Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Da Vinci Tomoe River paper inserts (aka I’m in love)

A while back, I mentioned that a friend had sent me some samples of Raymay Davinci paper (from JetPens) and I said that I was considering putting an order in to JetPens with him and we would split the postage costs. Well we did just that and I am finally getting around to reviewing some of it!

What did I order?

In personal size:
  • A 100 sheet pack of 6.5mm lined paper
  • 2x packs of the undated week to view inserts (30/pack, so I ordered enough to do a full year)
  • My friend added a pack of plain paper to the order for me!

In pocket size:
  • A 100 sheet pack of 5mm lined paper
  • 2x packs of the undated week to view inserts (30/pack, so I ordered enough to do a full year)

(I know I am still utterly in love with the personal size de Villiers and indeed, wonder if I have reached planner peace with it, but just in case I get that yearning for the pocket size again, I thought I would avail myself of the gorgeous paper!!).

Over the weekend I went through the undated week to view pages and created my 2015 diary. The paper is just divine. I used my Parker italic nibbed pen with Diamine deep dark purple ink in it – a combination that Filofax paper would dissolve under – and there was NO feathering and NO bleed-through and the paper is ultra-thin. Filofax – if you made paper like this, I would buy it. But you don’t. Despite a zillion people asking for your diary paper to be at least as good as your white notepaper, you just ignore us. So instead, I have shipped this from the US! Yes, for those of us who want good paper, we will go to those lengths!

Here’s a double-spread to show you the layout. I know that some people might get bugged by there being Monday to Thursday on the left and Friday to Sunday on the right (most WO2P seem to split at Wednesday not Thursday) but you’ll see that Saturday and Sunday get the same size space and there is another box labelled memo. This little box is a godsend for me because (as you all know) I am pretty inept at turning a page, so this gives me space to alert me to things coming up early in the next week. If there isn’t anything all that exciting coming up, I can just use it for doodles or notes.

Davinci WO2P (in my navy Portland for storage)
The layout is beautifully simple. I never need those tiny-font, month calendar things at the top of the page, nor do I need a crash-course in 5 languages (that only teaches the days of the week). THIS is the kind of thing I need – a space to note the year, space for me to write the dates that the week spans, enough space for me to write the date next to the day, and unfussy fonts.

There is a bold green line across the top of the page and another at the bottom, then days of the week are printed in charcoal grey, except for Sunday which is in dark green. That bugs me a tiny bit, but not so much I’m having a hissy fit. The days are separated by a fine charcoal grey line.

Did I say the paper was ultra-thin?? I can’t emphasise enough HOW thin! I tried to take pictures of comparisons, but it was tricky. I counted out 52 sheets of cotton cream paper (assuming the Filofax cotton cream diary is printed on something the same thickness) and found a Filofax diary to try and compare the three sets. In this first photo, the Davinci paper is on the left and the Filofax diary is on the right. In the second picture, the cotton cream paper is on the left and the Davinci paper is on the right. Even with my terrible pictures, hopefully you can see the difference.

Full year in Davinci (l) and Filofax (r)
52 pages of cotton cream (l) and Davinci year (r)

The lined paper is going to be used for the weekly sheets that go at the front of my planner. I’ll only label them up when I’m using them. Incidentally, a nice (and very subtle) touch is that there are little marks on the top and bottom lines so that you can draw vertical lines easily on the page. They are definite enough to be useful but slight enough to be missed. Fabulous!

6.5 mm lined paper (in navy Portland for storage)
Teeny, tiny guide marks

Overall: five stars out of five!!!

Now, if only there was a UK supplier!! If anyone finds one, let me know??

Monday, 15 September 2014

My current planning system

In my last post, I described how I think (think) I have reached planner peace and a set-up that is really working for me. I have moved to using a slimline filofax which has necessitated me modifying my set-up a little, though in essence ‘The System’ is the same.

What I use now is a combination of the de Villiers which goes everywhere with me, and a regular-sized filofax which stays at home (currently I’m using the wine Holborn but I do have a selection to choose from!). Let me walk you through what is in each of these, then try to explain The System.

The De Villiers (wallet and planner combination)
From front to back:
  • Inside front cover: 10 card slots carrying all my bank and loyalty cards, stamps, donor card etc.
  • Plastic fly-leaf with Leuchtturm stick-on pen holder, holding my Zebra diary pen/pencil
  • Weekly list for the current week
  • Weekly lists for the next three weeks
  • Notes Tab
  • Three or four sheets of notepaper for scribbling things to remember into (‘capture’ list)
  • Diary Tab
  • Monthly sheets for the rest of 2014 (4 pages for each month: monthly list, month to view, review)
  • Week to view diary for the rest of 2014 (from Paperchase)
  • Page for forward planning
  • Information Tab
  • Personal information sheets
  • List of books to look for
  • List of maps we have
  • Note of my weight and miles run per week
  • Addresses Tab
  • Address sheets
  • Plastic zip-up pencil case with money in
  • Inside back cover: paper money in the outer pocket; receipts in the inner one
Left - card slots; right - fly-leaf with pen-holder, weekly sheet
weekly sheet
There are 4 weekly sheets in at a time; review space on reverse of the lists
Monthly list (r); review of previous month (l)
Month to view
Plastic pencil case with coins in
Paper money in back pocket

The Holborn (storage of non-current planning pages)
From front to back:
  • Nothing in either the front or back covers
  • Plastic fly-leaf
  • Page saying, “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger darling” (quote from the film Inception)
  • Tab
  • General (big) to-do
  • Annual plans
  • Quarterly plans
  • Page(s) for each life area and their goals (mostly too personal to share), with next actions under each goal
  • Tab
  • Monthly review checklist
  • Spent monthly pages (kept only for the purpose of quarterly and yearly reviews – they will get thrown away at the end of the year)
  • Tab
  • Weekly review checklist
  • Weekly sheets – both from the past and the remainder of the year (only four weeks of these are in the de Villiers at any time). Again, all of these will get thrown away at the end of the year.
  • Week on two pages from the past (current are in the de Villiers – there are no more than 6 months in the de Villiers at a time)
  • Tab
  • Other information sheets that I don’t need to carry around with me e.g. peak flow record, notes, log suppliers, things bought for presents over the last few years, maps, packing lists

How do these two binders work together?The System
The key aspect is the weekly review (though the monthly one is important too).
Each week, I try to do the following:
  • Go through the notes pages and make sure everything has been dealt with/filed/sorted one way or another
  • Go through my list from the week just past and reflect on what did/didn’t get done and why
  • Tick off things in the monthly list; add anything that has come up
  • Transfer to the coming week’s list anything left from the one just finishing, starring them to indicate they have already had a week (or more) and not been done
  • Transfer the weekly sheet to the Holborn binder and get the next one to go in the de Villiers out (I keep 4 weeks of weekly sheets in the de Villiers)
  • Look at the monthly list and the week to view diary and note down in red pen at the bottom of the weekly list any appointments (ignoring work ones!) and things that I need to do like send a birthday card
  • Look at the monthly list of big to-do and next actions. Tick off things done and think about what might sensibly be achieved in the next week. Write these into the space at the top half of the page
  • Clear my brain of any other to-do into the bottom half of the page
  • If I’m feeling adventurous (or mad) I write the day on which I think I will do these next actions and to-do in the space next to them. This may or may not reflect reality!
  • Have a quick flick through to the rest of the month (and the following one if it’s near the end of the month) just to check what is coming up

What I try to do when I am not at work (i.e. evenings, days off, weekends):
  • Open my binder to the weekly list
  • Plan what I can do from it that morning/afternoon/evening
  • Do it

What I try to do monthly:
  • Look at my weekly and monthly list(s) from that month and reflect on what did/didn’t get done and why
  • Take out the finished monthly sheet from the de Villiers and file it in the Holborn
  • Transfer anything not done onto the sheet for the following month and star them to indicate they have been carried over
  • Look at the lists of big to-do and next actions and the monthly overview and try and think what I might sensibly manage to achieve in the coming month
  • Look at that list again and consider removing 20% of it because I know I over-allocate
  • Flick through the next six months of diary to remind myself what’s on the radar

Appointments go straight into the week to view diary (if I have them in the de Villiers – I can only carry 6 months of pages so for anything further forward than that, I just put it in the notes section and transfer it at the weekly review; 99% of things can go straight into the pages).

So, that’s The System. When I do all that, I feel more organised than when I don’t. There is then always a danger that I feel over-planned and then go ‘to hang with it all’ and ignore all plans, lists, goals etc. until I’m as organised as a bowl of cooked spaghetti, at which point I start doing The System again!

What do people think? What’s your set-up like (and would you like to do a guest post on it?)?

Friday, 12 September 2014

Planner Peace??

Have I finally got there? Jeez, it’s been like trying to find the end of the rainbow! Anyway, I think (think...) I have finally reached some kind of planner peace. To the point of not even looking at binders on eBay. Well... not every day.

So, what does this planner peace look like?

It looks like my de Villiers still!

I have made a couple of small changes to the set-up but nothing major. Instead of the giant to-do list at the front with a reminder on it to look at my next-actions list, I have gone back to my weekly sheets. These at least were split into ‘next action’ and ‘to-do’ (things that need doing but which aren’t part of a project or goal). The instruction: ‘turn over and look at your next actions’, somewhat as anticipated, didn’t work! I am incapable of turning the page it seems. Even when told to.

Another problem was partly to do with my next actions which were too big and needed breaking down into smaller ones. So, for instance, ‘finish book 6’ was a giant of a next action, whereas ‘finish the scene where x happens...’ was a much easier task! Consequently I have worked on making my next actions things that are achievable in a day/week (so that they can get ticked off the list!).

The weekly page set-up is shown below. Next actions go in the top half. You’ll see that I’m using up cut-down sheets from a non-filofax brand, just to use them up. Next year I will be using glorious, glorious Tomoe River paper (more on that in a future post). In the bottom half of the page I note other non-goal ‘to-do’ and any birthdays or appointments are noted in red at the very bottom of the page (to remind me to go to them or do something about them). Already written in, is a reminder to do the weekly review!
The reverse of the weekly list has space for the weekly review. Sometimes I do this following a set structure; often I just reflect on what did or didn’t get done and why.

Weekly list: next actions at the top, to do below
Review on the reverse; following week on RHS

By going back to the weekly sheets, it forced me to do my weekly reviews and to rewrite onto the following week’s sheet anything not achieved, something that generally spurred me into doing said thing(s)!

The only other change has been to try (try!) and use monthly sheets in as much as I have put highlighter on days I am not at work to try and help me see how much time I have ‘free’ (i.e. not at work) in the month. I’m still not great at working out what level of detail should be on there. I have got as far as marking off work days and birthdays and events such as away for a weekend. It still seems like it’s both too much and too little detail. But putting highlighter on and having a reality check over how many days I have a week/month to get things done in, has made my monthly lists more sensible.

Pink indicates not at work!

In the next post, I will do a review of my planning system as I realise it has changed a little since the last time I posted about it.

Has anyone else found planner peace recently? How long do you think it will last??