I’ve often talked on my latest planner-related posts about my long-lasting planner slump and how unsteady not having a good planning system was making me feel.
After a brief flirt with Strike Thru back in April (I still think that with minor tweaks it’s a valid system, that’s why I funded Chris’ kickstarter), I’ve been in my current setup for more than 3 months now, which means I can safely say this time it’s going to last.
As much as I love bound notebooks (the first planner that I ever successfully used was a Moleskine after all) and the sturdy feeling they give when you hold them in your hands, I realise I just can’t give up the flexibility and adaptability that a ring planner can provide you. So, I thought, why can’t I just have both?
(a) The weekly calendar
I bought this Paperblanks weekly planner at the beginning of February and it has been the only reliable and constant piece of my 2017 planner embarrassment. It’s compact, it’s ruled and it’s just plain beautiful. It’s so compact in fact that it has allowed me to pair it with a ring planner to hold my lists, notes and to dos – my Boston Compact Filofax in pink.
(b) The GTD inspired system
I’ve never finished reading the book but I’ve seen so many videos and read so many articles on the subject that I’m pretty familiar with David Allen’s preachings. I briefly toyed with a GTD-based planner last year for a couple of months and liked it quite a bit, so back in May I thought that maybe it was worth going back to a system that had worked before. I currently have 6 sections in it, though I may tweak them a little in the future as I develop a more in-depth idea of what I need best.
(i) Brain dump
After my dashboard (where I keep pasted page flags and sticky notes) and under my section No. 1, I have my brain dump. I don’t know why I didn’t include it in my first attempt at GTD last year, since it has proven so useful. I recently talked about it so I won’t repeat myself here. I don’t have photos of it because it’s just old unused Filofax weekly pages scribbled across that I discard once I’ve transferred all the items in the appropriate section.
(ii) Lists By Context
This is the one bit that I find particularly useful and original in the system. Instead of having a endless master to do list that just becomes a big mishmash, or crowding my weekly/daily pages with excessive tasks I won’t be able to complete in any case, I find it very useful to just divide up and organise my tasks by physical location/time frame. I still have to figure out perfectly how many lists I actually want to have in this section, but for now the most essential are @Home, @TheMac, @TheLibrary and Someday/Someday. I also have a running list of things I want to buy for the new house.
(iii) Daily Pages Bullet Journal style
This is the best I’ve come up with. As I was explaining in my One Book July 2017 reflection post, this is the section I’m still pretty much struggling with. I like the free format and the flexibility it allows me, but there have been times I’ve felt a lack of structure. I’ll work more on this once I’m back from Italy.
(iv) The Projects Section
These are pages that I just transferred from the previous planner (as it’s clearly visibile by the date on the page above). I was inspired by this post (which is actually the one that had me trying the whole GTD system in the first place) to integrate my projects more into my daily life, so I wanted to have some details right at hand in my planner. I’ve not updated these pages yet, but just having them with me all the time helps me feeling more connected to my purpose.
(v) The Reference Section
Here I keep various lists that I need to look at from time to time + general reference material that is essential for my planning sessions. I like how useful this section has turned out to be, and I find myself constantly referring back to it.
I also have a 6th tab with materials related to my job hunting.
I already know I’ll have to tweak some parts of this planner, but the point is that fixing minore loose ends in a system that works is very different from jumping restlessly from one book to another. Is this system boring? Yes, definitely, but that’s not the focus here. I don’t need my planner to amuse me and I’m well past the point in which I care about stickers and decorations and all that jazz.
Productivity for productivity’s sake.