Never Too Late to Start Planning

Planner

I took a long time to settle on a planner set-up for 2022. I spent the better part of December waffling about whether I wanted to purchase a pre-printed planner, use a ring planner, design my own planner or try the bullet journal method again. I assume I’m not alone in this sort of planner indecision if the number of planner systems and page layouts available are any indication.

Side view

What finally coalesced for me was figuring out that as much as I love the size and cover of my Filofax, the rings pose challenges for effectively using both the left and right pages without having to hover my hand or arm over the chasms created by the rings in the center. Once I figured out that the simple, sturdy leather cover was the key to my planning systems, I knew that some version of a Traveler’s Notebook would be required.

Then I established the “right” sized notebook/paper for me — I settled on the B6 size which is essentially 5″ x 7″. This size is actually in between an A5 size and an A6 size.  The A6 size is basically 4″ x 6″ size which I find a little too small but A5 (almost the same size as half-letter) can become too large to carry around on a daily basis, especially if it is in a leather cover.

A5

148 x 210 mm

5.8 x 8.3 in

B6

125 x 176 mm

4.9 x 6.9 in

A6

105 x 148 mm

4.1 x 5.8 in

Inside front cover

So, I invested in a custom leather cover from Bassy & Co (via Etsy, approx. $85). The cover includes four elastics for notebooks as well as pockets in the front and back to store cards, ephemera and loose paper. I ordered mine with the jade green cover, aqua stitching and requested that the pen loop be left off.

Monthly Calendar

Inside my new planner cover, I custom designed a monthly calendar insert using my design skills and some starter elements from the 2022 Deluxe Moon Kit from Ra Element (via Etsy, $30). The original files were sized for a personal planner and did not include a month-on-two-pages calendar so I built that myself and then added in some moon phase info, astrological associations and other holidays.

Inside pages

Next in my planner set-up is a Paperblanks Midi size notebook with blank pages. I realize blank notebooks aren’t ideal for a BULLET journal but it was what I had on hand that fit the notebook and had decent, fountain pen-friendly paper.

I have been using guide sheets behind the pages to keep my text relatively straight but my goal is to upgrade to a dot grid notebook for the bullet-portion of my planner in the next month or so. In the mean time, I am working out kinks in my bullet-y system.

Back page

Each day, I write the date at the top of a page and jot to-do’s and appointments. Then on the rest of the page (plus any additional pages) I use the space to log anything I want to note. I might write down the podcasts I listened to, the books I read, music I listened to, shows or movies I watched, food I ate, new project ideas, project notes, funny things someone said, etc.

So, really, I’ve combined fancy Bullet Journaling with Austin Kleon’s log book and I am pretty content with what I have so far. I am using my monthly calendar for any “forward planning” like a doctor’s appointment, haircut, vacation (HA!) or other event and then add those to my daily page.

The nice thing about the Bullet Journal method is that if you need to start a project planning page, just flip to the next page and start it. Monday, I had to add a page to start a list of all the places I needed to update my credit card info after my card number was stolen this week. Just knowing that I have a list and can mark when I’ve updated the CC info has reduced my anxiety about the whole event.

I did a lot of reading and research about how people Bullet Journal and, while most of the examples online are the super pretty pages with no cross outs, leaky pen marks or shoddy scrawl, there are a lot of good ideas for what kinds of info it was possible to get granular about. Also, knowing that this is a record for me and no one else, I feel better trying Bullet Journaling again for 2022.

I am sure that, over the year, my planning system will evolve and change but I think I am headed in the right direction.

What system have you found works best for your planning and/or journaling?

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10 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Two weeks into the year I still haven’t settled into the right method. This helped me a lot! I think I’m seeing your “bullet-y system” as my comfy place. Thanks, Ana! And Happy New Year.

  2. This is sort of similar to the system I use. I have a lot of trouble finding B6 notebooks. I wish more companies made them. It seems they all think A5 is the preferred size when in reality it is the size I ‘settle’ for because B6 isn’t as available. Sad.

  3. I’ve learned that my preferred go-to size notebook is the B6. This year, I’m using a Midori B6 size planner, which I like but it’s not as well thought out as with A5 and A6 size planners. Another vote for more B6!

  4. What a beautiful notebook cover!

    I’ve learned that I need to be able to move pages around, insert new pages, archive old ones, and I want an attractive cover that I can swap out with the seasons or my mood. Half-letter discbound notebooks have been my choice for years. In my work notebook, I use customized Agendio inserts with tabbed section for personal notes that eventually get moved to a personal discbound notebook that stays at home.

  5. I am using a B6 slim Jibun Techo Days. The grid is very small, but i am adapting to writing smaller. It forces me to slow down a bit and I’ve found that beneficial. This is only my 2nd year using a planner in my life (I’m 48). I’m not sure this is the right system for me, but the process has been fun. I love the beautiful cover i bought for it from Baum-kuchen.

  6. Wow, more B6 fans! It’s my “golden mean” notebook size but hard to find. Still not decided on planning but I am using my TNs. Just need to figure out a system. My niece sent me the Tokyo station TN from Japan in 2020 (imagine, she lives near the store but never went in!) so I use that as my personal book. The regular one is for work.

  7. Hi Ana, when you mention ring planner, do you mean the kind that are like 3-ring binders? Or the disc style?

    I got a Recollections planner a few years ago at Michael’s. The rings bothered me on one side when writing. The disc style, like Levenger’s Circa or Office Depot’s Tul, fold over nicely so the discs never bother me. Tul is good, Circa is better, and some are currently on sale at Levenger. Both offer accessories.

    1. Lori, I’ve been using a Filofax but I do have some disc bound options available as well. Maybe I’ll try them again.

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