My one sheet planner page, designed to keep track of all the important events in my day-to-day life.


While I’ve more than successfully transitioned from paper books to ebooks, I haven’t been as enthusiastic about giving up paper calendars and to-do lists. Paper lets me create attractive planner pages that I can customize to fit my life. Apps can’t do that.

But apps are convenient, shiny-new, and have the promise of analytics. So I bounce back and forth, designing a paper system, then buying an app only to abandon it for more paper.

Here is a quick look at some of the paper systems I’ve designed and abandoned.

This colorful sheet below has space to capture when I wake up and go to sleep, what I ate (the big morning-afternoon-evening spaces), my energy levels (the 1 – 5 scale beside the food spaces), my mood, what I spent money on, any alcohol I consumed, exercise, medications, the weather, and things that made me happy. I liked this system, but could never remember to take the notebook with me as I moved across campus.

My one sheet planner page, designed to keep track of all the important events in my day-to-day life.

I based the following weekly calendars on pages from a Martha Stewart discbound planner. The original pages worked, but Martha’s pages had a mini calendar in the sidebar that I never used. My solution was to make a shopping list in the sidebar, pre-filled with a few staples. I perforated the page so I could remove the list and take it to the store. The back of the list (shown on the third page) had additional blank lines. The page also had a grid space for notes.

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The last system, the MiniDex (mini index) is my most successful system. All the cards were business card size, so that I could fit everything into my notoriously small handbags easily. I bought metal business card holders to carry the system in, and even bought an ID lanyard so I could carry a few spare cards around my neck while running across campus. I used this system daily for almost six months during one of the busiest times of my career. The calendar cards were especially fun. I printed them front and back on business card “tent” cards, which allowed me to carry an academic year on a few cards.

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