“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild precious life?” -Mary Oliver
During the past years, the planners’ world wagon has been like a “hop on hop off” bus for me. Form the expensive Kikki-K to the convenient To-Do list apps, I’ve tried a variety of things. Truth to be told I’ve never used a paper planner for a full year and have always ended up deleting the to-do apps (even those I’ve paid for) from my phone. But since my 2018 was a pretty passive year (talked a bit about that here) I was convinced that 2019 had to be different and that I need to come up with a plan and organization strategies to get stuff done.
Well… by the end of 2018 I fell in love at first sight with a planner I saw on Instagram and immediately knew that I wanted it. It was a bit out of budget for me and lately I am really thoughtful with my spending, so I chose it as my only Christmas present. Before buying it I made a full assessment of my 2018 using the Susannah Conway “Unravel Your Year” and I asked myself if the planner fitted my needs. I also asked myself how I would use it and how determined I was to see it as a tool to help myself make the new year different. So far so good, it’s been life changing not only because the planner is great, but also because I am really-ish committed to make small changes towards cultivating a life I love and a life that makes me happy. No matter how fancy or expensive a planner is, if you’re not committed to your plans and goals, it will serve nothing.
The planner I’m talking about is the Ink and Volt planner. Besides being minimal and beautiful (chose the Cobalt one), I chose it mainly because it’s divided monthly/weekly versus daily. Daily planning doesn’t work for me because as a Mon-Fri 8-5 worker, my personal life plans and routines are constantly changing and I have to reschedule things really often.
This is how I use each I&V feature:
Bringing Your Year into Focus– This page was a great tool to assess, in a short to the point way, what I expect from the new year and what do I want to leave behind. It was a brief non-cheesy reflection and I loved it mostly because of that.
2019 Theme– This section was perfect to incorporate my One Little Word (cultivate) for the new year and to include my 10 intentions for 2019.
Monthly calendars– I use this to write down appointments, birthdays, due dates, special events and other specific dated items. It also has a small space to write down something I would like to focus on during the month.
Monthly goals– Here I write down at least one action step for each one of my yearly intentions. I have 10 intentions and this page has ten lines to write my monthly goals so it’s perfect. If I want to write more than that, there’s a dot grid space at the bottom available for extra notes or goals.
31-day challenge– I’m still trying to figure out if I can love this section or not. I am awful at following challenges. During January, I couldn’t commit to the challenge I chose (wake up at 4:30am on weekdays) for two reasons: laziness and because my vacation leave started at the end of the month and we had a trip planned. For February I decided to take a break from stressing about a monthly challenge because I was traveling for the first week and a half and because I want to spend this month reassessing my goal plans for the year (yes, already).
Weekly prompt– This page includes a prompt mostly addressed to productivity and improvement but I can use the space for whatever I want. I usually use half page to answer briefly to the prompt and leave the rest of the space for notes and scribbles.
Weekly goals– This is my favorite part of the planner. It is pretty similar to the “Monthly goals” page. Being a goal list (instead of a to-do list) gives a totally different vibe to the page. For me, a regular to-do list calls more to “obligations” and a goal list sounds more exciting, serious and motivating (or maybe it’s just me). Here I write down at least one action step for each one of my monthly goals. In the space to reflect and celebrate, I can give myself permission to be really honest about what I didn’t accomplish (and why) and to acknowledge what I achieved. It also has a review checklist for yearly, monthly goals, last week’s progress and 31-day challenge. There’s a dot grid space at the bottom that I use to write down a motivational quote or a short thought.
Weekly outlook– I use this space for gratitude. Since it’s divided in “morning”, “afternoon” and “evening”, I write three things I’m grateful for every day. I love this daily excesise although it’s something that I wasn’t planning to do this year. The idea of recording gratitude came when I was trying to figure out how I would be using that space which can also be used for lots of things such as doodling, journaling, meal planning, documenting life, etc…
I am color coding (very general categories) things in the monthly calendar and for the rest of the pages I am using different pen colors (gray, black, blue and coral) with no particular significance. Besides the planner, I am using a Fabriano dot grid notebook (from Marshalls) and the iPhone native Notes app as companions to breakdown my projects and write notes and ideas as well. The pens I’m using (and loving) are “LePen” brand and I love how fine they are. They don’t bleed through but are a bit see through. Also, I’m noticing a yellow stain around the stuff I write and don’t know if it happened because of the humidity at home while I was away.
Overall, I love my I&V and would recommend it to someone who’s looking for a minimalistic space to record and track goals. The planner is bulky and heavy so I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who’s looking something to carry around (I had to leave it home while on vacation but I took notes on my iPhone and passed them down when I got home). Although I am not decorating it, there’s space to get creative and personalize it with stickers and stuff for those who’re into that.
The only two things I would add to the planner would be a future log (like the one used in bullet journals) and a project breakdown section (I would trade the Weekly Outlook pages for that!). The I&V company shares very valuable content regularly on their blog and social media about goals, planning, productivity, self improvement, stationery products, ideas on how to use their planners, and much more.