my daybook, aka my brain on paper

I am a list maker, a lover of diaries and notebooks and calendars hanging on the wall. I do use my phone somewhat, with each child colour coded and all, but there’s nothing like having my day laid out in front of me to keep me on track. 

Over the years I’ve tried a few systems. When the children were in school, I honed an ideal system of diary & notepad that lived in a cute cover, made in my most favouritist Echino patchwork print linen**. For a long time, this was the system I relied on. There were monthly pages for quick overviews and weekly spreads with notes, perfect for finer details and having the menu plan all on the same page. I had a wall calendar, but I didn’t use it a whole lot. Everything was neatly contained, the calendar was redundant really.

Mid 2017, we shifted into homeschool, and for a while I kept up that system, running a seperate planning & recording system in my homeschool lever arch folder, keeping it together with my syllabus and curriculum print outs. While we were living in town, with a school room and a large table to work on, it worked. I had a dedicated school folder, and my own diary that I could organise my life with. I liked the separation of the two systems of planning, and everything ticked along nicely.

Then 2020 happened, and happened so very much. We moved to the farm, and into a cabin. Where I once could plan my week spread across as much of a twelve seater table as I needed to spread out, now I had just our little IKEA gate leg table. Storage room was at a premium too – there simply wasn’t space to store an entire years programming, for four children, in a spot that was convenient to access on the regular. I tried various ways of organising everything, but my recording and planning sheets were getting lost or damaged as they waited to be filed. The filing itself piled up rapidly. It was time for a change. The fact that a big chunk of that year also required exactly zero diary entries, and my beautiful Kikki K diary got filed away without a single entry, and the belly band still attached, brought home the old system didn’t work for this new season. 

What if, thought I, I shifted from a top opening notepad, to a side opening notebook? I could still record my daily to-do list on one side, but I could use the other side as my school recording sheet. For the notebook nerds amongst us, I was using the Spiral 563B** for my top bound pad, and switched to the Spirax 571** A5 book. I am irrationally insistent on traditional yellow houndstooth cover and white spiral, so buy mine from the local office supplies store when I buy school books – big box stores only seem to have the “trendy” coloured versions. Why yes, I overthink my notebooks to the point of cover colour. Totally normal things to be concerned about. (hashtag first world problems, amirite?)

It worked a charm. To-do on the left, school on the right. Lists and notes coloured coded by day (today is Thursday, so blue headings and items, pink bible verse, tick offs and school marking). Over the last three years, I’ve tweaked the system slowly to work for me. I added a bookmark, where I could stick post-it notes for upcoming things to be aware of. I added a family wall calendar for longer term planning that didn’t fit within my day book. The bookmark got an upgrade this year – calendar stickers with a goal planning section were the first addition. I loved them. They ended up being so helpful for keeping on top of my monthly mini goals. Then as I kept working through the start of year and adding projects, I decided the backside of the bookmark was also prime real estate – possibly even more so than the front.

When I’m recording our school activities, the bookmark is flipped up – the perfect spot for some extra planner tools. The first addition was a tracker for my 100 Days project, which I ended up including in that initial post as a free printable. The wall calendar was handy for long term items, but sometimes there were things a month or two ahead that I needed to be aware of in a more immediate sense. I might be sitting at the school table and an event pops up to take the children to, for instance, and I need to know if there’s a meeting or an appointment that day. Or rego on the cars could be coming up, and I need to book in a pink slip closer to the time so want that in the forefront of my mind. That was another easy fix – a bit of time in photoshop and I had me a cute little tip in ready to be washi’d on the the bookmark that’s rapidly becoming more like a traditional dashboard in a planner.

Of course, this is me we are talking about, and if it’s worth doing, it’s worth over crafting. Out came the cricut** and a pack of cheap shop label paper, and I got to work creating sticker sheets for my three daily projects (photocross stitch100 days), so I wasn’t writing the same thing over and over. To round out my sticker collection, I created a “top three” sticker, for setting weekly micro goals, as a freebie for part of my recent Crack The Cricut Code email series. 

It’s quite a simple system, but it works for me. The daybook layout gives me the flexibility to plan ahead or have a working bee list or skip a few days. Come homeschool renewal time, I have everything all together. There’s often even plenty of space for notes for meetings with builders and designers as we work through the house build!

My system essentials are:

Family wall calendar (I use this one from Kikki K – yes, financial year. Finance nerd habits die hard!)
Spirax 571 notebook**
InkJoy ballpoint pens**
Monthly calendar goal setting printable/sticker
Upcoming Dates tip in printable
100 Days free printable
Daily project stickers (custom designed using this font bundle**)
Top Three stickers (freebie in the cricut email series)
Washi from old Studio Calico kits**

And as a little bonus for my loyal blog readers, if you add the two tip ins above to your cart (plus the diary cover or the student diary as extras if you wish), and use the code BUNDLE, you’ll get 40% off your order total.

I’d love to know how you set up your planner – drop me a comment and let me know!

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