Techo Kaigi | Mid-Year Planner Review 2024

This is part 2 of 2 in the series Techo Kaigi: planner system reviews

Techo Kaigi: Mid-year planner usage review 2024

My birthday falls on the 2nd of June, so beginning of the Summer it’s a traditional time of self-reflection for me. A few weeks before or after my birthday I spend hatching new plans, setting new goals and it’s perfect time to check my planner usage too, as we’re 5 month into year 2024 and I had time to evaluate my current setup.

A start of a new cycle, akin to a New Year, demands review and adjustments to be made for my envisioned future.

Current Planner Setup

I’ve started 2024 with the following setup:

  • Custom Van Der Spek planner in Personal size – Main planner
  • Filofax Original (yellow) in Personal size – Projects
  • Filofax Original (Navy) in A5 size – Editorial planner
  • General spiral-bound notebook in A4 size – Notes

I’ve used Van Der Spek planner with almost identical setup for years, ever since I got it in 2016. It holds my diary, essential contacts and addresses, various info and some notepaper.

At the beginning of the 2024 I’ve decided to move all projects to a separate binder (Personal Filofax Original in Yellow), to allow my main planner to remain always open on the current week, as I was able to fit only a small portion of projects in it anyway and turning a lot of pages to find them made me reluctant to use projects pages there. I had found that I would rather make a quick list of actions, scribble a sketch on whatever piece of paper I had, than seek the relevant page in the planner. That led to project pages not being updated when something was done and inevitable loss of some of my notes. Reintroduction of another binder was meant to solve this, but… It didn’t. I ignored that planner completely, reaching for it only a few times over 5 months.

Similarly ignored was my A5 Filofax Original in Navy, that I’ve setup to be used as a Editorial planner for my web-projects. This however was somewhat expected as I was running a test with it: after evaluating my planner usage in October of 2023 and testing out several layouts for tracking of my web activity, I’ve printed out the winning layout in both A5 and Personal size, as even then I was unsure about having a separate calendar and a separate planner for web-projects. Test proved that separate calendar won’t work, and inclusion of this info into my main planner is the way to go.

The forth element was a simple A4 spiral-bound notebook that I’ve kept on my desk at all times. I put it into a landscape format, so spiral had no effect on my writing comfort and found myself using it constantly.

Everything went into it: quick notes, to do lists, sketches, new projects, mind maps and scribbles when refilling my pens. My cat trampled and lounged on it, I tore pages without a second thought. The expanse of this page was very liberating and gave me an important Clue to what needed to be done with my planner system going forward.

Changes to the Planner setup

Personal Van Der Spek – Main planner

My main planner works great as it is – it is always open on my desk, right next to me and that’s how I prefer it to be.

Personal size is perfect for me, removing Projects to a separate binder allowed me to swap 30mm rings for 25mm ones, which improved portability and writing comfort. If need be, I can easily take out several months of pages and use an even slimmer planner like my personal Filofax Calypso with 15mm rings.

Personal Van Der Spek planner

Changes to this planner layout in late 2023 proved to be for the better – I can easily see my appointments, errands and a list of projects I’ve been working on any given day, my daily and weekly tasks are also clearly visible.

task list key

In the past months, I’ve made slight changes to my “todo list key” to improve readability.

Also slight changes were introduced to the way I colour-code tasks: now I only use pen with black ink for most of the writing.
Other colours are reserved for only a few occasions:

  • Red: for birthdays, holidays and deadlines
  • Blue: for media log (books, films, tv, etc)
  • Green: for workouts, walks and other health-related stuff.

This allows for a easier entering of data, as I don’t need to search for a specific pen and colour really stands out on the page.

Colour-coding tasks and projects

Colour-coding of projects and tasks is done now via drawing a line next to the task: this way I can see what my main focus of the day was and can do it whenever I have access to my pens.

General A4 notebook on spiral – Notes

I’ve used some kind of inexpensive notebook or a legal pad for years for quick note-taking and always found that bigger page size was more conductive for me at the stage of envisioning a project.

Lack of borders and structure allowed for free flow of ideas. In contrast, my (custom designed!) “project” pages in Personal would be neglected and I always felt annoyance, when trying to fit some of my projects into any structured space with lists, dates etc. I rarely (if ever) have deadlines for my projects, preferring to work on them when mood/energy level/level of focus/moon in sign align just right.

Inexpensive nature of those notebooks meant I could tear out pages if they were no longer needed, allow my cat to walk all over them, scribble with my pens when refilling, test all sorts of art materials, spill tea and water.
For the last couple of years, I ended up using an A4 notebook lying horizontally on the table – this gave me even more space and freedom to work with and allowed to eliminate the problem of spiral being a nuisance when writing.

This worked great in conjunction with my main planner, the only problem was record keeping.

If a current project, outlined in my notebook, had a corresponding project page somewhere – I would forget to update it with info and current status. And if a project had no other records in my planning system, then upon completion I did not know what to do with the page(s) – leave it in and throw my notes away, when current notebook ended, or rip it out and store somewhere… Some got tossed and there were times, when I regretted it, as I had to reference what I’ve done. Some I preserved, but I couldn’t keep them with other relevant project pages, as those were in Personal size and folding A5 or A4 page was not always possible while attempts just made my Projects binder extra fat.

A4 notebook for notes, new projects, scribbles

After some deliberation, I’ve decided that going forward, I’ll keep using a A5/A4 notebook as I did, as they really help with the flow and record-keeping of ideas.

I’ll seek notebooks that are spiral bound (with smaller spiral diameters) or use glued binding for easier removal of pages, with faint black grid and better quality paper. Using this notebook to outline my projects will allow me to easily store them afterwards in A5 Filofax planner.

A5 Filofax Original (Navy) – Projects

Decision to put all my projects into an A5 planner didn’t come easy – I had problems using it as a web-projects planner in the past, but after review of my management of projects I’ve decided, that my main issue was spread of project pages across several places, with me trying to combine different page sizes. Personal size is not really working for me for project outlines, while A5/A4 pages were working, but those were kept separately and not easily accessible.

Still, I hesitated, but ultimately caved in and decided to give a new system a try: my A5 with web-related projects already had dividers for different areas/topics of interests, there were already a lot of projects outlines, some of which actually duplicated or extended info from same projects in Personal page size.

Combining all of it together was made possible by Personal/A5 size holes compatibility in Filofax system – I only had to trim one corner on Personal pages to fit them onto A5 rings.

I was also able to put in this binder all my archived A4/A5 pages from notebooks too, just by hole-punching everything.

A5 Filofax Original as a binder for projects

This binder is now fat and bulky, I may not often reach for it still, but at least now I know that all my projects are in there.

Portability for it is not a real issue though – I almost never take it with me anyway, and in those situations any notebook will do. While at home and being too lazy to reach for this Filofax, I can use whatever notebook is on my desk to jot down ideas or a quick to do list and just put this page into the binder, when I’m done.

Results of Mid-year planner review

I was pleased to see my Van Der Spek planner with updated weekly layouts to work so well – a few little adjustments here and there, but nothing major was needed. Space was well utilised, records got more structured and easily retrievable. I don’t see myself straying mush from this system in the future, unless my planning needs change drastically.

Changes for the projects management fill me with hope for the future – catch-all notebook for my ideas is now incorporated into the overall system and this means more free space for my ideas with no more fear or concern for possibly lost info.

I intend test this new system in the coming months and make further adjustments, if need be, before the start of 2025.

Series Navigation<< Techo Kaigi | My planner system review 2023
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

About kuzzzma

Artist, photographer, papercraft designer, doll and action figures collector, traveller. Speaking Russian and English.

Leave a Reply