I’ve been using my Happy Planner for a few months now – I regularly post pictures of it on social media. People have been asking me how I use it, so I thought I’d write a post.
Oh how I love my Happy Planner!
These are words that once upon a time would have been very unlikely for me to say. I had a good memory, meaning a regular appointments diary was perfectly sufficient to help me organise my life. I am also very creative, and thought planning my life would dull that creativity, stifle my spontaneity.
My view started to change last year. My memory is not what it used to be (my short-term memory in particular is now dreadful). Whether that is due to grief, trauma, medication, a combination of the three I don’t know. Whatever the reason I had work, my blog, and Hugo’s Legacy I realised I needed something to help me feel more on top of my life and try and keep all those balls in the air.
I love Instagram and I love pretty stationery, and noticed pictures of all sorts of different planners. I began to realise that planning need not be boring, and in fact it could be another way of indulging my passion for stationery (as if I needed another excuse…). I spent a while researching the various planners that are available, reading the various blogs extoling their virtues and comparing the types.
Eventually I settled on the Happy Planner. Planning is HUGE in the States, with a wide variety of choice; my decision was based partly on the price (£24.99 for an 18 month planner) and the fact I could get it in the UK (from Hey Little Magpie), saving on extortionate postage costs from across the pond.
There are various covers available. Each cover has a slightly different decorative artwork inside, but besides that the layout is the same whatever cover you choose. I chose ‘Good Things Are Going to Happen’ because it’s so bright and colourful.
So, what’s it like? It’s A4 size, with laminated front and back covers for durability. It’s a disc-bound system (with cute heart shapes), meaning it’s easy to move pages and inserts around. I’ve upgraded to the larger discs because I added lots more inserts.
Each month is separated with a divider, and starts with a month-to-view spread.
Each week is spread over two pages.
Something that attracted me to the Happy Planner is the ability to easily personalise the planner so while every day is divided in to morning, afternoon, and evening, it doesn’t mean I have to use it that way.
The notes section on the left hand side of each weekly spread is useful for my overall to-do list for that week.
I prefer to divide the sections in to ‘Must Do’, ‘Appointments’, and ‘Today Was…’ using washi tape to make the sections distinct from each other. I tend to use a bit of a washi colour theme for each week, or a decorative theme – flowers or stars for example.
Dividing the day this way helps my beleagured brain because writing what I absolutely must do that day helps stop me forgetting to do things, and on a low day helps me focus on what I really must do rather than getting overwhelmed. Some days my ‘must do’ tasks might include regular life stuff like errands and chores, while other days my ‘must do’ is a reminder to relax – or to simply survive. I am guilty of being very tough on myself so even on the tough days I can feel a sense of accomplishment by checking back and seeing yep, I survived.
The section for appointments is self-explanatory. I created the ‘Today was…’ section as a bit of a brief journal, with the idea that recording my feelings and emotions on a particular day might be a constructive way of establishing a pattern or a cause and effect related to the day’s activities. I write only a few words, sometimes using a sticker to embellish and emphasise. One particularly awful day was represented by a grey cloud sticker.
Talking of stickers, I have been loving decorating my planner with all sorts of stickers and embracing my inner child. Stickers especially for the Happy Planner are available – they’re the perfect size for the boxes – but there are so many fab stickers out there it’s fun to just use whatever takes your fancy, it doesn’t matter if they don’t quite fit.
That said, I have got a few accessories that are specific to the Happy Planner, including little card inserts like in the picture above, and note paper. One frustration of the system is that the disc system means that you need pages that are punched with the little mushroom-shaped hole. You can get a special punch, or use a craft knife, but it’s not the end of the world.
If like me you would prefer not to risk cutting off your fingers for the sake of your planner you can find bits and bobs by shopping around. For example, I found a little Etsy shop where you can get handmade accessories for the Happy Planner such as these placemarkers.
With all the dividers and inserts, the planner is pretty big. It usually lives on my home desk, and I take it to work too. Realistically, you’d be unlikely to carry it around with you but it’s more of a device to help you organise yourself and your bigger picture anyway.
There is a snazzy Happy Planner carry case available, but this plastic pouch I found in Wilko’s for a couple of pounds it’s perfect with a big section for the planner and a small pocket for some pens, washi, and stickers.
So, that’s my view on the Happy Planner and a little overview of how I use mine. With the opportunity to be creative, and make my planner look pretty planning doesn’t feel like a chore.
I’ve seen on social media a few people getting a bit stressed about how to do their layouts but I don’t think there is a ‘right’ or a ‘wrong’ way to use it. Certainly when you want it to look pretty you don’t want to make a ‘mistake’ but the best way is just to go for it and have fun. I use stickers and inserts, washi tape and a calligraphy pen…and there are always more stickers, Tipp-Ex, and more washi tape if things don’t work out right.
Do you use a planner? Which one do you have, and how do you use it?