I wanted to share a recent project where I converted a graph paper journal into a handy planner, organizer, and catch-all:
I needed a new planner, as my pocket size Moleskine planner had just a couple months left. In recent weeks, I had found that style of planner was not working out well for me; I needed a different set up in my new planner.
In the past, I've been a fan of the binder-style, customizable systems for years. I prefer to mix and match the planner inserts between brands (daytimer, dayrunner, dayplanner) to come up with a system that works for whatever is going on for me at any given time. I referred to my planner systems as my "brain." I talked about this in a blog post HERE and in this interview I did for Lesley Riley a couple years ago:
However, I really cannot afford to purchase any of that stuff these days, so I set about making a planner from a blank book and other materials I had on hand.
I started with a Miquelrius graph paper journal/sketchbook I had in a studio cupboard. I love graph paper books; I'm particularly fond of using them as what I think of as "catch-alls." I fill them up with snips from magazines, quotes, lists, notes, plans, sketches, website addresses, love notes from my littles, and all manner of flotsam, until the book is full, bursting with stuffed-in goodness.
This particular journal sells for a good bit less than it's Moleskine counterparts, has a flexible cover, and 300 graph paper pages. In order to convert it to a planner & organizer, I made several modifications:
- I scavenged an elastic closure, accordion pockets and ribbon bookmarks out of my filled, archived Moleskines.
- I attached the elastic closure through the back cover.
- I reinforced the inside covers of the journal, front and back, with lightweight cardboard, which I covered with a text weight paper.
- I glued accordion pockets inside the front and back covers.
Then, I did something of which I am very proud!
I STOPPED! I THOUGHT! I RESEARCHED! Instead of plunging ahead willy-nilly, I took a deep breath and PLANNED!
I looked around trying to determine what I wanted to include and how that might all work. I browsed Pinterest and Moleskine, and googled for "DIY planner", "planner hacks", and "Moleskine hacks."
Moleskine has free planner printables availble for download on the myMoleskine community site. You do have to register to download, but it is free. I haven't been bothered by any spam in the year or longer I've been registered.
Making a list of what I wanted in a planner was key in not creating a big, fat monster.
I knew I needed a monthly calendar to keep track of family appointments, commitments, events, and such.
Since I wanted to commit to blogging regularly again, and have some amazing concepts for my creative business underway (more soon), I wanted a second monthly calendar for organizing that arena.
I have always worked well with a weekly planner. Besides the obvious weekly reminder of any appointments, I use the weekly planner to make brief notes about a given day- what I've done with my time and what I have to remember to do. Knowing where I have spent my time, and being prompted about specific tasks is very useful for me. (I have ADHD.)
I also like to jot down notes from phone coversations, ideas that have popped into my mind, things I need to research, items to add to lists, phone numbers that don't need to go into my contacts list... that sort of thing. I knew I wanted more than one page for notes related to each week.
I still wanted to use the book as a "catch-all" because I wanted to have just one book in my everyday-bag.
I downloaded monthly calendar and weekly planner pages from the myMoleskine site, and scaled them to best fit my pages. The files can't be edited easily, so I simply opted to scale them in the dialogue box that comes up for my printer. Some pages I scaled larger than 100% and others smaller. I printed them on the lightest weight paper I could find in the house.
Before going any further, I removed a ton of pages from random spots through out the journal to accomodate the girth the calendar & planner pages would add. I know that the catch-all portion will cause the book to get nice and fat. I didn't want the book to start out looking like a filled journal!
After calculating how many pages I needed for each section, I counted out the pages in the journal I would need to achieve my desired layout, and divided up the book. Since I carry my book around in my bag, divider tabs would just get trashed. Instead, I glued scrapbooking paper to the front and backside of a page to create a sturdy divider. I added another one of those scavenged accordian pockets to one of the dividers just because.
For the weekly planner portion, the blank weekly calendar went on the left-hand side of the page spread, leaving the right side, and the next whole page spread blank- four pages for each week. Every week has 2 two-page spreads. I included only a few months worth of weekly planner spreads because I wanted this portion to balance with the catch-all section. I didn't want to run out of space in the catch-all section before I ran out calendar/planner pages.
To recap a bit, the section in my new "brain-in-a-book" are:
- monthly calendar- business (1 month per page)
- monthly calendar - family (1 month per page)
- weekly planner (4 pages in two page spreads/week)
I wanted to have place to store some paper extras- forms or bits that I didn't need every day, but I use here and there. These I will just glue onto pages as needed. To create a storage folder, I removed the black thin cardboard cover from a knockoff of the Moleskine Cahier journal, leaving both sides intact- still in one large piece. Using some more scavenged elastic, I created places to store those bits of paper. I glued the storage folder onto one of my divider tabs.
Note about adesives:
I used Krylon spray adhesive to attach the printed calendar & planner pages, scrapbook papers, and accordion pockets. I used "Quick Grip" glue to attach the elastic, the bookmarks, the carboard reinforcement on the covers, and the folder for extra paper forms. I chose "Quick Grip" because the bond is quite strong and dries flexible.
While I did invest time in the creating my new "brain-in-a-book", I didn't have to spend any money to create what has turned out to be a terrific planner for my needs!