{post by Karen}

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: time to buy a new diary!

This will come as a surprise to few, but I’m a stationery addict. I have a bookshelf full of untouched or partially completed notebooks, and I keep buying more. Last night, I dreamt that I was shopping for my 2017 diary, and after browsing a couple options, decided to take the advice of two Asian shoppers who didn’t speak English, but led me to the cutest option (the best diaries come out of Asia).

The thing is, I’m very picky about my diaries. I want them to be cute, keep me interested all year long with a variety of engaging illustrations, and they need to be functional. Because I work in research, my job on any given day or week might involve a great variety of different types of tasks associated with several different research projects. Some will be urgent, some won’t be. In 2015, in my quest to find the perfect diary, I purchased three different diaries and debated buying a fourth. Sadly, I still haven’t found a yearly diary to meet all my preferences, but there are some good compromises out there.

Now, I realise that getting or staying organised is a completely personal, individualised process. Everyone does it differently. Some thrive without doing it at all. But here’s what I look for in a diary, in an attempt to keep myself organised and on track. For the record, I used to use an A6 weekly diary, because I like things to be as small as possible, and that suited my needs for a while, back when I worked in retail or worked on one specific research project. Then things started getting busier and more varied at work, my social life got busier (thanks softball!), I joined the softball team committee, and I started planning a wedding. Suddenly, there wasn’t enough space on the page!

What I look for in a diary

  • A5 size – alllllll the space!
  • A monthly view – I use this to see the month’s birthdays at a glance, and to keep track of my finances. I use an orange erasable gel pen to mark spending, and a green one to record income and totals.
  • Day-to-a-page views – again, allllll the space. Here, I can keep track of meetings as well as specific tasks to accomplish. Work tasks go up top, and things to complete at home go towards the bottom. I also track daily spending on my Qantas cash card (frequent flyer points, y’all!)
  • Address pages – yeah, I know this is a bit of analog redundancy, since I keep all my friends’ and family’s addresses in my phone. But I’m a pen and paper enthusiast and it makes me happy to recopy them every year, not to mention reminding me to update addresses.
  • Notes pages – confession: I keep all my online passwords in my diary. They’re in shorthand so you couldn’t guess them, but I use this cheat sheet CONSTANTLY, at least a couple times a week.
  • Two ribbon bookmarks
  • An envelope for bits and bobs

When I write a task in my diary, I put a box next to it. When I complete the task, I put a check in the box. If I don’t complete the task that day but still need to do it, I put an arrow in the box and copy the task to the following day (I put feathers on my arrows so they’re cuter šŸ˜Š). Tasks that are no longer relevant can just be crossed out, or ones that have been scheduled to deal with later can be marked with a circle. I’m not great at this but it’s a good idea to keep tasks bite-sized and specific, so that you can check them off easily and get the satisfaction of feeling like you’ve accomplished things.

I’ve used kikki.K diaries for the last few years, and I do love them, especially their Sweet range (unfortunately, there’s not a Sweet daily diary). In 2016, I used their A5 daily diary. I could have bought the same one this year (and in mint), but I found it a bit…dull. I considered getting their Cute daily diary, but it’s not super professional. I decided to check Notemaker for other options, and found a Japanese diary that I decided to take a chance on. I’m so glad I did! I can’t say it’s less dull than the basic kikki.K diary, but it’s smaller in width, height and thickness (did I mention I like compact things?) while still having plenty of space on the page. The cover is soft, which pleases me. It has all the elements I look for, plus more yearly and monthly planning pages, more notes pages, more space for addresses, a world map with time zones, and subway maps for all the major cities of the world! Just in case I find myself in Tokyo or Paris. It evens tells me famous people who were born or died on any given day. The only thing it’s missing is an envelope at the back, but I can easily paste  a cute one in.

Want to learn more about staying organised using good old fashioned pen and paper?

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