A Traveling Gal

TN PictureIn January we Wickeds discussed the planners we use in our lives. I had just invested in an Ink and Volt planner, which worked well, for a while. I used in in combination with a Bullet Journal that was less of a planner, more of a journal, a single place to capture notes, thoughts, ideas, and lists.  I love the bullet journal idea–analog in a digital world. I am not a visual artist, so it wasn’t beautifully laid out, but I tried. The “daily recap” habit also didn’t happen. But in January I committed to using a system for this very full year (writing, work, and life), so I had to move to a second bullet journal (actually a Leuchtturm 1917) in March. That’s when it all fell apart. I lost control of my index. I started jotting notes on post its. I had a mid year system breakdown. It wasn’t pretty.

A few weeks ago someone linked to this post by Kara Benz aka BoHo Berry, a bullet journaler I followed in Instagram. She announced she was moving to a Traveler’s Notebook. I read the post, watched the video, and sent a text to my best friend, Tracy. “I think I found the holy grail.”

Traveler’s notebooks are collections of individual notebooks that are all kept in one folder by elastics. Before I bought the folder in the picture (and indulgence that I LOVE), I took the system out for a trail run. I bought four A5 cahiers, some elastics, and used binder clips to hack a old notebook to see if I liked the system. One notebook was for work, one was for writing, one was for my personal life, and one was for a trip I am taking in August. I was sold, so I decided to take the plunge and get a nice notebook.

Julie's Traveler's notebook shown by the side.This system works is organized chaos, which suits me. In my personal notebook, I make lists, copy ideas, write quotes, keep track of my workout and meditation goals. In my writing notebook, I have been plotting, asking questions of my characters, fleshing things out, doing research, noodling ideas, building up steam in preparation for writing. Work is work–I’ve been using the bullet journal techniques to keep track of the dozens of projects we are working on in preparation for next season. And in my trip notebook, I’ve been writing down timelines, confirmation numbers, packing lists, agendas. On the trip I will journal, add ticket stubs and postcards, and have it as a keepsake.

The nice thing is that each notebook stands on its own. Once my trip is done, the notebook is removed. Plotting a new book–it gets its own notebook. I’m teaching a class in the fall–new notebook. I’ve also been exploring inserts. BFF Tracy sent me a link to this insert, a calendar that helps you learn Tarot. I mean, come on!

Now, lest you think I am the only person who bullet journals in a travelers notebook, or thinks about it, there is a Facebook group for us. Etsy enables us in a million different ways. And then, there’s Chic Sparrow

Friends, have you ever tried using a traveler’s notebook? How are you on your planner journey mid year?

27 Thoughts

  1. When I met Steve uncountable moons ago, he was using a Daytimer. I was shocked that anyone could be so organized. When the time came to make a decision regarding our future as a couple, I had visions of that Daytimer attacking me if I forgot to do something or didn’t record my important girly stuff. After we were married I got my own Daytimer which was a priceless aid to my formal education. I used it until the internet came along during graduate school and used online calendars provided by the school’s IT department. I always think about going back to paper in some way and have started and stopped several journals. I have one I like now. It has a beautiful cover, but after only a year or less, the paper is turning yellow. I expect my pages to start crumbling any day, and there will go my writing notes. Scrivener is my new writing aid. It’s not emotionally satisfying to use, but it’s great.

    1. Reine, my WIP (due Aug 1) is back in Scrivener, after being marked up on paper. Do you edit online? I’ve tried, but can’t.

      I’m finding writing by hand is helping ideas form in a different way. I still am a digital gal in many ways, but have rediscovered the joy of pen to paper. Mostly it is to capture things I am afraid I’ll forget.

      I used to be a Franklin Covey gal. That was a lot to haul around! I still have a Daytimer notebook an old boss gave me.

      1. Editing is a bit complicated, but I keep trying for a once-over firstie. But yes, writing it down by hand, especially for certain areas and when on the run, that is smart. Digital is great till it gets zapped. Aug 1 there you go!

  2. I almost spit out my coffee when I read “mid year breakdown”. LOL. Sorry, I can imagine it wasn’t pleasant for you. I’ve never used a bullet journal or a traveler’s journal, watched YouTube videos on them. I’m a Filofax kinda gal who has just purchased her first Erin Condren 18 month planner. Not sure if I’ll continue with EC, I like the ability to have sections for notes and lists, similar to the multi-notebooks in the Traveler’s Journal. It’s great that you found something that is working for you. That’s the important thing.

    1. We shall see. If you’re a planner person, and it seems that you are having invested in EC, you know how it feels when the planner wheels come off the bus.

      There are great inserts for Filofaxes as well on Etsy. Not to enable…

  3. I don’t do hardly any of that stuff. I keep a Google calendar and a paper calendar, and next to my computer is the notebook where I make my daily to-do lists. White board above desk keeps long-term goals (as does Google calendar). So far it’s all working for me! I love the idea of your trip notebook, though.

  4. Hmmm. Plan? Well, I have a five-year paper calendar where I write down the big stuff–conference dates, doctor appointments, family birthdays–but day-to-day I just have a to-do list. I buy a daily planner every year, with hours of each day marked off from 7AM on, but I use it to record what I accomplish related to writng and research, not what I plan to do, as in writing “hand revise Liss #12 Ch. 9 sc. 3” at 8 with an arrow going down to when I stopped working on that. Later in the day there will be a slot with “corrections to computer” since there is a limit on how long I can read my scribbles after I make them. I also write down the word count on the WIP at the end of the computer session (not word count for the day–I don’t care about that, only how close I am to the minimum length in the contract), when and how long I exercised, if I took an afternoon nap, my blood pressure readings, who I sent emails to, and times spent grocery shopping or in other non writing activities that took up a chunk of time, so I know later exactly where the day went. Each book I finish reading for pleasure or research is recorded too. The daily planner is really my version of a diary. I do find, though, that I hate leaving too much white space on any given day. Makes me feel like a slacker. For plotting (not that I do much of that) and general notes on a book or a character, I usually write those right on the computer, but I also print a copy and keep a three-ring binder containing everything related to each project, including the most recent version of the text. So that’s what works for me as a full-time writer who works at home, but I can see that it would not work well for anyone also holding down another job. Julie, your system sounds ideal for your situation.

    1. What a fascinating way to use your planner, Kathy! It sounds like an intriguing way to be accountable to yourself. I may just give that a try since I love to use my planners but I don’t find I do well forcing myself to account for all the time slots in a day they seem to contain. Thanks for the great idea!

    2. Kathy, this is great and I am going to adopt parts of it to my paper planner. Part of this is also a quest to remember tidbits I’ve been losing. Like quotes, fleeting ideas, etc.

      Again, love this response!

      1. Those fleeting ideas! Last night I had a great idea while reading in bed, then fell asleep as I reached inside the bedside table drawer for a pencil. No of course I didn’t remember it.

  5. I just can’t do a paper journal. Can’t. I start and I go okay for a while and then…nothing.

    But I use Evernote for capturing ideas. I have a running to-do list there with checkboxes. I like that I can use Evernote from my phone (an app), my work computer (the website), or my home Mac (an app) and everything syncs.

    I use Reminders on my phone for anything time sensitive.

    1. I know a lot of people swear by Evernote. I keep meaning to give it a try but I haven’t gotten around to it. You’ve inspired me to jot down the idea in my planner!

  6. Organized chaos is a great description of my personal style, too. I’ll be spending this rainy day investigating Bullet Journals and Traveler’s Journals. Thanks!

  7. Oh, Julie! You have touched on one of my favorite topics! I have a Traveler’s Notebook which I took to China. It was a wonderful way to capture all the little ticket stubs and thoughts from each day. I love how it expands to accomodate more bits that need adding to it and has the elastic band to hold it all in place. I can absolutely see how the separate books in your cover would make such sense in your life. I hope you have found exactly what you are lookign for in a planner! Also, thanks for including the Tarot downloads! What a lot of fun that is!

  8. That looks like a great system. I tend to use my computer’s Outlook for scheduling and ability to print it out. I also have a “commonplace book” that I carry which contains notes, ideas, character sketches, and so on. I have carried one for years but didn’t know it had a specific name until recently. Much of the commonplace book info ends up being entered into my computer “notebook ” which is categorized like a sectioned notebook with tabs. I do have a small calendar in my handbag to keep me thinking months ahead when I am out. (Appointment on Tuesday or Thursday in 6 months!) I also use lots of sticky arrows to remind me to look into this page or that in my commonplace book!

  9. I always keep a journal when we travel. It’s part of what I use when I put our scrapbooks together afterwards. I keep it right in my Levenger notebook that I always have with me and where I keep all my notes on everything, in chrono order, separated by monthly calendar tabs. I have done this for more than twenty years now. I used to archive the whole thing, but I’ve run out of room and now archive only selected pages. After the trip, I often take the trip journal pages out and store them separately.

  10. I think I would love an organizer – once i moved into it. However, I don’t want to take the time to get everything posted. Fortunately, my life seems to move along okay with stuff in my head. And I’ve found a way to remember dates for book reviews I’ve promised, and that’s the only one I’ve had trouble with since I usually have several review dates established a couple of months in the future.

    1. Mark, I don’t know how you keep track of it all. This system may work well for you, since you can start a part at a time. Keep track of books, but also races, etc. I used to be able to keep it all in my head, but no more.

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