of this system is that it is fluid. Flow, baby. Flow.

Again, I would love to show you a page all filled out, but . . . kooks. So, this is a new week half set up. If you've seen anything about Bullet Journaling, this is sort of like that. But different. I didn't even realize that was a thing until recently. Major differences are that I'm visual so I like to see my month drawn out (instead of a list, but that's quicker, so it that works for you do that) and I like to block things and I have set places for my days and notes.

In the photo above you'll see that I have each day written out on the left-hand page. Each week, I refer to my monthly calendar and write down any appointments or tasks that are date-specific.  I use square check boxes, but I like the bullet journaling idea of using boxes for tasks and circles for events. I might start doing that.  I usually make two columns of tasks for each day (except Sat & Sun, as you can see they're smaller), putting household stuff and appointments on the left side and writing related work or personal projects on the right side. Quiet, sit-down tasks. It doesn't always work out this way, but it gives me another visual organization option.

The right-hand page is where the magic happens.  This is my weekly brain dump. Here I keep a list of weekly goals (with check boxes!), a running to-do list, writing tasks, shopping lists, or whatever else I'm working on that week.

Every once in a while, I add in a page set of just notes.  Blogging ideas, story notes, homeschool ideas, writing prompts (which I then forget to use, doh!), project lists, etc.

But WAIT! You might be panicking wondering how I ever go back and find these lists and notes. The bullet system suggests making an index page in the front of your journal. I am way too careless/inconsistent/scatter-brained to keep up with that.  Plus, I want to SEE my bookmarks.  Enter Washi Masking Tape. This stuff is brilliant, it won't tear your pages, and it's super cute and colorful. Also? It makes excellent bookmarking tabs.  Fold it over a page, leaving a little stick out, and BOOM. Tabs. You could even let them hang out far enough to write labels on them, if you are so inclined.

*** Once again, notice the ragged tape edges. I promise you, I am surviving JUST FINE like this. I don't have time to find scissors or measure the length of my tape pieces. I just rip a piece as needed. If you do have that kind of time for unnecessary perfection, I don't know what to say to you. Congrats? Oh, and we can't be friends. Just kidding. Maybe. ***

I like to put tabs along the side for my monthly calendars, and I put tabs at the top to mark important note pages. You can also use different color tapes to mark different types of notes.

So, that's my planner-journal-brain-baby. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE it?  I do. I really, really do. We are besties.

Do you make your own planner or do you have any planner-making tips you'd like to share?


  1. I am All Over the Place. I have a small pocket moleskine calendar for appointments, and it's the notebook type, so I can write notes in there. But I also have a Moleskine project notebook for all work-related stuff (would be lost without that), and I have a Moleskine writing notebook. Thoughts end up everywhere.... (but I do use washi tape tabs!!)

    1. I also keep a small kraft moleskine for each book I'm working on (ideally so I can make a pretty, individualized cover for each *one day*) and a volant one as a personal journal (ahem, my personal therapy/self-help/tear-stained-pages notebook). Oh, and a spiral morning pages notebook that I never use anymore, not when I'm actively working on a story. My random notes and ideas usually go in this one, because this is the only one I usually take everywhere with me.

      I also use a lot of sticky notes. :)

      Oh, gosh. My project notebook for the kids' stuff is a neglected mess. But I have this down, finally, and will build on the success! Baby steps!

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Lori. xoxo

      My project notebook is embarrassing. :(
      Baby steps.

  3. So timely! As I ponder over my 7 notebooks.

    1. :)
      I do have more notebooks for larger, individual projects. This is my catch-all brain dump.

  4. Yes! My square sheet moleskin just came in the mail. Figuring out how I want to set it all up. Thanks for sharing your brain ;-)

  5. This has great points that I am going to add to my documented life project journal!
    (I discovered washi tape when I started my project and yes...a little addicted, it's great stuff!)

    1. Glad you found some ideas, Alex! I need to look into the whole documented life thing . . . one day . . . .


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