is this really planner peace?

Part of this year has been trying to find a planning/organisation system that works for my personal needs. I’ve got the work life organised down pat, but it’s navigating through my dynamic personal life that’s proven to be challenging. I thought I’d write a few thoughts about the systems that I’ve used this year. But before I get stuck into it, I ultimately had a goal in mind: a planner and/or organisation system that is flexible and adaptable enough to accommodate for my (ever-changing) needs. Was it really that much to ask for?

By nature, I’m not the kind of person who has time to decorate my planner pages with washi tape, embellish with doodling, etc. I’m straight down to business, and for me, the decorations and trimmings are more of a distraction, although you’ll find me doing something really wild, crazy and uncharacteristic like using calligraphy to denote a special event. Hah. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy and appreciate the many beautiful planner pages I see on my Instagram feed, but I always wonder where people get the time to do this and do they plan to plan their planner pages? That being said, I’m a collector of conversations (my own (yep, lots going on in my head!), my own with others or overheard) and I like to log my days via what I like to call “daily souvenirs” (e.g. business cards of food haunts, pamphlets, etc.), so when I do get some me time, I go rampart with the visuals and it looks like a kindergartener’s pasta craft activity. I kid, but let’s get down to it, shall we?

I’ve tried 5 different systems/planners this year, going back and forth several times in the year to use each one, unless I thought it was totally useless and I’ve abandoned it completely. I’m not posting a lot of pictures in this entry because there are bits of info that I would like to keep private, so this is going to be a text heavy post. At the end is a run down of what I’m currently using and will be using going into 2015.


The Bullet Journal

The number of views I get a day for my rendition of the Bullet Journal system averages about 300 views a day. It’s basically my entire traffic this year. As much as I like how dynamic this system is, I’ve more or less ditched it. Below was my last attempt at adapting it to my needs.

month bullet journalThis was the monthly pages. I divided it up into three columns – morning, afternoon, evening – and then wrote down the events and appointments for each day under the appropriate column. The coloured boxes to the left of the dates was used to signify when the day was completed and was more a tracking tool for me.

month bujo layout

This was a monthly bullet journal (as opposed to daily and weekly) with a little calendar written on the top left hand corner of the page as a reminder. I used the same signifiers/bullets as I have in previous posts. In the end, this didn’t work for me because, again, my needs changed.

The Verdict: I like that it’s adaptable enough to use with any system, that’s why I’ve used some of the bullets/signifiers going into my current system. I can’t live without forward planning, and sometimes I don’t have my phone with me, or I run out of battery, and then I’m screwed. There are so many creative hacks out there to handle this, and I’ve tried them all. I also had a problem with collections. I found myself ripping out pages and sticky taping them into my new pages or I re-wrote some of them during my lunch hours. Argh! Too annoying! I think the bullet journal has some strong elements to it, but after using it for a year and a half, things like archiving (i.e. what do I do with my old books, notes, etc.) and migrating information between notebooks, has really been challenging and I need something that is less fussy.


The ring bound planner (e.g. Filofax)

I actually didn’t go out and buy an authentic Filofax, knowing full well that I’d only use it for a little while (hmm, maybe this was a self-fulfilling prophecy in itself?!). I ended up making my own out of cheap materials – an Officeworks A5 binder, DIY Manila folder dividers/tabs, and DIY planner pages.

The Verdict: This tryst ended quickly. The prepping was fun, but when I got around to using it, it felt like I was carrying around too much unnecessary crap. Did I really need to be carrying around 6 types of sticky notes and a multitude of coloured pens?! The weight in my bag certainly didn’t help with my back problems! I want to be organised but I don’t want to be a freaken packhorse! I also didn’t like how I had to punch holes into anything new I wanted to put in it, which meant carrying around a heavy arse hole punch. Yeah, I’m not a binder type of girl. (On a side note though, I bought myself a smaller version as a birthday present, and that ended quickly, too. I’m thinking of regifting my own birthday present, or maybe a giveaway if I reach a certain number of followers or views? Who knows, nobody actually reads this blog except for my mum – hi mum!) What I did like about this system is that you can compartmentalise and organise information into its place – love, love, love! And that solved the problems of the lists I wanted to keep with me everywhere I go, but the cons outweighed the pros, unfortunately.


The Hobonichi

More like a fauxbonichi. I was smart about this and didn’t go face first into purchasing it. I used grid Moleskine cahiers and HAND DREW the pages for one month.

The Verdict: The prepping killed me! And once I got around to actually using it, I didn’t fill up even close to a seventh of a page. I really liked the page layout of the Hobonichi Weeks, so I’ve appropriated elements of this into my current system.


The Moleskine week-to-a-page-with-notes

I created a small notebook with some DIY pages that looked like the Moleskine planner. I used this type of planner for many many years, and when I started uni again, it just couldn’t keep up with me.

The Verdict: I actually used this far longer than the others mentioned above and used it with the bullet journal signifiers/bullets at one stage as well. I found that I would run out of room sometimes with my daily log/souvenirs, and it got ridiculously chunky at one point with the amount of pages I taped on.


The Midori Traveler’s Notebook

I made a foamdori earlier this year, and I ended up using this with the makeshift Moleskine planner and I created a couple of other inserts as well.

The Verdict: My foamdori disintegrated after a couple of months use, so that’s more of a material/design flaw rather than a complete system failure. I had six inserts to begin with – planner, to do lists, blog, logbook, writing journal, sketch book – and boy, that created weight very quickly. Once the foamdori kicked the bucket, I wasn’t bothered making another one.


My hybrid system

My current system is a use of several systems. I made a denimdori the other day for my inserts, now down to just three – 1 x planner, 1 x combo To Do/Logbook, 1 x combo Blog/Writing journal. The denimdori was made out of leftover Japanese denim and a fat quarter with fusible web ironed on the edges for reinforcement, then I used eyelets for the holes and some hat elastic (aka tube elastic). It is handstitched, but it was my first official day of holidays, so I decided to slow down.

denimdori set upThe covers of the inserts were made from magazine pages I had lying around. It’s holding up so far, but I really need to get some rubber bands to hold the inserts together. My planner pages are weekly on one page with notes on the other side.

planner layoutThe notes side usually consists of bullet journal style annotations, but I’ve reduced the signifiers to the square, interpunction and em-dash, with events and appointments written on the weekly side. I’m also using three different highlighters for colour coding events and appointments. The other system I carry around with me is my folder:

folder detailsThis was something I picked up at Daiso around March this year. When I think about it, this has basically been in my bag with me throughout all of the system trials, and acted like a repository of random artifacts, well, documents and what not. I kept daily souvenirs here, important bills, work information, etc., that I felt would feel out of place in the system I was using at any given time. If not for this folder, there would’ve been many a time when I would’ve gone to an appointment and not had the right documentation. So I cleaned it out and sectioned it off to hold different things – personal, home, work, miscellaneous – and this is how I’ve handled carrying around important information. This is the end result:

set upI leave a spare pocket at the front to hold my planner insert on the days when I know I’m not going to need anything else. I’ve only started using it at the start of December, but it just feels right. I’m not obligated to carry both the folder and denimdori all the time and can swap them around as my needs change.

So how has your year of planning gone for you? Have you found a planning system that suits all of your needs? What have you found challenging and useful?



work organisation

Well, hey there, it’s been awhile. I haven’t been doing a great job of keeping this blog of mine updated this year, although that was my main intention this year. I have been busy though. Work has been insane, oh and did I mention that I also got married last month? Yup, it was a short but sweet ceremony at the registry office followed by a picnic in the parklands with close family and friends. The weather held out, and we had a blast! I’d definitely do it again – the picnic, not the marriage!

That aside, I thought today I’d share with you my work planning/organisation tools. I’m an itinerant speech-language pathologist (SLP), so organisation is paramount to making my life stress-free when I travel from one location to another. I visit each location anywhere from 3-6 times every ten week term, and see an average of 10-12 clients at each location at any given time. Because of confidentiality reasons, I can’t publish/post any pictures, documents or information that can identify where I work and the people I see. This means that this post with be text heavy, and the examples I post have been recreated using simple Microsoft Word software.

For each location, I have a binder with tabs and plastic sleeves for necessary documentation, and a small notebook for those times when I need to explain something to a client. I take this binder with me on the days that I’m assigned to a particular location and it’s a nice springboard for that day’s work.

I also have a base location, where I have 3 trays. The top tray is my Inbox, filled with actions that need to be completed that week. The middle tray is anything that needs to be filed away. The bottom tray holds the recesses of my mind… no, I’m joking, but really it’s filled with things that I can’t find a home for because I have a tiny office that I share with 6 people. The base location office is filled with every SLP resource known to humankind. I had the pleasure of stocktaking and organising the shelves, etc., a few months ago. I know, right? It was the best day ever! Moving right along…

My every day must-haves in my work bag (apart from the essentials) are my weekly planner pages (made by me) and a Piccadilly notebook for bullet journalling. Below is a recreated sample of my weekly planner pages

Work planner - weeklyI made this using Microsoft Publisher, printed out the pages back-to-back, and bound them together (Google ‘bookbinding techniques’ and there is vast array of tutorials that will occupy you for months!). I also bought a few plastic sleeves from Daiso that I bound as part of my planner. The numbers at the top represent the months of the year, and I’ve highlighted ’10’ on this for October. I left the dates empty and wrote these down after I bound my book. I also write my location to the right hand side to remind myself where I’m going for that day. I usually do this months in advance. I then write the hours I’ve worked on the first line, so completing my timesheet at the end of the week is easier. Each day is separated into three columns which represent morning, afternoon and evening (or late afternoon, as I like to call it). This is where I write the clients that I’m seeing, and the bottom part, I usually save for any reminders.

This is a recreated example of my bullet journal

Work planner - bullet journalI have kept the bullets to a minimum, choosing to use the squares for tasks, circles for appointments/meetings/etc., and filled dot for notes. I don’t use the arrow for task migration, instead opt for highlighting anything that needs to be carried over to the following location visit. This has been extremely good for me to use because it’s also served as a clinical journal for the entire year, and great to jog my memory for the next visit. Also sometimes, I don’t have enough admin time to update progress notes for client files, and this has been super handy for those times. I have various other notations and profession-specific abbreviations, but I’ve outlined the most relevant.

So there you have it, my work organisation. I have other sheets and logbooks related to work that I’ll share later on. These are the bare bones of my planning. How do you manage your workload?



weekly bullet journal

So I know that it’s been over two months since I’ve posted on this little blog of mine, but I’m surprised that it generates some daily average of 300+ views. Thanks, everyone, and please continue with the comments and questions, etc. I check every now and again, even though life and work has gotten the best of me at the moment.

You are probably all very sick of me blogging about the bullet journal, and I’m fairly certain that I’ve changed planners and formats more frequently this year than any other year! I came across Plannerisms’s ongoing debate a few days ago, and I can absolutely relate to her planner conflict! For me, I think having two separate planning systems has buggered me over. My work documents can potentially be subpoenaed and I have to surrend them to the company once my contract finishes this year. I’m not too keen on other people knowing about my personal life, and it just looks unprofessional. And yes, I know that I promised to post a blog up about my work bullet journal, but I’ve somehow lost that post somewhere in the abyss of my laptop desktop. I’ve got a bit of a break coming up, so I’ll try to get that up and running.

So today’s treat is a peak into my personal weekly bullet journal. I know last post I mentioned that I went back to grid paper, used the TDW, etc., but now I’ve returned to my beloved Castelli weekly planner.


This is my one book wonder! I bought the binder pouch on the outside from Daiso a few days ago and it holds my trusty Uni Jetstream 101 black pen, and two different coloured highlighters.

binder pouch

The Castelli weekly planner is formatted in a similar fashion to the Moleskine and Leuchtturm1917 weekly planners but it comes in a 15 month book, with lots of useful information at the front. I discovered today that it has an information page dedicated to the meanings of Latin terms. Yes, I know, it’s the speech-language pathologist side coming out in me! Anyhoo, below is a sample page.

weekly bullet journal spread

Excuse the white marks, I needed to deidentify a few bits of it. I write all my events and appointments on the weekly side (left page) using this format: time event @ location, e.g. “1830 dinner @ friends place”. Below is a close up of some of the tasks.

top spread

How I use the weekly bullet journal system:

  • I use the ‘tasks‘ bullet (square) with the in progress/incomplete and complete annotations as my original post from many months ago but I don’t use the GTD ‘@contexts’ anymore.
  • I list all the tasks that need to be finished (attempted) that week. So, call this a ‘brain dump’, if you will.
  • I don’t have a set time to plan, but I guess it’s usually somewhere between finishing off reports at home and sleeping, that I decide to allocate a task to a given day. This is what the numbers to the left of the task boxes signify. If I know something needs to be completed on a day, then I’ll write that in.
  • When I look over my planner for the day, I scan the left side of the margin to any numbers that coincide with today. For example, if the day is August 25, then I scan down the left side of the margin, until I see ’25’, and I see that I need to ‘recharge my mobile phone’ and ‘MirLend Day 6’ journal entry.
  • Migrated tasks have the arrow and then a date assigned to it. If I don’t have a date for it, I highlight it pink for when I do a monthly task scan – it stands out more this way.
  • For daily notes, I use the ‘dot’ bullet followed by the date. For example “3108: purchased a Canon D100” (see picture below)
  • I also have different icons to signify ideas, books, sellers, websites, etc.
  • I haven’t hashtagged any of these notes, but I usually place a hashtag to the left of the margin next to a note when I’ve added it to a collection. For example, in this section, I’ll place a hashtag next to the ‘lightbulb’ icon when I’ve placed that entry into my “Ideas List”

bottom spread

The one thing that the Castelli planner doesn’t have is a ribbon to mark your place in the year. I had some coloured paperclips from a previous stationery haul, so I decided to use them as bookmarks. The yellow marks the yearly calendar, the green is the start of my collections, the blue is my current place in the planner, and the pink is a spare.


I’ve been (re-using) this planner for about 5 weeks now, and so far so good. So, internet community, what are some planner modifications you’ve made since you last visited my blog? Have you ditched your current planning/organising system? If so, what was the clincher?


bullet journal rehashed

Before I dive into this follow-up post, I wanted to share with you this sunrise that I enjoyed the other morning. Brisbane has been blessed with some stunning winter weather at the moment. It’s making me dislike the cold less.


As promised, this is the breakdown of my personal bullet journal. I’m going to make a confession: I haven’t been using the bullet journal system in my personal life for a few months now. Phew. Glad I got that off my chest. I’ve been bogged down in work-related tasks that my personal life has been left in some disarray. Well, I’ve relied solely in digitising my personal organisation, simply because I’m constantly attached to my iPhone. I restarted my bullet journal mid-June, and I’m making a conscious effort to go back to pen and paper. I realised that analogue forces me to slow down, which is definitely what I need. It also helps my poor old dying memory and aids in disconnecting from media.

Anyhoo, I’ve made some modifications in my bullet journal key. I’ve seen a few posts on social media sites of people using my bullet journal key. It’s certainly very flattering to know that people have adopted it to their planning and organisation. I’ve also seen a few posts/pins of my habit/chore tracking, too, which is nice. I’ve also realised that I can’t stop people from using my ideas and claiming it as their own. Unfortunately, it’s one fo those irritating/frustrating quibbles of the internet. I’m a fairly reserved person, and in a past life, I can also be very nasty if you piss me off, but luckily, I’m beyond that now. So I’m only going to say this here once and go back to my quiet life: I enjoy sharing my ideas, and I’m fully aware that bullet journalling is the brain child of Ryder Carroll. I’m not discouraging readers to stop sharing my ideas, but just please acknowledge that it is my idea when you repost/repin, even if you reproduce the key in your own handwriting in your own bullet journal system. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

Where was I? Oh yes, my bullet journal modifications. I mentioned in the ‘you asked for it‘ post that I’m now using the TDW (aka a version of the MTN). I was trawling through my Instagram feed back in June and came across a photo of my pocket Moleskine planner in 2012, so I took a screenshot of it.

planner 2012

I remember taking this picture and realising that my planning system prior to my masters degree just wasn’t going to be good enough to withstand the deluge of research and clinical work. It was probably a month after this picture was taken when I ditched the pocket Moleskine 18-month planner that I had been purchasing religiously for 4 years. I discovered the bullet journal during the last 6 months of my degree, and it literally saved my a@#$!

Now that my life has gone back to relatively normal, I’m finding that I’m having to use the bullet journal system less and less. There were days when I’d write the date and that was it. It became more useful in my work life (blog post to follow), hence the transition to the iPhone. When I saw my Instagram picture last month, I decided to start integrating a similar format to the TDW inserts. I haven’t been very active on the bullet journal groups, so I’m sure there are already users out there doing this exact same thing. I guess I’m just very late hopping onto that wagon ;)

I’ve returned to the grid paper (how I’ve missed it!) in the TDW inserts, with the left page set up as the weekly spread. The right hand side are my weekly tasks and (usually daily) notes. I don’t use the circle bullet anymore to signify events because I just write those down in the weekly spread. Below is a mock-up of my modified bullet journal system:

mock spread

This is my new bullet journal key:

bullet journal mods

Tasks remain the same, and I’ve placed the arrow in the box for migrated tasks. I’ve also made annotations for my notes (i.e. icons), which are self-explanatory in the picture. The new addition is the hashtag.

In social media, the hashtag is used to sort posts into similar topics, and I use this in a similar way. I use the hashtag against tasks required to complete a project (e.g. wedding plans, blog posts, etc.) to transfer to a collection, and I also use it against notes so that I can write it in my lists collection (e.g. reading list, good restaurants, websites, blogs, etc.). I will normally highlight the hashtags after I’ve written them in the corresponding collections. I started using this because sometimes I just want to find a cafe/restaurant details quickly, and really couldn’t be bothered flicking through pages and pages to find it. I know that I can probably just use the icons in the margins to identify which collection it needs to go to, but there’s something more streamline to using the hashtag. I’m sure that I’ll probably drop the icons, if I get sick of them enough in the next few months ;)

I’ve forgone the monthly lists mentioned in my ‘bullet journalling… six months on‘  post. Instead, I have a master list kept in a separate grid notebook to my bullet journal. It’s mainly tasks with the date written in the margin. You’ll also notice that I’m not using the GTD @contexts anymore – this is purely so that I can fit everything on one line haha

I’m now in week three of this version of the bullet journal, and it is working a treat :)

I hope this post has been useful and I’d love to hear from the community how they are going with their bullet journal systems.


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you asked for it!

EDIT: follow up post here.

I just wanted to thank everyone who voted in my mini-poll. These are the results with an overwhelming vote for ‘bullet journal – personal organisation’.

1. Bullet journal – personal organisation
2. Bullet journal – work organisation
3. General life organisation of a 30-something
4. Writing arsenal – writing implements
5. Other: scheduling, time management, logbook, study tips, bullet journal blog planning

To save repeating myself with the same content, I’ve linked back to the top posts in the Decade Thirty Planning Series below:

Bullet journalling… six months on

Bullet Journal System

Chronodex + Bullet Journal

These posts are bascially my personal organisation using the bullet journal. There will be a new post in the next few weeks regarding a change in my personal organisation systems, and a shift to using the bullet journal for work. I’m still trying to decide on the best option in showing my work bullet journal without compromising client confidentiality.

Bullet journal – personal organisation

Ive managed and maintained a fairly minimal planning arsenal in the last 6 months:

Writing implements

  • Uni Shalaku 07 mechanical pencil
  • Highlighter (one colour – usually pink – but whatever’s lying around)
  • Lamy Safari fountain pen in black ink (NEW – previously used a Uni Jetstream 101 1.0 nib in black)
  • Papermate Inkjoy 300RT clicky top in blue ink

Bullet journal
Now in a traveller’s document wallet (TDW) containing a craft paper insert, and two grid inserts (Moleskine cahiers trimmed to size)


My Lamy pen sits in the TDW pen holder, with the highlighter and mechanical pencil tucked in the TDW wherever it can fit. The Papermate Inkjoy floats around in my bag, for those times when someone asks to borrow a pen, and never returns it (pet peeve!). I still rely on my iPhone in conjunction with paper-based planning.

There are several reasons I don’t carry as much, the main one being that my bag gets too heavy. I use my planner for just pure plannning. I’m not one to embellish with washi tape, stickers, stamps, etc., although I consider myself a creative person. I like to compartmentalise aspects of my planning life. Planning is organised, easy to access and read; whereas, my creative/journalling side is where I can be spontaneous, messy and experimental. I don’t like those two worlds to overlap. I live a busy and frantic life, I don’t need it to pour over onto my free time. That aside, simple organising means more streamline management for my life.

This was mentioned in my new acquisition post.

The craft notebook was made by me using paper I purchased from Daiso. I wish I bought more because it’s pretty good for craft paper and my local Daiso has stopped stocking them! Anyhoo, the craft notebook is inserted into the inside left cover of the TDW. This is a new habit I’m trying to develop, which I like to call the “daily one-liner”. It’s basically one line to summarise my day, whether it’s a mood, an event, one simple thing I enjoyed, etc., and I use different typography styles and simple graphics to eventually fill entire pages of it. (See a sample of this in the ‘new acquisitions’ post). There’s usually a process of sitting still for one minute to clear my head, and then going ahead with a “daily one-liner”. I’m the first to admit that this isn’t an original idea, and was probably inspired by those 5-year journals that have been in circulation for several years now. But this process for me is a form of quick meditation and journalling in one.

The two grid notebooks are inserted in the right side cover, overlapping each other.


These are my main organisation notebooks, and like I mentioned before, I’ll be sharing the changes in the next few weeks.But for now, I hope this post provides some help in your organisational pursuits to those who are new, wanting to change/improve their current systems, procrastinating on tasks, and/or just wanting to be nosy ;)

More to follow… I promise!




Instagram: dee15martinez