DIY Planner Update: The Everything Book = Planner UN-FAIL?

I was doing so well with my DIY planner. I really, really was.

And then the flu hit our household.

I suddenly found myself three weeks behind. And since my planner is a DIY one, this meant totally blank pages in my Moleskine. Because, you see, the planner-plan-of-attack requires me to create a new weekly page every Sunday.

It’s that weekly page that I fill in every week. Only, I can’t fill it in if I haven’t taken the time to draw in the actual weekly slots.

Some things I’m realizing:

1. I’m not a monthly calendar type of person.

When I first began planning out my planner, I decided I’d start with twelve two-page spreads, each spread displaying a monthly calendar. Here’s my calendar for March:


Do you see the problem here?

Yes, I hand-drew twelve calendar spreads. Yes, this is the one for March. The problem is, today is February 29 (happy leap day, by the way!). Which means tomorrow it will be March.

And my March calendar page is BLANK.

That’s not because I don’t have stuff going on. I’ve got deadlines, appointments, activities and even a couple of days away in Niagara Falls scheduled for March. They’re just not mentioned on my calendar, that’s all.

2. I may/may not be a weekly agenda kind of person.

The jury’s still out on this one. First, I need to actually draw out my weekly calendar page. Which I haven’t done for the past three weeks.

But when I do draw out my weekly calendar spread, I don’t do too badly with it – as long as I remember to take a moment each day to record something in the day’s designated space. Anything will do.

Here’s my first week of the year:


I didn’t do such a great job of recording a bit of something about each day, but I did remember to circle any daily goals that I’d met. This first week, I had five daily goals listed at the top of each day’s box:  write, create, meditate, exercise and read. In the lower right-hand box, I listed my weekly goals. I circled each day in which I met a goal.

Three weeks into the whole “I’m using a planner!” thing, I’d gotten better at remembering to jot something down each week:


I also realized I was going to be recording a big FAIL when it came to daily exercise as a goal, so I stuck exercise into the weekly goal area instead. My daily goals were now: write, create, read and meditate. Much, much better.

3. But when I hit a glitch, the whole planning thing falls apart.

So things were going pretty well. And then the inevitable happened. One Sunday night (February 3, actually), I forgot to draw out the next week’s spread.

Later that week, my oldest came home from university, sick with the flu. That weekend, I forgot to draw out the next week’s spread again.

And then I got sick with the flu. Followed by Dylan. Then Ward. Then I got sick again. By then we were into my older son’s Reading Week at university. He came back home, and was sick again.

So here we were. On Monday, I opened up my planner, after three weeks of non-use, and thought: “This is not working …”

But the blank, gridded page looked SO enticing.

Everything Page

And I found myself madly jotting things down. Ideas, connections between ideas, more ideas, quotes, little doodles. It was like a mini-explosion.

4. The Everything Book: in which I do a little bit of everything

I think this will work.

I’m going to try to remember to draw in my weekly spread on the weekend – mainly because I do like being able to look back and see a little note about what I did on any given day. It’s a bit like capturing a daily memory, and I like that.

But mostly I’m going to jot down ideas, doodle, write in reminders, and just fill all the other blank pages with all the stuff in my life.

Not quite a smashbook, but almost. But with a planner element to it all.

5. The whole goals thing.

I was doing well. And then I wasn’t. So it’s time to get back on the saddle again. Now I’m thinking about trying Seinfeld’s productivity secret (Don’t Break the Chain).

I figure, it should be easy enough to give each daily goal a spread in my planner – a spread that will cover the entire year. And I’ll set my intention: Don’t break the chain.

That way, even if I get lazy and decide not to do a weekly spread one week, I can still track my goals.

Mind you, it’s usually when I get lazy that my goals fall to the wayside …

Do you use a planner? What type of planner do you use? Do you write in it every day? Do you take it everywhere with you, or does it sometimes sit around gathering dust? And how are you doing with your 2012 goals?

6 thoughts on “DIY Planner Update: The Everything Book = Planner UN-FAIL?

  1. Alex J. Cavanaugh

    I try to keep a list of important dates in my iPad’s calendar. I do keep track of my blog stuff in a physical notebook though. (Yes, I have blog dates written down into June – crazy, huh?)

  2. Beth F

    Work and blog calendars in my office; household calendar in the kitchen. Kept up. Looked at. Used.

    Personal goals, ideas, journal = fail. Total. Always. For years.

  3. Joy Weese Moll

    My system is perennially in flex and I think that might be important to me, as frustrating as it is sometimes. At the moment, I plan the week on a sheet I print from Kristen’s Guides: I’ve been using the Blank Weekly Planner pdf, but some of the others have been fun at times too. I plan my day on a spiral notebook page. And, I’ve been playing, somewhat successfully with Super Focus: which is a way of keeping track of things to do and, then, actually doing them. I often also have one or more mind maps to remind me what projects are important to me and what the likely steps are that I’ll want to accomplish as I go along.

  4. heidenkind

    Haha, I am NOT a planner person. If I need to remember something, I put it on a sticky note that disappears on my desk. I applaud your goal of trying stay organized, but this would never work for me. I do need to come up with a better way of keeping track of my bills, though…

  5. Trish

    Ok, I know I mentioned this on Twitter already but I couldn’t help leaving a comment before the good old Google Reader gets the ax (mark all read). LOVE this! Though my favorite is the “free play” page. I’m not a planner, but I do have a notebook that I keep in my purse to jot down blogging ideas and to make lists of this and that and the other. I’d probably be a better organized person if I kept a to-do list, but the thought overwhelms me. 😉


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