It’s funny how when people get involved with the whole planner-mania, they do exactly what I did: BUY STUFF.
Stickers! Stamps! Dashboards! Wait, what the hell’s a dashboard? Washi tape! Clips! Bookmarks! MORE WASHI TAPE! SO MANY STICKERS! Pens! OMG more pens! No wait, I don’t like Erin Condren, let’s try a Filo! No, a Happy Planner! Wait, how about a Traveler’s Notebook? I’M GOING TO NEED MORE STICKERS!
This is of course part of the fun. Less fun is when you realize how much money you’ve spent on things you never actually use – but part of the process is discovering what you really need in a planner, versus what you want just because it’s pretty or fun. We all have different planner needs and personalities.
Most people use a mix of premade stickers, stamps, and so on. Some people are crazy artistic and doodle or color all over their weekly spreads, or even turn them into art journals and collages. Some people have tons of functional stickers and barely decorate at all. It’s all “right,” and it’s all really fascinating to a person like myself who likes to figure out how people tick.
I’ve been through a number of planners in the last few years myself, starting with an Erin Condren, wandering through two sizes of Filofax, trying (and hating) a Traveler’s Notebook system (which is all the rage right now, along with Bullet Journaling), and finally settling for 2016 on a Plum Paper vertical. Amazingly I stuck with it the whole year, though I did add a sort of modified Bullet Journal for list making and note taking.
Even within my Plum, however, my style and needs have evolved over the last twelve months. The best example of this is my self-care sticker, which has become quite a different looking beast from its first incarnation.
Incarnation 1: Originally it was meant to be a sticker for every day, as you can see; tiny, cute, but still useful. The problem was it became evident within the first couple of weeks that I was already adding way too much bulk to my planner each week. (I ended up removing months as I went for the first half of the year because the damn thing was just too thick; I’ve got other ideas on how to keep this year’s from running amok.) So what if I tried a weekly sidebar? My sidebar was kind of useless as it was, so:
Incarnation 2: Still cute icons, but with a full on Baymax. (I use the Baymax Index, as I call it, to track my mood so I can watch for cycle changes.) I liked the graph but it was taking up too much space, so I tried boxes.
Incarnation 3: Again I felt like I was using up too much real estate for poor old Baymax, so I tried using my own little drawing of him and squishing him up a little. I also added a check box for calling my mom every week, and for doing something nice for myself:
Incarnation 4: That was when I realized I was tired of the cute little icons and wanted something more like the sidebar trackers I sold in my Etsy shop. So I created my own version of that.
Incarnation 5: I liked the format a lot, but it kind of clashed with a lot of the themes I was doing. What if I tried making it match?
Incarnation 6: So, on the week I did my Peach Trees theme, I tried a sort of ombre-esque color palette, changed up the fonts, and pretty much loved the result. I set up the file in Pixelmator where each tracker was its own group, and I could go into each and switch the background color and font without much ado.
It is, to be honest, a pain in the butt to switch it out every week, and some weeks I put more effort into it than others. But the result pleases me so much I keep doing it. I can always go with the old one in the rainbow colors, which I kept so I could use it when I needed a default, but I do want to create another couple of more generic versions so I can have something to just throw onto the sticker sheet when I don’t feel like screwing with it.
I can even stick a background image in and avoid dealing with the individual box colors entirely if I like. This one, the starry sky, is one of my absolute favorites, but this week’s is giving it a run for its money just because of the simplicity and elegance of it:
I’ve also changed the headers I use on the daily columns – I started off with a “top three” box, a header for current projects, and one for writing, but over time I realized what I really needed was a straight up to do list, a diary-esque place to note the events of the day, and a place to jot down what I wanted to work on writing-wise and what I’d actually accomplished. The addition of the shopping list (above) is recent, and I like it.
I plan to alter the sidebar further in the next week or two, as my needs have again changed. But this gives you an idea of how your own planner style can evolve (even if you’re not a crazy person with rudimentary Photoshopping skills like me); you don’t have to stick with what you bought the first week if it makes you crazy. Often you can use what you have in a new way, alter it gently with washi or a white pen, and at least try out new things before you buy new products…although if you’re like most planner fiends, the products are such a huge part of the fun you have a Raskog or at least a shoebox full of your toys. If you don’t yet…just give it time. *laugh* We’re all mad here.
Note: Since people tend to ask, the process of making stickers for each week’s theme takes about two hours from start to finish. I know the dimensions of the stickers I use by heart, so I can whip out new headers and such in minutes, but resizing images from the internet and then fitting everything on the Silhouette template page takes a while. I don’t bother making a cut file for my own personal stuff, as that would add another hour at least plus the time it takes to fire up the Cameo and cut the stickers out; usually I use my paper trimmer and a craft knife. It’s a meditative process to me, and the actual decoration usually happens at Starbucks on Sunday or Monday. Some weeks I just don’t feel like it, so I slap on some tape and go with it. If it’s not fun, I don’t do it.
Note 2: People also ask about “apply minty paste.” A long time ago I came across this on Tumblr and thought it was both funny and unsettling and definitely more interesting than “brush your teeth”:
If you want to see how the sidebar, and the rest of my weekly stickers, all work together, have a gander at the Planner Things page.Become my patron for exclusive online content and read new stories before anyone else!