Are you ready to purchase your journal?

So if you’ve been reading through the previous posts, you’ve probably made some discoveries about your planner needs. Does that mean you are ready to purchase your next journal or planner? Let’s recap what you’ve thought through so far:
1) you know what topics you want to capture
if you missed the “get started” post:
2) you know your preference on the scale of practical vs pretty
Now you need to decide if you want a portable planner or a large size to keep at home.

Does the size make a difference?

This last decision will help you narrow down the options for what type of planner/journal you purchase. If you want a portable one, decide what size will work best for your pocketbook or briefcase. On the other hand, if you want to keep your planner at your desk, then you can choose a larger size which probably expands your purchase options . Since the topic of this blog is traveler notebooks, then you know already that I use the portable option.

Moleskine Cahier Journa is my journal of choice

Traveler notebooks started with the standard size of 4-1/4” wide by 8-1/4” tall. My first traveler notebook was this size and it was fine. But I found it didn’t fit easily into my pocketbooks. It was just a bit too tall. The other thing that didn’t thrill me was the width. It was just a little too narrow for my liking. Previously in my planner purchases, I had used a 5”x7” hardbound and I loved the size of that for portability. But it was hardcover which made it heavier than I prefer. Enter the traveler notebook discovery and voila – now I can have inserts to fit my 5″x7″ artisan cover. This size fits my pocketbook great and yet the pages are wide enough that I can easily write my lists and weekly spreads.

The cover is typically called a traveler notebook, which contains several elastic straps on the inside. The inserts or journals that slide onto the elastic straps are available in lots of different options. My preference for the inserts is the Moleskine Cahier Journal which is 5″ wide x 8-1/4″ tall that I cut down to my 5×7 preferred size. I use the squared or grid insert, but there are a variety of options from various companies. Obviously, if you prefer, you can use a spiral notebook or glued notebook as your bullet journal planner. These however, may not fit inside a traveler notebook cover.

Options are always good

As a scrapbooker, there are some companies that have recently joined the world of traveler notebooks and inserts, so I’ll list a few.
Prima Marketing
Dylusions by Ranger
Elizabeth Craft Designs

With the exception of Elizabeth Crafts, most of these are the standard 4-1/4” x 8-1/4” size. They have a wide variety of notebook covers and most have numerous insert options for pages such as blank, grid, lined, white, kraft and even black. By the way, black is great if you are artsy and like to create with beautiful color on your pages.

Elizabeth Craft Designs recently came out with their planner line that has a couple cover options which are ring binders. If you are a crafter at heart, their planner line includes a great assortment of stamps and dies to create your own pages exactly how you want them. This line is perfect if you have the mindset of keeping your memorabilia along with your planning because of all the stamping and die-cutting options.

I make my artisan covers that hold my three inserts. I taught classes at my store on these so the ladies could decorate them as they liked. Stay tuned for future information on those. If you prefer the look and feel of leather, some cover options include Foxy Fix, Chic Sparrow, and Planner Perfect to name a few. There are also covers made out of fabric that can be found on social media.

Decision time

So now that you have more information on options, you should be ready to make some last decisions:
1) insert & cover size
2) brand/style, i.e. Moleskine stitched insert
3) grid, ruled, plain, or a combination
4) make that decision so you can purchase and get started!
Once you have a week or two written in your insert, you’ll get a feel for what works for you and what doesn’t. Then you can tweak it for the next week or month until you find the spacing and layout that work best for you.

Yes, you can change your mind

So have no fear, if your first week’s layout doesn’t wow you or give you the right amount of space, it’s not a problem. If there’s a certain day of the week that has more going on, you can adjust your layout to best suit your needs. For any of you who are familiar with Dyan Reaveley, a designer for Ranger Ink, you may have heard her say in her lovely English accent: “It’s only paper – they’ll make more!”

You are on your way to keeping track of your life better than ever before!

So are you ready to purchase your journal? If you decide to create your own bullet journal rather than purchase a planner, follow along for the how-to. Read this blog post where I explain the three inserts in my artisan cover: one insert each for weekly, monthly, and notes/lists.

Practical or Pretty – What’s your Style?

As a creative person, I love to make things pretty and beautiful and shabby chic and ethereal and… oh wait, I have work to do. Ah yes, life is busy; and so, reality sets in once again.
~ Do you feel the need to get everything done?
~ But you also want to have a little enjoyment in the process?
~ Have you purchased that amazing planner that is so popular?
~ Have you always wanted to make a bullet journal?
~ Do you have the goal of combining color and fun with your daily life?
~ Is it possible to combine them?

Do you have to choose either-or?

Who ever said we have to choose between practical or pretty? Why can’t we have both?! Purchased planners used to be so boring – all business and no fun. In the past few years, though, beautiful planners are available everywhere. Perhaps you have tried different products through the years as I have. This was my problem…

The amazing planners in beautiful notebooks were awesome – but they were so large that I kept them at home on my desk. So then, if a friend called while I was at work to make plans, I couldn’t because I had no idea what my schedule was for the next month because my planner was at home. I realized I needed a smaller planner that I could carry with me.

There are plenty of smaller-sized planners available on the market to choose from. But every one that I tried didn’t suit my needs for one reason or another. Some were monthly views but I wanted the weekday view. Perhaps there was enough space for the weekday planning, but not enough for the weekend. And so, the search went on year after year until I came across the bullet journal system.

Oh so practical

Ryder Carroll created this method which is all about making lists of what you need to do and then checking off the tasks as you accomplish them. It includes an index, a monthly log and a future log as well. His website is and has a wealth of valuable information.

What I found however, was that it still didn’t quite fit what I needed. The index was overwhelming to me, so the first 2 years I didn’t use it at all. The future planning he used just didn’t work for me; and of course, his style is so very practical that it just wasn’t pretty at all. As a creative person, where is the fun in that?!

Oh so pretty

But then I found Kara Benz of “”. She puts the beautiful into all things bullet journal, and has expanded on this method for we creative types. If you have the interest and the time to create gorgeous spreads in your bullet journal/planner, her website has fabulous layouts that will inspire you for sure, as do plenty of other bullet journal blogs. Yet again, I have things to do, places to go, and people to see. So, I have chosen a combination between the original bullet journal and the beauty of all the options that Kara and others create. Its the perfect balance for me between practical and pretty!

The combination I found

As you may be aware, I use Moleskine Cahier Journals with the grid or “squared” pages. What I love about using the Moleskine notebooks for my bullet journal system is that they can be customized to fit exactly what you need with your lifestyle. And probably the best part, is that you can change it any time you need if you have a busy time of life, such as a wedding or a new job with a different schedule. No worries – you can change the format to fit those new needs. You can’t do that with a purchased pre-printed planner.

So, if you want to get your daily activities in order; the best place to start is to ask yourself a few questions:
~ What are my needs for getting activities organized:
daily, weekly, monthly? All three?
~ Do I want practical? Do I want pretty? Do I want both?
~ Portable? Or leave on my desk at home?
~ How much time & creativity do I want to put into this?
~ How much time & creativity do I realistically have to put into this?

Once you have thought through this, you can move forward with getting your daily life in order. If you choose the portable style to carry with you as I have, you can search “bullet journal” or the shortened version “bujo”, or “travelers notebooks” and you will find all sorts of examples and ideas to review. Be aware though, there are so many options out there that it can be overwhelming.

So what’s your style?

As I’ve mentioned, I started my bujo journey in 2016 and have kept it rather consistent to date. My method has worked great for me, although it is not as fancy or beautiful as many others I love to see. But it works for me and that is the ultimate goal. You’ll need to decide what your needs are – and what your realities are – so that you will follow through this time. So what’s your style – are you totally practical – or totally pretty – or a combination of both?

Be sure to read the next post that shares my method of bullet journaling that includes three Moleskine journal inserts in a cover, commonly referred to as a traveler notebook.
I never leave home without it! Hopefully, you will find that perfect method that works great for you, day by day, for the rest of your days.

What Life Happenings Do You Need To Capture?

When starting this journey of planning your life happenings, and tracking your to-do lists and goals, often the first thought is to buy a planner and try to make it fit your needs. However, there are so many paper options available, from journals to planners or diaries. In addition, they range from basic to the most detailed and elaborate that money can buy. How do you know which to choose?

It’s best to start first by taking a step back to get the big picture by asking yourself some basic questions. After you have your answers, then you can move on to decide which style will work best for you.

Take a Step Back

1) What do you need to capture to keep your life on track?
          ~ Do you have children at home?
          ~ Do you work a full-time job?
          ~ Did you answer yes to both the above – or neither?
          ~ Are there tasks, projects, lists, dates, birthdays, events, etc that you frequently lose track of?

2) How many activities/events do you have in your schedule?
          ~ Will a day’s activities fill a half page, a whole page or a two-page spread?
          ~ Or could you put a whole week on a two-page spread?

3) What’s your personality – do you like to take photos & keep memorabilia – or are you a minimalist? Do you like to write your thoughts and feelings each day?

4) Do you like to see all the details or just an overview?

For a pdf of the questions to fill in your answers, request the form below:

Review Your Needs

Once you’ve thought this through and have your answers to these questions, you will have a much better idea of what product will work for you. If you can fit your life happenings for a week on a two-page spread, then you certainly don’t need a planner that’s printed with one page for each day. And if you don’t care to write out your thoughts each day or track habits, then you can use a product with less than a page per day. If you don’t need to capture on paper as many things in your life as someone else, then a simpler format will meet your needs.

I will be the first to admit I have probably purchased every type of planner option that is available to mankind. Some of them are partially used, and sadly some were never even started. If you are anything like me, perhaps you have experienced the same thing. I’ve had lots of good intentions over the years, but for one reason or another, the product or the method didn’t fit my needs or wants or style and so I didn’t stick with them.

Plan According to Your Needs

Several years ago, I finally found the basic method that works great for me. Maybe it will work for you as well. The best part of this style is that it’s completely customizable. You can adjust it for you and your schedule and style, which may be totally different from mine. I use a bullet journal planner made of three Moleskine Cahier Journals with grid pages, kept in a cover.

If you check out trends online or in magazines, I’m sure you’ve heard about bullet journals and/or traveler notebooks. These have been around for a long time, but are becoming more and more popular each year. And if you follow any bullet journal (“bujo” for short)  enthusiasts on social media, then you are well aware some people are amazing at what they create! That could be an excuse to skip them altogether if your drawing skills are anything like mine are. But don’t let yourself do that!

You Can Do This

I may never have a beautifully illustrated bullet journal planner, but I’m okay with that! I know what life happenings my bullet journal planner needs to capture to get my life in order and tasks done. The process I’ve been using for several years now has changed and grown as I’ve used it. I love it so much that I can’t imagine moving to something else because this system works for me. If I have extra time to add color and pretty things one week, then I do and love it all the more. But if my week is busy and there’s no time to play and add art, then it doesn’t matter because it has served its purpose.

My encouragement to you is to do two things:
     1) decide what you life happenings you need to capture in your life –
think through these questions carefully
     2) read the next post on Practical or Pretty before you make your purchase