One of the first questions about my planning system that I’m often asked is “What do I use?” While I find the question exacerbating, I understand. It is one of the first questions I ask others! Why do we pose this question? I believe it’s a combination of reasons that boil down to curiosity. We often perceive others as having some magical tool that we don’t possess and it’s what makes the system work.
The tools I use work for me (most of the time). They are magic when I believe and trust in them. I don’t expect that my system will work in the exact same way for anyone else. It’s why I tend to provide general tips and not specifics, though there are some tools I can share with you.
What do I do? I use a hybrid digital/analog system. There are some things that technology excels at. There are other areas where a human still does a better job. I love to write by hand and to doodle. Over the years I’ve found a way to combine both into a complete system that works for me.
In the coming weeks I’ll explore each of these items in greater depth.
Where do I use technology?
As much as I love a paper calendar, this is where I prefer technology. On paper I’d have to use codes, symbols, and many different colors to convey different calendar topics that are simple to do with a click. I can also switch between layout formats — some days I want to see a vertical week view of my schedule and at other times I need a grid-based month. This also lets me share calendars and display or hide that information as needed.
While I brain dump to paper, I rely on a digital task manager, especially for reoccurring everyday tasks. I like to write those things I need to remember and keep less important items online — and honestly writing in every daily recurring task gets tedious quick. I also like to go digital for tasks that have a formula, even if they’re not as frequent as daily. Modern systems are also able to translate dates such as “every last Thursday” and put it in the right spot. This reduces mistakes, over the years I’d flipped to the wrong page in my planner and written as task on a date that’s off-by-a-week more than once.
Where do I use paper notebooks?
Looking at my desk, they are everywhere. I use notebooks for my log and reference books, first drafts, general planning, and in my journal (aka morning pages).
Why? Longstanding habit, preference, and ease of use. I don’t need to worry if the battery is charged or if I have a wifi connection. (Though I do need to make sure I have my books.) The exact notebooks I use has shifted and changed, though the size has been a constant A5 for many years.
Earlier this year I took a plunge and invested in some of my favourite notebooks. Shortly after the shipment arrived, life got complex and I didn’t prioritize adding them to the website. It’s time. Sign up for the newsletter to be the first to learn when I list for sale some of my favourite products from Exaclair. What do you gain by purchasing from me when there are so many other retailers with a larger selection? You help support this pen at work project. I have a handful of Rhoadiarama Sewn Spine A5 dot grid notebooks, Clairefontaine lined Mimesys Notebooks, and orange hard cover lined Rhodia Webnotebooks.
There is one more special product that I’m excited about. It’s a planning grid notebook! The goal of this book is to focus on planning, not stressing about cost or fancy paper. It’s a 36 page perfect bound A5 book printed on inexpensive 60# uncoated white paper. I’ve been using an earlier version of this book all year. I wouldn’t write with a very wet fountain pen on it, but the point of this book is to scribble, think, and plan. It works for me, I hope it will work for you. It will have an introductory price of $8 — with free shipping (US only) and the PDF planning grid included.
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