Hi ho my lovelies.  I’ve been into planners and organizing for a very long time. When I started my admin assistant career, computers had barely come into offices. Calendars, filing, and office organization was paper-based.  In the late 1990s, I was a sales consultant with Mary Kay and the company offered a sturdy, spiral bound 12 month planner for less than $3.  Ultimately I quit because I wasn’t cut out for sales so it would never replace my admin salary.  Aside from the nice ladies I met, what stood out most about my time in Mary Kay was the planner.

I’m still an administrative assistant, with the majority of work done on the computer. At home, I’ve been a pretty good adopter of smart phone technology, but I I find it tedious to have to switch between different apps in order to see my calendar, lists, fitbit stats.  I’ve tried a couple of the planner apps but was left feeling meh. I squashed the paper planner urge because I felt, hey, it’s the 21st Century. I should adapt.

Then I reopened my Etsy shop with my mixed media art.  I don’t expect my art business to replace my current salary. My art doesn’t need that kind of pressure so a paper planner is perfectly fine.  My system is semi-DIY with purchased cute planner inserts, remixed to suit my needs, homemade dividers using scrapbooking paper and a cute tab punch in a Mead 4-star binder with a fabric spine so I can fold the cover back. The pages are letter size paper and hole punched with a basic 3 ring punch. The binder rings are flexible plastic but the spot where the rings split is not good, so moving pages around is a bit of a pain.  The inserts are taken fromMayi CharlesLife Is Messy, the Etsy business planner by Clean Life and Home and Leonie Dawson’s Shining Life and Biz workbooks.  I spend most of my day managing calendars, so wanting to be free of schedules at home, so I excluded a calendar.

But it hasn’t really worked out. I spend some time in it, mostly shuffling pages around.  I figured my planner failure had to do with too many tasks to cope with. When Cloth Paper Scissors issued a reader challenge to create a mixed media planner, I thought a minimalist DIY planner was the way to go. I could focus on one goal at a time and keep a small planner. Enter my 6″x8″ Minimalist Mixed Media Planner, which I’ve previously posted about here and here.  Once again, no calendar. I love my Minimalist planner but still, not working for me.

It finally dawned on me that the thing I wanted to free myself from is exactly what I need: a calendar.


The last time I looked at planner systems, the main choices were: Day Planner, Day Runner, Franklin Covey.  One of my on-line art teachers likes Hibonichi. Too many choices that comes with these types of planners bogs down my brain – pretty soon, I’ve talked myself into needing a travel planner. Really? ‘Cuz, I go on 1 trip a year. And this year, who knows? I’m barely a year into this job so I don’t have a lot of vacation time.

That’s the thing to watch with planners: every system has a basic set and add-ons.  Even the Etsy shops with their home-grown planners do that. What starts off as a reasonable purchase becomes this expensive beast that you have to replace in 12 months.  I’m looking for that delicate balance between being disciplined and scheduling every eye blink.

My position at work shifted campuses a couple months ago and in going through my predecessor’s file, I noticed she used some disc bound system. Her lined pages were not branded, but after searching for the source, it’s definitely disc bound paper.

Yes, I could have asked her, but she’s one of those people that a simple question turns into a 40 minute discussion that ends on a completely different subject.  I like to save those conversations for a deeper dive than, hey, what’s that wacky paper you used to take minutes on?

My Interweb search led me to the Arc and Circa systems.  Kinda boring but flexible and highly customizable.  Reportedly easy to remove and add pages. Not too many accessories. All this searching led me to check out other planners.

Holy Days of the Week, Batman, the planner world has changed!  Cute planners for girls!   The list of options is mind-boggling, so here are a few to set your planner brain on fire, if you haven’t seen these: Erin Condren, the Happy Planner, KikkiK, Hibonichi.

I had no idea this was a thing.

I’ve chosen a disc bound planner system for 2 reasons: flexibility and my hands.  Although adorbs, I ruled out Erin Condren planners because it’s spiral bound and I want the flexibility of moving pages around. Sure, there are some workarounds, but it’s a planner. Remember all those costly add-ons, plus I’m trying to keep this as simple as possible.

I ruled out KikkiK and other 3 ring binder-styles because opening and closing binders is hard on my hands.

I bought the Levenger Simply Irresistible Circa kit because it comes with a $40 gift card, which I plan to use for their Universal Desk punch. It was on backorder and took 3 weeks to arrive.

Well, that did nothing to soothe my Planner Fever, so I turned my attention to the Happy Planner since it is compatible with the Circa. It’s an 18 month planner with quite a bit but not too many coordinating and affordable accessories.  I found the Good Things are Going to Happen July 2015 – December 2016 on Amazon for half price.

While I waited for my planners to arrive, I obsessively watched youtube videos on Happy Planner box openings and setups and checked out billions of Etsy shops with planner accessories. Oooh, printables….

My Happy Planner arrived and I fell in love.  Hobby Lobby and Michael’s have the Happy Planners and accessories with very nice coupons, so I made a field trip and got some accessories: the Home Planner, the pocket folders, sticky notes, a tube of washi tape, stickers, insert pages, planner bands, and an extra set of rings. One of the rings on my Happy Planner was cracked nearly all the way through so it was only a matter of time before it failed. The Sticky Notes set is labeled as a dashboard, but it is not laminated.

One of the things I gleaned from the videos was the decorating aspect. It’s an interesting hybrid of planning, scrap booking, and art journaling.  Even Christy Tomlinson has a Planner Society with a subscription box. Very tempting, but to get started, I plan to use my art supplies and the weekly Journal52 prompts to decorate my Happy Planner.

What I really want to do is dig into Happy Planner and set up my Etsy shop planner in the letter sized Circa notebook, but my top priority is to get my show finished. That said, I have done a little decorating. Here are 2 pages I’ve done:

My start for the April at a glance:


And this week’s spread, in progress:


What’s your planner of choice?

Happy creating!