I Finally Found It – Have you?

Have you ever found something that has your name written all over it? It fills your needs and you love the looks of it as well. It just speaks to you! I have experimented for years with various planners and journals to find the perfect one to keep me on track. I’m so excited to know I finally found it: the “to do” method and planning system that works for me. Have you?

If not, and you need to organize your responsibilities, goals, and tasks, maybe this will provide some possible options. My bullet journal planner method covers all the bases for me:
~ past-present-future
~ practical but pretty
~ portable

I have used a traveler notebook system since 2016. This includes 3 Moleskine journals that contain 80 pages each and are stored in a cover. I use mine as follows:
~ Weekly Bullet Journal
~ Monthly View Journal
~ Notes Journal
The following is a quick overview of each of these inserts.

this is the artisan cover that holds my bullet journal planner inserts

Weekly Bullet Journal

This journal contains my weekly spread that covers two pages, and is set up as a bullet journal. If you enjoy checking items off each day like I do, the bullet journal is perfect for that.

The next two-page spread is blank. This allows space to go back after the fact and record things from each day, add mementos and photos. I can fit three months of weekly plans in this journal with allowing the extra page after each week. Without the blank spread after each week, you will get six months of weekly spreads in one Moleskine cahier insert. When the insert is complete, simply slide it out from the cover and insert the next one

Monthly View Journal:

In addition to the weekly view, a basic necessity for me is to have access to the full year at all times. This is something important to me that was lacking with the regular bullet journal method. That’s why I set up the middle journal in my artisan cover with all 12 monthly views. Each month is drawn out over a two-page spread.

Again in this monthly view insert, I leave a blank page after each month’s spread. This provides a place to plan tasks or events for the month that need some extra space. When that event comes up in the current month, I can refer to that starter list. Any tasks that need to be done can be written into the specific week and day as needed. This extra page between each month’s view still allows about 10 blank pages at the end of this journal. I have various uses for these, such as trackers, lists, etc. Also, I always set aside one page where I start a list for events the following year.

Notes Journal:

Finally, the last journal is a general journal for anything that comes up during the year. It may include personal lists such as books to read, quotes, Bible verses, or business notes. This insert is a basic dumping ground for most anything. Because of that, this is the one journal where I use the index as described by Ryder Carroll, of bulletjournal.com. With page numbers & topics written in the index, the notes are so much easier to find when needed again.

The Details:

I prefer to have my planner with me all the time, so the 5×7 size works best for me. In an effort to be creative and pretty, I use the softcover Moleskine cahier journal with the grid design. The grid lines make it easy to draw the bullet journal boxes & add designs and be relatively straight in the process. (This softcover version is also available in ruled or blank pages. Moleskine sells a huge variety including hardcover journals with dots instead of grid.) I prefer the softcover so I can use them as inserts in my artisan cover. I also use the 3.5×5.5 size for my financial journal – but that’s a topic for another time.

So, there you have it – I finally found it – the system that really works for me. It’s practical and keeps me on track to get things accomplished. If I have extra time, I can add some color or washi tape or photos to make it pretty. If not, the main thing is that it helps me live my life without missing anything. I can get things done in the present, plan for the future, and record the past. I’ve shared this, taught it at my store, and see how it makes sense to people. The beauty of this method is that you can personalize it exactly to your needs. It can be as simple or as fancy as you want.

If you need that perfect method to stay on track with life’s various activities, hopefully these ideas will help you. I’d love to hear you be able to say “I finally found it!” so you can add to the wonderful life you are creating. Be sure to read the details of my monthly insert on this post: https://yourlifeinjournals.com/create-your-monthly-insert

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 https://www.bulletjournal.com 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 “BohoBerry.com”. 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. https://yourlifeinjournals.com/ready-to-purchase-your-journal
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.