Alternative uses for planners

Anyone who knows me knows I love planners. I’m always thinking of ways to use planners beyond simple appointment scheduling.  Here are some ideas I’ve come up with for using planners in unconventional ways. How many more ways can you come up with?

Your planner can help you get there.  Something that I like to incorporate into my planner is goal-setting. I find it very useful to track my goals in my planner because I look at my planner several times per day, and seeing my goals often keeps them at the forefront of my mind. And beyond just writing my goals, my planner helps me see where I’m going to fit those goal tasks into my day. Whether it’s working out to achieve my fitness goals, writing a blog post to reach my personal goals, or cleaning out the storage room to fulfill my household goals, my planner gets me where I’m going.

Your planner can tell you where you’ve been.  Rather than strictly for planning, planners can also be used to record your day as a logbook, or for tracking specific aspects of your life such as a food journal, exercise diary or expenditures record. Parents enjoy writing milestones and cute things their kids said and did in their planner as a wonderful record of their kids growing up. Many people use a planner as a gratitude journal to help them appreciate each day.

Your planner can help you make money. Freelancers and contractors have to keep track of billable hours on multiple projects at once. Writing this information into a planner provides a chronological, permanent record of billable time.  I have a friend who is a professional dog walker and she uses a planner to keep track of which dogs she walks each day. At the end of each week she easily totals up billable hours for each client. This type of record can be very useful for budgeting time, and should be kept as a record of hours billed for tax purposes.

Scientific records in planners.  Many scientists use planners to record information as field notes. Separate from the detailed notes written in their field journals, planners can record chronological events in the field. Anthropologists use daily planners to record events in their study villages, which becomes very valuable later to see cause and effect. Ornithologists (professional and amateur) can note in their planners the species of birds observed each day, which helps them notice when birds migrate for the winter and return in the spring. Comparing these dates over a period of years shows patterns such as whether birds are migrating earlier or later than usual. Using a planner for field notes creates a permanent record that is portable in any field bag and never needs batteries when you’re out in the field.

Uses for past-year planners. I had a fascinating conversation with Jeroen of Love Notebooks about some of his customers who buy past-year planners. Love Notebooks has past-year planners available for purchase (click here to see) and it was fascinating to hear what people use these for. He said he often gets authors of books and screenplays who want a planner of the year their story takes place, to write the timeline and to have accurate dates of when things take place within the story.  People also use them as movie and stage props for the year the story takes place. (And you know with HD TV now, you don’t want anyone zooming in on the picture to find the planner prop is of the wrong year!)  Also, lawyers working on a case could find it useful to use a planner from the year the events took place to recreate the chronological sequence of events. It’s so interesting to think of ways to use past-year planners! Of course one option is to keep it and use it later–dates recycle every 7 years so you can keep unused planners until the year when the dates match up with the days again!

As a notebook. I know some people who like to use planners as notebooks, ignoring the dates. Some people do this with past-year planners they didn’t use and don’t want to waste, or they particularly enjoy writing on the paper. Something else to consider is that planners typically have a different number of pages than notebooks. Day-per-page planners usually have more pages than notebooks, which is good for people who write a lot and go through notebooks quickly. A 12-month weekly planner usually has fewer pages than a typical notebook, which often results in a slimmer book than can easily slip into a pocket or bag.

Do you use your planner in an unconventional way? Can you think of more uses for a planner?

Post by guest blogger, and one of the Internets foremost experts on everything planners,   Laurie,  from


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Monday, October 17th, 2011 eco-friendly-recycling, Journaling, organization and time management, Products, Thoughts Comments Off on Alternative uses for planners

Deafmessanger notebook review

I first discovered Deafmessanger notebooks on Notebook Stories blog, and quickly became obsessed. These notebooks are made by hand in Prague by an artist named Kucin. The books have a very cool, street art look to them. I wanted to order one of their 2011 planners but by the time I got around to it they were already sold out, much to my disappointment.

So when the kind folks at Lovenotebooks offered to send me one of the Deafmessanger noteboooks to review, I jumped at the chance! They very generously sent me the Square Journal Cykorka to review. I was so excited to get it and check it out! I’ve never seen a notebook like this before.

The notebook is 6 ¾ by 6 ¾ inches, which is a great size to carry in your bag with you to write or sketch in anytime inspiration strikes.

Deafmessanger Cykorka notebook

The stiff cardboard cover has a stenciled design on the front (I love the bird). The cover is held securely shut at the corners by red elastic.

Inside, the message “Treasure Inside” makes you want to come up with a Very Special Purpose for this book. There’s even a pencil included so you can get started right away!

Treasure Inside

There’s a red ribbon placemarker to find your current page easily.  The recycled paper is surprisingly smooth and nice. You can see little flecks in the paper, giving it away as recycled, but it is smoother than I expected it to be. This was just one of the many pleasant surprises inside this book.

Throughout the book there are bits that were found by the artist that have been bound into the book on the rings, not stuck on the pages. This has the double benefit of not covering any precious page space, and allowing you to see both sides of the object (all of which are fascinating and unique).

The bits include things like old post cards, maps, and magazine pages. My favorite is this hand-written page from a ledger of some kind:

Ledger page bound on rings

In addition to the items stuck in, on random pages there are hand-stamped quotes designed to inspire and get your creative juices flowing.

“Stories Are Maps”

The last page has a stamped signature and message against animal suffering. At the bottom of the page is the stamped message, “to be continued…” which reminds us all that creativity is always a work in progress.

“to be continued…”

The edge of the inside back cover has the artist’s website and email address. I strongly encourage you to check it out:

Back cover

The back cover has the stenciled message, “what u risk reveals what u value.” There’s also a tag attached to the back cover that says, “Made from Prague, Made in Prague.” That’s important to point out: the bits stuck into the book are from Prague, so in the book you get a part of the artist’s home, and in his art you get a part of the artist himself.

The result is an absolutely unique book that’s hand made for only you. It feels like a personal gift from a good friend.

You can now buy a wide selection of Deaf Messanger notebooks in a variety of sizes and styles at LoveNotebooks! Click here to see the product page.

Many thanks again to my friends at Lovenotebooks for giving me the chance to review this awesome notebook!

Post by guest blogger and fellow lover of fine paper goods Laurie from


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Sunday, September 11th, 2011 eco-friendly-recycling, Hacks-DIY, Journaling, Products, reviews, Writing Comments Off on Deafmessanger notebook review

Scott and Todd’s excellent waterproof (ad)venture

We live in Oregon, which like many parts of the country has been hit hard by the recession. The recent decision by Intel to built another plant, or fab in Intel speak, in the Portland Metro area was welcome news. A new plant means thousands of construction jobs and over 1000 permanent jobs; folks who will pay taxes, buy sandwiches for lunch etc. The whole eco-system of interdependent services that goes with manufacturing.

The Intel news, the importance of domestically made product and the fact that the rainy season has started in Oregon made me think of Rite in the Rain waterproof notebooks, because generally we have notebooks on our brain. Rite in the Rain’s company history shows, that manufacturing in the USA requires different ingredients to come together to be successful; the will to manufacture where you live,  perseverance,  intellectual property, an efficient set up and having a unique product.

In 1916 a printer, Jerry Darling, started a company to supply paper notebooks to loggers in the Seattle Washington Area. Loggers were outside no matter what the weather and the enterprising J.L Darling company invented an oil based coating, that when applied to regular paper made it waterproof. Its waterproof paper gave the company a leg up over the competition and Rite in the Rain products became well known to anyone who needed to take notes outdoors.

Scott and Todd Silver, the current owners,  grew up with the J.L. Darling company, which their dad joined in 1958 as employee number 3. Scott & Todds father grew the business and eventually became part owner. In 1994 their Dad asked them to join the company and Todd, a marketing major and Scott, a federal bank examiner knew a good thing when they saw it. A niche company with a secret water proof sauce. They became owners of the business in 1995 and set out to work. The brothers are both avid outdoors men with an interest in environmental science. They loved the business, but the oil based secret sauce bothered them. Determined to change the companies dependence on an oil based coating, they set out to invent a water based solution to make their paper water proof. (Very zen if you ask me… fight water with water). In 2005, 9 years later! They had it figured out and patented.

Now Rite in the Rain paper is made from FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified pulp with a water based coating and is fully recyclable. Their factory prints with soy based inks and cut offs are recycled back into the manufacturing process. The bright yellow polydura covers  are made in the USA too from 100% post consumer plastic, like empty shampoo bottles. Scott and Todd were able to put their companies environmental practices on a sustainable footing. The companies environmental record now speaks as much to their love of the outdoors as its notebooks do.

Todd and Scott’s excellent adventure gives us some great journals and writing pads. Todd send us the attached image of the dumpster behind their 33,000 square foot facility in Tacoma Washington. This dumpster gets emptied once a week and is contains the grand total of non-recyclable garbage of the entire factory. Todd proudly noted that last week it was only 2/3 full.

Winter is the time for mostly very wet outdoor fun and if you are looking for gift ideas  for the outdoor enthusiasts on your list, Rite in the Rain journals are sure to be well received.

reduce re-use recycle and have a small dumpster

Recycling reduced garbage to a small dumpster with a weekly pick up

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Monday, November 22nd, 2010 eco-friendly-recycling, Products, Thoughts Comments Off on Scott and Todd’s excellent waterproof (ad)venture



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