What sort of monthly spread planner should you get?

ORGANIZE, Planning, Time Management

In my previous post, I have written about the importance of a monthly planner. Here are some considerations when it comes to buying and using a monthly spread planner:

1. It is not necessarily need to be expensive
You can find a monthly spread planner at the Dollar Store or Daiso at a fairly inexpensive price. In fact, in the past I have spent on fancy planners that I ended up not using. Hence, it need not be expensive- but it must be something that you like. Still, you should try to get a paper with relatively good quality so that your pen would not bleed through the pages.

Monthly spread planner

Above are design of 2 different monthly spead planner that I have. The bigger one is A5 in size. The plain one is from Daiso while the coloured one is from a bookstore. I would use the plain one to write down dates, appointments and reminders (such as to pay bills and my credit cards). While the colourful planner would be use mainly for blog planning.

2. Anything would do so long as it works for you
You can manually draw out your own customized monthly spread on your bullet journal (BUJO) or use the preprinted ones on your diary or planner. You can also buy a thin sketch book and draw out the spreads yourself and decorate it using stickers, colour pens, watercolours and washi tapes.

You can even use your table calendar to plan out things- if your table calendar has enough writing space for you to write on it. In some years, I have been using my Kaison table calendar as my monthly spread planner- by writing down important appointments, dates, checkups and tasks. Below are some examples of table calendars from Kaison:

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3. Portability
Personally, I find a thin and portable monthly planner to be useful- especially when I am on the phone to make an appointment to meet up with someone. Or when I am out and about and in between of waiting or commuting where I suddenly want to look through my plans and organize my activities accordingly.

Usually, I do not want to take my diary out as it is a little bulky and heavy especially if I am out and about buying groceries or doing window shopping (meaning lots of walking). I prefer something that is light and does not take up much space.

4. Size
In the past, I have used an A4 size monthly spread planner. I find it a little inconvenient to carry around when I am outside- so I ended up either putting it at home or leaving it in the car. The upside of this type of planner is that the space is large and I am able to write down more information- so it is suited for heavy duty planning. Below is the A4 size planner that I have purchased for 2018:

However for next year,  I have decided to change to an A5 size that is smaller and can be easily put in my carry on bag. This is because I would have a more packed schedule starting soon and I do not want to burden my brain to remember everything. If there is new arrangement to be made, all I need to do is to refer to my planner to know if I am able to slot in or do I need to change around tasks for that day.

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What to use to write on your planners

If your schedule is highly volatile, with things always changing, my suggestion is to use a mechanical pencil and rubber to write and move things around. But don’t make the mistake I have done in getting coloured mechanical lid pencils as it is too light to see.

Alternatively,  you can also using Frixion pens. I have a few Pilot Frixion pens in different colours to write on my planner and calendar. If you make mistakes, you can use the tip on the Frixion pen to delete the mistake.

However, Frixion pens would not work if the material that you are writing on is exposed on very high (such as if you put your planner in your car which can get really hot) or cold temperatures (like in very cold winter). Extremely high heat would cause the information to go missing, while freezing temperature would cause everything to reappear back- together whatever you have deleted.

In conclusion:

Most important the planner must make sense to you and you must be inspired to use it. The design, layout and space available to write must make sense to you. And often this is very individual.

You would experience the benefits once you are able to get your life more organized through the simple act of writing down important to-dos and appointments in a single place instead of committing all these to memory. As you learn to be more familiar, you would then be able to move on to identify and set a goal, then list down the to-dos that is required for you to meet your goal through breaking down these tasks into your planner.

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All the best!

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