This time of year is all about Back to School! As an educator, it’s all about PLAN PLAN PLAN!!!
Without adequate prep work, done in advance, the whole term/semester/year will feel like a giant game of catch up. Too many things come at teachers all at once, so we have to use our summers to plan as far in advance as possible to free us up for this onslaught of stuff to do.
I’m a big planner. I love making lists, organizing my calendar/agenda, putting curriculum info/resources in binders, etc… So I actually really like this time of year.
I also LOVE office supplies! I mean LOVE! Even as a kid, my favorite thing to do was to start a new notebook. Something about writing the first words in a brand new book just made me see an ocean of possibilities. New pens and pencils are always a treat. Who doesn’t have a favorite? Who doesn’t like to try new ones to see if they are more fluid/bold/comfortable to grip?
It’s probably obvious by now that I am a big planner lover. Growing up Point.Five.Korean, I had a lot to keep track of. My Korean Mom made sure that each of us kids was involved in extracurriculars — sports, band, clubs, etc… She also had very high expectations for academics (duh) so we had to be meticulous with our time and energy to avoid missing things [like that one time in elementary school where I did my whole science fair project the night before it was due… it was a total joke…]
Not only are they useful for planning a whole year out in advance, but they’re essential for keeping my life straight! I’ve used several different types of planners over the course of my life and found myself reflecting on all the different ones just the other day… hubby thinks I’m crazy, but I know there are others out there that understand!
My Planner Past
- School issued
- back in the day, schools used to issue all their students a planner. I think it started in middle school (could’ve been earlier), but for sure NEEDED to have one during high school. The middle school one was huge – 8.5″ by 11″ but in high school it was smaller, probably 7″ by 9″…
- They were specially designed in the school’s colors and included an embossed logo on the front of our school Mascot
- Since the school made them, the calendars come pre-printed with the academic calendar — so you knew when spring break was and when report cards came out! Looking back, this was a really nice feature for parents AND kids…
- The planning pages also included some hall passes in the back that we would actually use for our classes — which meant if we needed to use the bathroom during class, we’d have to bring our planner with us. Gross.
- These were a Monthly/weekly spread that were set up specifically for students to use to remember due dates for assignments, test dates, and school events
- For students who struggled, some teachers had a stamp that required a parent signature on a specific date in the planner — so that students couldn’t lie and say, “we didn’t have any homework”. The teachers would write down the assignments on the planner, in PEN!, and then stamp it and make the kid get a parent signature. What a bada$$ move… I want that stamp!
- Folding the pages was a cool thing to do — when a week was over, all the cool kids would fold the bottom corner on a diagonal to the top. You’d alternate each week — so one week it was the bottom corner up and the next it was the top corner down. By midterm, the side view showed a triangular void — which was the coolest thing
- Franklin Covey
- This was a brand I dabbled with in college.
- They sell ring bound and wire bound planners in several sizes, layouts, and patterns.
- If you purchase the ring bound binders from them, you can bundle the planning pages to personalize your preferences. I found that the rings are really annoying to write with — even the larger sizes — as your wrist ends up bumping into them, which messes up your writing. Someone suggested that I take the pages out to write — but what a hassle! Every time I want to write anything, I’d have to wrestle those darn binder rings? No thanks.
- Their wire bound planners are nothing special, so I’ve sort of left this brand in with other things I used to like during college…
- Walmart/Target/Meijer/Staples/Office Depot
- Each of these stores sells a house brand of planners which are essentially the same with only enough differences to make them re-label-able.
- Usually you can choose between Monthly, Monthly/weekly, or Monthly/daily in a few layout options
- All are basic and affordable — mostly with floppy plastic covers and come in a wide variety of sizes and styles
- These stores even sell refill pages for binders for Filofax or maybe Franklin Covey — if you like those stupid rings
- My first few year teaching meant going through a few of these… they were never quite sturdy enough to really make an impact on me. They seemed flimsy, but enough to get by.
- Disc bound
- Martha Stewart for Staples came out with these super cute disc bound planners a few years back. If you’ve never heard of disc bound, think a binder had a baby with a spiral notebook… or google it… whichever
- The pages were thick and sturdy, the covers were super durable and faux leather textured, and you can add/remove pages really easily — to personalize it
- The calendar pages were personalized so I chose Monthly/weekly. I also chose the largest size (to have ample room) which was 8.5″ by 11″ and bulked it up with extra lined paper
- I LOVED this thing!! It came with me to every meeting, PD, appointment, etc…. I could take notes and place the note anywhere in the calendar I wanted — and change my mind later if I decided…
- The only problem was that after the first year, the calendar pages were super hard to find — I had to either choose an off brand (and less cute) page or print my own… so the second year I found a PDF of planning pages I liked from Etsy and bought some nice & thick printer paper and made my own planner refills.
- This was sort of a pain in the butt! I had to let the first side print, then carefully align the pages back in the printer to print the reverse side… THEN, I had to use the special hole punch on each page, AND create tabs for the months…
- It was a labor of love, but thinking about it now makes me shudder. I probably spent three hours or more setting it all up and that’s AFTER printing it! No thank you…
- Hobonichi Techo
- This was my latest planner choice and my current planner
- I was in a place both professionally and personally where I didn’t need the huge disc bound planner with 8.5″ by 11″ pages and lots of notes space — I was looking to downsize into something simpler and more meditative (maybe?)…
- After some research, I made my own Hobonochi Techo for a few months to see if I should invest in the real deal for 2016 — This was also a labor of love, but it only cost the price of a tiny little notebook (about $5 on Amazon)….
- The set up is a daily page with a monthly calendar — so each day you can journal, doodle, schedule, etc…
- I’m a monthly/weekly person usually, but have really liked the Hobonichi for it’s size and portability. It’s 4″by 6″ so it can fit right into my purse most days, so it comes with me to church, work, etc…
- I purchased the weeks from the same company when I finally ordered the real deal Hobonichi — but it’s a separate book and I don’t find myself carrying it around at all. So I end up using my google calendar a lot, to see the week’s layout and to schedule things, etc…
- The paper is gorgeous & it’s the cutest little book ever — but it’s really more of a journal than a planner. It’s not really possible to sit down on a Sunday and plan out the week, so I find myself reaching for something else…
- My family is also a bit busier this year compared to last year, so I find myself craving something different — maybe it’s just because I like to try new things all the time (?) but that’s okay too!
So Where does the “treat” come in?
This week *but really this school year*, my treat is a new planner!
After reflecting on my planner past, I really was able to hone down to what I like and what I don’t like in a planner. I feel this changes with the business of my life, but for now my criteria included:
- Longer than a year – I wanted it to start now (August) and end at the end of 2017, so I wouldn’t have to purchase another planner for a while
- Larger than my Hobonichi, but still portable – this meant somewhere larger than 4×6 but smaller than 8.5×11
- Monthly/Weekly – I like to plan by the week! This has been one thing I really have missed with my hobo — I used to plan meals by the week, schedule workouts/appointments by the week, etc… When my life slowed down, I felt like I had a lot of empty space during the week, but now that things are picking up a bit I long for that space!
- Cute! – My Hobonichi is the cutest little thing ever! It has an adorable little case and pen holders and bookmarks etc… so its planner counterpart/replacement has to be cute. Those solid color Walmart specials just won’t do it for me. I crave color and cuteness!!
- Sturdy – I carry my planners EVERYWHERE with me… so they can’t be flimsy. I usually use them to write on during meetings, since most of my meetings take place where there’s no table space, so they can’t be flopping all over!
- Adaptable – One of my biggest complaints with Franklin Covey’s pages (at least the ones I’ve used ) is that they are too set-in-stone. I like my pages to change based on my needs… so hourly lines are out! In fact, most lined planners are a bit to constrained for my tastes. I like grids (because they’re usually super small) and I like white space because I can change things up without feeling like I’ve colored outside the lines.
Searching online for my dream planner lead me to a lot of really great options. Some were super affordable (think <$20) and some were crazy deluxe for my budget (think > $150). The one I’ve chosen for this year is in the middle — and I’d still call it a Treat because it was not on the affordable end.
It’s one that I’ve never used before — and only recently heard of — the Erin Condren Life Planner.
This planner hit all the marks for me. It had a huge selection of cute cover options, is super colorful, weekly/monthly, adaptable (blank squares), and is supposedly super sturdy. It’s 7×9, so it’s larger than my hobonichi but smaller than a 8.5×11.
It was definitely not cheap — $55 plus tax on Amazon –which is why I’m counting it as a total Treat.
The other front runners were around the $30 and only went for 12 months… which meant I’d have to purchase another planner to cover the other 6 months, pay for shipping again, and the cost averaged out to more like $75…
There’s a sort of cult following, I’ve come to discover, so I hope I made the right choice! It seems that lots of crafty/scrapbooker types really love to dazzle up their planner pages with stickers and washi tape and all that jazz. I think all of that is super cute, but probably not my thing… I do like using different colors to organize my planners. I’ll even add a bit of washi tape once in a while or a sticker here or there… but some of these ladies LOAD UP their pages. The WHOLE THING will be covered in stickers by the time they are done.
Are you a planner person?
Which planner do you use?
How are you treating yourself this week?