It’s the beginning of a fresh new year and for once, I haven’t been spending hours and hours trying to find myself a planner! Thanks to Bynd Artisan, I’ve got myself covered this year. It’s also the 6th year in a row I’ve been using a planner, so I’ll quickly go through all my previous planners and share a bit of how my use of planners has evolved through the years too. 🙂

The newest addition to the productivity family

Over the years, I’ve faithfully stuck to using planners. Even when I joined my current company and began using Google Calendar, I still defaulted back to my planner on holiday or to just jot down random events. Hell, even when bullet journaling caught on and I was tempted to imitate (and probably grossly fail) the masterpieces on Pinterest, I stuck to my scrappy planners. When I was schooling, my planner was my entire life. It contained my goals, to-do, schedule, etc. That said, I’ve never been very organized about it — I just have my own organized mess.

From top, left to right: Mark & Spencer 2015, Knock My Life 2016, Artbox 2012, Mark & Spencer 2013 and 2014, Bynd Artisan 2017

All these planners now sit in a locked drawer chockfull of memories and day-to-day living.

My planners mostly have one common criteria that they must fulfil (and other planner formats that I bought to try have just been replaced very quickly): the use of a horizontal weekly layout, without lines. The content is usually organized in a way that’s easiest on the visuals or the mental processing, so the lines actually become constraints. I don’t write in short form either, so I need space horizontally for writing. I’ve tried Moleskine’s the Little Prince Weekly Planners but they didn’t work because they had the left page for weekly planning and the right page for note-taking, and the Kikki. K Weekly Planners were a vertical layout. Such expensive mistakes. As such, all my previous planners have the same layout as my current one, which I’ll talk about more below.

Four out of six of the above planners are pocket-sized (mostly the Mark & Spencer ones) and the 2016/2017 ones are larger. As you can see, I’d been pretty loyal to M&S — their planners have great paper, can be quite cute, and are spacious despite their size. In 2016 though, I bought my planner late and couldn’t locate it (I heard it’s only sold in certain stores nowadays) which resulted in the impulse Moleskine/Kikki.K buy above. I quickly dumped both for the much much cheaper Knock My Life diary, which I had a lot of trouble trying to purchase too. No regrets though, it was a good planner and served me well. It’s also the only Korean brand (next to Artbox) and the rest were European/American brands — which means public holidays are not labeled, etc. That doesn’t really bother me. Knock My Life planners can be started anytime throughout the year, and every familiar user knows that that means filling in dates on your own. Needless to say that resulted in a lot of correction liquid and many hours spent poring over it, but I’d still say it paid off.

Back to Bynd Artisan’s Agenda 2017. I have no idea how I came across this one, because all along, I was intending to get the Hustle Stone Planner — what with the paper made from stone and all that, I got sold on novelty. The prospect of customizing piqued my interest, and while Bynd Artisan provided me with some cursory stock photos when I made the request through Facebook Messenger, I don’t know what made me go straight down to their retail store (44 Jalan Merah Saga #01–54, near Chip Bee Gardens) that very afternoon. Once there, there was no turning back. They had shelves of covers, coloured rings, and add-ons like the snap button closure you see on mine. Lots of options for the ring ones, but for the hardbound ones, there were limited colour options for the weekly/monthly options. You could also choose to customize a notebook, sketchbook, whatever. You picked your fill, your cover, your ring colour, add-ons and personalized it at the end. The pricing is also pretty reasonable, with the ringbound being S$30 all in and the casebound ones at S$45 all in.

If you’re looking for a cheaper option and are into cute things, I really recommend Kikki. K 2017 A5 Weekly Planners. They’re a joy to look at!

I actually went to the store twice to check out customization options and spent 4 days thinking about what to write — hey, if I’m going to read it all year round it better be meaningful, right? Here’s the final product I ended up with:

 
Agility x Intent

A sleek planner for 2017 in dove-gray grained leather, with a royal red flap (rose gold button) and my current motto Agility x Intent foil stamped in rose gold on the front.

 

Chose this motto because I felt it was important that I remember to be agile (ie. be open to opportunities and pivoting if necessary), and to do all things with intent (ie. know why you do what you do, and remember it when things sway into the unexpected).

 

Deliberated on the add-ons for quite a while — the kind expert reminded me that having the flap at the top third of the book (yes, you can pick which third of the book you’d like to have your flap located) would give me space to hook a pen. Great idea! Currently have my favourite Uniball Signo 207 but to protect the leather I might eventually opt for my trusty Zebra Sarasa Clips instead.


The interior of the planner is made with off-white paper, which I love because it’s much easier on the eyes. Highlighter won’t go through the paper, but my Pentel Fude pens bled right through so I wouldn’t recommend Sharpies and the like. Overall, very smooth to the touch and the scent is gorgeous as well. Sparks joy, indeed!

On the front cover, I stuck a transparent corner pocket sticker that I got from Kyobo Bookstore in Seoul and placed an beautiful blue envelope containing some knick-knacks: a sheet of stickers I nicked from the old Kikki. K planner, a secret stash of BTS tabs (shhh, don’t judge) and some spare sticky notes. When I write reminders, or have a crazy to-do list for the day, I prefer to use sticky notes to get things organized a little.

This is followed by a cover page and a personal information page where you get to jot down personal details in case you’d ever like your book returned to you. Better still, don’t lose your planner. 🙂 They also include a yearly calendar and a list of public holidays around the world. I constantly lose track of public holidays (or maybe it’s because I hate them and actively try to forget they exist) so I highlighted that section. Flagged it out even with a dachshund magnetic bookmark from Kikki. K.

 

The inside of my planner, as I mentioned, is an organized mess. I have to-do lists, lists of things I’ve read/watched, craving tags, reminders, schedules and whatnot — you can imagine what’s in store for the rest of the book. I basically write whatever I want to and somehow make it all fit.

Spelt Royal Caribbean wrongly the first time round but I realized small errors like that are what makes my planner mine. 🙂

My 2016 planner had a large swath of empty space at the top, so I filled every week’s page with quotes last year. The habit seems to have stuck. I usually pick quotes straight out of my quote book and write whatever seems relevant, especially for special weeks like Chinese New Year (reminders not to flatter, exaggerate or gossip) and birthdays (a quote from Woodrow Wilson reminding us that our role on earth is to enrich). In the Notes segment I very often scribble song lyrics (Shadow by Louie if you were curious), lines of dialogue from plays I’ve read/watched, drama dialogue or poetry that I enjoy. As you can probably tell, a lot of Sodagreen, Jonathan Lee, David Whyte, Brecht, etc. go into my margins.

I round up the book with another corner pocket that holds a manila envelope to store the stickers that I raided from Kyobo. So cute and only 1,000–2,000 won per sheet (or three!)

 

That wraps up my planner — it definitely isn’t as organized as my GCal, which I live by, but lately I’ve been making it a point to sit down before bed or in the morning to draw up a list of top priorities and run through the flow of the day on my planner. I find it really helps me to get through the day in a very targeted manner, which spells well for my goals. 🙂 Speaking of goals, they’re not on my planner as they used to be — too much is in flux and I iterate the mid-level items every few weeks. The high-level goals are very clear to me and sound overly simplistic when summed up in a sentence, so I actively try to let it sit in my head. The more I think actively about it, the deeper my understanding and the more creative my solution, so I prefer doing that for now. My love for paper refuses to let me give up on a physical planner, and I know I’ll enjoy each book years down the road, so I’m willing to put in extra effort penning things down now.

Hope my little sharing helps you to stay targeted, productive and purposeful in using a planner this year!

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