Planner thoughts and planner logistics

For the past 2.5 years, I’ve been using the Whitney English week-on-a-page planner. Sarah suggested this as an upgrade from my regular notebooks, but one that mimicked with the way I had been planning. For much of my professional life I’ve planned my life in weeks. I like to have an open spread in a notebook where I list my weekly priorities on the right side of the page, and then put my daily to-dos on the left.

This is exactly what the Whitney English planner had: A lined blank page on the right, with the days of the week on the left (Monday to Sunday, and with Saturday/Sunday looking like real days, not tiny boxes). So I was planning to keep using this, but then Whitney English did not make a dated 2024 planner.

What to do? I searched around, and there was a thread on Reddit featuring other people with this exact same problem. Someone suggested a particular, mostly similar layout with Plum Paper (a customizable planner), and since it turned out Plum Paper was having a big Black Friday sale, I went for it.

The one problem? This layout has the blank page on the left, and the days of the week on the right. It is also slightly bigger than the Whitney English.

This wouldn’t seem like a big deal but…within a day of starting this planner I realized I was making my daily to-do list on a little accessory notebook. There were a few reasons for this. One is that I need to have my daily list close to me in order to use it. When I put the planner to the right of my laptop (which is where I usually put it), the daily part was far away from me. So it didn’t feel as useful. I could roll the weekly part around (and just have the planner half open – it’s a spiral) but then I couldn’t see the weekly part, and I like to see this to inform anything I add to the daily list, and also to cross off weekly priorities as they happened.

So then I tried moving the planner to the left side of my laptop. I moved my chair over and everything. But the way I have stuff arranged on my desk, I had to turn it perpendicular, which means the daily page is still far away from me. So I wind up just writing my daily to do list on the accessory notebook on my right.

Which is fine. Basically, I’m just using multiple planners. I like the Plum Paper cover (I chose it, after all, and it says LV…) and the weekly list page works. I’ve realized that my daily to-do list is a pretty disposable thing. I create it and cross everything off and then I don’t need to keep looking at it. A little notebook from Target is fine for that sort of thing.

As for the Whitney English…shortly after I bought the Plum Paper I saw that Whitney English was selling an undated planner with the week-on-a-page format. So I bought one (again, during a Black Friday sale) but since the Plum Paper + notebook can work I probably will just save that one for 2025.

Have you pondered the actual mechanics (like sides of a page, etc.) of your planning? I didn’t know how much a creature of habit I was until I realized what I was doing!

In other news: Yes, the photo of the Plum Paper spread illustrating this post was taken on my bed…where I am still confined. I have gotten up very few times today because every time I do I immediately regret it. This is all incredibly frustrating, for me and for my family that I cannot actively take care of. I guess maybe it might snow and lots of stuff will be canceled so the logistics of being down a parent/driver will be easier??

On the other hand, I am grateful for an incredibly flexible job. I’ve been doing all my immediate professional tasks from my bed. This would be much more inconvenient if I was, say, a dentist.

In the meantime, here’s a sonnet from a few weeks ago, called “Christmas Day.”

Two little boys exploring in the woods
The bigger one, he tends a secret spot
where winter-fleeing pirates store their goods
and long-time fallen branches start to rot

the little one, he tiptoes close behind
he follows where his brother clears a way
I hear them whisper, marvel where they find
a mushroom, brilliant spot in this decay

Inside, the shiny wrappings torn askew
the ribbons strewn beneath the glowing tree —
now pausing from these treasures bright and new
the older helps his brother look and see

these older gifts: A gentle, grubby hand,
a language only they will understand.

18 thoughts on “Planner thoughts and planner logistics

  1. Oh gosh, I’m so sorry to hear you’re down for the count. How frustrating! I have lupus and sometimes get knocked into bed by a flare and it’s frustrating when you’ve got so much to do and there’s not a clear end in sight. I hope the meds help relieve the pain and swelling, and the physio helps with the underlying problem. Hopefully you don’t have too much travel coming up?

    I am hybrid, building my weekly list in Notion, but then printing it out on the Friday for the Monday. The other day, I was cleaning off my desk and dealing with mail, and I cut a bunch of pages with blank halves in back, binder clipped them together, have been using those for my daily list and scrap paper for meetings that don’t need to go in my proper notebook. Not an elegant solution but a pretty sustainable one.

    1. @Coree- I know chronic illness is incredibly frustrating – many of the most sympathetic notes I have gotten have been from people dealing with those. They know the frustration I am experiencing! Not being able to trust you’ll be at your best at any given time is just hard. I don’t have any work travel coming up immediately, but I do have a Disney trip with the family planned for mid-February, so here’s hoping I’m up to walking 5 miles a day by then…
      I too make my daily to-do list on anything. It’s often in my accessory notebook, but I’ve done it on the back of an envelope I happened to have in my purse when I’m out and about.

  2. I love my Sprouted Planner, but it is quite “bulky” – this is my third year using it, so I feel like I’ve honed in on how to best set up the flex spaces to suit my lifestyle and aesthetic preferences.

    I am so sorry you’re still in bed. Ugh. But, yes – very hard to perform a root canal from in your bed!

    1. @Elisabeth – Yeah, the Plum Paper is a bit bulkier than I’m used to. I thought this would be an upside — more room for my to-do lists and notes! — but it winds up being hard to put it in a usable position on my desk. (There is more space on my bed, which is my current desk, but hey…)

  3. What a lovely sonnet – my kids (not far off the ages of your two youngest, I think) have started to develop their own private world, too, and it is so sweet.

    I use an Erin Condren weekly vertical layout, which has the weekly list on the left and the days going from left to right. So M-W I can easily fold the planner over and everything is close together. On Thursday I have to unfold the planner to see my weekly and daily stuff at the same time. But by then, the weekly list is usually a mess of crossouts and new additions, so I make a new weekly list with just the stuff that is still undone and relevant / feasible, put it on a sticky (I have special lined stickies the width of a planner column, because that kind of thing makes me happy), and put that on the right side of the page. Although this started out as just an exercise in copying, I’ve grown to appreciate the opportunity to update my plan for the second half of the week.

    1. @Erica – thanks! Yep, re-calculating in the middle of the week can be a wise idea. Sometimes conditions on the ground have changed a lot. Or new things come up. One reason I leave open space later in the week is to deal with this reality!

  4. Oh my gosh! I am so sorry to hear that your hip/lower back/radiant pain is still so bad. My husband threw his back out sneezing back in early November which in turn caused a sciatica flare-up (radiating from the hip down the leg), so while I can’t fully understand how you feel, I can sympathize.

    I haven’t found a one size meets all needs planner that works for me. Maybe there isn’t one that works for anyone? I have a spiral deskbound that I bought a few years ago and failed to really get off the ground with. I decided this was the year I would make it work. It has a weekly spread across 2 pages with a To Do list on the right that I use for weekly To Dos, and it has a Must Do list under each day for your MITs. Our Google Calendars (mine-personal + work, hubby, and kid) really house all the appointments, meetings, vacations, etc. I also have a small blank notebook that I pull out for multiple things – daily tasks (when needed because life is crazy), notes at drs appointments, carry along for vacation for notes, etc.

    1. @Diane – Hope your husband has been doing better! I haven’t really been able to get into any electronic systems – for whatever reason, paper just always works better for me. Something about my brain…I’m perfectly technologically literate on other things. I just like my paper!

  5. I was also a devotee of the Whitney English week-on-one-page/to-do list layout (based on your/Sarah’s recommendations!). I tried the undated version and found it very annoying, so I ended up switching to a custom Agendio layout that was the closest I could find to the Whitney English layout. It took a little while to customize it on their site, but so far, I’m really enjoying it!

    Hope you are feeling better soon!

    1. @Erin – thanks! And I might need to check out Agendio. I don’t think I’ll mind the undated so much as I put my own dates at the top of my lists anyway…

  6. One bright side of your job flexibility, but a nuisance nonetheless. Hoping for some cold snowy dreary days that make the time seem well spent, and hoping you feel better soon.

    Regarding the planner, that is so funny that you discovered this! I realized I need paper smaller than a legal pad or notebook, and bigger than an oversized post-it for my weekly todos. I received a notebook from WTF notebooks dot com 2 years ago and realized the size is PERFECT and haven’t looked back. I buy a variety of styles from different places but love the size and the flexibility to add my daily schedule to a page if I feel like I need a full daily plan.

  7. My two cents: life is too short and the year is too long to use a planner that frustrates you. Year out the pages you’ve used and donate it now – it will be a treasure to someone else!

  8. I ran into the planner dilemma this year as well. You might give EmmaKateco ( a try. It’s not quite an A5 size and perhaps a bit heavier than my preference but love the equal space for days (including weekends) and in the horizontal layout a dot grid page.

    1. I was also going to recommend this brand, the layout sounds very similar to the Whitney English. I use it in the A4 size, but agree with DVB that you’d want the smaller size.

    1. @Angela – thank you! I write one a week but some are just…not that good. This past week’s was pretty bad, so that will stay unpublished. But hopefully next week’s will be better!

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