I blame Yetzirah.
I’ve always liked the idea of organisers and planner-type diaries, but whenever I’ve gone to buy one I’ve been put off by the fact that what they organise has little relationship to my life. I don’t need to keep an expenses sheet, record my milage, or file business cards, but I do need somewhere to plan essays, record the titles of books I hear about and think I’d like to read one day, write shopping lists, and keep track of the books I’m releasing until I can get to a computer to make release notes. My solution to this problem has always been to use Outlook to keep track of work stuff (meetings, important deadlines, and upcoming tasks), use a cheap diary to record personal appointments, birthdays, etc, and use a variety of scrappy notebooks and bits of paper for everything else. This wasn’t particularly satisfactory – I was forever copying information between Outlook and my paper diary (otherwise I’d do something like book a dentist appointment on a day when I had an important meeting), I kept losing all the important bits of paper, and I seemed to spend more time entering tasks into Outlook than I actually did doing them.
Then a few days ago Yetzirah mentioned the DIY Planner site in her diary, saying “I have never seen a day planner that had everything in it that I wanted”. That immediately rang a bell with me, so I had a look at the site and came away stunned by the basic premise, which is one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” ideas: if you can’t find a planner that fits your needs, make your own.
I was immediately inspired, and after having a look through the templates the DIY Planner site offers, decided to have a go at designing my perfect planner. I knew I wanted it A5 size – small enough to carry around but big enough to write in easily – and I wanted it ring-bound so I could take pages out and add new pages as circumstances changed (e.g. if I’m going on a bookcrossing trip I need much more space to record releases than at other times). The DIY Planner site had some of the pages I wanted, but not all, so I decided to create my own. By the end of the week I had created all the pages I wanted, and just needed a folder to put them in.
The pages of my perfect planner (for now, anyway – I’ll probably make a few changes once I’ve used it for a while and know what works and what doesn’t):
- A calendar that shows one week per two-page spread, has just as much space for Saturday and Sunday as for weekdays, and has each day divided into hours for recording appointments, with a blank space at the side for general notes about the day that don’t relate to a particular time (like “X’s birthday”, “De-flea cats today”, etc).
- A year planner that shows me quickly when the university terms are so I can easily plan holidays without interfering with my studies, and where I can record how many days leave I’ve taken from work.
- To Do lists, divided into work and home, long-term and more urgent.
- Forms for recording releases, with spaces for title, BCID, date, time, location, and whether I took a photo.
- Similar forms for releases using pre-numbered labels, with a bit more space for recording details about the book so I can complete the registration when I get home.
- Forms for making notes about the book that I’m reading so I can make a journal entry later. While I’m reading a book I often think of comments I want to make when I write my journal entry, but unless I write them down straight away, by the time I come to actually make the journal entry I’ve forgotten most of them, and can’t think of much more than “I liked this book”.
- Wish-list pages for recording books I want to find a copy of one day (I’ve got a bookcrossing wish-list, but that’s not much help when I’m standing in a bookshop trying to remember the name of an author), and other “one day” purchases (the kind of thing where you say “one day we really must buy a…”, but you never remember when you’re actually shopping). I’ll probably use these pages for ordinary shopping lists too.
- Blank pages for writing free-form things like essay ideas that always come to you at times when you don’t have your study notes with you.
- Addresses and contact details. I’ll probably keep a master copy of this on my computer, and reprint it when I need to add someone or if someone’s details change. That way I won’t need to keep 26 blank pages for the handful of people whose contact details I want to keep handy, just on the off-chance I meet someone whose name starts with X.
Anyway, with pages ready to print, today’s mission was to find a folder to put them in. Ideally, I wanted something with a zip or clasp to hold it closed, maybe with a few pockets inside for holding a pen and some release supplies, and preferably something that felt nice to carry round. Anyway, we headed into town, first stop Whitcoulls. Where I found what would have been the perfect folder, except it was $98!!! Spending that much money was definitely not part of the plan. That seemed to be the only type of organiser they had in stock, and the other stationery shops we tried were similarly lacking, so we decided to go down to South City to the Stationery Warehouse, which is often cheaper, and usually has a slightly better range than the smaller shops. And there we found… exactly the same type of organiser for exactly the same price, and no other options.
I was just about to move to Plan B (get an ordinary ring-binder and attach some ties to hold it closed and a pen on a string, probably to be closely followed by Plan C: forget the whole thing), when I spotted a nice little fake-leather writing case:
It was the right size, had a zip to close it, and even had pockets. Best of all, it was only $25, a much more reasonable price. The only problem was, it wasn’t a ring binder, so there’d be nothing to keep the pages in place. But inspiration struck and I realised how a bit of good old kiwi ingenuity could save the day. I found a cheap plastic ordinary ring-binder with small rings, and later at home cut the covers off and trimmed the spine so that it would fit into the spine of the letter-case. A bit of glue, and voila, I had an organiser folder:
Filofax eat your heart out!
Total cost, including a set of subject dividers: just over $30. And even better, because I used a standard 2-ring binder I can just use an ordinary hole-punch to punch the pages, instead of faffing around trying to punch 6 holes like the “proper” organisers had.
The rest of the afternoon was devoted to printing off pages, cutting them in half (I printed them on A4 paper), and punching holes.
And here’s the finished product:
(Yes, I did make a mess of punching the holes – I forgot that because the rings were smaller than normal I’d have to punch the holes closer to the edge of the paper, so had to go back and repunch most of the pages)
I’m feeling very pleased with my efforts. It’s not as decorative as Yetzirah’s, but it’ll do the job. And I have got a few ideas about improving its looks, but I’m still deciding exactly what I want to do.
Of course, it remains to be seen if having all this organisational potential will actually make me any more organised…
I took the opportunity to release a few books while we were wandering around town hunting organisers: The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams, Morons from Outer Space by Simon Bell, and New Woman New Fiction.
A pity I’ve got a Spanish essay to write tomorrow, or I could go on a releasing expedition to try out my new release recording forms. Maybe if I get the essay written quickly enough…
Currently reading: The Newtonian Casino by Thomas A Bass