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Organizing and planning can either be a chore or fun. It can also be a daunting project, especially first starting out. This is going to be more of a guide on how to start a planner, or at least give you an idea as to how to organize all your thoughts all in one place. Keep in mind that everyone has their own way of organizing, journaling or "brain dumping" as some call it, so there is no ONE system that works for everyone. I'm just going to show you what has been working for me. Also remember, NOTHING IS PERMANENT.
So here we go.

There are many types of journaling systems out there and as you look on the web and social media, you'll find a ton of ways that people have attacked this. There are the simple planners, day-runner planners, Filofax systems, the Midori Traveler's Notebook System, the bullet journaling..(which is crazy and way too much work to me) the art journal, the Roterfaden journaling and of course, the Hobonichi Techo journal/planners. I'm sure there's a whole lot more out there, but just to name a few. Look these up in instagram and pinterest, and you'll find a slew of creators that have made "planning" actually fun.

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  • How to organize a thing. The Notebook System - Step 1
    Step 1

    Over the years i have kept journals that started as diaries, but have turned into journals of events that were important to me, or at least just a random writing of what's been going on. I started real young and have aquired a multitude of journals. And still going on.

    I never really got into using a planner, I've tried a few, but....somehow never really stuck to them. But I tried, and then I've also had this other problem where you hear or see something and you have to write it down before you forget. So you grab the first piece of paper and pen you find scribble it down....then you forget about it, then you lose it. Very frustrating.

  • How to organize a thing. The Notebook System - Step 2
    Step 2

    I had also started tearing out articles from magazines that I liked, but never found a home for them. So with notebooks that I've gotten from friends and family, I started to organize each category in each notebook....And that seemed to work ....sorta. As you can see they too piled up.

  • How to organize a thing. The Notebook System - Step 3
    Step 3

    here i'm trying to organize it with sticky tabs so that I'll have an idea of where things are.....well, that didn't quite work out, because in reality it was just all mixed up.

    So as you can see, things were kind of organized, but....not really- also the notebooks were starting to pile up.

  • How to organize a thing. The Notebook System - Step 4
    Step 4

    I had heard about filofaxes and thought maybe I'd try that!
    mmmm....the planning part worked for a bit, but as for transferring the other stuff, not so much. I found that I'm not a 9 to 5 appointment keeper and don't really have that many events going on everyday to keep track of. So I started using it as a reminder and kept a few lists to refer to. It's....ok.

  • How to organize a thing. The Notebook System - Step 5
    Step 5

    So I did a little more research and discovered the Midori system, made in Thailand. Which so far seems to be working out the best for me. At least for the little stuff. Basically the midori systems is a multiple of notebooks in one.
    And this is what it really appealed to me; There are 2 different sizes-mind you not your typical notebook size, but there's the regular and the passport size. You can swap, add or take out notebooks, since they're just held together with elastic and covered by a flap of leather. Ingenious! What I especially like is that the passport size is literally a passport size, 5.3X 3.9", so it's very portable.
    So what I did is write down a list of all the categories I want to keep track of:
    For the Craft notebooks:
    * Knitting
    * Photography
    * Sewing
    *random crafts
    For the other interests:
    *how to's
    *Great Ideas I find around-aka brain dumping.
    The lists:
    *password/user names
    *products I'm interested in
    *phone numbers/ emails to keep track of
    (this could go on and on. currently my list notebook is ongoing)

    And of course, the planning and miscellaneous doodles, thoughts and reminders.

  • How to organize a thing. The Notebook System - Step 6
    Step 6

    So what I did is dedicate each notebook to each particular interest. However there are a few that I haven't started because I"m trying to finish the notebook I started before I found out about this system, and have condensed a few interests into one notebook. I've treated this more as a scrappy way of keeping everything together with washi tape, glue sticks, stickers, markers, stamps and other ways of keeping everything together. Think of it as a collage of your thoughts.

  • How to organize a thing. The Notebook System - Step 7
    Step 7

    On the down side to the Midori's, they're a little proprietary in their size -not quite your typical size. Therefore some "non" midori notebooks just won't fit snuggly. The larger notebook sizes are 8.7 X 4.9" and 5.3 X 3.9" for the passport size. There are a few that I've heard that work, for instance the Bandit apple notebooks and of course there are notebooks that you can make yourself with the help from a lot of tutorials all over the web, as well as on this site. But for the moment, since I've gotten quite a collection of Field notes and Moleskine pocket notebooks I did a little more research and discovered the Roterfaden notebook that will hold these perfectly.

  • How to organize a thing. The Notebook System - Step 8
    Step 8

    A bit like the Midori notebooks, the Roterfaden uses a clip system to hold your notebooks together. Roterfaden, means red thread, made in Germany, and come in 2 different sizes, the A5 and the A6.
    The A6 size is perfect for the moleskine and Field notes.

  • How to organize a thing. The Notebook System - Step 9
    Step 9

    Now as you can imagine, this can become horrendously expensive, when adding accessories to personalize your notebooks with folders and zipper pockets, to keep all your misc. notes, stickers and such. I've made a few file folders and in the future would like to sew my own file wallet folders and such out of fabric.
    There are lots of templates and blogs showing you how to make these online, but I think I may just "wing" it and measure it all out. (guess that means a "how to" in the future may be in the works)

  • How to organize a thing. The Notebook System - Step 10
    Step 10

    So basically each category I listed above got it's own notebook and now I"m able to keep them separate, but together at the same time. As for the planner, I decided to make my own. (temporarily until I find something that I like. Because I mostly go day to day, or rather more week to week, each week I make my own template. On one side is the week and on the other page is left blank for the random stuff for that week. Each time i start a template, I either use rubber stamps or just hand letter it with brush pens.

  • How to organize a thing. The Notebook System - Step 11
    Step 11

    In the beginning of each month I do make my own quick monthly template that I tape in so that I can get an idea of where in the week I am.

    So yah, for now this works for me, but not so much for others..

  • How to organize a thing. The Notebook System - Step 12
    Step 12

    Now as you can see,most everything looks quite neat and "organized". A bit unreal, so I do have a separate notebook that I keep with me at all times. This I guess is what you would call my brain dump notebook. Really it's the replacement for all those scraps of paper with quick misc. notes that I mentioned before. Then when I have the time, I redump it to its designated place in the notebooks.

  • How to organize a thing. The Notebook System - Step 13
    Step 13

    On portability and travel, I do love these midori notebooks because at least with the passport size you can throw it in your bag with a pen and have it with you when you need it. However sometimes there are spur of the moments and all you have on you is your phone, keys and wallet. So as a quick replacement and brain dump, I use google notes. It's good for quickly taking notes, making lists, and with the help of the camera phone, cataloging something you find interesting.

  • How to organize a thing. The Notebook System - Step 14
    Step 14

    Eventually I would like to be able to add photos in my notebook system, but just haven't gotten around to doing so since I figure I can just draw it if possible.
    So to cap off, I know this isn't really a technique per say, but hopefully this helps for those who are interested in finding a better "planning" system. It can be fun, and creative way of organizing ones life, and what i love about this is that you can change the system anytime you like. Keep the ones that work for you, add new categories try out new ones that may work better- or not. Nothing is permanent, things change, life changes and hopefully this can adapt as quickly as you change.

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bigrthanlasagna · Alabama, New York, US
I really enjoyed your post! You may also want to look into Bullet Journaling. It works well with the Midori set up.

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