Take A Peek Inside Christine's Planner

Take A Peek Inside Christine's Planner
Hi everyone, it's Christine!

As we approach planner season, I can't help feeling giddy with excitement. There's nothing quite like a fresh planner to start the new year. And it's always around this time that I find myself scrolling through Instagram and watching plan-with-me videos on YouTube to discover new ways to use my planner. I love taking a peek at others' setups, especially hearing about the tools/accessories they use and what systems work for them. So, I thought it might be fun to share my current planner setup with you all as well!

In this blog post, I'll be sharing:
  • What planner I'm using
  • My planner system and routine
  • What no longer works for me
  • Tools and accessories I love
  • Thoughts for next year's setup

What Planner I'm Using

I'm using the Traveler's Notebook 2022 Weekly Vertical Insert. This is a dated weekly planner where each week lies across two pages. The days are shown as columns instead of as rows or blocks, which I find is more helpful for time management. This insert comes in a set of 2 booklets (each span 6 months) so you just carry what you need instead of a full year combined into one book.

My Planner System and Routine

Keeping It Simple

I usually allot some time at the beginning of each week to sit down with my planner and get everything down for the week, including events, appointments, and tasks. Most times, I'll use pencil first (I hate crossing things out or using correction tape) and then rewrite it later in pen. But, if it's a full-day event like a birthday or a holiday, or if it's something I know will happen, I'll just go ahead and write it in pen.

"Pre-Decorating" at the Beginning of the Year

Additionally, I don't have too much decoration in my planner. I find that it distracts me. I end up stressing over whether my planner looks good rather than if it's a functional tool for managing my day to day. However, at the beginning of the year, I "pre-decorated" some of the pages in my planner so I have some pretty surprises to look forward to. (I have a separate journal for scrapbooking/memory-keeping where I can decorate to my heart's content. Let me know in the comments if you'd like to see that in the future!)

How I Use Color Coding In My Planner

Another weirdly specific guilty pleasure of mine is color coding. I love seeing how people use color to indicate various things in their planner. For the past few years, I've been using Zebra Highlighter Mildliners to color code my planner and this year, I changed up my colors to incorporate some of the new colors that were added earlier this year:

  • Mild Olive - Learning, tutoring, etc.
  • Mild Dusty Pink - Work-related
  • Mild Gold - Twitch streaming stuff
  • Mild Beige - Personal, friend dates, etc.
  • Mild Brown - Meetings and health appointments

My color coding system is basically to use a dot with the fine liner side if it's a short event/appointment that begins at a specific time. If it's a longer event (ex: a work day) or an event that doesn't have a specific end time, then I'll highlight and write in the event. I might also add a squiggly arrow with specifics like location or who I'm with.

Tasks for the Day vs. Tasks for the Week

Lately, I've been scheduling tasks into my day as well as events. Instead of just adding the tasks to a list, I consider two things: how long it would take me to finish; and when I'll have time during the day to get that task done. This method has been helping me think about my time more thoroughly and what I can realistically accomplish in a day. If I complete that task that day, I fill in the square fully, but if I complete it later that week, I'll cross it out.

However, if it's a task that I can't really "schedule" or I'm not sure how long it will take, I'll add it to the "Note" section for the week. This way, it'll stay top of my mind as I'm reviewing my planner each day, but I don't feel any pressure to accomplish it on a specific day.

What No Longer Works For Me

Most of the routines that no longer work for me fall under a common theme: they were too tedious to sustain. For a while I was tracking my mood each day, but I found that it was difficult to remember how I felt (especially if I forgot to do it for a couple of days). Plus, we experience multiple emotions each day and I found it annoying to track them all or to figure out the "average" way I was feeling.

I also used to calculate my expenses for the week and split them into two categories: one for personal expenses, and the other for necessities. Not only was this annoying to do since I had to go through my receipts from that week and determine what was a personal expense and what was a necessity, but it also made me frustrated since I have so many expenses that I can't get rid of or reduce. This habit of tracking expenses made me not want to open my planner anymore, so I knew it wasn't working for me.

Finally, the last thing I want to talk about in this section is meal planning. I used to meal plan every week in my planner, and jot down what I was going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day. But once again, this routine proved to be too tedious to sustain. It was also too rigid -- if I had leftovers, or wanted to eat something else, I felt like I couldn't (remember what I said about hating correction tape and crossing things out?) I decided to stop doing it every week and only do it during the weeks that are super stressful where I know I won't really have any time to think about what to eat.

My Favorite Tools and Accessories

Uniball Signo Black - 0.28mm and 0.38mm. These have been my go-to planner pens since high school. I love them, especially the 0.28mm since I write so small.

Zebra Highlighter Mildliners. My color coding tool of choice! I use the highlighter end for time blocking and the fine point end for individual appointments or tasks under my work time block.

PLUS Deco Rush Tapes. To add icons and pops of color to my weekly spread, I like using these Deco Rush Tapes. The ones I use the most are Vacation to indicate my days off, Movies to indicate when I'm creating video content (either on Twitch or at work), and Meals if I decide to meal plan for that week.

Midori Rotating Stamps. I have an alarming number of these stamps (like more than half of the collection) but the ones I use the most in my planner are Lists and Animals. Lists has a great assortment of different headings to use for task lists and important reminders. I like to use the Animals stamp to mark my own small successes, as well as my cats' (ex: first nose touch without hissing).

Sticker Sheets. As long as I can remember, my biggest stationery vice has always been stickers. I remember in elementary school, I would spend my recess trading cute Korean and Japanese stickers with my friends in the playground. It has only gotten worse since then, haha. Now, I evolved into collecting as many cat stickers as I can, and my absolute favorite character is Goro Goro Nyansuke. Like the PLUS Deco Rush Tapes, I use these stickers to add a little charm to my planner pages (and to cover up any correction tape if I do end up using it.)

Thoughts for Next Year's Setup

For 2023, I expect to use the same planner with the same systems I'm using now. (Although, I did briefly consider going back to using the Midori Gradation Diary, haha.) This setup is working well for me and like they say, "Don't fix what's not broken."

However, I am mulling over whether or not I need a monthly insert as well, or a separate work journal. I find that sometimes I just need a monthly view to jot down things happening in the future. Additionally, since I'm keeping track of more things happening at Yoseka, I might also need a work journal just for work related plans. I suppose I have another four and a half months to decide, but it's definitely something at the back of mind!

I hope that this was a fun read for all you planner people out there and that you were able to get some ideas for your 2023 setup! Please let me know what systems and routines you use in the comments -- we can mutually inspire each other for planner season!


    • Agathe

      I love this blog post it is really well made clear and I want to try it now too, the only thing is, I am not sure if it should take a full year now that it is February or if I should just get a half year undated. I would love to see an updated version of this post with how you organized your 2023 vertical one ^^

      thank you so much for making this.

    • Roxy

      I would love to see your scrapbooking journal! I’m thinking of starting one because I love stickers etc but I do find it distracting in my normal planner. Thanks for sharing your set up!

    • @coffee_tea_paper

      Thank you for sharing your set up Christine 😊 For 2022 I’ve been using a TNC horizontal but, with life ramping up again, am switching to the TNC vertical for 2023. Your wonderful blog post has only confirmed my resolve to go vertical! I love your colour coding system too, so simple yet so effective! 😃

    • Allison

      Oh man. Christine was the Yoseka staff member who helped me get my TN planner (passport size) and my TN travel journal (regular size) set up this spring!! I didn’t realize how lucky I was to get help from the Planner Queen herself!! LOL. She was so helpful and patient as I weighed the different options. Thank you, Christine! :)

    • Susan

      I also use a black Regular Travelers Co Notebook and love it! I use the monthly for appointments and the weekly for a little daily journaling.

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