My Planner, My Binkie

One of my stitching buddies from across the miles, Zeb, recently asked folks on Facebook how they get organized, specifically with their time and responsibilities.  I offered up my ever-adapting solution, which is the hard copy planner I still insist on using, despite having a cell phone, Google account, and Outlook at work. I’m definitely a tech-savvy person, but I still prefer to have a hard copy planner. It’s simply more comfortable for me (and infinitely more portable, since I don’t have to worry about batteries to keep it running… only finding a pen). I offered to give a tour of how I have it set up…

IMG_0660This is my binder, which was sold by Franklin Covey several years ago. This was actually Erich’s, but he never used the thing and I liked the style of his better than mine. It has 1-inch rings inside, pockets for business cards, and a couple of little pouches that I really don’t use beyond stuffing a couple postage stamps for on-the-go mail because they’re just not really flexible enough to carry other stuff. The binder does have two separate pen loops – I usually keep cheap ballpoints in them that I’m not afraid of losing. 🙂

IMG_0661 In the front cover, I have a zipper pouch to keep extra paper goods. Right now I just have post-it stickies with tabs in there. I keep one sticky with pendings for work that just keep getting pushed forward until they’re done. And as other weird stuff comes up, I’ll put it on one of these pages so that it’s easy to access, thanks to their index tabs. Once the matter’s dealt with, I can just peel off and ditch them. I was keeping highlighters in the pouch as well, but it just made everything a little too bulky (and difficult to write on the left side of my planner when pages were open). So the highlighters are now kept in my purse. Chances are that if I’m going anywhere, I’m going to have my purse with me – so they’re easy to access for the planner.


IMG_0662The front of my planner is for the actual monthly and daily pages. This year I’m using Franklin Covey’s 2-page-per-day “Playlist” edition in Classic size (5.5″ by 8.5″, which is approximately A5 sized for those out of the USA). I have all of the month tabs in the front, and each month I add the individual pages for that month in behind the appropriate tab. I never keep more than two months of dailies in the planner at a time, simply due to the amount of available space. I keep birthdays, upcoming events, deadlines, etc. on the monthly tabs, and when each month is added, I write a note as appropriate on the daily tabs. I’ve started the year with some color coordination on my monthly tabs, but I don’t expect it to really last. So far, the blue-black are FYIs and events. Red are birthdays and anniversaries. Orange are stitching-related things that I want to remember (or need to remember, in the case of Band round robin deadlines and WIPocalypse posting dates). There are also two years of planning calendars for upcoming things that I just need to do a mental note to save the date for at this point.

IMG_0663This is an example of my daily pages. I break down my task lists into groups of related things. At home, this usually involves individual rooms that need to be cleaned, Errands, Stitching goals, etc. If I have something in process, I’ll add a dot next to it on the task list. If it’s done, I do a check. Since I generally don’t have a lot of meetings or appointments, the “appointments” list on the left is often used as my overflow personal task list during the work week, and I keep work-related ones on the right. I use a pidgin version of Bullet Journaling on my notes page for things that come up on the day. On January 3rd, for example – weather kept my office closed. I needed to find my car tax bill (which is still wandering around somewhere…). I also was putting together a shopping list for the next day because a few friends and I were going to Thistle Needleworks in Connecticut, and I had a few things that I actually needed to buy.

IMG_0664Behind the calendar and planning pages are the personalized tabs I use to keep other parts of my life organized. These tabs are simple Avery brand ones I bought at Staples – they’re made of poly material, so they’ll hold up to constant flipping. They were advertised as erasable, but I just used a Sharpie marker to permanently label them. I have tabs for my Blog and Home Stuff, but those are still getting developed, so I don’t have photos to show what’s there quite yet. 🙂

IMG_0665The first section is my stitching rotation. I have a list of works in progress at the front, and then several copies of this two-page stitching rotation format that I built in Word. I have my rotation dates, projects, individual goals for each project, and the date that project’s goals were completed for the rotation. On the right is where I put notes for future work on pieces… missing flosses, miscounts that are annoying me but I don’t want to deal with right now, etc.

IMG_0667The penpalling section is a simple list of letters going in and out. Like my stitching rotation, I quickly threw this together in Word. It’s for two reasons – to keep track to make sure I don’t lose any letters that are incoming, and also a way to do a quick tally of postage to make sure I’m staying on a good budget. Since I’m just getting back into penpalling, I did a lot of intro letters recently (hence the X’s). Deborah and my letters crossed each other in the mail, which is why she’s on there twice.  I add dates only when something’s arrived or when I physically pop a letter into the post.

At the end of my planner is my address book, which is where I put penpal addresses, important website info, etc.

And that’s the tour of my personal planner. If I didn’t have this thing, I’d be completely lost!

Facebook Comments


  1. Elizabeth says:

    I love it! I have been digitalized but missing my hard-copy planner and considering going back to it. I think a lot of people are very understanding of how important books like these can be. Years ago – before smartphones were invented and when only “VIPs” had cell phones I left my planner on top of my car. It blew off the roof on the expressway ramp outside of Washington DC and 4 lanes of traffic stopped and people got out to help me gather my stuff and they were so kind and compassionate… “Oh! I can’t imagine losing my planner! Let me help you.” “Thank God! I think all the pieces are right around here. We can put it back together.” It was fairly comical when I got back on the road and started thinking about how freaked out everyone (including me) was at the idea of a poor, defenseless planner being lost out there on the freeway. LOL

    • Melissa says:

      Yeah… I think part of it may be a bit generational… I’m right on that all paper-all digital bubble. 🙂 Awesome that people stopped to help you – I can’t imagine that happening today!

  2. Kristle says:


    Was I suppose to write you first in the penpalling? I can’t remember…ah, getting old is rough. Let me know and I’ll get right on it.


  3. Zeb A. says:

    Thank you thank you thank you! That was wonderful! And dare I say vicarious living for me? XD

    I am still waiting for my planner to arrive, but in the mean time I’m trying to work out how I’d use it efficiently so it met my needs.

    Do you think you could share your stitching rotation file? Would be keen to adapt it to a Filofax Personal size! 😀

    In terms of paper vs. digital. For a long time I thought digital was the way to go. I have Outlook, I have a notebook app on my iPad and I have Google Calendar. Turns out it just doesn’t work for me because everything is so disconnected and I can’t see it all together.

    Plus… I’m just a tad addicted to stationery. XD
    While I want be washi/sticker taping my Filofax to death, I do intend to beautify it!

  4. Penny says:

    I used to use a Franklin planner back in my undergraduate days. I would swear by it.
    I admit now I have gone all digital, opting for Google calendar and a web-and-app based to-do list called Todoist.
    However, I have not yet abandoned a paper calendar. Every semester, I print out monthly calendars that list when I teach and any important meetings. I use this to plan my summer field season (I’m a geoscientist). This calendar is taped directly to my office’s desk, and I annotate it as needed.
    I’ve got January through September taped to my desk right now. The summer months are blank, but they’re going to change soon.
    I do miss the old day-planner days, but I admit I like being (mostly) digital now. Still, nothing beats a good old-fashioned paper to-do list and the joys of scratching things off of it.

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