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  • Kerstin

To All the Planners I've Loved Before

Updated: Sep 9, 2020

I have always been into paper products. My most anticipated activity of the year used to be buying school supplies. My mother wanted to me to buy the cheapest supplies (I understand now that she did have three kids buying supplies at the same time), but I always admired the pretty patterns and textures of the more expensive binders, folders, and pencil pouches. I would use those items as inspiration for my DIY decorated school supplies. One thing I did not have the luxury of buying was a planner-- that is until I left for college and it was the first time my school did not give me one.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash Media

This was the first planner I ever bought and I use it my first two years of undergrad. I felt like such put-together adult carrying it with me everywhere. I loved how every single month had a different design theme, and the title page for each month included a cute quote. The stickers in the front always corresponded with the monthly designs. I bought the specialty agenda greek stickers, though I believe they are no longer being made (or maybe I just don't frequent the right stores anymore). I remember that one year the cover was pink with light green alligators, and the other was light blue with pink and orange coral.

I ended up switching planners when the formatting no longer worked for me. I needed more than 5 lines a day for everything! Lilly Pulitzer planners only come in a weekly format, and the jumbo size doesn't give you more lines or space, at the time it is just a larger blown up version of the regular sized planner.

This planner offered me a little more room to work with my junior year, and I thought I was really posh carrying it with me in my "chapter attire". It had a hard cover which protected gold coils on the inside portion of the planner, a plus since the Lilly Pulitzer coils often would snag on things at the end of its life. I missed the stickers and the brightness of the Lilly planner, but this worked really well for me for that year. (I don't think that they make the same planner that I was talking about anymore. They are all either coiled or a bound book. I did link to a similar product though.) My planner was black and white thick horizontal stripes with gold foil on the front with the year.

Though I loved the sleekness of the Kate Spade planner, the actual pages did not work for my everyday once I had to start juggling my major, volunteer work, a job, and my fraternity obligations.

I used this planner my last year of undergrad, and my first year of my MA in Education. I wrote to do lists for the week on color coordinated full adhesive sticky notes that I could move around day-by-day in case I didn't finish all the tasks. One year my cover was light pink with green succulents, and the other it was black with white and pink flowers.

I loved that my cover could be personalized with my name, and I could switch back to old covers due to the plastic prongs. Erin Condren offers many different variations of planners depending on your life, though it is really easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of sections. It was not long after this planner I realized I disliked coiled planners in general, and though the covers were super easy to clean, I desired something sturdier and more refined.

I bought these additional accessories to helped me keep my days extra organized.

Perpetual Calendar (Perfect for keeping track of birthdays and anniversaries.)

Elastic Bands (I still use these bands to keep my notebooks & planner together when I head out.)

I used this planner during teacher training and when I taught ninth grade English. It allowed me to plan out lessons for my classes (honors and regular) while also making precise daily to-do lists. At the time I was getting a Masters in Education so it was perfect for helping me balance both. There was no reason to continue using it after I was no longer teaching full-time. I honestly don't really remember that cover of this... I want to say it was a multi-colored design?

Spoiler: I did not complete this degree and I have not taught below college-level since then. I realized teaching children was not my calling and I wanted to make room for someone who truly wanted to pursue it.

I really wanted to try the Emily Ley planner I had heard so many people rave about, so I bought one for my first year of film school in New York. I quickly fell in love with many of the Emily Ley products! All of the paper goods are of high quality with gorgeous designs, and the free printable section on the website really helps you organize your life. My favorite part of the planner actually had nothing to do with schedule: there are lifestyle lists, mindfulness pages, and home life organization tasks in the front of the planner. I loved going back to reference and update them throughout the year. The cover was navy blue with small gold foiled pineapples.

The Emily Ley planner was great in the fact that I could track everything hour-by-hour, but I craved more compartmentalization between work, school, and other projects. Like my previous planners, I was really done with the coil.

For my second year of grad school, I switched to a soft bound dotted bullet journal aka bujo where I could make my own layouts. I pulled from my favorite parts of all my previous planners. I experimented with monthly trackers, and yearly & monthly to-do lists; because what I needed changed month-to-month I didn't feel pressured to keep the same format for every page. I found a bunch of inspiration and ideas on pinterest. I went through multiple notebooks because I was using a daily format, so they only lasted a season at a time. They were all plain colors currently in stock though I sometimes painted the covers or added stickers. I only ended up switching because it was so time consuming to make the formatted pages and I realized I couldn't keep up. Full disclosure, I originally selected Moleskine notebooks because at the time I was working at a Moleskine store part-time in NYC-- I am unsure if I would use a Moleskine again or one of these: Rhodia, Leuchtturm, or ones found at Notebook Therapy.

This was the year that I went all out on sorting my personal and professional life on paper. I was doing a lot of mindfulness activities, and documenting life in journals, my bullet journal, and elsewhere. I plan to share some of those items in future posts.

I used a Moleskine planner my final year of grad school, and have been using it consistently recently for work (tasks, on-going projects). One side is an unlined week-at-a-glance and the other lined paper. The large size is perfect for me to grab and throw in my bag, and I prefer the softbound because it will lie flat on a table when I write.

In film school I sectioned off the lined side into four equal squares for: Homework & Readings, Projects, Film To-Dos, and Personal To-Dos. Recently, I have been sectioning the lined side off into: Upcoming Due Dates (at the top), To Do, Ongoing Projects, and Waiting. I have been using color sticky notes organized for to-dos and ongoing projects. When writing, I use a lot of symbols from my bullet journal days to help me keep track of the actual action and only write in skeleton details.

In addition to the Moleskine weekly planner I use a monthly wall calendar at home for personal events and appointments (I usually snag one from Paper Source), which are also reflected in a small monthly planner I have with me when I go out.

Xo, Kerstin

P.S. What are your favorite planners and how has your planner organization style changed over the years?

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