Thursday, January 28, 2016

It is Time to Improve My Planner Process

Much of 2015 saw me experimenting in my planner.My goal was to find the right balance between a planner that is both beautiful and functional. My goal for 2016 remains the same.Over the past few months, I have experimented with my planner process. I have found an effective way to use my planner( meeting the functionality requirement), but decorating it to meet my desired definition of beautiful still remains somewhat elusive.

I could say I am stumped but I know what is bothering me. I see so many shining examples of planners out there on Pinterest and mine feels lacking. I have two main areas that I know need improvement. I also know that, as it was with making scrapbook layouts, I probably won't just sit down and suddenly create something awesome. It's going to take work and a bit of time.

Identifying My Planner Process Issues and How to Deal with Them

The first step was for me to identify what it was about my planner process that is an issue.

1. Time 

I have other creative pursuits (namely scrapbooking). Planners have become a wonderful way to also document your life and in some ways, they can replace scrapbooks. However, my planner's main function is to help me plan for my website and creative team work. I don't want to take a lot of time up decorating it and would rather devote my free time toward creating scrapbook layouts, crafts or mixed media projects. I needed to streamline my process so that I spend a small amount of time decorating but am satisfied with my efforts.

2. Supplies

There are a lot of wonderful planner supplies out there. A LOT. I have looked around some of the planner communities in an attempt to gain inspiration and guidance toward the right supplies. It would seem that the planner craze has created a similar environment to the one many scrapbookers encountered a few years back. It's an environment which makes you feel compelled to buy. I have felt that pressure and I have no desire to put myself back into that mode again.I prefer to spend my crafty budget wisely and to not over buy. However, in the current planner craze phase that many people are experiencing, that doesn't leave me with a good idea of which supplies I should get. Instead I find myself confused.

I considered a planner kit club. Many exist. Kit clubs can be a great way to keep yourself on a budget while satisfying your need for new supplies. However, I have a few personal reasons for why a planner kit club will not currently work for me.The first being that many come with pre-printed inserts. Many of those inserts mirror similar pages in my Erin Condren Planner and it seems like overkill to have more. There are some which only come with stickers, but knowing how I work, I would end up with a heaping pile of unused stickers quickly. Therefore, in this case, a kit club is not a good option for me.

This leaves me with my scrapbook stash which is (despite a big culling prior to my last move) quite  a substantial resource. I have stamps, washi, punches, stencils, and some stickers.I need to dig into it more. It just can be hard to design what is right to use. Except for the washi. It is easy to use in my planner.

My Planner Process Solution: Simplify Everything

 I am using the Erin Condren Planner and each month, the insert includes a quote or phrase. I was spending a lot of time being indecisive about what to add to the insert. I could choose to not add anything but I felt like I should a least do something. I also don't feel confident about my design skills when it comes to planners.This is a bit weird for me as I feel it is something I am strong with in regard to my scrapbook layouts. Theoretically, what I know should transfer between both with ease. For whatever reason, it does not feel like that for me. I over analyze both the design and the supply choices.

For January, I opted to add a simple stamp above the phrase. I then chose to write about something I was looking forward to in 2016. Even though my planner is for my website, I didn't feel this had to be anything website or craft related.

*quick tip: I messed up stamping the image directly onto the planner. To fix it, I simply stamped the mage onto white cardstock, cut the image out and adhered it over the top of the messed up image.

Similarly, I chose to keep the February insert simple. I had a few heart die cuts laying around on my desk. I placed one above the quote and added a strip of washi. I am enjoying how quickly this minimalist method allows me to decorate my inserts. It also doesn't feel like a messed up design or sticker sneeze which makes me like what I have.

Keeping the insert simple allowed me to choose supplies more quickly and complete the insert with ease. It gave me a boost of confidence which means that later on, I can slowly add more to the decorative process.

Once the inserts were done, it was time to tackle the monthly page spreads.I have been using a layout I like. However, I didn't care for how it was decorated.

The spread above is a good example of my transition. On the left page, there are pages from December. On the right side, the page is the first few days of January. Lets do a quick recap of how I use these pages. The top row represents task that need to be completed for my website. The middle row helps me keep track of scheduled social media posts. The bottom row is where I keep a to do list of tasks related to creative team work,guest posts, and classes I am working on. I use the space on the far left for notes about possible blog posts I am considering( covered right now, because I am not ready to share it all with you yet). The bottom lined space of the page is where I write my editorial calendar.

When I first started working in this planner, I was determined to stamp all of the headings.You can see that I stamped MSE( for My Scrapbook Evolution) on each block under the 28th, 29th, 30th and 31s. This did save me time from handwriting all of them.I would also stamps each block in the middle row with the letters SM for social media and each block on the bottom row with Other. It occurred to me that I need only stamp or hand write one heading for each row.

Starting on the blocks for January,I chose a strip of washi tape and stretched it over the blocks in a line over each row. I could then add a sticker, label or scrap piece of paper at the end of the row. I chose to handletter each heading, but I could have also used stamps.

You can see this a little more easily on these pages in February shown above. Using the washi tape strips and one label for each row sped up the decoration process quickly. I also like that it looks and feels more consistent. I utilized some of my markers and pens which don't get a workout as often as they should.

The spread does still need some work. I realized that some of my washi tape choice were too thick and didn't leave as much room in the blocks as I would have liked. The stamping done on the page is ok. I like the stamps on the bottom where I will be writing in the editorial calendar. However, the social media blocks look messy. I think this could be remedied if I find a better font.I also feel like I am still missing some cute things like stamped animals or stickers, but I can add those in later after I fill the month in if I have time.

My planner still has a way to go when it comes to decoration. However, I am fully satisfied with how functional it is. Given more time, I can continue to streamline the planner process.

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Monday, January 4, 2016

The Top 5 Posts of 2015

Despite my editorial and creative calendars being a bit disrupted at the end of the year, I had a great year with My Scrapbook Evolution. Lots of people came and visited the site.I met new people, created a lot of projects and overall, I was happy and ready to move on. I almost didn't write this post as I am already looking toward the future. What changed my mind? I had a website statistics recap pop up in my email. Among the various statistics were the top 5 most read posts on the MSE website.It piques my interest and I though it might do the same for yours as well. So without further adieu here are the most read posts for MSE in 2015!

1. Pocket Life: My 2015 Title Page

2. The Hybrid Experiment:Adding a Golden Glimmer

3. Photographing Scrapbook Layouts and PaperCraft Projects

4. My 3 Favorite Resources for Finding Design Team Calls

5. How I Effectively Use My Planner for My Website

Thank you for supporting My Scrapbook Evolution in 2015! I appreciate you for stopping by and taking the time to read my posts. I love interacting with you in the DigiScrap Geek member group. I hope you are looking forward to a fun and creative 2016! I know I am!

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Friday, January 1, 2016

Welcome 2016! Planning,Dreaming, Creating but Making No Promises

This past year has sent so many changes my way. Good changes, mind you! It started off rough but it ended in such a splendid way! This year, I greeted 2016 with my family watching fireworks in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Moving here was a huge change but one which has improved so many things in our lives. I absolutely love our new home!

The process during the move has been a learning experience for me as well as a period of growth. I did my best to plan and accommodate for the move (writing extra blog posts ahead of time, scheduling a month off from the DigiScrapGeek Podcast). I really did. Delays happened and my plans failed. I could use those delays as an excuse (and I guess in part I am) for not keeping up with the blog and missing podcast recordings. Instead, I am choosing to use them as a lesson to me. Sometimes you just have to let life happen and go with it. Sometimes you can't plan. Sometimes promises can't be kept and so it's better not to make them.

In thinking about my upcoming plans for 2016, I realized that I just need to relax a bit more. I have a tendency to over plan and then get upset when things on the list aren't happening. The funny thing is that pretty much nobody ever sees that list except for me(though there are times I refer to specific projects in newsletter or blog posts). I kind of view each item on those lists as if they are a promise to myself. And who are we often hardest on? Yep, ourselves. Some parts of the list I am good about shuffling about without guilt and others not so much. This year, I plan to be more realistic with what I can accomplish.

What does this mean for My Scrapbook Evolution? I do plan to have an editorial calendar. I am not going to share it publicly( because then I feel like I fail you if I don't deliver X article on X date). I do have a list of articles and tutorials to write. I will write and write often but I also give myself permission to rest and not stress out about the schedule. Schedules can be adjusted. I have a lot of dreams and projects I want to realize. I want to share them with all of you. However, I need to let them unfold as they will, focusing on one at a time, so that they can become real. It's not much different in many ways than what I have done in the past. It's just that as each year goes on, I get a little better at being realistic about what I can accomplish. 

Above is a picture of my cat sitting on my planner. She is reminding me to put down the pen, to stop making lists, and to either rest or just go do something. I took this picture a few weeks back while trying to plan out the end of December and all of 2016. I ended up snuggling her awhile and taking a rest( which lasted several weeks and may or may not have involved worthless time trolling the interwebs). I haven't posted in weeks and guess what? The blog didn't explode or disappear. People kept coming to visit MSE. I took a bit of time to replenish myself from all the excitement and stress of my move. I am starting to feel my creative reserves are ready to be tapped once again.

I am not making any promises other than to say that I will be creative. I will share what I make with you and the DigiScrap Geek Podcast will be back soon.

Here is wishing all of us a wonderful 2016 full of creativity, dreams, and time with family and friends!