Preparing and planning for a productive 2018

Stationery supplies for planning

As the first week of 2018 draws to a close, I have found myself caught up in the excitement start of a new year. All week I’ve been avidly devouring the “plan with me” and “2018 set-up” blog posts, YouTube videos and Instagram photos; so I couldn’t resist doing my own “ready for 2018” post.

I am not a massive part of the planner community but I like to dip in every now and then to see the pretty stationery, check out how other people organize their time and their lives, and admire the amazing works of art that some people manage to create in their bullet journals (a.k.a BuJos). At this time of year I get particularly drawn in since I’m a massive stationery geek – seeing all the new calendars, diaries and planners in the shops gets me all worked-up and buzzing with energy to get super organized and plan for a great year ahead.

Abie Brown A5 Organizer - Floral
My Floral A5 organizer by Abie Brown

This happens to me pretty much every year, and I am notorious for starting diaries and journals and then falling off the wagon after a few weeks when my” new notebook enthusiasm” wears off. However, this year, I want to focus no “progress” in all areas of my life, and with juggling living in 2 countries, my day job and now my “side hustle” (aka this blog) as well, I am going to have to try harder to stay on top of things – so I am determined to find a paper planner system that works for me.

Why I use a paper planner

While I use my electronic calendar on my phone to keep track of appointments (it’s easier to reschedule things electronically and being able to set reminders is a lifesaver!), I prefer a paper planner system for organising my tasks because:

  1. I love stationery and planners are so pretty!
  2. I remember things better when I physically write them down.
  3. Writing things down helps me think things through (I am forever mind-mapping, brainstorming and doodling my thoughts and ideas)
  4. I can just see things better when they are on paper and I like having a “big picture view”

Although I love having a paper planner, I have struggled to find the perfect system for me. In the past I have used various Filofaxes but eventually the rings always annoy me (I own 6 – the oldest of which I have had since I was 16, and I currently use my Filofax mini as my purse!), and last year I tried out the Passion Planner but I found that the hourly layout with the columns for weekdays didn’t really work for me. This year I have decided to try a few different types of notebooks with different layouts for different purposes.

I am drawn to the bullet journal (who wouldn’t be when there is so much inspiring art out there on Instagram) because of the flexibility of the system – you basically make it however you want it. But I am not sure I have time for “planner DIY” on a daily basis. I also think that since I have problems sticking to a planning routine in the first place, adding in the requirement to be artistic (or at the very least set up the planner pages myself each day/week/month) would just make me less likely to follow through. So, as more of a “functional planner” than a “pretty planner”, I have opted to go the pre-printed route for most of my planning needs.

My 2018 set-up

OK having said all that…without further ado, here is my 2018 planner set-up for my personal life and blogging.


  • Abie Brown A5 organiser – This will be my day-to-day personal planner for all of my important appointments, to-dos and general planning. I love this planner because it is the ultimate organiser for everything in your day-to-day live. In addition to the monthly calendars and weekly spreads, there is space for to-do lists, monthly finances and list of things to read/watch/research each month. It’s a hefty notebook but I don’t plan to carry it around with me since I use my phone for my full calendar. I also really wanted my planner in Spanish this year so while I finally settled on the Abie Brown organizer I also came across these other great Spanish stationery brands: Charuca, Mr Wonderful, Lucia Be and Pizpiretia

    Abie Brown organiser sections
    The organiser is tabbed with useful sections
  • Miquelrius Sweet Team dot-grid notebook – I needed additional notes space for frequently referenced information, tracking habits I want to create, planning projects and general brainstorming. This notebook is just under A5 size so it fits perfectly into the plastic wallet at the back of my Abie Brown and I will use it like a mini bullet journal.

    Dot-grid notebook
    My mini-BuJo for reference information and habit/goal tracking
  • Mr Wonderful A6 Notebook “Hoy voy a darlo todo” – I loved this little notebook when I saw it so I had to buy it and find a use for it! I have decided it will be my journal/diary and I am going to base it on the book The 5 Minute Journal and get into the habit of answering a few simple questions first thing in the morning and last thing before bed. The journal focuses on gratitude and having a positive focus, so I think the quote on the notebook cover (“Today I am going to give it everything”) really fits in with what I want to use it for.

    Mr Wonderful A6 Notebook
    My “5 Minute Journal” for gratitude tracking

Blog planner

  • Charuca A5 dot-grid notebook – For planning out my blog posts and tracking blog activity I decided to go the bullet journal route so that I have an organised notebook with an index. I have pretty much cobbled together a layout by taking ideas from three of my favourite BuJo bloggers: Kara a.k.a Boho Berry, Kim at Tiny Ray of Sunshine, and Laura the Badass Business Mum. I like the idea of having the space to be a bit more creative in this notebook as my blog is my “passion project” and this planner doesn’t have to be as functional as a day to day one.

    Charuca notebook "bullet journal" and A4 monthly planner sheers
    Blog planner – Charuca notebook “bullet journal” and A4 monthly planner sheers
  • Charuca A4 monthly planner sheets – I want the monthly calendars in my pretty notebook to reflect what has actually been posted on my blog. So I got some (matching 😉 ) disposable monthly planner sheets so I can “pre-plan” my blogging activity somewhere I don’t mind getting messed up with crossing-out and idea scribbles.

Anyway. This has turned out to be an incredibly long post, but hopefully you’re a stationery/organisation geek like me and you’ve enjoyed reading it!

What’s your 2018 planner set up like? How have you customised things to work well with your personal planning style and your day-to-day roles in life?

Henissi xx


13 comments / Add your comment below

  1. That’s so great! And your planners are all so cute! I’ve actually gone mostly digital, but I still love having a written to do list that I can check things off on when they’re done. Something so satisfying about that!

    1. Thanks! I am mostly digital for appointment since those types of plans can change a lot at the last minute. This time around I am just writing the “big things” in the monthly calendar spread, and I am going to try and keep the days in the weekly spreads for “to dos” or noting down important stuff that happened – bullet journal style.

  2. Thanks for sharing your journals and planners. I’m a big fan of writing things down and staying organized too. There’s just something about checking things of my list that makes me feel good!

  3. I love physical planners! I’m trying out a day planner this year (since August, since it’s an academic calendar!) But, the hourly thing isn’t really working out for me. It’s nice, but I tend to use my phone calendar instead for that sort of thing. I might have to go back to a weekly calendar when this one is all used up!

    1. Yep, the hourly thing can be too constraining. I found I never used it except to write WORK in big letters Mon-Fri since I work a standard office-worker 9-5. I then found that the space there was in the evenings wasn’t enough for me as most hourlies only go up to 9 or 10pm. I am a night owl, I would need up to midnight 😉

  4. Henissi, I love stationery (did you find these in shops in Valencia or through Amazon) and think you’ve come up with a great hybrid solution for your needs.

    Thanks for such a fun post!

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