It's waaaaaaay more than a planner; it's its own system for crying out loud.
In college, I LIVED by my planner. My freshman year, I pledged a sorority and my schedule immediately filled with events. I didn't use a planner in high school, but I quickly adapted to this new way of organizing my life.
Around 2007, I ditched the paper planner in favor of digital planning. While it was nice having my calendar accessible from ANYWHERE (you know, because my cell phone is surgically attached to my hand), I didn't realize the trade-offs that came with changing systems.
I no longer had a place to stuff envelopes I needed to drop in the mail. Where would I keep the coupons for my Walgreens shopping trip? What about the form I needed to submit for reimbursement? Where should I keep that until I turn it in?
You see, the planner was more than a place to document scheduled events. It served as a "go to" place to store things that affected nearly every aspect of my life.
I adjusted to not having a collecting place for these things but there was one problem with a digital planner that I never solved: it was difficult to see an entire month at one glance.
I'd be trying to plan a night out or figure out a time to have an evening meeting, and I couldn't easily see what I already had planned in one glance. Using the digital monthly view, I could see that I had something scheduled (as indicated by a little triangle on the screen that day), but I couldn't tell if it was a morning, afternoon or evening event.
It was maddening. Trying to find a time to meet had become a 10-minute chore.
I also realized I was over scheduling our family. Because I couldn't quickly and easily see our month or week at a glance, I scheduled events multiple nights in a row.
So, after struggling for years using my Google calendar/cell phone/iPad as my planner, I've gone back to a paper planner!!
I posted my intentions on Facebook and a college friend recommended I consider the Arc system at Staples (my cousin recommended it before that, but I hadn't yet considered going back to paper so I didn't investigate it at the time).
As I do with most things, I investigated the heck out it. I spent more time looking into the Arc because the closest Staples is 71 miles away and I didn't want to get there and realize the system wouldn't work for me.
Here are a few YouTube videos I watched (admittedly more than once) that helped me decide that that Arc is likely a good system for me.
I'm totally sold on the system. Instead of having a road trip to Staples, my wonderful husband actually bought it for me as an early Mother's Day gift!
It arrived yesterday and I spent last night putting it together. It's just what I need! And of course, I opted for the pink binder cover :)
And, I have two plastic pockets that are ideal for holding envelopes and receipts (for items I need to return):
Staples online didn't have the Weekly/Monthly calendar inserts I needed, so I went to Etsy and actually found that a business woman I knew from years ago now has her own shop where she sells organizing forms! I found this undated set that suits my needs perfectly. Don't you just love the bold colors?
The much needed Monthly view I've been missing so much!!
Initially I didn't think I would like the extra boxes at the bottom of the weekly pages, but I'm already finding myself using them quite a bit. (This week looks a little bare because I didn't go through and add in Sun/Mon/Tue events since those days already passed :)- sometimes I wish all my weeks looked this open!)
Below is another plastic pocket (came in a package of 2). I'm using this one to keep a few greeting cards handy. I send 1-2 cards/week so having them with me will certainly help make sure they get written and mailed.
Below is a plastic zippered pouch (package of 2). I'm using it to store tabs and paperclips.
This is why I already LOVE the planner. Because you buy the Arc-specific paper punch, you can use it to punch ANYTHING! So instead of slapping post card reminders and invitations on the fridge, I'm going to put them in the planner!
This blue zippered cloth pencil pouch is something I saw Nicky at She Organizes recommend and when I couldn't find it online at Target, I kinda forgot about it. Then yesterday I was at Target grocery shopping and as I always do, I took a little detour through the office supplies (I'm not the only one that does that, right? RIGHT?). It is the perfect sized pouch to fit over the planner and it has a strap so it's easily removable. I keep my multi-colored pens in there.
So, that's the planner. Pretty sweet, huh? It took me several hours to put it together but this isn't because the planner is difficult; it's because I ordered the aforementioned paper planner pages from Etsy and had to print them out, cut them down to size and write in the dates. I'm kinda known for taking a relatively easy process and infinitely complicating it in the name of making it look pretty.
As I told my husband (who claims I was more excited about this than the autographed Peyton picture he gave me for Valentine's Day), it'll take some time to work through any new system. I'm sure there will be things I don't like; I just haven't found any yet!
I am seriously loving the punch system that allows me to tote/store almost anything I need within the binder. Genius. I've convinced myself that I invented this system in another life so we'd benefit from it in this life :)