SYW238 – Crafty Plans and Planners

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Reflection is a natural next step as we start to wind down the year and think towards 2024. In this casual, extended episode with Alissa Williams, we share observations on our creative processes, thoughts on emerging priorities, and a range of insights about how we’ll be using our planners in the new year. Our conversation includes helpful tips for getting things done as well as honest discussion about our choices.

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[00:01:58] Welcome to Scrapbook Your Way, the show that explores the breadth of ways to be a memory keeper today. I’m your host, Jennifer Wilson, owner of Simple Scrapper and author of The New Rules of Scrapbooking.

This is episode 238. In this episode I’m catching up with my friend and accountability partner Alissa Williams about our memory keeping priorities, planner choices for 2024, and strategies for staying on track in daily life.

And… make sure you stick around after our conversation for an update on my planner stack for the new year!

[00:02:35] Jennifer: Hey, Alissa, how are you today?

[00:02:36] Alissa: Hi Jennifer, I'm doing great.

[00:02:39] Jennifer: For those who maybe haven't listened to a previous episode with you, can you share a little bit about yourself?

[00:02:45] Alissa: Sure. I live in central Illinois with my husband and two tween, teen daughters and our dog who I'm hoping does not bark during this recording. Um, and I am a librarian.

[00:02:59] Jennifer: I was thinking about this yesterday, if I was going to introduce you, how would I introduce you? I was going to say you were a director of a small public library and what were the other things? Yeah, you have a daughter. You have two daughters, one that's slightly older than Emily and one that is slightly younger and you live about 90 minutes from me.

[00:03:18] Alissa: That is also true. All those things are also true in ways to describe me. I'm very organized. I mean, that came up this week. I got a phone call from an acquaintance who was like, I'm looking for someone to talk to our group about organizing tips and tricks. And I thought of you and I was like, I'm so flattered. I would love to talk to your group about organizing.

[00:03:38] Jennifer: You also mentioned in another context that you think you should be a professional organizer in your alternate life.

[00:03:46] Alissa: Yes, or my retirement life. Like that could be my part time retirement gig when I'm done with libraries. Like I could go into people's houses and boss them. I mean organize them.

[00:03:56] Jennifer: I think you'd really enjoy that.

[00:03:58] Alissa: I do too.

[00:03:59] Jennifer: So let's chat about what is exciting us right now. So let's talk about life first. What is exciting you in your everyday life?

[00:04:08] Alissa: Well, we're recording this on the first day of Sunday football and I have snacks going in my crock pots and I am very excited to watch three football games today. Which I know is seems incongru congrueness? I can't say that word. Um, with my book reading librarian persona, but I love to watch football and my mom and I have our own little football pool, so it makes it even more fun.

[00:04:36] Jennifer: I find that humorous as always. Um, I've been told that there is a Bears game today that I should expect that to be on the TV at a certain time in late afternoon. It's like the second game of the day. So I just, I told Steve sometime earlier this week that I'm going to be a good sport and go rah rah, go sports ball and support him in watching football and not try to get him to watch something else. So mostly it was I get to make football snacks.

[00:05:07] Alissa: I'm here for the snacks, but I am very excited about the games today because I get to watch several. I pick a lot of West Coast teams because I grew up on the West Coast. And so I don't often get to see them because of the way the, I don't subscribe to like the NFL package or anything where I could see everything.

[00:05:23] Alissa: But, um, but today I, my number one team that I root for the San Francisco 49ers, I get to see them at the noon game because they're playing, I don't remember who they're playing, but I get to see them today. So I'm very excited.

[00:05:35] Jennifer: I love this for you.

[00:05:38] Alissa: I need to make a page about it. Really. I haven't done that yet.

[00:05:41] Jennifer: Yes. Yes. That'd be so fun. That'd be fun for sure. So right now I feel kind of guilty with this one, but I think other, many other people who have active children or active people in their lives will understand we are in a two and a half month window of basically the whole year in which Emily is not on a sports team and I am appreciative that this comes at kind of the most fun time of year.

[00:06:08] Jennifer: We might actually be able to go to some fall festivals and just do other things besides going to games and practices. So, uh, I'm, I know this will change when she gets to high school, but it just feels like a slice of calm amidst a busy season of life.

[00:06:27] Alissa: Well, I am excited for you for this particular season because I am also, I am entering my busy season. So, um, the next eight weeks are our prime volleyball season and then some other things going on in our life. And so the next eight weeks are gonna be especially busy for us. And so you get to sit back and chill and I get to go, go, go.

[00:06:48] Jennifer: So. Which is Pumpkin Festival this weekend or is it next weekend?

[00:06:52] Alissa: It starts Wednesday, Wednesday through Saturday.

[00:06:56] Jennifer: And are you looking forward to that?

[00:06:58] Alissa: Always. Yes, all the pumpkin things, all the volunteering, all the community coming together. It's gonna be so fun. I'm in fact later today, I need to I plan my outfits. Because I have an assortment of festival shirts that I wear during festival week. And I like to have my daily outfit plus the weather is going to be perfect for festival this week. Might even need to break out a sweatshirt.

[00:07:22] Jennifer: I love your enthusiasm for all the things, especially the things that you really love.

[00:07:26] Alissa: Oh, thanks.

[00:07:27] Jennifer: So what about scrapbooking? What is exciting you right now? Inside of your hobby.

[00:07:32] Alissa: Well, I am excited because I've been talking to people inside the Simple Scrapper community and some scrappy friends of mine. And so I'm pondering and probably with your encouragement going to be leading a, um, immersion next year related to using up our Story kits. Um, I don't subscribe to Ali Edwards Story kits anymore, but I have several, uh, uh, maybe two dozen. I don't know how.

[00:08:00] Jennifer: I think that qualifies as more than several.

[00:08:03] Alissa: I have many, many story kits that, um, need to be used or broken apart. And so I've been planning what that might look like and how to do it in a way that both is, provides inspiration and kind of a more general way, but also then in a specific way among certain types of stories or the themes.

[00:08:29] Jennifer: Yes. I'm looking forward to that because I have my kits in a similar place. I would say that my first two years of kits that I subscribed to, I broke apart at some point. Um, and it was in the era when everybody was breaking apart their chipboard. Um, and so I did that and it's organized by shape. So I have like circles and squares and rectangles and banners and flags. And I really appreciate that. Um, cause I do pull those out regularly, but I have, I would say maybe like 20 of my kits that towards the end of my subscription. Cause I did unsubscribe. I think it was last year. Um, It was about the time which they kind of transitioned the format a little bit, and I needed to make some decisions about, okay, are there stories that I want to tell with these?

[00:09:17] Jennifer: I did actually tell one recently, um, but then I probably need to, to start breaking them apart too. So I'm looking forward to your immersion. I think it's going to be fun and really productive for, for everyone.

[00:09:27] Alissa: Yeah, because it is challenging because when she switched to having more of the outside the pocket six by eight papers and stuff that required kind of I think a new storage system for people. And also some people weren't sure exactly how they, didn't want to do outside the pocket. So just trying to use those in creative ways and there's a lot of inspiration on Instagram. Um, and, uh, I particularly like using them to tell stories in more of a 12 by 12 traditional format.

[00:09:56] Alissa: And I've found, I've done several layouts that way, and I've found lots of ideas. So I think that will be fun and just, um. Thinking about like, when are you done? Like how many stories is the right number of stories to tell from a particular kit theme? You know, maybe for some of them it's only two for you, and then you can, you know, like you said, break that apart into your existing systems.

[00:10:20] Alissa: I mean, I also broke apart my chipboard from kits that I had left over and I have a organizer from scrapbook. com where I store kit cards, which have come in handy for other projects that I do. So just talking about all the different ways to use up the product and then what to do when you may want to not see it in that themed way anymore.

[00:10:45] Jennifer: Yes, yes. The layout that I just made, I actually cut apart a four by six card. It had kind of three homes for stories that were numbered and I cut them out to make kind of little journaling tags, like more like a die cut piece. And I don't think that's something I'd really done before. Of course, I'd seen others do that, but now I'm looking at all of my 3x4 and 4x6 journal cards in terms of what can I cut out of this to, to make a shape and not use it in its, you know, squared off format.

[00:11:17] Alissa: Yeah, there are really a lot of creative ideas out there and just thinking about the products differently is something that I want to encourage others to do as well.

[00:11:25] Jennifer: So I am particularly excited about how I will approach my December Daily Project this year. And we actually, this is on our agenda for later, so I'm not going to go into detail. Um, but I think this is part of this particular season of, I don't know, it's life and work and scrapbooking all together for me. That this time of year I'm really thinking about what's important to me, what excites me, what's meaningful, and then also how can I share that same perspective with our community. Because we're doing you know, we're deep, deep into our planning for next year. We start the process in July, kind of big picture, doing surveys, asking questions, and now we're actually making decisions and, and getting things ready. And so I love the fall for that. I just love the kind of that sense of starting fresh, new possibilities, and how can we even start taking the energy we have right now, and putting it into play. We don't have to wait for 2024 if we're feeling a need to make a shift. Um, and so that's kind of just where I am right now. In all the things like in my personal life and in my work life and how I'm approaching the community.

[00:12:50] Alissa: Yeah, I'm excited for what's going to come next year. And, um, I like that way of thinking about it, that you don't need to wait for January one to make a shift.

[00:12:59] Jennifer: So let's shift gears here and chat about bucket list stories for a moment here. Um, we're actually doing an immersion during this particular journey. I think when this episode comes out, we'll be right in the middle of it. Just diving back into. How do we tell bucket list stories? How do we identify them? And then actually just finding some accountability around getting them done. So what are you thinking about these days in terms of your bucket list stories?

[00:13:27] Alissa: Well, this relates to something we're going to talk about a little later in our conversation. Um, but I have been thinking more about, , kind of the gaps that might exist in my albums. And looking at older photos and kind of telling some overview or compilation stories, if you will, of some early elementary times that my girls had. Like a compilation of all the school musicals and what school musical looks like. And, um, I host this event at the beginning of every school year called the Blessing Breakfast. And I should do like a, just a page of different pictures through the years of that and how that came to be and my role in it and stuff. So there's a lot of like stories that are, I guess, I don't want to say repetitive, but that have happened regularly that I need to do, that I want to do more of a compilation of. I don't want to, you know, I'm not going to make a page for every year that we've had the school musical. Um, especially since I don't really like the school musical as it was prior to this past school year.

[00:14:31] Alissa: Um, so, um, but I do want to at least have a page that documents, you know, how the girls felt when they were in first, second and third grade and got to sing on the risers and do the actions and stuff.

[00:14:47] Jennifer: I love that. I love that you're kind of thinking how we can tell stories across time. Because sometimes those are the some of the most like fun and meaningful pages to make. They invite some like creativity with how do we incorporate lots of photos or longer journaling or bits of journaling across the page. And so I'm excited to see what you do with those stories. I have been thinking about and part of this comes from what we're going to talk about again with December scrapbooking. That I want to do a compilation album of the years between when Steve and I started dating and when Emily was born. Because my first December Daily year was when I was pregnant. And so that was, there was definitely like kind of that underlying, um, context to it, but there was a lot of, uh, blended family stories that came from those first few years.

[00:15:42] Jennifer: Um, both, you know, happy stories, difficult stories. And so I think I want to do a six by eight album that just documents what was real for us during those first few years. I know the photos aren't that great, but I think I will try to supplement with lots of fun products that I have in my stash. So I'm really trying to do a combination of how can I use up more of the products in my stash that are December oriented, along with kind of filling this gap in my December storytelling.

[00:16:20] Alissa: I just think that is such a great idea. And I want to emphasize, you know, we sometimes forget like you don't necessarily need a photo to tell a story. Or you can use, there's so much fun December product that could just be the focus of that page. You know, I recently did a little All About Me mini album in that A to Z format that Cathy Zielske had taught so many years ago. And someone was asking, well, how many, did you have a picture for everything? And I said, no, actually that was the fun part was not the pressure to find a picture to go with every letter. I only use like 12 photos throughout the whole thing. But I love having the journaling and, and these certain things documented for this particular time and slice of life. And so I just. Yeah, I want to encourage you to not feel so pressured by your bad photos or just use small photos or, you know, all that stuff because it's really more about the story than it is about the pictures.

[00:17:22] Jennifer: That also just jogs an idea of, I don't know if I've ever seen anybody do like a December A to Z type album. I think that would be a really fun approach.

[00:17:32] Alissa: Oh, I'm going to write that down. I love that.

[00:17:35] Jennifer: To, to documenting, you know, what happens during this month, whether you're doing it live or on a past year. And it's a kind of a very story first way to think about it.

[00:17:46] Alissa: Oh, I'm seriously writing that down right now because. That's really, I, that, okay, well, we'll talk about that more when we get to December Stories, but I like that a lot.

[00:17:55] Jennifer: So this is one of our, as, as you can probably tell, this is a casual check in episode. Where Alissa and I are kind of providing an overview of everything that we are talking about in everyday life. We are frequent texters of each other down to good morning, have you woken up yet? Um, but a lot of what we talk about is kind of scrapbooking and productivity and planning because we're kind of nerds about these things. So, um, if you've listened to previous episodes, you know all this. Um, but we have quite a number of topics today, and I'm really excited to dive into these because we have some, I think some clarity.

[00:18:35] Jennifer: But I'm hoping we can find more clarity around some of these things as we go forward. So the first item is just kind of the way we provide accountability for each other. Um, we have this like checklist format where, and I've shared this with our members and some of the members use it now. We have like the little pointer finger for like a to do item, you know, the check, check mark.

[00:19:00] Jennifer: The green check mark emoji for finished. And then we use an open red circle for in progress. And then of course a big red X, if we decided that is falling off our list today. So how do you think that aspect of our life is going?

[00:19:14] Alissa: Um, I think it's going well. I don't, I think we use it more now on the weekends or if we have a particularly busy day or um, if we're trying to get started, I think sometimes we use each other for like, um, motivation as well. Like, okay, I have a frog to eat or okay, I can't get started this morning. So we'll be like, okay, 30 minutes. What are you going to do? Go and then report back. Um, I find just using the check. I find the checklist more helpful on the weekends. Um.

[00:19:45] Jennifer: I think that's where we have longer lists for sure. Of a variety of items.

[00:19:50] Alissa: Yes, and I'm really, um, I'm really trying to strike this balance of doing all the things, but also relaxing and enjoying my weekend. And so I find the checklist can help me balance those two things, like yesterday, a Saturday, I always do my laundry on Saturday. If you know me, that's just what I do. I don't understand people who have longer laundry struggles because I do mine on Saturday and it's all done and I do the whole thing A to Z.

[00:20:18] Alissa: Um, and, but yesterday we had a service project for my daughter's volleyball team. In the morning we were going on the pumpkin pedal, which is a police escorted five mile bike ride through town, which is my favorite thing because they stop traffic at the major lights for you. And I just. I'm like, yay!

[00:20:36] Alissa: Hello people, you have to stop because I'm riding my bike very slowly. Um, because I haven't ridden my bike all year. Uh, but, and then I had a fundraiser to go to in the evening. So I had pockets of time to do things, um, but we had a lot of activities. And then on days we don't have activities, you know, I want to be productive too, um, and not just be a total sloth.

[00:20:58] Alissa: So I find the list, um, really helps kind of balance, find, help me find the balance between those two things. Um, there's this book called Happier Hour, about making your time more fun and, but also being productive. And she talks about imagining your weekends like a vacation and like what does a vacation feel like to you?

[00:21:20] Alissa: So, and for me, it's always like reading and a lot of time that includes scrapbooking. I've gotten really good at scrapbooking on the weekends and stuff.

[00:21:28] Jennifer: I will definitely link that book. And also, is that something we should consider for book club next year?

[00:21:33] Alissa: Oh, that's an interesting, I like that idea. Perhaps we should. Yes.

[00:21:39] Jennifer: Okay. I will investigate on that. And before we move on, I have to point out here. that you do have watch football on your list for today.

[00:21:47] Alissa: That's my relaxing activity. Recording this podcast is my to do activity. But I also have, you know, I have to do, I'm really trying because like I mentioned earlier, I'm going into this very busy season. And so Sundays are usually the day, Sundays are the days where I do what is called process mail. So I put, it's kind of like that Sunday basket if you listen to Organize 365.

[00:22:08] Alissa: But, you know, I put everything in an inbox during the week and then on Sundays I go through each of the papers and, you know, either act on them or file them or pay the bill or whatever is required. And you know that can take me between 15 to 45 to an hour depending on how much is in there and what types of things.

[00:22:30] Alissa: Like I'm looking at my basket right now and I have the labels for a J. Crew factory item I need to return. I have pictures that I need to file. I have our tickets for Pumpkin Festival that I need to like put on the fridge so the family can access them. So, um, I have stuff, I'm going to watch football, but I'm also, like, I'm probably not going to watch the 3:30 game because it's going to be the Bears and meh. Um, so, you know, during that time, or what, you know, I'll process my basket. I need to do what I'm, I created this, like, Sunday prep list of, like, what's the minimum, if I could do this every week, like, what's the minimum things I need to do to make me feel like I'm ready for the week, especially when I'm trying to stay on top of a busy season.

[00:23:21] Jennifer: Can you tell us what's on that list?

[00:23:24] Alissa: Yes, I can, because I have it right here. Um, I want to get my email inbox to zero. I want to plan my lunches for work. So I'm trying to get better on the days that I don't have a lunch meeting to actually pack my lunch. And so, and since we're in this weird season where we're not all eating dinner as a family every night because of my daughter's sports schedule, dinners are kind of weird right now.

[00:23:50] Alissa: So even if it's just, I make what I call school lunch, which is a ham sandwich, carrots with ranch, and a bag of chips. Because that's like what I packed when I was in school. But just knowing, okay, am I gonna have leftovers? Am I gonna have school lunch? What's that gonna look like? We have a whiteboard in our kitchen that I update every week.

[00:24:09] Alissa: I try to pull my outfit for Monday, so that's one less decision I have to make on Monday morning. And then like a 10 minute tidy of our kitchen and living room and foyer surfaces is what I have planned for my Sunday prep. I haven't actually done this. I just made this up I think last week and I did part of it, but not all of it. So.

[00:24:28] Jennifer: I appreciate you being kind of open and transparent about that because I'm also kind of in awe because I feel really successful if I can do some meal prep for my lunches.

[00:24:39] Alissa: More, for me it's more about making the decision and then do I have the my husband usually grocery shops on Monday. So it's like okay if I'm gonna have school lunch or maybe I want to have a bag salad one day or usually the bag of salads lasts me two days. So it's like, okay, I have two days where I need to have lunch, you know, so I'll have him get me a bag salad and whatnot or like looking in the fridge like we have a lot of spring greens left from a teacher lunch I did on Friday.

[00:25:06] Alissa: So like, okay, maybe I'll have, you know, a salad one day, but what do I need for that salad? So yeah, just trying to think about it. Instead of that morning being like, oh, I have to pack my lunch or what should I do? And especially the second week of the month is really busy for me. Um, I have like meetings every evening and I don't want to pack my lunch at seven o'clock.

[00:25:29] Alissa: So I like to, like, some of this, like, I might not get completely to inbox zero but I am going to try and get close. So, I want to just try this for a few weeks and see how I feel about it. Um, so, it's, It's an aspiration. It's aspirational, Alissa, not actual Alissa.

[00:25:49] Jennifer: Well, I think there's something really important about, you said, I don't have to get to inbox zero, I just have to head that direction. Because I consider myself a ongoing recovering perfectionist, and I definitely have some all or nothing thinking around, well if I can't do that to the 100 percent perfect, I'm probably not going to start.

[00:26:11] Jennifer: And so I'm really working on investing a certain amount of time in an activity, saying I'm going to do this for whether it's 5 minutes or 1 hour, and I'm going to move this forward and not necessarily think about the completionist aspects of it. Because that tends to mess with my brain, whereas time I can do. And so I've really, really been thinking about that and trying to use that to feel more successful. Because we all have lists of lots of things we would like to be doing, and for me, sometimes that feels so overwhelming. And so I'm really trying to think, okay, I'm going to spend one hour this day on this particular domain. And that's what I can do, because I know I can do that. And, um, this is a work in progress for me, but , I'm excited kind of anticipatorily to share the next time we chat on how that is going.

[00:27:03] Alissa: Yeah, I think time is really an important way to look at, you know, I'm going to spend 30 minutes moving this forward and see where I get it. And sometimes it's just not realistic. Like, I had left in my inbox last week, so I started, I did a little bit over the holiday weekend to try to get to inbox zero, but I was like, okay, I've got to remember to go run this errand, or I need to deal with this tomorrow during business hours or whatever. And so those emails sat in there, um, which was okay because I processed through them during the week.

[00:27:32] Jennifer: So let's jump into another topic now. We are going to talk about Crop and Create. I was just inventorying the layouts I still need to make for my previous Crop and Create events. So maybe we need to like start by stepping back. So Crop and Create is an event hosted by Scrapbook And Cards Today. They started this event series because of the pandemic and have actually pivoted towards doing it because in person events, um, have become so incredibly cost prohibitive.

[00:28:02] Jennifer: And so we have done a number of these together. Um, I think in spring we, we wanted to do it together, but then there was some time conflicts. So we ended up not doing it together. You have since done almost all the layouts, and I have realized I barely got started.

[00:28:18] Alissa: Well, the only reason I've done all the layouts is because I went out on a retreat and I took the box with me and I just did everything. Um, so, I mean, that's the only reason I've done all of spring is because I've been pretty good at scheduling these retreats for myself and making that a priority. Ah, but yeah, I, um, I am in my copying phase of scrapbooking.

[00:28:42] Jennifer: Mm hmm.

[00:28:43] Alissa: And so I'm either doing Crop and Create, where I copy, you know, make their layouts according to their techniques, or I'm doing Shimelle's Best of Both Worlds, where I'm doing her layouts. And what I love about Crop and Create has been so interesting, how when I do wait and don't necessarily do them live with everybody else, although the weekend that we did get together and do that, there was It was fun and there was a lot of energy around that. Um, but I just love how the stories come together and I'm able to tell the stories that are important to me with these products. Um, especially when I've had some time between the events and just living life.

[00:29:31] Jennifer: Yes, I do think that kind of having, um, time and space around it allows you to do less, and less energy, which almost seems like counterintuitive. But as I've been going through my books and trying to figure out, okay, I need to do this layout. Um, But I'm doing it very much story first. Like this is the story I want to tell with this.

[00:29:51] Jennifer: I haven't even looked at pictures yet, but you know, I see these supplies, the themes of the supplies, the colors. And this is a story that feels like relevant and important for me to tell. And I think when we're kind of in the energy of it, I'm just like, I'm following along, making the layout, whether or not I have a story. And there's certainly huge value in that. But taking the time to make sure that you have a story to tell, I think is really valuable too.

[00:30:16] Alissa: Yeah, for example, one of the layouts I love from the Spring Crop and Create is one that I did about my daughter's summer at Girl Scout Camp. She went to three different Girl Scout Camps over the summer. And I knew that I did not want to tell, make one page about every single one that this year I wanted to just do a compilation page. Um, because like how many pictures do I need of her on a horse um, or in a canoe?

[00:30:41] Alissa: And Um, if I had done, if I had been following along live in the spring, I would not have told that story. Because, I mean, I knew in the spring she was going to three weeks of camp, but that hadn't been told yet. So I probably could have saved that layout till later. But, um, and they always tell you that you're not going to finish it in a weekend.

[00:30:59] Alissa: I usually do because I'm a finisher. Um, but I'm so happy with how that turned out and doing it later allowed, well, and this kind of dovetails into the other topic. Okay, so with Crop and Create, uh, the first time we did it, it, what really helped was, picking a year to tell stories from. And back then I was still working through, there was a period where I was not super active in telling stories.

[00:31:25] Alissa: And so I had lots of I'm going to call it backlog of stories or pictures I hadn't scrapbooked yet. And I had lots of stories I wanted to tell. Now, because of my new approach of copying, I have been more prolific than ever, and I almost am to the point where I feel caught up in a way, like I feel very current with my photos and stories.

[00:31:50] Alissa: So, after I did my Spring Crop and Create box at my retreat. I came home and was like, all right, I need to make an index. Because I feel like there are stories missing from my albums. I feel like there are years I need to go back to. But I don't know what they are, and I'm a librarian, and I like data, and I like indexing things. So, I came home, and over the course of two days, I basically opened every album that I have, that's in my Library of Memories, so I do Library of Memories. And I opened every album, and let's see, I have two, four, I have 18, 19. I have 19 Library of Memory albums. And I opened every single one of them up, and I, made this index that had the year of the story, if there was a date on it. Like what Library Memory category it was in and what the title of the story was. And so then I took all that data and I was like, all right, what years have the least amount of stories?

[00:33:00] Alissa: And the answer for me was 2016 and 2013. So I, then I went through all of my 2016 photos month by month and deleted stuff and use Stacy's kind of rock your scroll process to eliminate photos. Uh, and came up with stories that I wanted to tell. And that's kind of what I was saying in the beginning about my bucket list.

[00:33:24] Alissa: I, that's where I found, um, so my daughters were three and one in 2013. And in 2016, they were six and four. So those are fun years, you know, but there were lots of, um, stories that I wanted to, well not lots of stories, but there were, there were several stories that we hadn't told that I wanted to tell. Um, so now I feel like I have another list, aside from just looking at my current pictures on my phone.

[00:34:00] Alissa: I can go back and be like, okay, you know, here are these stories that I want to tell from this particular time period. Like, I've never scrapbooked when Andrew McCarthy came to my library and called me his Vanna White.

[00:34:15] Jennifer: You have not done that. I can't believe that. I remember when that happened.

[00:34:19] Alissa: Yes, I have, I have not told that story. It comes up every year in August in my memories and I'm like, I need to tell this. Like, it's not, but it's not in a scrapbook. It's in my Facebook memories. So I really would like to get that, documented. And, um, yeah, there's just certain things that were, um, kind of, like, I want to document, like, for a while, we had basically what I call the little people village. Like, we had all these little people sets and they were basically set up in a neighborhood. So I need to like document that.

[00:34:51] Jennifer: Didn't you just tell me that you wanted to buy the new Barbie Little People set?

[00:34:55] Alissa: I did. Mm hmm. It was at Costco. I really liked it. I have no reason to buy it. I mean, there's literally no reason to buy it. But I love Barbie and I love little people and it's so cute and it's pink and it would be so fun. But like who, what, I, I don't have a small child. Well, I mean, no, I don't really have a small child. And I'm not gonna buy it for myself as much as I really want to. But then, like, I found this picture. Okay, so here's a great story. I found this picture of my daughter from August of 2016, my oldest daughter, doing our local high school cheer camp when she was six. And she was, like, super into it. And, um, we used to watch Making the Team, Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders that was on CMT.

[00:35:44] Alissa: And then this summer she went to a cheer camp with her school because her best friend was, is, was a cheerleader for school and really wants her to be on the cheer squad this winter. And, it was a whole thing. And I'm like, I need to, I need to pair these pictures together and tell this whole story about cheerleading.

[00:36:05] Alissa: And I probably should wait until January to see if she actually joins the cheer squad. Cause then I'd have a third picture, but you know, it's like these stories are percolating and you don't see those connections over time, until you go back. And that's what I think is really neat too, was there were also, looking at my notes here, um, like there's stories I need to update.

[00:36:26] Alissa: Like I had done a page when my girls were like, well, when they were six and four. Called my season and just talking about the season of motherhood and what that looked like. And I need to do another page like that where my season of motherhood is very different. It consists of texts from my children and driving them around and dropping them off.

[00:36:47] Alissa: And, you know, that's what this season of Parenthood looks like. And, you know, making good decisions about technology and stuff. So I want to, to update that. And there was another, I can't find the note. There was another one I want to update too.

[00:37:03] Jennifer: I love how looking back at a particular year, it's not just about telling stories you missed from that year, but it's helping to jog memories of bigger stories that span years.

[00:37:12] Alissa: Yes, for sure. It really, um, It was really fun, not only just to see how prolific I've, I mean, I've been scrapbooking for 20 years. So it was really cool to like, see the whole thing. But just also to see the bigger picture and see things. Um, like if I hadn't gone back, you know. I wouldn't have found the cheer story, which I think is such a great story. And I want to do like, I want to just do this page that's called Cats on Laps because I have so many pictures of my cats on my lap and I miss my cats.

[00:37:47] Jennifer: Oh, I want to do that page too, because we have a lot and we're obviously in a different season of pet parenthood, but that's a fun approach.

[00:37:56] Alissa: So that's my layout index project and, um, how that ties, it actually was inspired by Crop and Create and how it ties together. And it was, like I said, it was really clarifying and helps me, um, kind of find a new direction and kind of even a new energy. Um, because, you know, as I know people have experienced this, as your kids get older, they don't want you taking pictures of them. Um, you know, your stories necessarily, it's becoming their story more. Um, you know, I can only document my fall capsule wardrobe so many times. Um, I do have a page about last year's fall capsule wardrobe with some really cute paper from, um, Felicity Jane.

[00:38:42] Alissa: But, anyway, I just... Um, it, it was really invigorating to have all this like, this huge, I love, I love, I love a good list. I love a list. I love a checklist. Um, I love having, um, more of idea of some bigger picture stories I want to tell. So it's fun.

[00:39:01] Jennifer: So I think this is really amazing because we all have creative inputs and you have the Shimelle videos that you're watching. You have your Crop and Create boxes and you are pairing those with the storytelling priorities that you've identified from your index. And so sometimes I think we do these things separately.

[00:39:22] Jennifer: They're, they exist in kind of different universes. We, we do the creative inspiration things. And then we maybe look at our, our storytelling, look at our albums, find gaps, and then we tell those. And we pull our supplies from those stories rather than trying to make these matches so that we are kind of double dipping. And so I love opportunities to do that.

[00:39:44] Alissa: Well, it's, it's creative rails. You know, it's fun to find a story that fits what comes in your Crop and Create box. And to me, that's the creativity. Like, I'm not, you know, I've, I've scrapbooked a long time and design is not my forte. But I love to find the perfect story to, to tell with these products that we get, or the inspiration of seeing a layout and, um, thinking, Oh, that would be perfect for X, Y, Z story. And so it's fun to have these things draw from. And, you know, we've talked about this a little bit, and I don't want to, you know, bash on any Crop and Create instructors, but it's so interesting to see the way other people scrapbook. And how some people, you know, don't leave a whole lot of room for the journaling or the story.

[00:40:29] Alissa: And so, you know, I've adapted designs where I've taken out a photo, uh, and use that as a journaling spot or found another spot to put journaling in on. And I think that's part of the fun too is how to make this work for my style of scrapbooking. And I really enjoy it. It's it's fun to do double page spreads.

[00:40:53] Alissa: I find that a lot of their designers do double page spreads and I, you know, that's how I started because that's what you did back in the day. But now I do a lot of one page spreads with my Shimelle layouts. And so, it's fun to mix it up. It's fun to use new supplies. Um, I really enjoy the process.

[00:41:13] Jennifer: Well, I want to close out the Crop and Create topic by talking about how we've implemented a, um, Tranquility by Tuesday rule of creating a backup slot. So for fall, when we, when the dates came out, we were deciding if we're going to do it, you knew you might have a conflict on the actual weekend. So we went ahead and penciled in the following weekend as the backup slot, and it turns out that's when we're going to be doing it. And. You know, it's a simple technique, but it really works. Because otherwise, I think we might not have been able to, you know, make a plan to get together.

[00:41:47] Alissa: Yes, because it's fun to get together and do it. I mean, I really do enjoy that, um, getting, doing it with others and, and seeing other, like, your interpretation of the layout and, yeah, it's fun. And I am glad we did the backup slot because it is the weekend of the state volleyball tournament.

[00:42:03] Jennifer: Well and I'm, I don't know, I'm kind of looking forward to that weekend. To me, that's kind of gonna be kicking off the holiday season. I don't know. For me, I think the holiday season actually starts like with Halloween. Like that's everything seems to be a, I don't know, a steamroller. I don't know what the right like analogy is here, but everything goes so fast like once Halloween hits. And so I think that will be a nice pause in the season as well as, you know, just a kind of a delightful way to start documenting what's happening in the season as well.

[00:42:37] Alissa: I agree.

[00:42:40] Jennifer: So, since you mentioned your layout index project already, we have to talk about kind of the follow up to you coming to my house, um, bossing me around, um, as I reorganized all of my layouts, uh, into the Library of Memories system. And I will link to the previous episode where we talked all about this. It was actually, like, recorded live that day, you went down to my husband's computer and I was up here and we did some reflections on that process. Um, I have not done a ton since other than actually putting new layouts away into the albums, which felt very, very satisfying.

[00:43:18] Alissa: And makes me so happy.

[00:43:20] Jennifer: I know you gave me some gold stars for that when I did it. And I am looking forward to taking the next steps of creating some kind of section divider pages. I just saw that the black scrapbook. com 12 by 12 albums have come back in stock. So I need to order more of those and it just feels like a really good place to be kind of continuing my journey. And like you, I'm really excited about using more of my supplies in that in 12 by 12 and eight and a half by 11. I don't feel as attached to doing kind of regular scrapbooking in smaller formats these days.

[00:44:07] Alissa: Yeah, I, um, I did start some six by eight albums that I use for pocket pages. And I do like having that for some small stories, especially since I'm not doing Project Life anymore. Um, and oh, I meant to say that about my, um, my index. You know, I did, when my girls were small, I did use Project Life. Um, I actually, I have albums for 2013 and 2016, but.

[00:44:39] Alissa: So it's nice to be able to go back to maybe add some journaling, uh, and remember some different words I used. But I want those to be reflected in our overall library, um, especially for some of these compilation things as well.

[00:44:55] Jennifer: Oh, that's so interesting. So you can kind of use those years as, uh, almost like notes and references, but it's a different kind of scope of storytelling for sure.

[00:45:07] Alissa: Yes, I want to change the scope I guess is, that's a good way of putting it.

[00:45:12] Jennifer: Well, and I, also, that would 100 percent explain why you don't have as many layouts from those time periods because you were really focused on doing Project Life.

[00:45:21] Alissa: Oh yeah, it does, and that was, and also, I mean, in 2013, I was working full time and I had a one year old and a three year old. So, you know, Project Life was how I made it, how I felt like still connected to my hobby. And I didn't just give up. You know, and I'm so grateful that I have all that documentation, but I want to sometimes tell those stories in a different way or in a bigger way,

[00:45:49] Jennifer: Yes. Yes. Yes, for sure. All right, let's dive in to some December scrapbooking. We've, we've touched on this a little bit. Where have you landed right now?

[00:46:00] Alissa: Uh, I'm still in indecision land, so I.

[00:46:06] Jennifer: Did you buy anything? Let's start with that.

[00:46:07] Alissa: Well, I was just going to say that. Um, I have bought nothing. Uh, I am very, aside from purchasing a, uh, let's see how many have I purchased, I can tell you, uh, because I have my Creative Hub here in front of me. So aside from purchasing 1,2,3,4 of Shimelle's Best of Both Worlds kits and obviously getting the Crop and Create boxes, I have not purchased any other supplies this year. Which is.

[00:46:38] Jennifer: Wow.

[00:46:39] Alissa: Yeah. I mean, I've purchased a lot. I mean, when I, when I purchased for Shimelle's kits, I buy everything, you know, I don't make substitutions because I like, and I, I'm kind of to the point where I could start making some substitutions. Oh, and that's not entirely true because I did buy, I got one of Megan Andrews giveaway boxes, which was totally worth it and had some really great product in it.

[00:47:00] Alissa: But otherwise my buying is very, minimal. So when I did my 2022 December Daily Album, which I finished in January of this year. Uh, I was kind of not into it. Um, and so this year I wasn't super inspired. I've used Elle's Studio products for the last several years and I really, I like those products, but this year I just wasn't feeling it.

[00:47:33] Alissa: Um, and I have the tools that I could actually make along, you know, try to do a page a day or tell a story a day. I don't know, but that doesn't appeal to me. Um, and so I'm just not, I really liked. We did, we did a Crop and Create layout that was an overview.

[00:47:57] Jennifer: Mm hmm.

[00:47:58] Alissa: Our season and I used that to fill in one of the years that I haven't, hadn't done yet.

[00:48:04] Alissa: And I'm like, well, maybe I'll do that this year. I have a, I love Christmas, so I have a lot of product. I actually even have an old, um, Project Life mini kit, uh, that I could use. So I couldn't, I, I couldn't, I just couldn't pull the trigger. I have plenty of albums, even six by eight albums I could use. Um, so from 20, from 2002, which is when I was started, um, when my husband and I got together to 2012, which was when our daughter was born.

[00:48:38] Alissa: Um, which was her first Christmas. I had what's called a holiday highlights album where I did one page per year and I had the same spread, template, design, and I just did that every year. And that was a really, like I loved ending it in 2012 for 10 years of, um, our daughter, you know, and then ending with her being born.

[00:49:02] Jennifer: That's amazing.

[00:49:03] Alissa: Yeah. Okay. In 2013, I documented in Project Life our December Daily. And in 2014 and 2015, I used uh, Lynnette Penacho.

[00:49:18] Jennifer: Mm hmm.

[00:49:19] Alissa: I used her templates to do a hybrid holiday highlights album.

[00:49:23] Jennifer: Oh, fun.

[00:49:25] Alissa: In 2016 I did a very tiny 4x4 mini album, and in 2017 I did it in Project Life again. Um, then I had not done anything for 18 and 19, so again, thanks to Crop and Create, in 2018 I did a mini album from Simple Stories. And in 2019, I did that two page calendar spread that we talked about, that I talked about at the beginning of this section of our discussion. Um, and then since 2020, I've done a six by eight album with using Elle Studios kits. So I've done that for the past three years. And maybe that's why I'm like done with it, because I've done it for the past three years.

[00:50:03] Alissa: Um, so I've done a variety of things for December Daily, but I have pretty much documented every year since 2002. So, it's not that I'm not going to document our holiday season, I'm just, again, when your kids are older, you know, we're not going to see Santa anymore. We're not, um.

[00:50:25] Jennifer: But didn't you buy tickets for, uh, Polar Express?

[00:50:30] Alissa: Well, that was last year.

[00:50:31] Jennifer: I thought you said you were going to do it again for this

[00:50:33] Alissa: No, no, no, no.

[00:50:34] Jennifer: Oh, I'm misremembering. I swear you told me that in July that you were going to buy it again.

[00:50:39] Alissa: No, no, no.

[00:50:40] Jennifer: Must have dreamt that.

[00:50:41] Alissa: Yes, no. We did it last year. We, so, and that was special. Um, my, uh, younger daughter was 10 and I had asked her, um, if she wanted to do it because we've always watched the Polar Express on Christmas Eve. That's our big tradition. And so I, and I'd wanted to do it for years, but tickets were hard to get and then COVID and, you know, I feel like makes me kind of mad because I feel like I missed some really COVID missed some really great years for activities for fun for my girls.

[00:51:13] Alissa: But anyway, um. You know, there's just not, you know, we're not decorating ornaments for the tree or, you know, there's just, we're not, we're busy in a different way. Um, and so I wanted to document last year in an album because it was our first year with our puppy. And so. And it was our first, and it was our first Christmas in this house.

[00:51:37] Alissa: So I, I felt committed to doing like a full album and I knew I'd have enough stories to tell. And I did, you know, you always, I always have enough. Um, but this year I'm just kind of like, Hmm, I don't know if I want to have that pressure to find something for every day or whatnot. I like the calendar overview and I have enough product that I could

[00:51:56] Alissa: probably make that work with what I have. Because I'm really into like using what I have and I think you are too with what you've been doing with your foundation pages, which are gorgeous.

[00:52:10] Jennifer: Before we jump. Thank you. But before we jump into me, I have a question for you. Like, have you thought about if you had no past experience, just you have knowledge. Um, but you don't have these albums that are of different configurations, or you don't have these layouts, you don't have supplies, if you were starting from scratch, How might you choose to approach?

[00:52:32] Alissa: I would do the holiday highlights. I would do one spread every year.

[00:52:36] Jennifer: There's your answer.

[00:52:37] Alissa: The way I started. Well, so, but, so the holiday highlight, I don't, but I don't want to do, I don't, I don't want to do that. I don't necessarily want to do that. Like, I don't want to commit to doing that for the next five years.

[00:52:53] Alissa: I want to do that. Like, I want to do, I think I want to do the two page calendar spread, which is a version of holiday highlights. Um, but, you know, like right now I do my, um, ornament albums every year for them. And so I, I also have that project and, you know, that's, those are going to go with them so that they're going to have a small album that they take of all their holidays.

[00:53:17] Alissa: Cause it has, you know, here, here's a picture of you in front of the Christmas tree and here's a picture of your favorite gift that you got. And.

[00:53:23] Jennifer: I love that.

[00:53:24] Alissa: So, um.

[00:53:28] Jennifer: Well, it's also okay to be in this place of, you have all the information, you are marinating on it, and you don't have to make any decisions anytime soon.

[00:53:39] Alissa: Right. And I know that I like to, and for a calendar overview page, you have to do it after the holidays anyway, just cause you have to kind of see how things fit. But, I don't feel any, um, I don't know. I don't feel any pressure about it. Like I'm not like worried, like, Oh no, how am I going to, like, I'm not like I, I know I will do it and it will be fine.

[00:53:59] Alissa: And I guess the other thing I want to make that kind of goes, point I want to make. That goes back to what I was saying earlier about my layout index. And, and how that worked with my Project Life, is because I've done these December Daily albums. Like I don't I have some stories in my holiday Library Memory albums that I'd like to have. You know, like, um, I'm trying to think of a good example, like I don't have, um, like I don't have a page just about how often we've gone to see Festival of Lights, which is a thing a local community does that's, It's really cool. But like I don't have a Festival of Lights page in my Library of Memories album because I've always documented that when we've gone in a December Daily. So I want to just do a compilation page of Festival of Lights. I don't have a page about seeing Santa and how we used to always go to Bass Pro to see Santa and you know.

[00:54:58] Jennifer: I love that.

[00:54:59] Alissa: So. I, I like to, there are some, again, kind of these compilation stories related to the holidays that I'd like to tell in a bigger picture way.

[00:55:10] Jennifer: I think that's always kind of there's a tension between when we're choosing to do smaller albums that are about a specific period of time. And then if we also like to tell stories that span time, is that duplicative? Does that feel good to have both? Um, and I think it can lead to some indecision.

[00:55:30] Alissa: Well and to me, it does not necessarily feel duplicative because I'm telling the story over time. And it's, I guess, if I put on my library hat, you know, you don't just have one biography of Winston Churchill. You have different biographies. You don't just have one book on solar energy, you know, you, there are different ways to tell the story.

[00:55:56] Jennifer: That's so interesting. I love, yeah, that's a really valuable way to think about it. Because they, it's, it gives you different perspectives seeing it in context versus like retrospectively.

[00:56:07] Alissa: Yes. Like I've never done a story about my snow village. Um, in fact, I was looking at, Oh, I was looking at category drawers for a project for my, uh, Stacey's Live Your Story community. And I have all these pictures of snow village and I have not told a story about snow village and what that means to us and our family.

[00:56:28] Alissa: And I mean, there's pictures of us putting up snow village every year in the December Daily albums. But not just like how, how did I start collecting Snow Village? Why? What does this mean? When did I stop collecting Snow Village? That could be an extended story, actually.

[00:56:44] Jennifer: Yeah, that sounds really fun. So my thought process on this has been similarly in like a very much a marinating mode, what do I really want? The beginning of August, I had pulled out all my supplies, I got them reorganized, and I was feeling really jazzed, and I was going to create, um, an album solely from my stash this year. And I started making foundation pages and some of them were really fun and then I'm starting to realize that there's a reason why some of these supplies are the ones that are still left from like, you know, 2015, 2016. After I've done all these albums, I am mostly caught up with the exception of last year.

[00:57:29] Jennifer: And I've used a lot of product over the years and this is what is left. And so as I was making these I was feeling, I don't know just bored is not the right word but it's somewhere approaching that. Of like these are not of my favorite products. They don't particularly light me up. And I was just like, I was starting to question my intent.

[00:57:52] Jennifer: And that's when I came on that idea of, okay, What is a December period of time that I haven't documented yet? I've done a little bit of, of childhood December in previous albums, but that period of time that we mentioned earlier before Emily was born. Um, and we were, you know, a blended family of, uh, two boys, a big dog and, and me and Steve.

[00:58:15] Jennifer: And that feels, it feels like the perfect pair of these older supplies that I want to use up, um, and, and a story. But then I was kind of left with, okay, what do I want to do this year? So I was looking at all of the beautiful new products this year. And in my opinion, this is what was one of like the best kits and collections ever.

[00:58:40] Jennifer: Like it's very cohesive. It is gorgeous. For some reason I was like, you know, I feel cold. I feel, um, this need to do something a little bit different. And so I started browsing and then I asked myself this question, like, what if I just went the absolute opposite direction of very traditional? And, so I settled on the Paige Evans collection, Sugar Plum Wishes. And I bought almost the entire thing. With the exception of a couple products I didn't think that I would use. And I bought a Lilac colored album from Citrus Twist and some different fibers from Etsy from two shops. Um, one is the one that I've bought from every single year the past few years.

[00:59:34] Jennifer: And then another one where I found some pom pom edging. And I feel like I'm going rogue this year because my family hates these products. But I don't care. Like I'm like, like I asked them for input. But Emily's like, mom that looks like Easter, and that album will clash with the other albums on your shelf.

[00:59:56] Jennifer: And so that gave me a like, a little pause and then I asked Steve and he was like, Yeah, I really think Christmas should be traditional. And, and I'm like, you know what, I'm, you know, in a kind of phase of life where I'm struggling to kind of find joy in the everyday. Because things are so busy and as someone with anxiety that tends to kind of push me down a little bit and make things a little bit harder. And so I decided that I don't care what they think. And I don't care if it doesn't match. And I'm going to focus on 25 days of joy. Because this is a season that tends to be a little harder and overwhelming for me. And I just want to find like fun and joy and lightness in the season. So I am feeling, yeah, I'm feeling really invigorated by it.

[01:00:46] Alissa: Love this. And of course, what did I say when they were like purple is not the season? And I was like, Oh, but purple is in purple is the color of royalty in Christianity. And so, yes, we do it at Easter a lot, but you know, we also can, can work for Christmas.

[01:01:02] Jennifer: I appreciated that validation for sure. And so I feel like, I feel excited. I did buy like a couple other things. Um, oh, what are these called? I just got them yesterday. Uh, the buttons galore and more, uh, little. It's like confetti embellishment. So I'm going to do some shaker pockets, some interactive things.

[01:01:22] Jennifer: I'm going to be using the same kind of overall kind of techniques that I would do otherwise, but in totally different colors and patterns. And I'm just looking forward to doing some playtime. Really from now through December, because that's what I feel like doing right now.

[01:01:43] Alissa: I think it's going to be great. I cannot wait to see what you create. I think it's going to be gorgeous because Paige Evans stuff is so beautiful. It's going to be really cool.

[01:01:50] Jennifer: Yes, I've been kind of devouring some of her older videos, like even outside of December Daily, just looking at different techniques. I've downloaded a bunch of cut files. And so I feel like I am not lacking in creative starting points. If any, I'm going to have to narrow it down because there's only so many techniques you could do on a single page.

[01:02:10] Jennifer: Um, but I feel I feel really settled on it. I feel just like kind of good about the whole thing. So I really have three projects on my plate and that's part of why this is kind of my focus for the rest of the year. Is I have last year's album to finish. I have that retrospective album from pre 2011 and then this new one.

[01:02:31] Jennifer: So, I'm trying to give myself permission to switch between them, to focus on what feels fun in the moment, and just really, as I said, try to find joy in the whole process.

[01:02:42] Alissa: Yeah, I think that's so great. I love this.

[01:02:44] Jennifer: So, our final topic for today, as kind of always, as tradition, is we have to talk about our planner situations. And I think we're, we've both kind of, we've, you even said to me, I don't think we should do more episodes because we're both really good on our planner situations. And then things changed, and now we're not good anymore.

[01:03:04] Alissa: Well, I'm good for a year. I told you I'm good for a year. I mean, Elise's closing Get to Work book. Uh, which is, I mean, good for her, sad for me. Um, and she is releasing, um, one more 2024 calendar year planner. So I am going to push this decision down the road a year and I'm going to do 2024. She did release an undated version that I thought was going to be the answer to all my problems and that I was going to buy.

[01:03:39] Alissa: Um, so actually. Well, I wasn't going to buy like 30 of them, but I was going to buy, my plan was to use the 2024 one and then to buy four more to get through Lucy in high school. Um, but then I saw the, the undated one and it's nice. And I, I know she had to change it to make it work. And it's got some features that I wanted, but the big thing that's missing for me is tabs.

[01:04:10] Alissa: But I have my daily today marker, so that wouldn't be, I could get over the tabs. But it's missing a month overview. And I don't use it, well, I do actually use the month calendar page more and more that since we're busier and busier to just kind of, I like to look at the month holistically, um, and see where the pockets are gonna be. So I don't, I don't know.

[01:04:35] Jennifer: So let's provide some clarity here. So you use Get To Work Book and you have for the past few years for your personal slash home planner. You do not use it at work.

[01:04:44] Alissa: Correct. I've used it since she came out with it. And, and actually for context, I used to always buy an academic year because I liked having a planner at home that matched my girl's school year. And then my planner at work was calendar year. Um, but then when she announced at the, in March or April, in the spring that she was closing Get to Work book, I very quickly switched from my academic year that I had, which only had like three more months in it and bought the 2024 or 2023 calendar year and start, so I'd be on the calendar year for all of 2024.

[01:05:21] Jennifer: Okay. And so, um, you are looking for, uh, eight and a half by 11, maybe slightly smaller you could tolerate, you know, up from Get To Work Book size or bigger.

[01:05:33] Alissa: We'll Get To Work Book is five by seven or seven by nine. Um,

[01:05:36] Jennifer: I think it's seven by nine.

[01:05:37] Alissa: Yeah, it's seven by nine. And so that works for me at home. Yeah, I, I mean, I'll probably just end up with a seven by nine. Um, Erin Condren.

[01:05:50] Alissa: I might get the one that Melissa and our community has. I don't know yet. I'm not. I don't want to make, I feel like it's too fraught right now and I can get one more year with my beloved product, that system that works for me. Um, and then I can make that decision next August when it's not so busy. Like right now we're going to the busy season. I don't want to have to think about choosing a whole new planner.

[01:06:13] Jennifer: Well, I also think that we've, between the two of us, we've exhausted all the options. And there's nothing that clearly fits. Like, I love this more than Get To Work Book. This would be the perfect replacement or I love this as much. So anything would be like a, not quite a downgrade, but like, it'd be a good enough solution. And that doesn't feel. That doesn't light you up right now.

[01:06:37] Alissa: Exactly.

[01:06:38] Jennifer: And so what is the one that you're using for work? This is the second year you're on this one?

[01:06:43] Alissa: Third year.

[01:06:44] Jennifer: Oh, okay.

[01:06:45] Alissa: I use a Blue Sky, uh.

[01:06:48] Jennifer: But you can't do the customization anymore, right? So you just buy one off the shelf.

[01:06:52] Alissa: Just buy one off the shelf, but it works for work. It's the Note It one, which is sometimes a little tricky to find. I did buy one in August from Amazon. So I'm good for 2024 at work, but I like it, it has, it has the week on the left page, and it has like, it has specific boxes. I don't use them that way, but it has space to write on the right hand side of the page, which is what I appreciate about it. Um, and what I had in a planner that I got from Staples long, long ago that they discontinued.

[01:07:30] Alissa: So this is the next best thing, and it, it, it does really work for me, and the system I use at work, and it's eight and a half by eleven, which is what I need from all my work stuff. Um, so I'm really good at work, and then at home I'll be having to figure out, what to do. And my work planner stays at work and my home planner stays at home.

[01:07:47] Alissa: So I don't, because I switched to doing my calendar.

[01:07:50] Jennifer: So I find that so interesting that you have, you keep work at work and home at home and, but I think you have a lot more work life separation than I do.

[01:07:59] Alissa: Well, yeah, because I don't work in my home like you do. You know, my office isn't upstairs or across from, you know, my, where I, my office isn't where I is in a different location than my house. So it's easier for me to keep work at work. I mean, there are times when I have to do things outside of my quote working hours because, you know, something comes up or I have to respond to something. But you know, my job is pretty much nine to five, unless something is happening that I have to respond to. Or, you know, I live in a small town, so I'm always on, so I see people at Walmart, and they're like, oh, hey, can you tell me about XYZ, or I have a fine, could you take care of that for me? Can you renew my books for me? Um, you know, so stuff comes up outside of work hours, but not, I'm, I'm very much able to leave work at work.

[01:08:55] Jennifer: I guess I'm curious like if you, let's just say that the only dentist appointment you could get for your child was during school hours. So it was like a 10 AM on a Wednesday. Would you put that in both of your planners?

[01:09:07] Alissa: Well, no, it goes on my calendar. So yes, I mean, it, my, my planner at work is more of a task system.

[01:09:17] Jennifer: Okay.

[01:09:18] Alissa: Then, and so is my home one. I mean, it's more about keeping track of tasks. Now, I do put appointments on there. Like, you know, I take, I take my oldest daughter to the orthodontist a lot. And we usually get appointments, you know, nine o'clock, 830. So those will, that'll, that'll be on my my home planner of like, Oh yeah, Wednesday morning, we're going to orthodontist. But, um, I don't, I don't list my appointments in my work planner, cause I just have my Google calendar up all day and it pings and reminds me of stuff.

[01:09:51] Jennifer: Okay, okay. Well, I think that also explains why maybe you appreciate the Get to Work Book so much because the columns are very open ended. It doesn't, it's not, you know, an hourly. It just, it just has space for you to mark down the things that you need to mark down.

[01:10:08] Alissa: Yes, exactly.

[01:10:09] Jennifer: So I, I guess I'm perhaps, I don't know where I am. I am, um, I'm having a conundrum. It's different than yours, but there's some similarities in that something is changing. Um, for the past 18 months, I've used, uh, a Scribbles That Matter Dot Cross planner. And I'm inside their Facebook community and the past few months, they've been asking for a lot of input on these design changes.

[01:10:40] Jennifer: And I don't prefer them. And they're also kind of not being clear with the dates, which really kind of feels a little frustrating. As a business owner, I totally understand that you may not have a date. But even if the date was, you know, early November, just give me a date that I can put on my calendar so I know that I'm going to have a planner next year.

[01:11:07] Jennifer: And so I'm feeling a little kind of frustrated by that, in addition to not liking the changes that they've made, because right now the planner is very open ended and they want to add more structure to it. Um, and so I'm just feeling a little bit, I guess, frustrated and that at that point of having to pick something new, because I do, as we mentioned, I do have work and personal together.

[01:11:33] Jennifer: I just have one weekly planner on my desk all the time. I prefer vertical because I can like, just the visual nature of that. That's how I see my week as you know, one day after the other. I prefer Monday start. It needs to be at least seven by nine. Um, I discovered this when I start, when I first purchased this planner of, Oh my gosh, I've been trying to cram myself into A5 for so long, and this is why it's not working, it's just not enough space for me.

[01:12:00] Jennifer: I like to have, like, freedom to write more things. And so I'm at a point where I am considering my options. I don't feel like there's a super clear, like, Oh my gosh, I love this one. It has everything I want. But I'm kind of, maybe I've honed in on some options. One is the Moxie Life Planner. I really like the goal setting system that they have as part of that.

[01:12:28] Jennifer: Um, as of this recording, the previews are not out, so I don't know what the, what changes they have made. But I do know that it is a coil bound planner. And as a side note, I have a Creative Hub and a Happy Planner, and I've been working with that this year, and for something that I don't touch all the time, It's okay. But it just really reminded me that I like a sewn binding that lays flat, because I like to be able to write

[01:13:02] Jennifer: in those inner margins. It really frustrates my hand and I'm, I'm even a right handed person. So I can't even imagine what a left handed person would feel. Um, but I don't like having any kind of binding in the middle. And so I, unless there's a really clear option, that's not their coil bound. Cause I know they have some other options or they will.

[01:13:26] Jennifer: Um, I'm probably not going to choose that one. And so that kind of leads me to Erin Condren's Softbound. In probably the hourly format, or the Passion Planner. And I've really appreciated, I follow Passion Planner on Instagram, I get their emails, and I have a like, just a really big focus on mental health. And I feel I don't know,

[01:13:54] Jennifer: I feel kind of aligned with their vision. And so even though it's not my preferred layout, it's actually even more structured. Um, that's kind of where I'm thinking I might go right now. But I'm feeling just kind of a little unclear about the decision.

[01:14:11] Alissa: Yeah, it's, it's a hard decision to decide. You know, what is going to be best? And, you know, I think the alignment with your values is important, too. You know, do you want to support a company, all things being equal, that aligns with your values more? Or do you want to just buy from this, you know, big brand because, you know, they make a good product.

[01:14:33] Alissa: I mean, I've used varieties of things through the years. It's interesting to me that you want a flat lay because both my planners have coils. My, My Blue Sky is, and I like being able to flip it so I can just see one side of it. So I like the advantage of the coil.

[01:14:48] Jennifer: Well, and I thought I would like that. And I really, I genuinely did. But then I realized I can't stand having, you know, Wednesday and Thursday separate. Like I need to be able to see everything at once. Um, and it really like hurts my brain, I guess. So. I've, I've, I'm kind of, I don't know the answer.

[01:15:09] Alissa: Well, and see one of the things I like about my Get To Work Book are her goal setting things at the end of the month. But they're much simpler than what MakseLife offers. And I don't want some other big system. I already have my own system that I work into my Get To Work Book and so it's like. I like how she has the project planning pages, and I don't know, I'm just. I'm just very, I'm just still mourning the loss of something that worked so well for me. And I totally get why she's closing her business and I completely respect her transparency and her decision. I'm just so sad for me. So.

[01:15:47] Jennifer: That's fair. It's totally fair. And I kind of, one kind of difference I also wanted to point out is that I do like my planning process every week starts with looking at my Outlook calendar and writing down every single appointment. Like I want to see that physically on my desk. I've tried using digital only, but I don't.

[01:16:09] Jennifer: I don't like it because somehow it gets buried or whatever. I can't just always look at it. I like having that context. I don't know, like, like I need to exist in the context of my calendar. So having it physically on my desk gives me comfort. I guess.

[01:16:24] Alissa: Well, I look at my calendar as part of my planning process. And for like my home process, I look at my calendar and I write down appointments that are going to impact my evenings. I don't write down every appointment during the course of my day, but basically in my Get To Work Book, if it's a morning thing, like, you know, I have a blood draw at 8:15 or going to the doctor at 9:30, I'll write that down. And I'll write down our evening commitments. And then, you know, that kind of lets me see the week of, okay, I've got X, Y, Z, this coming, um, or I only have Tuesday night free or, you know, and kind of helps me then go from there on, you know, meal planning and whatnot, but.

[01:17:05] Jennifer: For sure.

[01:17:05] Alissa: But at work, I just, um, it clutters up the page too much if I have it all written down.

[01:17:11] Jennifer: Yeah, that makes it makes total sense. And I just, yeah, my life is so blurry sometimes that I just need to see what's happening today. And what's in between the appointments is my work time.

[01:17:24] Alissa: Sure.

[01:17:24] Jennifer: Okay. Um, yeah, I don't know that, I don't know. I don't know that we're going to settle things today. I am, as of this recording, Passion Planner launches on Tuesday, so I'm going to take a look. I might purchase, I'm not sure. Um. Yeah, I don't like feeling unsettled because I thought I, like you, I thought I had, like, this is what I'm going to use forever, but then people change things. So we just have to roll with the punches.

[01:17:51] Alissa: Yes. And I'm, I am happy with my decision. To do one more year and Get To Work Book and really think about what is it that makes this work for me. And, and, you know, maybe I do my own thing. You know, I used to make my own thing and I could do that again, especially since tools have come so far now. Um, I don't know. We'll see. I've thought about going back to a bullet journal. Um.

[01:18:15] Jennifer: What I was going to ask because you use a bullet journal for your creative hub. And, like, would you be willing to do that for your personal planner and maybe use a ruler or a template to, like, give more structure to the pages? Um, and focus on it that way.

[01:18:30] Alissa: Perhaps. I mean, again, we kind of talked about this earlier. I'm in a different season of motherhood and life. And so, you know, a bullet journal might be more conducive for the different things that I have going on. I'm not 100 percent sure. I am quite, I mean, I've been using this bullet journal since 2019 for my creative hub. And I I think I told you the other day I like I kind of just want a new one just because this is I mean, I still have I'm on page 173 out of 248 pages. So and I don't it kind of depends on the year and the projects of how many pages I use per year. But I kind of just want a fresh start in 2024 with a new creative hub. I don't know.

[01:19:17] Jennifer: I think that's okay. Um, you gave it good love. You didn't abandon it after six months. So you've spent a lot of time with it. Um, and also you use the Leuchtturm and it's not a huge investment as well.

[01:19:31] Alissa: Right. And I, I guess, I mean, there's so much good stuff in here, but there's also stuff that is like kind of a distraction now. Like I want to rip. So I'd like to maybe just start over and put stuff in there that moving forward. I mean, I was able to recite to you my list of December Dailies because I literally had to make a page that just said December Dailies because I couldn't remember what I'd done all the time.

[01:19:53] Alissa: But like my indexing could be better and I think I'm ready for a fresh start now that I've had this long in it and it's, I love it. I really do love it and I use it consistently and that has, it has really helped take my scrapbooking to the next level. But it just, I want a different color maybe. I don't know.

[01:20:12] Jennifer: Would you stick with the same size?

[01:20:14] Alissa: Yeah, totally. I mean this, it, a hundred, the. It 100 percent works for me, the system, the process, the product I use. I just, you know, I want a fresh one.

[01:20:24] Jennifer: Fair and I think it's totally okay. I've been experimenting with the Happy Planner, um, because I am redeveloping our Creative Hub course, uh, through the rest of the year. With anticipation that it'll launch in December, January ish. More details to come of actual timing. Um, I'm trying not to put a lot of pressure on myself because I just want to, I want to do it well and sometimes it requires some patience.

[01:20:51] Jennifer: Um. I'm, as I said, I'm not a hundred percent sure that this is my format. I've done Trello for a lot of years. I definitely am feeling paper right now. I love Trello for so many reasons that I use it for my big picture planning, like long term work projects, especially. Um, but I wanted to experiment a little bit with paper. And, you know, I think also trying bullet journaling again, uh, in your model might work as well.

[01:21:20] Jennifer: So those will be the kind of the three formats that we, we talk about in the new course is an electronic version. Um, whether it's in Trello or Evernote or Notion or OneNote or whatever you like to use. Um, adapting something like the Happy Planner that is a pre done dashboard type planner. Or having a blank, blank notebook, bullet journal style to organize your information that way.

[01:21:46] Jennifer: So, I'm kind of on the fence and I think I will figure out my answer, um, as I redevelop this course and kind of follow my own process to figure out what solution is best for me.

[01:21:57] Alissa: Well, I can't wait to see what you decide on.

[01:22:00] Jennifer: Yeah, it's just, it's fun to experiment. And, obviously from our conversations here is we like taking what's in our mind and trying to organize that and trying to allow that information to help us in terms of productivity and accountability. So it's kind of a fun experiment.

[01:22:17] Alissa: Yes, it is.

[01:22:19] Jennifer: And one more thing I wanted to mention, I don't, you don't do any kind of regular journaling, do you?

[01:22:25] Alissa: I have no that, that is not true. I have a one line a day journal that I use.

[01:22:32] Jennifer: You do, and do you keep it up pretty regularly?

[01:22:35] Alissa: I have an alarm on my phone that reminds me at seven o'clock every day to do it.

[01:22:38] Jennifer: That's amazing, I did not know that at all.

[01:22:41] Alissa: I'm actually kind of, um, upset with myself. I need to dig into a few more boxes, but I sort of lost, I had one, um, that ended in 2020. 2020 or 2021. And I had it at one point after we moved and now I don't know where I put it. And I kind of, I liked it for some retrospective journaling and stuff. So I need to find it again.

[01:23:03] Alissa: But yeah, I have one that I have done. So I don't think I did it in 2021 because this one is 2022 and 2023 that I have.

[01:23:12] Jennifer: I had one that was like 2012, and then like it was the 5 year one. That I got for when, after Emily was born. But I don't even know where it is now.

[01:23:21] Alissa: Yeah, mine's a five year one. And I did, I did a five year one. I did Gretchen Rubin's five year one. And then I got another one. Um, that I've been doing, that I, I like the practice of it.

[01:23:34] Jennifer: So I bought an Archer and Olive. I got a A5 size journal from their kind of, I think it was their summer collection. And it's so beautiful and I'm really happy I did it. Um, I've been trying to journal in my planner for a while, but as, as things have changed, that means I have journaling across many different planners.

[01:23:57] Jennifer: And I, I, don't do it every day. I probably do it a couple times a week. Um, I actually just bought a Happy Light for, um, seasonal depression. My, something my doctor had recommended to start it in the fall. And so I wanna take that time first thing in the morning to journal while I sit in front of my light.

[01:24:16] Jennifer: And then, you know, maybe just putter here at my desk. But I also resubscribed, not really resubscribed, I subscribed to Cocoa Daisy's new journaling sticker kit. And it's mostly vellum stickers. Which those were my favorites anyway when I subscribed to their previous kit and I'm planning to use this in my journal. Because I love stickering and like creating spaces to write. And I'm really just enjoying the process and just trying to treat it as, like, fun, uh, therapeutic me time.

[01:24:50] Jennifer: So, that's going well. I feel like because it's not in a planner, there's no pressure to fill up a space. It's just, this is the journal I'm gonna use until, like you, I'm like, I'm tired of it. I feel like I've used it enough. Um, maybe I'll fill it up, maybe I won't. But, uh, it just feels like a good addition to my life right now.

[01:25:09] Alissa: I think that's so great. I, I love, I love that you found an outlet for your stickers and, and for this practice that you find helpful.

[01:25:17] Jennifer: Yeah, and kind of the flip side of that is I've used a lot fewer stickers in my regular planner. I do use my Mildliners Highlighters all the time. Once in a while I'll put washi tape. I think this next week's spread has a few like really old Happy Planner stickers. I'm trying to use up my stash, uh, and but I've been kind of less in a stickery mode.

[01:25:41] Jennifer: And I think it's just also a season of life thing where I just need all the space I can get for all the appointments and all the tasks that I need to do. So it's definitely best of both worlds for me right now.

[01:25:54] Alissa: That's great.

[01:25:55] Jennifer: Okay, so this has been the longest conversation ever. I love it. I love chatting with you as I do all day long every day anyway. But I love that we can record these episodes for the community.

[01:26:06] Alissa: Yes, I hope this has been helpful for us, uh, for people and they've maybe gotten an idea of something to do because we've covered a variety of topics today.

[01:26:16] Jennifer: Well, I feel I have so many different kind of inspiration points that have come up from our conversation of layouts that I want to make, maybe do like an ABCs of December at some point. Um. Yeah, I'm definitely looking forward to diving into Crop and Create together, as well as finishing up some of my layouts from past events.

[01:26:35] Alissa: Yes, I've enjoyed talking to you today, Jennifer. It's been fun and hopefully people will have inspiration.

[01:26:42] Jennifer: Alissa, can you remind our guests where they can find you online?

[01:26:46] Alissa: Sure, I'm on. Instagram, as AlissaRecommends. I don't post a lot of scrapbooking stuff. I usually post snapshots of our life and book reviews.

[01:26:56] Jennifer: Sounds good. Thank you so much.

[01:26:59] Alissa: Thank you for having me, Jennifer. Always great to chat with you.

[01:27:02] Jennifer: And to all of our listeners, please remember that you have permission to scrapbook your way.

[01:27:06] Jennifer: Hey, wait, don't go yet. Since I recorded this episode with Alissa I have had some developments in my planner journey. I shared a little bit of these on Instagram and also asked for your follow up questions. So let's spend a few more minutes here with a deep dive into the decisions that I've actually made.

[01:27:34] Jennifer: But first, let's start with the things that I've tried in the past that did not work for me. Now, if you've listened to any of these episodes with Alissa in the past, you may be familiar with this list, but let me catch you up a bit. Just pre pandemic, so we're talking 2019, early 2020 here, I was using the Panda Planner in the full letter size.

[01:28:00] Jennifer: I liked it enough, but I often felt like there were too many boxes, too much that was pre prescribed on the page for me when I was really only using the vertical time slots and the list box. And I really paid attention to this, in terms of what I was using and all the stuff that I wasn't using. So while I've looked at other options like the Passion Planner and so many others that are similar, the ones that have so many different boxes just don't work for me.

[01:28:35] Jennifer: Because I, I want what I want, and I don't want what I don't want when it comes to my planner. I've tried to fit myself into those boxes, and it always ends up pretty frustrating. In 2020, I discovered the Hobonichi Weeks, and for 2020, that was the perfect size. But as things got a little bit busier, again, I needed to go bigger.

[01:28:59] Jennifer: So I tried the Hobonichi Cousin. And even still, I used it for, gosh, almost two years. But I started to feel very cramped. I realized it was too small. And some of the things that I wanted to do with highlighters and other coloring techniques, it just ended up being too smeary. Now, I know there are devoted Hobonichi users that bring lots of color and lots of different pens and markers into their books.

[01:29:33] Jennifer: But, I didn't want to have to only use certain things, if that makes sense. I didn't want to have to worry about it. So I started looking for some options that were a little bit bigger and had more traditional paper styles. And that's when I came across the Scribbles That Matter dot cross planner. In 2022, I bought the undated version and I was actually going pretty well with it.

[01:30:05] Jennifer: It just had boxes on a page and a dot grid behind everything. It really made a lot of sense to me. I was able to customize it and it had just enough structure to make it easy to jump in. Well, at the end of 2022, they announced they were doing away with the undated. And so I was kind of at a crossroads. I had six more months in the undated, but at that point, they said they were only going to be releasing the full calendar year.

[01:30:36] Jennifer: In other words, the January start. So I said, okay, this feels really good. I'm going to jump in to the dot cross and I bought the dated version. There were some things that I didn't love about it, in particular when a date spanned a month, they separated those pages. So for example, you might have a week that has Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and then a bunch of blank space, and then you'd flip the spread, and then it would go to the rest of the week for the next month.

[01:31:09] Jennifer: That didn't make any sense to me at all, and I often just drew in extra boxes because I didn't want to use multiple spreads for a week. Well, come, you know, August, September, when everybody's talking about new planners, I'm noticing that this particular company is not sharing a lot of information. In July they had asked for all this input and I didn't like some of the changes they you were making.

[01:31:38] Jennifer: And at this recording in mid October, they still have not announced what their lineup is going to be. Is it going to be dated, undated? What are the design changes? And so I'm feeling like this is just, I'm not even sure how to say this. I'm not feeling confident in supporting this company, despite it being a small business and one that I have enjoyed using in the past. So. I took that one off the table. Because I really wanted to support companies that will be around and also to support companies whose values are aligned with mine.

[01:32:17] Jennifer: As we start thinking about, okay, what am I going to use this year? Let me take you back to a couple of things that I've tried. In between the undated and the dated dot cross, I actually purchased an A5 dot grid notebook from Hemlock and Oak. And I wanted to give A5 a try again and see if designing my own layout would work for me.

[01:32:40] Jennifer: And I was really focused on using stamps for the days of the week, for the dates,

[01:32:46] Jennifer: for the decoration. And I found myself so, like, infuriatingly frustrated with trying to stamp in a bound book. It's just, it's hard to keep it open. It's hard to, it's hard to get an even impression stamping just on our flat scrapbook pages or our cards, but trying to do it in a book was just so challenging for me.

[01:33:10] Jennifer: So I very quickly abandoned that. It was a very nice notebook, but I could tell that this was not going to be the way forward for me. And that's when I proceeded with the dated dot cross. So fast forward to the summer and we had the whole Happy Planner release for mid year and the academic year.

[01:33:32] Jennifer: And I decided I wanted to purchase a Dashboard layout Happy Planner in the classic size, uh, to use as my creative hub. So if you're a member, you're very familiar with the Creative Hub. But this is the centralized location that we use for all of our scrapbook ideas and planning and trying to keep us on track with our goals and objectives.

[01:33:57] Jennifer: And I have used Trello for a long time, but I wanted to experiment with a different system. And for the most part, I do like it for a Creative Hub for something that I'm touching, maybe once or twice a week. Um, sometimes less, sometimes more. But it's not my daily companion. But in doing this, I remembered that I just don't like coil or disc bound planners.

[01:34:25] Jennifer: I don't like something chunky in the center. And I will say that I'm not even left handed. And I know left handers love their book bound planners. But even as a right-hander, I do as well. I want it open on my desk, I want it flat. I wanna be able to write in all the spaces. I don't wanna have to flip it over.

[01:34:43] Jennifer: So that was a helpful reminder as I was doing my scoping for this year. Now, I will include a notion database that I created in the show notes for this episode. Because after I did this recording, I was still at this place of uncertainty. And so I thought, why don't I just look at everything and create a resource, um, along the way to make sure we have the list of all the planners, um, that are options out there.

[01:35:15] Jennifer: So it's categorized by the binding and whether it's dated or undated and we've been, uh. keeping up every once in a while with whether or not the 2024 dated versions have been released yet. So again, I will include that link in the show notes, but this is, this just helps me kind of create this inventory of options to really think about what I wanted. And as I did this, as I looked at all the planners, there were some ones that I really liked.

[01:35:44] Jennifer: I, maybe I liked the company's values. I like the design. I liked the inside pages, but I never found the perfect thing for me. And oftentimes it was a planner that was a little bit larger, you know, seven by nine or a little bit bigger. But it was coil bound. And I knew that I would get frustrated with that and abandon that.

[01:36:07] Jennifer: And so I went on this journey of looking for the notebook situation that was going to work for me. I knew I wasn't, didn't want to stamp my dates in it because that's too messy and smeary, too imprecise. I don't need to be 100 percent perfectionist with it, but I do want to have like a reasonable chance of success every week.

[01:36:33] Jennifer: And it was when I saw that Cocoa Daisy had released a new journaling sticker set with vellum stickers and rub ons, so I, so in a sense, their flattest stickers. That I started to feel the options open up for me. And the first thing that came to mind is, oh, like, I loved doing journaling in many of these planners that I've used. But I didn't like that it was attached to the planner because when that planner was gone.

[01:37:08] Jennifer: And so was my journal. Well, I still have them in a box, but I wanted something that I could keep longer for my personal reflections, for my memories, my thoughts, just personal journaling. And I wanted it to be just a little bit cute with some decoration. So I got on the wait list for that kit. And, I think I only had to wait a few weeks, and I was able to get my first collection.

[01:37:35] Jennifer: And so at the same time, I purchased an A5 Archer and Olive journal to be able to dive into this. In the meantime, while I was waiting for the kit, I used some of my previous vellum stickers from Cocoa Daisy. And I immediately felt like this was a good decision. Even if I can't figure out the rest, I have a journal that I can keep around for a number of years.

[01:38:00] Jennifer: And it's a place when I feel inclined, when I feel I need to, I have a place to write my personal reflections that's separate from everything else. So there I am good. I continue to kind of put the planner question on the side as I was looking through all these options. I felt this call to go for a dot grid, but I was still kind of maybe hoping there'd be something else out there.

[01:38:25] Jennifer: But in the meantime, I realized that just my daily notes of life things that I'm just brainstorming I'm taking notes in a meeting, that I didn't necessarily like to have these in my planner when I put them at the back They often got lost. There was often not enough note space in the present day area of my planner. And I was starting to just have lots of sticky notes and small notebooks and lots of things in lots of places. Uh, even, you know, notes on my phone. And I realized I just needed a notebook.

[01:39:02] Jennifer: And sure, I could have gone to Target or Walmart or whatever, even the grocery store to just get a spiral. But I have wanted to find out what it was like to work with Plum Paper. And so I customized a letter sized spiral notebook with my monogram on the front, a really pretty cover that I like. It has really nice, beautiful paper on the inside.

[01:39:26] Jennifer: And so I have this spiral notebook that I can keep, you know. I'm guessing it'll last a year, uh, for all of my notes. And this goes across all of my work, personal life, anything that I want to take a note, oftentimes sitting here at the computer, this is where I can write that. Um, when I'm done with that section or the whole page, I tend to draw just a single line through it so I know that I don't need to keep that or it's not being held for anything.

[01:39:54] Jennifer: So when I flip through, I can see the areas where I'm holding information for later or need to take action. And so that part has really been working well for me. Um, I have lists in there, a lot of Simple Scrapper brainstorming, podcast brainstorming. And I feel content. So now it comes to the planner.

[01:40:19] Jennifer: So I knew I wanted a B5 or larger size planner. So B5 is the same as a composition notebook. It's the same as the Scribbles That Matter dot cross. I'm seeing, in some ways I'm seeing a few more of these out there, but I'm actually also seeing a lot more A5, A6 super small planners, which don't interest me at all.

[01:40:41] Jennifer: I like space. I don't. I don't feel like I write especially large, but I also don't write super tiny. And so... I knew that was the size that I needed. I knew it needed to be book bound. I needed it to lay flat. I needed to have at least 120 gsm paper. I was actually a little bit gun shy about going to 160, but I did decide to get a B5 Archer and Olive dot grid notebook to serve as my planner.

[01:41:13] Jennifer: And I started it on October 1st and I am so delighted with this. I'd actually started experimenting in September in the back of the dot cross just on the dot grid pages with some planner layouts, experimenting with what I liked, um, different pens, how I wanted it to work out. So I felt like I was really ready to jump in October.

[01:41:38] Jennifer: And so, inside of my planner, I have my index, which I am just starting. I haven't even numbered very many pages yet. I am doing a mix between bullet journal and kind of custom weekly planner, if you will. I did the Moxie Life Compass Assessment for this fourth quarter of the year, and I think I want to do that each quarter.

[01:42:05] Jennifer: I'm really attracted to the Moxie Life system, but I don't particularly, um, I haven't found their products that 100 percent met my needs yet. I love what they do. I love their values as a company, their passion for inclusivity, um, their support of mental health. And I am a fan, yet not yet a customer. So I did the Compass Assessment and then I set some monthly goals.

[01:42:31] Jennifer: I use my Cocoa Daisy stickers to just add some decoration and delight to it. And I am really, really having fun with it. So the meat of this is a weekly vertical calendar where I have my appointments for the week. And a running future list at the bottom. I use six wider columns instead of trying to cram 7 slash 8 with an extra skinny notes, um, column in there.

[01:43:06] Jennifer: So I have six wider columns and that means I have Saturday and Sunday stacked. I don't tend to do as much, uh, time blocking or have as many things to do on the weekend and so that really works well for me. In that bottom space, in addition to a running future list, I might also add a tracker if that's something I'm interested in for the week.

[01:43:28] Jennifer: I don't like being forced into extensive tracking every week because sometimes that's on my mind and sometimes it's not at all. And I don't want to feel guilty because I'm choosing not to track this week. Um, my future list. is comprised of rollover tasks from the previous week and anything that comes up during the week that's not for that particular day.

[01:43:55] Jennifer: So that's where I'm constantly putting, okay, I need to do this, but not today. I put it at the bottom of the week. And that's what I refer to each morning when I am figuring out what's going to go on my daily list. So for my dailies. I am doing two days per page. So it's two columns. It's very bullet journal style with a little bit of highlighter extra here.

[01:44:22] Jennifer: I do my day in kind of a time blocked fashion. So whereas my week will just have the times where my appointments start, I will fully block out the amount of time that a meeting, a podcast interview, a driving carpool, all those things take. So I know when my blocks of time for working are. My days tend to be a little bit choppy in this season of life.

[01:44:52] Jennifer: I look forward to the days that aren't so choppy, um, which only seems to happen a couple times a week. But it helps me really see how I need to organize my day to hopefully get as much done as I can. At the bottom, I just have a little list for the day.

[01:45:11] Jennifer: And I set this up each day. I don't do it in advance. Every morning, I come to my desk, I turn on my Happy Light for 30 minutes to hopefully ward off I have the seasonal depression that seems to creep in in late January, February. And I'm intending on doing this year round because I enjoy this process so much.

[01:45:33] Jennifer: And I sit here, I plan out the time blocks of my day and make a list for what I need to do. I will often already have an idea of what that is, but this is where I can add in household tasks. Do I need to reboot the dishwasher? Do I need to change some laundry? Um, are there other things I need to add in, and I do that just on the day.

[01:45:58] Jennifer: I try to be super realistic and make the list, I guess, as short as possible. I want it to feel very achievable, and if there's something that I could do today, but I don't necessarily need to, I put it on that weekly future list. I can always reference back if I have extra time and want to do more things, which sometimes I will often do.

[01:46:21] Jennifer: I will go visit that future list. But I try to make my daily list um, achievable. Now the other question that I received was about getting this all set up. So each Friday, and sometimes I have to do it on the weekend if maybe Friday was extra busy, but I really try on Friday to set up my week in advance. So I know what appointments are coming and whether or not I'm going to have a pretty busy week or a lighter week.

[01:46:50] Jennifer: And it's really only drawing a few lines with a ruler. I love the dot grid and I've kind of learned, you know, the dimensions of each column. I make a few dots. I use the ruler to connect them and then I add the Cocoa Daisy vellum stickers for the date, the day of the week, and then a couple for decoration.

[01:47:11] Jennifer: I might add a strip of washi tape in there too. It takes about 30 minutes and it's one of the most enjoyable times of the week. And this connects back to when I first started the Hobonichi Weeks in 2020. Um, we all know what 2020 was like and when I discovered there were stickers that match the Hobonichi Weeks.

[01:47:33] Jennifer: That became such a therapeutic time for me and I love that I get that every week as I set up the week and even every day, even though I'm not using many stickers on the day to day basis. Just having the highlighters and my dot markers really kind of fills me up with joy about tackling the things that I need to do.

[01:47:57] Jennifer: So I feel like it doesn't take that much more time, especially now that I'm not trying to do any stamping. Um, I did buy a Tombow correction tape runner to touch up any mistakes. Um, perfectionism is something that I struggle with, particularly when we're talking about bound books. But I have, I feel like I'm, I'm consistently learning more and more techniques to enhance my chances of success, to correct mistakes, or to cover them up completely.

[01:48:30] Jennifer: You know, washi tape covers a multitude of sins as well, as do stickers, and then having the correction tape in there just helps a little bit for, you know, visually reducing the error. And so that has helped as well. Overall, I'm just, I feel very contented. I'm satisfied with these choices. I feel like I'm on the right path for me right now.

[01:48:54] Jennifer: I'm really excited to learn more from the creative bullet journaling community. I've been watching a lot of YouTube videos and following new people on Instagram. And I will mention that I, I will continue to use Trello for many areas. But it's even more long range planning. I found that when I was trying to use it for short term weekly planning, I easily got distracted, lost, and I couldn't keep up with it.

[01:49:23] Jennifer: I really need the tangible right in front of me on my desk. And I reference Trello all the time for, okay, what's next? How do we organize this information? Often the notes in my notebook, end up going from scritch scratch, brainstorming the notebook to actual plans and Trello. And then I reference them when I am planning my weeks and my days.

[01:49:48] Jennifer: But I think what I have doubled down on here is I love the experience of paper. It's very joyful for me. I have learned really what works for me, and I want to continue doing more of that. Because, yeah, why wouldn't you? So, thank you so much for listening. I hope this is helpful and answered all of your questions, but if you have more, please leave them in the comments, um, for the, this episode's show notes.

[01:50:18] Jennifer: This is episode 238, and you can find it at Take care and see you soon.

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