Planner Update: April 2017

The term ‘planner peace’ is thrown around a little bit in the planning community, and although it sounds extremely cheesy I now feel like I completely understand what it means. This is because I have found planner peace. It has taken me around 5 planners to work this out, but I am there and I am happy about it. Planner peace for me is in the form of a 12 month Plum Paper planner, with a month-at-a-glance section with a handful of lined note pages behind. I use the month-at-a-glance section of the planner to organise my life and keep track of everything I have going on, and I use the note pages for various to do lists and other brain dumps that I need to get down on paper and out of my mind. I have come to understand that this is all I need to feel properly organised, without spending too much time faffing about in my planner. I’ve done the week-at-a-glance thing, I’ve done the stickers thing, but now I know what I need and what I like and I feel more organised than ever.

Erin Condren Haul (+ planner update)

I have developed a bad habit of getting sick of my personal planner about 5-6 months into using it, and then buying something new. I’m coming up to my 6th month of using my new Plum Paper Planner, so of course I went ahead and purchased myself something new. I’ve been really drawn to Erin Condren’s new cover designs, so that plus the fact that the planner now comes in a neutral colour scheme was enough to draw me in and convince me to take the plunge.

Here’s what I picked up:

I ordered the ‘Blossom’ Life Planner with black spiral, in the neutral horizontal layout. I also picked up a large classic lined ‘Watercolour Floral’ notebook with a rose gold spiral. I’m planning to use the planner as my general planner to track events and things I have to do, and the notebook is going to be my day-to-day list holder. I track a lot of things in my current planner (what TV show’s we’re watching, life to-do lists, house project lists, shopping lists, etc), and I’m trying to streamline the process in two different areas. I’ve shifted my daily to-do list writing to an app (shock horror!) and have been loving Wunderlist for this. By the way, if you’d like $10 off your own Erin Condren goodies, please feel free to use my referral code.

Planning A Weekend Away – Checklist

Nothing refreshes the mind like a weekend away, especially one spent out in the middle of nowhere. It’s so much easier for me to relax if I take myself away from all of the things that need doing around the house (15 piles of laundry, anyone?), it’s almost like forced relaxation but I’ll take it in any way I can get it. I thought I’d write a little checklist of the steps I take when planning a weekend away, because nothing takes the stress away from organizing something like a good ol’ checklist.

Start by brainstorming/researching the area you want to visit – I live in Western Australia, and there are a number of country towns that can be explored in our south west region. We tend to stick to the main towns (Dunsborough, Margaret River, etc), but I like to do a bit of research on the area I want to visit to make sure it fits the bill for what I want out of the getaway. If we’re in the mood to do wine tours and eat a whole lot of fancy food, I’ll opt for somewhere like Margaret River. If we want to cut off from civilization and spend time in nature, Pemberton is a great way to go.

Check trip adviser for accommodation suggestions – God bless the internet, because I have no idea what people did to book accommodation before the glory of Trip Adviser. Having said that, be sure to read reviews as well as look at ratings, as ratings can go down if there is too much time between reviews. I try to look out for all of the important things – a comfortable bed, privacy, cleanliness etc.

Write a list of places you want to visit and things you want to see and do – A general internet search of ‘things to do in X’ should give you a general idea of the things there are to do in the town you’re visiting, but there are always some gems tucked away in a more in-depth google search. I don’t like having a set in stone plan of things to do on a trip like this, but having a general idea of what you can do and see around the area you’re staying is always a good idea.

Cover all your bases – You may be staying somewhere with no internet connection or TV satellite, especially if you’ve picked somewhere deep in the country away from the hustle and bustle. I always make sure to pack a deck of cards or board game to make sure we have something to do for entertainment if all else fails.

Plan your meals and write a food shopping list – If you’ve opted for a more relaxing getaway, you may need to think about what you’re going to make for lunches and dinners. As someone who needs to know where her next meal is coming from, I highly recommended thinking about the meals you’ll be having while you’re away, and making sure anything you need to make at your accommodation is covered.

Write a packing list – I will never be someone who can just throw everything into a bag and walk out the door. I will, however, always be the person who has a bandaid/tissue/spare pair of socks if you happen to have forgotten something. I guess that’s a good thing? I like to write out a packing list because it takes the thinking out of packing, and means I can get it done in 10 minutes and I always know I have what I need. Having said that, I like to pack as light as I can.

Confirm your reservation – A simple, but necessary step. You don’t want to drive 5 hours to your accommodation only to discover your booking has been lost in cyberspace. I’ve heard some horror stories like this, so I always double check the day before we leave.

Have I missed a step? Let me know in the comments below!

How I use my Plum Paper Planner (and initial thoughts)

I recently made the decision to purchase a Plum Paper planner, and to set my Erin Condren planner aside for a little while. I don’t remember exactly what made me decide to do this, I think I might have just been feeling a bit sick of my Erin Condren and wanted to try something new. I haven’t changed too much in the way that I plan, but I thought I’d do a bit of a refresher so I could talk about my initial feelings about the Plum Paper planner.

I opted for this cover for the planner, as it was my favourite design on offer. This is really beautiful in person, but I will say that although it comes with a clear frosted plastic cover you can easily see wear and tear damage along the bottom edge of the card cover. I think a fully laminated cover is the way to go, if you’re someone who uses your planner on a daily basis. I’ve only had this for a month now, and it’s already showing some damage. Oh, and I’m loving the organizational tools I’ve put in place for my planning sessions. Having all of my pens/pencils/highlighters etc. in this clear acrylic organizer has made life a lot easier. I’ve also started using this receipt organizer to store all of my stickers in.

I’m using the monthly layout the same, and am still highlighting items to reflect what they relate to. Green is for bills/money and things to do with the house, pink is for social events, yellow is for work, blue is for gym appointments, purple is for my mortgage, and orange is for other reminders (family doctor appointments, birthdays etc). The week-at-a-glance page comes with this tickable checklist, which I love and have been using to track all of my to-dos for the week.

My week-at-a-glance section is similar to the Erin Condren, but the columns are narrow and are not broken into morning/day/night. For the first week or so I struggled a bit with how I was going to use this section, but I’ve found my flow with it now. The Plum Paper planners come with additional pages that you can add at a cost, and my favourite is the bill tracker. This is especially handy for people who are trying to track their budget and work out how much they’re spending on utilities each month.

Good
The design and aesthetic of the Plum Paper planner is superior to Erin Condren in a lot of ways. The colours are far more attractive and they flow better throughout the planner itself. I like that at the end/beginning of each month the previous month’s days are greyed out, rather than having the previous month’s colour scheme continuing on for a few days. It’s also far more attractive in general, there are less quotes and fussy patterns throughout the planner. If you prefer minimal design this will work better for you. Also, it’s cheaper. The Plum Planner with 3 additional monthly inserts (and stickers) and shipping came to $85 AUD. The Erin Condren planner plus stickers and shipping came to $142 AUD.

Bad
The paper is more glossy than the Erin Condren, which some people may not like. This actually works well with the pen I use (the Staedler pigment liner 0.5), so it’s not a huge con for me but might be for some. The stickers are also incredibly glossy, and every pen I’ve tried to use on them has slid off and smudged if I haven’t left it out to dry for a while. This is time consuming and kind of goes against all of the time-saving benefits planning offers us. The columns in the week-at-a-glance are more narrow than the Erin Condren one, so if you have any old stickers that you want to use they’re not going to fit perfectly. If you’re a bit of a perfectionist, this will be annoying. Oh, and as I mentioned earlier on in the post, the card cover is prone to wear and tear along the edges.

So that’s how I’ve been using my Plum Planner, and a few of my initial thoughts. If there is anything else you’d like to know about the Plum Planner or how I plan in general, or if you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below.

Planning An Overseas Holiday Pt 2.

I’ve been spending a little bit of time planning our US trip (for the end of the year) lately, and I thought I’d share with you what I’ve been up to. The first thing I did after my first ‘broad scale’ planning session, was to write a step by step to-do list of all of the things I would need to plan. And here it is –

Finalize Travel Dates
Research Flight Costs
Solidify Budget
Research Accommodation
Select exact dates per city and research travel between cities
Write to-do list per city
Research to-do list items (cost etc.)
Check Visa requirements etc.
Research weather during travel times
Write packing list (general)
Organise housesitter etc.

So our travel dates have been mapped out, and we have a rough idea of how much our flights are going to cost. At this stage we’re tossing up between two airlines (mostly because Sebastian didn’t have a great experience with one of our options on his recent trip overseas), and once that’s been decided we can start looking at booking things officially. I solidified my own budget, and have a savings plan in place. I’m now at the stage where I’m researching accommodation. Did you know accommodation in New York City is ridiculously expensive? Well it is. I haven’t started looking at Washington DC just yet, but I’ve been told that it will be on-par with New York as far as accommodation and food pricing goes. At this stage, it’s looking like Distrikt Hotel will be the go for us in New York. We can get a 20% discount if we book early, BUT it’s a non-refundable booking, which is a huge downfall. Decisions, decisions.