Friday, January 6, 2012

The Picky Writer's Day Planner

I adore day planners, always have. There's something exciting and fun about a fresh calendar. Personally, I'm more productive when I write my daily goals out, and it only makes sense to keep them in one place. So with a Staples coupon in hand, I trotted to the store and debated on the best planner.

Project 50 - Day #1 (Moleskine)
Photo by mcgraths

Many of them come wire bound. I don't like this kind because it's impossible to add sections or to take a paper out temporarily. I do like Franklin Covey planners. They have great preprinted sections and usually come with a three-ring binder. However, they are almost always too big for my needs. I don't want an 8.5" x 11" planner, and the smaller versions are too thick.

In the past, I've made my own planner out of a blank three-ring binder, and this year, I decided to weigh the other options first. My planner should be a certain size. It would need to fit into my everyday purse for when I head out on my weekly Idea Hour dates. It would also need to have a yearly calendar with sections for each of the months, tabbed dividers for my business categories, and at least one pocket to store slips of papers or index cards. I vowed I would buy or create the perfect planner, regardless the cost.

The calendar aisle scared me. It's a big aisle, folks. But I gamely perused the selections. You would not believe the prices! Or maybe you would and I'm just super cheap. I liked one but it was too large, and I fell into a coughing fit when I saw that it was $42.99. Ouch. Then I picked up several other models, disregarding each for lacking something in my above criteria.

Thankfully, Staples has an entire section of refills. I snuck to the three-ring binder section and actually found the exact size binder I had in mind. Only 1/2" thick and a compact version (I'm guessing 6" x 8"), I snatched it up even though the price made me cringe.

Then I headed back to the calendar aisle and spent another twenty minutes deciding which refills would suit my needs best. I opted for a smaller version of looseleaf paper, a package of 15 small, clear protective covers, and a tabbed monthly calendar insert. I did not purchase a one-sheet calendar of 2012. They didn't carry any. But I did find a slew of free printable options online when I got home.

My day planner ended up being expensive: $7.29 for the binder, $3.79 for the looseleaf papers, $4.99 for the protective covers, and $10.99 for the tabbed monthly calendar insert. I also threw in a ten pack of colored Sharpies on sale for $3.00. You would have too, admit it. :)

So, not including the Sharpies, I paid $27.06 excluding tax for the exact day planner I wanted. Normally, I would have found a way to create a day planner for under ten dollars, but there comes a time when you know what works for you and what doesn't. This one works, and hopefully, I would only need to replace the looseleaf paper and the tabbed calendar next year.

I don't feel too guilty about the price either. I use my planner every day, and at the above price, that's about $2.25 a month for recording, meeting, and exceeding my goals. Not bad!

Now that you know all about my thrilling day planner adventure, I'd love to hear how you keep track of your schedule. Do you have a day planner? Use your phone? Google Calendar? Do tell!

Have a fantastic weekend!


  1. I love any kind of organizational tool! I used to use Franklin Covey. The company I work for sends all their employees through the training. Now I use my outlook calendar. I still use the Franklin Covey "Better than a Yellow Pad" notebook for my notes and task list.

  2. I do have a day planner that I love and use, but I find I rely on my phone quite a bit. It beeps and whatnot to remind me of appointments, etc., helping to keep my scatter-brain in better focus, while my day planner just kind of looks pretty in my purse.

    I would pay any price for Sharpies, but Sharpies on sale!?! Be still my beating heart.

  3. Scary how much we have in common! Last year I used a spiral for the first time; ok, but I missed my contacts list. This year I went back to a FC refill with lots of blank boxes, but I'm already unhappy with it. My main criteria are to see the whole week at once, with a little note or goals section for the whole week.

    I've recently started using gmail's pop-up to-do list at work. When you check off a task you get the satisfaction of seeing it crossed out.

  4. Girlfriend! How long were you in that joint? lol

    I am semi-picky. I like the blocks to be lined (I don't write straight) and big enough for my pathetic writing. And I like the outside to be cool!

    That's where it ends. :)

  5. I love my day planner, too. It's Japanese, so everything is all neat and logically laid out. I don't know what I'd do without it!

  6. Julie: Better than a Yellow Notepad?? That sounds perfect! I'm going to check them out next time I'm at Staples. Thanks for the tip!

    Ayda: A beeper would be very handy! Do you ever use it for timed writing? I think that would be cool. And I know--sale Sharpies!! Yay!

    Elizabeth: Oh, I can totally relate. I'm so picky about visuals and space in my planner. I know exactly what you're talking about!

    Jessica P: At least 45 minutes!! No lie! Staples is like my Saks. I can lose a lot of time in there!! Oh, and my handwriting is horrible. Horrible.

    Talli: Japanese--I am sooo intrigued. I really want to see this bad boy!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  7. It's a funny coincidence, Jill, but I just read an article recently about how a lot of people are sticking with - or going back to - paper agendas! I think you made a great choice, and really, it's not that expensive. And think of it this way: it will be even cheaper next year, when all you need are new calendar inserts!

    Enjoy your weekly planning time, btw!

    Have a great weekend,

  8. I use a big ol' fat desk calendar so I can hilight and sticky-note to my hearts' content. We writers are so visual!

  9. I'm a big-ugly-desk-calendar gal. No bells and whistles, but my schedule is in my face every time I sit down.

    Other than that, a pretty 5 x 7 bound blank page spiral-bound book for my novel's notes and I'm set. (For this purpose, I like that the spiral allows me to fold back the cover so I can sit the notebook by my computer more easily.)

  10. I enjoy hearing about stuff like this. I think we need to see a picture of your selections! I use my BlackBerry to keep track of both work and personal appointments.

  11. I'm a paper girl. I can't transition to phones or my Kindle fire or anything like that. I have my trusty TJ Maxx planner in my purse...plain red. Works for me.

    You light up my life, Jill!

    So grateful for you!
    ~ Wendy

  12. I use a "pocket calendar" but don't record goals or word count..just meetings and appts! I keep thinking I need to switch to my phone, but haven't made the non-paper transition. Maybe in 2012? My big decision to make is "what color will it be this year?" Last year: green. This year? Haven't been to the stationery store yet. My to-do for this weekend!

  13. I use my phone to plan. Usually it's just the calendar function. I need to be more disciplined and plan out a schedule on a daily basis.

  14. You have completely convinced me to go out and buy a planner.

    My schedule is blowing up before my very eyes.

    I have revising and editing and writing to do.

    I have marketing to do for my debut.

    I have adoption stuff to take care of - like a 10-hour online course I have to complete over the next eight weeks, plus another online class to sign up and take as soon as possible. Home study. A book to finish (that is required reading). And a silent auction/trivia night fundraiser event to plan.

    Ensue hyperventilating here....

    So it any surprise I forgot a playdate last week?

    I need a planner so I can get myself organized!

  15. You will love this. Every week, I write each day on a little piece of recycled paper about 4" by 3". Then I put any important date on the calendar, so now that info is in two places. When I'm done, I throw the paper away with a big X on it. It I don't get something finished, I move it to the next paper.

    My family teases me about all my little notes, but this works great for me.

  16. Kathy: I've tried to go digital but it never works for me. I think the actual act of writing it helps me remember it or something? And I'm with you--next year will be a positive bargain!

    Bekah: Great idea! I'm always tempted by those huge tear-off calendars. It's nice hearing it works!

    Lynette: I love spiral notebooks for notes and journals too. They're so handy!

    Heather: Ooo! Blackberry! Nice! I'm in the process of "decorating" my new planner with a mini-vision-board back and front. I'll take a pic and share it when I finish. :)

    Wendy: I'm the same, and I LOVE TJMaxx for journals, notecards, and such. And I feel the same about you, Wendy! *hugs*

    Patrice: I love that you pick a color for the year. Maybe turquoise? Hot pink? Have fun with it!

    Brandi: That's a great idea because it's probably always with you. :)

    Katie: Okay, deep breaths. I know how rough busy, busy schedules can be. First, it won't last forever. Second, you're going to get everything done, so don't worry. Third, order take-out and don't worry about cleaning the tub. Fourth, you can do this!!

    Nancy: I DO love it! What a great system! Something tells me you accomplish a lot. Little notes make all the difference!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  17. I need to get a day planner. My schedule is partly in my head, partly on post it notes and whatever scrap I can find. I wonder if it would be easier to find writing time if I had an actual planner?

  18. I tried a cover-the-desk calendar one year...and realized in June that I was re-using days and it was still technically on March. Soo...I stick with the spiral-bound planners and change 'em out every year.

    Sharpies are to my brain, by the way, what squirrels are to dogs. I see 'em and can't help chasing 'em down. :)

  19. A coupon! Ah, now I can relate to coupons. I know your planner will work well for you.

    My planning consists of a to-do list. That's as organized as this girl gets!

    My bank gives out these small calendar planners every year. I carry it around with the best of intentions, but never use it.

  20. I'm a digital gal. I used Outlook and backed it up to my phone. But since I got an iPhone and iPad in Aug. I've been using the calendar that comes with the i-device and backing up to the iCloud. I also have a white board type calendar on the fridge. I used tiny stickers and glued them to magnets for repeating events. I can see at a glance where everyone is going and doing. Oh, and I just recently downloaded icons so I can put those on my icalendar. I love being able to at a glance stuff

  21. I can't think of a nicer way to spend a couple of hours! And I love the idea of finding the exact right things that work for YOU!!

    Definitely going to have to hit Staples soon, and try my hand at this!

    It was fun to share the journey with you, Jill. Thanks!

  22. Oh, girlfriend, we could be twins! Only I'm a lot older than you. Okay, twins at heart.

    I have a monthly planner at home for all my writing and homey lists, a dry erase board on my home office wall for large writing goals, and a monthly planner at work for my to-do lists there. Since I manage an office supply store, I get a discount on all those items. Bliss!

  23. Stacy: It works for me! You can try one and see how it goes. If it's not helping, ditch it!

    Kristina: Ha! That's too funny!!

    Susan: Simple. Love it! And, yes, I adore coupons. :)

    CJ: Someday, I see myself having a similar system to you. :)

    Patti: It's fun to spend a few hours on organizing! I enjoy it. :)

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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