Passion Planner review

Over the past few months, I’ve taken my daily planning systems and to-do lists and consolidated them all into a single Moleskine notebook plus a small weekly calendar (which is technically a planner, but I don’t think of it as such as I only put appointments and deadlines in it).

I really love the Moleskine, but I wish I didn’t have to write out the times each week.  I explored washi tapes and stickers and stamps, but nothing seemed right.  And there are a ton of planners that have the times already listed out.

So I read a whole bunch of planner reviews on the internets and looked at a whole lot of different blank spreads and decided that the Passion Planner (not affiliate), weekly, Monday Start, was the best match for my current planning setup.  I wanted something that had the times laid out, but also had space for my to-do list post-it and my projects post-it and just space around for other things.  And I wanted a little space for deadlines above the hourly set.  I was also looking forward to having monthly calendars in the same planner as the weekly calendars instead of (alas, I will likely still be printing out google calendars and stapling them together :( )

There’s a bunch of passion concept map stuff that I will generally be ignoring.  I love the major weekly project goals, but otherwise I don’t have much use for reflection, at least not the monthly reflection the book has space for.

Weekly spread

Weekly spread with identifying information craftily obscured by two of DH’s fountain pens.

Things I like:

The weekly spread is great– exactly what I wanted.

The paper is REALLY nice.  The mokeskine has a thick creamy paper that is prone to feathering, so I love using my small tipped Clenas on it.  But the PP has a smooth bright white paper that LOVES a fountain pen.  There was something sensual about borrowing DH’s fountain pen with his fancy sparkly J Herbin ink and moving over regular appointments for the first time.  I *almost* want to get my own fountain pen, but… like a swimming pool, I’d rather have someone else own it and do the maintenance on it so I’ll likely borrow DH’s from time to time and otherwise use gel pens.

It has an elastic strap to keep it closed just like the Moleskine.

There’s free pages at the back that I will be able to use to take notes at meetings.

Monthly calendar

The month of August (anonymized with DH’s vanishing point fountain pen).

Things I don’t like:

I didn’t realize it was soft cover instead of hard cover.  It looks nice and it’s probably lighter with the soft cover, but I just prefer the Moleskine hardback.  This reason by itself is not enough for me to seek out other planners.

Instead of having all of the monthly calendars together at the beginning of the planner, as I assumed they would, instead each month starts with the monthly calendar for that month followed by the weekly planner pages.  I don’t plan by the month so this is not helpful for me– I need to see what’s happening a few weeks in the future at any point in time or else I get surprised by deadlines or mess up homework assignments for the students.  I do plan by the week, so the weekly spreads work.  But I also plan by the semester, not the month, so having those months separated by 4 weeks of weekly spreads is just irritating and I probably just won’t use them.  Another possibility is that I will print out their monthly spreads from their webpage and paste them in over the used weekly spreads once I’ve finished with August.  Or I might get small tabs that make it easy to flip to month spreads. We will see.  This problem won’t stop me from using the planner the entire year, but next year when summer rolls around I will be looking to see if there’s another planner out there that better suits my needs.  Maybe I’ll pick something less pretty that has rings so I can move pages.  (Or maybe I’ll try the Jibun Techo though I suspect it doesn’t have enough space for me.)

I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how this works for me once school starts!

I already asked you all about your preferred planning systems so… um… I have no questions?  But feel free to comment anyway!  Or tell me about your preferred planning systems if you didn’t last time.  It’s all good!

Kahootie academic planner (for school kids) review

I got these undated academic planners from Kahootie for my kids at Target, but sadly Target seems to be out of stock.  Amazon does carry them though (affiliate link).  Kahootie doesn’t know we exist.

In any case, they are PERFECT for what my kids needed this summer and I’m hoping they will work well in the fall too (though I have some doubts about DC1 remembering to write down things like assignments).

They’re a weekly spread across two pages, which I like.  What’s even better is that they have a column for school stuff and then a column for *after school* stuff (something DC1 frequently forgets!).  And there’s a daily chores tracker on the right that they can check off.  DC2 loves the little space under the chores tracker and fills it up with pictures from books zie is reading or lists of pokemon zie caught that week etc.  Saturday and Sunday have smaller spaces, but that works too.

Week of DC2's planner with camps and chores listed.

One week of DC2’s planner.

DC2 has really gotten into hirs.  Zie updates it on Sunday or Monday morning.  Zie excitedly checks off chores.  Sometimes zie puts down weekly goals (“learn how to lightening strike a pig in educational minecraft”) and the weekends usually say what baked good DC2 is going to make that week.  More recently, zie has moved the two evening Minecraft dates and one piano lesson to the “After School” column.

DC1's much sparser planner

DC1’s planner. Pen obscures a password.

DC1 is getting less use out of hirs.  Zie actually *has* done the daily chores, zie just doesn’t check them off.  Zie doesn’t put in assignments (that blue in on Sunday is my writing…) or really use it for planning at all.  The class times are in the planner, but they’re also in Google calendar.  We’re hoping that a combination of the two systems (electronic and paper) will help DC1 remember to TURN IN COMPLETED ASSIGNMENTS and GO TO AFTER SCHOOL ACTIVITIES once school is back in session, but it’s not looking hopeful.  Maybe being a year older will be enough.

I didn’t get much use out of paper planners in middle school or high school either.  I’m not sure how I remembered to get things done in high school (in middle school I just finished all my work in class so it was irrelevant).  I guess I just had a separate notebook for each class and a binder and checked those daily.  I started using a weekly planner (similar to the small weekly Moleskines, but with nursing branding on the front) in college some time when DH gave me one that his mom didn’t want.  Then I got free branded econ ones. Then I started having to buy my own Moleskines (or rather, I started having to ask for a small Moleskine planner for Christmas, which is an excellent thing to put on the Amazon wishlist for the in-laws who aren’t sure what to get you).  Along with those small weekly planners with meetings and deadlines listed, I had lots of loose leaf to-do lists.  These Kahootie planners look like they should have enough space for middle and high school to-dos, but I guess we will find out next semester!

Did you use a planner as a kid?  (If applicable) Do your kids use planners?  Have your planning needs changed over time?

Wanna see my planner layout?

No, I’m not trying to horn in on the shu box.  As you can see, there is nothing neat, beautiful, or inspirational about my planner layouts!  (Except my beautiful pens, of course.)

But I’ve been trying some new things with planning this year because I’m just too scattered with too many things going on.  And yet, I have the luxury of having just one work-space rather than having to transport things back and forth.

To start with, I have my Moleskine calendar which I have had every year since my professional organization stopped providing them free.  I use this just for due dates and actual appointments.  I picked a somewhat light week appointment-wise because I was able to strategically place my beautiful EnerGel Clenas over potentially identifying names, which I cannot do every week.

Weekly calendar

I actually ran out of ink in my main Clena and had to refill it because I love this pen so much. It’s .4 blue/black. The brown is also .4 and has brown ink. It’s even prettier with the sticker removed, which I did eventually.

The new thing is that instead of having sheets of half paper scattered all over my office with to-do lists and daily schedules and full sheets and notepads with project info… I’ve moved most of my projects to Trello or Github (which both have benefits and drawbacks), and I’ve taken over one of DH’s unused Moleskine lab notebooks (he prefers lined or dot grid– I had been trying to buy a blank black hardback one for ages but they’d been sold out and finally he remembered he had one he wasn’t using) to replace the scattered paper.

DH's Hobby/Bucket List

The one page that DH used in this book before he decided he prefers Leuchtturm1917 with lines or dot grids over unlined Moleskine. He has since completed the coffee roaster (it has been years since he last used it) and has made 3 Moccasins (not 3 pairs, 3 individual slippers). He also has started occasionally taking B-complex for the memory and it seems to help? I guess DC2 has kind of been teaching him Spanish? He has definitely not worked on singing.

So basically here’s what I have been doing with the Moleskine.  I keep the left side, which you can’t see, blank and use it for notes from meetings.  (I would have to redact the heck out of them, so I just didn’t take a picture.)  On the right hand side, I plot out the week on an hourly basis.  The one thing I wish I didn’t have to do is write out the times.  Writing them out I am able to take up less space than I would if I could find a washi tape I liked or bought a pre-made planner, but I think I will make that trade-off now that I know more about what I like in planners.  Then I fill in items from my weekly calendar like class-times and meetings.  I put little brown stars next to them to indicate they are things where I have to either be somewhere or I have to get on some kind of call– basically I have to actually do those things at that time.  The rest of the hours I fill out with what I hope to be doing with the rest of the time.  Usually I’m pretty good about sticking to the schedule in the morning, but in the afternoons I kind of lose steam and get better at convincing myself to do something else.  I try to build in a little slack if I can.

Heavily redacted planner page

In all its glory. (Post-it notes removed.)

A new thing for me is listing my main goals for the week.  What are the two research projects I hope to make the most progress on?  What are the stupid little service or teaching assignments that have to get done?  Weekend usually gets written on Thursday or Friday when I realize that I didn’t get as much done as I needed to and I’d rather be super lazy near the end of the week than I would not work at all on the weekend.  Though… to be honest the weekend stuff is generally aspirational too unless there’s a real deadline and often gets pushed off to the next Monday or Tuesday (*guilt*).  But I never seem to get done what I need to get done if I just write down what needs to get done– I have to write down more than I need to do to trick myself to do what I actually have to do, if that makes sense.  I blame my Catholic upbringing.  #raisedCatholic #guilt  I could actually do everything I put in my list, so it’s not actually unrealistic.  I just … don’t.  And this is one reason why I’m not at a better school, but I do ok still.  (It doesn’t help that there are more people in my life encouraging me to work less “take a break” “can’t work all the time” etc. than there are encouraging me to get stuff done because they have an inflated idea of my actual productivity, not realizing how much of my time on the computer is actually surfing the internet.)  (That was a digression.  But no, spending less time at the computer does not actually make me more productive in the hours I spend at it.  Been there, done that.  I hedonically adapt pretty rapidly and end up maaaybe doing an hour of work and then get hit with deadlines and regret.)

That Friday was a great day because a coauthor who had been not doing much (she’d been meaning to, but life would happen) and I threw the paper back and forth at each other every hour and we made a huge amount of progress on it.  So it looks blank, but was actually me doing straight up writing every other hour and either dealing with email or checking on citations/figures/etc. on my off hours.  Flow is the best.

That little line of stars and dashes used to be next to a post-it note listing all of my current projects on it.  The stars mean “work on this project this week”.  The dashes mean “you could work on this project this week if for some reason you couldn’t work on another one”.  The x means that there’s nothing I can currently do on this project (in this case, it’s in a student’s hands right now and I’m like 4th author and it’s about machine learning so…).  The checkmarks mean that I submitted that project or passed it off to a coauthor and don’t need to do anything with it until it comes back.  Usually I only have 2 projects I’m actively working on, 1 under review, and 1 in the data collection/lit review/RA doing stuff stage, possibly also one at the grant proposal stage.  But right now is messed up because I’m doing a ton of little papers with students because of that NSF item you see listed and some other grants from other agencies that want things, plus they help students get things on their cvs which is nice.

Another new thing I have that you can’t see is a growing to-do list post-it that is currently residing on the left side of the paper.  It has a list of all my upcoming deadlines which appear to be mostly referee reports and editing, though there’s currently also some end of the semester teaching stuff.  I like the post-it notes because you don’t have to rewrite them and you can move them week to week.  I am on my second “projects” post-it though because some stuff is off my plate for now and I have a couple of new things on it.

Sometime this summer when they come out, I have decided that I want to get an Academic Year Passion Planner to replace both Moleskines.  It combines an hourly layout with a weekly spread with lots of additional *space* for all these other extras.  I’m hoping that up at the top I’ll be able to put deadlines for each day like with my small weekly calendar.  The spaces at the sides and bottom will fit my post-it note to-do lists, goals, and weekend hopes.  The blank pages can be used for notes from meetings.  I will likely ignore every single passion aspect.  If it doesn’t work out, then I will go back to this method in time for me to get the 2022 Moleskine calendar for Christmas or maybe I’ll know more about my likes and dislikes to try a different planner layout.

How do you deal with planning?  Do you have a planner or calendar system?  What do you use?  What works or doesn’t work for you?