Suggestion for Planner

Hi all,

I would like some suggestions for an analog planner. I have tried a few things, including making my own, and nothing seems to be "perfect." I used a modified (read: white out and glued pages) Paperchase planner last year and it worked but I kind of wanted something more.

I have multiple jobs, many things to keep track of and I am incredibly anal about the details... I'm starting to feel overwhelmed with the options honestly! I just want to be able to keep track of everything, jot things down when inspiration strikes, keep track of some psuedo-goals...

So, what do you like to use?


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Loose-leaf index cards

I love my hipster PDA but I also use single, loose-leaf index cards. They track to-do lists, give me projects (one project per card) and keep contact information when I need it.

I archive these in a index card sized shoebox for later reference.

If you want more information, you can read about my methodologies in the following article series:
What works for me
What works for me: digital edition



Hi Jackie,

My suggestion is that you keep whatever system you decide to use as simple as possible.

In the past a lot of my frustration has been with complex systems that I had set up or bought. They didn't fit the way I think and operate. And I had some bad planning habits that made me overly obsessive ('anal') about recording absolutely everything.

I agree with Innowen, cards are a good way to organise your information, and a good way for you to discover your organisational style. Also, you can be 'anal' with the detail on a card but not excessively so as the card's size limits planning excesses.

I've found that getting down to basics (to use a cliche) has helped me work out what I really want to track and how I want to keep my records.

A keen planner can choose to sort, itemise and categorise their jobs in lots of ways, for example: task, due date, project, goal the project or task relates to, where the task will be done, machiery to be used, location of the machinery. other ideas you've had about the project, who you're doing the task for, why you're doing it, ...the colour shirt you'll be wearing when doing the work (tee hee), etc.

But sorting items a dozen different ways just makes them more overwhelming. So, I suggest you choose three main categories (eg which of your jobs the work is for, the task, and due date) and use those as a start. Then add only the information you absolutely must have to complete the task.

Hopefully that will make it a bit less overwhelming and help you to work out 'what it is that you need' rather than 'what it would be nice to have but you don't actually need to record'.

Nicely stated

Hi Katrina: You stated that very nicely and that kind of summary helps me "stay grounded" so to speak. I can very easily get caught up in having that Cadillac system that may not even exist instead of just concentrating on the basics, which is much more user friendly and more likely to be used. Thanks.

Here's a new idea (I think)!

I've been thinking lately about a planner that I would call the "dvD*I*Y Notepad." But I haven't actually got around to doing it yet. So I'll describe it here, since it might meet your needs (or someone else's)!

(1) Take an empty plastic DVD case and remove any movie labels and inserts.

(2) Using an Exacto knife, cut a window through its front lid. (The case should hold plain paper, quadrille paper, or index cards up to about 5x7 inches, so a 4.75x6.75-inch hole might work well...and provide a fairly large writing area.)

(3) Many of these cases have a couple little "arms" inside the front lid, which (if not removed) will help to hold a 1/8-inch stack of paper or cards in place. And the DVD mounting area in the case's back cover can even store a CD with your D*I*Y Planner templates or other important files! There should also be enough room inside the case for a pencil, pen, and perhaps even a flash drive.

(4) The case would then be a sturdy little notepad for jotting notes, sketches, and ideas about a variety of projects. The note sheets could be removed at the end of each day and filed in a series of similar (but uncut) DVD cases...each case storing ideas about a project you are working on. And as your active project list changes, the storage cases can be reallocated among them.

Might make a nice, compact analog planning system! If you get to it before I, please post some gallery images!

Cute idea

however, in my experience, such cases are made of plastic that tends to be brittle and shatter easily. While the idea sounds practical, the available materials may cause problems.
Contrarywise, please do not let my pessimism stop you. If you find that it works for you, then you have my congratulations.
Go for it !!
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Good thought!

Hi ygor,

Very interesting thought. I'll try it this weekend and let everyone know if it works (or not). If it does work, I'll also post some pix in the Gallery. Based on your caution, I'll try to Xacto out the window from inside the box's front cover, with the cover backed by a cutting board. Maybe that will prevent fracturing during the cut. And I'll probably smooth and reinforce the window's edges with duct tape or black electrical tape.

We'll see if it works...a fun weekend project!

Anonymous - who r u?

You have had some wonderful ideas and suggestions that you have added to our site this week. Any chance you will "join us" and set up a user name so we know who you are? Just thought I would suggest it! Thanks for sharing your ideas - look forward to seeing the results of your weekend project!

nay nay

Great idea!

Thanks for alerting me to this, nay nay! As a "newbe," I hadn't actually noticed that I was "anonymous." I'll look into setting up a profile during my lunch break!

No longer "anonymous"!

OK...I'm no longer anonymous...Many thanks for alerting me to this, nay nay...and for the very nice comments!

"Lover of all things creative."


Howdy BostonDave and WELCOME! :) Thanks for signing in - now we no longer have to call you anonymous!

nay nay :)

You bet!

Thanks nay nay... I no longer FEEL anonymous as well! ;-)

"Lover of all things creative."

The feeling is unanimous

"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)


We love new members - means more brains to pick for inspiration and ideas! :D

my artwork | my blog


I'm glad you joined and got a real name! Can we call you Dave? or just BostonDave? (I ask, because I prefer my real name to my screen name--which is why I always sign...) ;-)


P.S. You do have some creative ideas! I like the CD with all the templates on it idea. Actually, a good idea for sharing! Carry a couple CDs, and include on the CD a text file with a link to this site, maybe, as well as instructions, etc. :-)

Thanks Jon!

Hi Jon,

Sorry, I was called away unexpectedly for a few days!. Many Thanks for asking...I do prefer "Dave" (but "Boston Dave" proved better for getting the system to accept my ID). Glad you like my ideas, including the CD one. I wasn't around this weekend, so I still need to test whether I can actually cut the DVD holder's plastic without fracturing it. But I will do that test now that I'm back home...and let everyone know!



My Current Idea

Hi Jackie

I have the same dilema but I have come to the conclusion that the perfect planner is actually sold in a shop right next to the "pot of gold" (which I think is a actually a pub and not a big pile of cash :-) ) at the end of the rainbow.

I have tried a number of things and I am currently working with an A5 Filofax with a day per page diary which has a notes column next to the appointments one. I find this useful for both important and to do reminders. I also keep a supply of lined paper in it for notes which if they are relevant to a specific date can be moved to the appropriate date in the diary or kept at the back for project notes; I use small Post-It page markers to create ad hoc divisions in the note paper.

For notes I generally use squared note books or paper, I like to sketch in notes and the squared paper helps me keep things recognisable :-) To archive these I have created a Rollabind folder (or you could use an ordinary ring binder) with dividers so I can insert, replace and move pages as required. If these are not part of a project I am working on but relevant to a meeting etc I punch them and insert them into the Filofax.

For on the go notes I use a small hipster PDA or a "Levenger" style one made with Rollabind discs and custom printed cards. I am currently dabbling with one made from index card dividers and Rollabind discs - this is proving a bit bulky for pocket use but not bad if you have a bag.

Hope these thoughts help.


Do !

This additional idea is a super simple planner that has been right under my nose for years. Every year, my bank gives its customers tiny 4x6 pocket calendars in thin, plastic, notebook-like sleeves. Many other banks probably do the same.

Once the calendar insert has passed its usefulness, slip it out, and you have two nice pockets for 3x5 cards or other papers. I've been carrying one of these around as a small thin notebook for ages. It fits very well in a purse or a man's jacket pocket.

I always take one to parties and other events...with 3x5 cards in the "full" pocket and business cards in the "half" pocket on the other side. One can also slip in booklets from other planner systems. And when the plastic cover gives out (in about 2 years), there's always a new one (in a new color) from the bank!

Title should have been "Doh..."!

And I should have added that this "system" already comes with a very thin 1-year calendar insert! So the other pocket can hold notecards and other papers. I've used it, for example, to hold the discount phone cards that I use instead of a long-distance service.