Monday, July 15, 2019

Creating A Travel Planner

A compact planner is the perfect size for travel!

A planner is a great organizational tool that can help you organize all areas of your life.  Why not create a multi-purpose, all-in-one planner that can go with you everywhere--even when you travel?  That is the question I asked myself, and after some trial and error, I finally came up with something that gives me planner peace.  In this post, I will show you the tools I used to create a compact style, budget-friendly, travel planner.

Let me give you the back story.

I love planners!  I learned a long time ago that if I don't write it down, it doesn't get done.  And though I've tried the electronic method of updating my Google calendar or storing my "To Do List" on my phone, no matter how sophisticated the program, something gets forgotten or a task is completely omitted.  Besides, who can really carry their laptop with them every second?  Why would we want to?  I know that our phones are on our person at all times but it has failed to become the perfect personal digital assistant.  Something has become lost along the way.

As a teacher, I tell my students that the reason why we take handwritten notes is because there is a correlation between arm movement and brain activity.  As you put pen to paper, you are literally writing something into your brain.   This does not happen as you type and swipe.   Therefore, I am returning to the tried and true method of planning my day the old fashioned way.  There is just something satisfying about physically checking things off! 

Full Focus Planner by Michael Hyatt

I started this process back in May with the purchase of the Full Focus Planner by Michael Hyatt.  Though the planner is designed to be utilized for only 90 days, it is far from cheap.  One could justify the cost of this planner in that it makes you dig deep and analyze every area of your life.  There is a lot of PRE-planning involved at the start of this planner but it is totally worth it.  I do not regret the purchase of the Full Focus Planner because the self-analysis work paid off.  It lives up to its name.  By the end of the first week, you become clear about your goals and start setting up action steps to help you accomplish them.  I also appreciate the fact that the Full Focus Planner incorporates the use of rituals to help you realize how best to spend your mornings, how to create a workday start-up, how to shut down after work,  and how to plan for evening wind down.  I had not developed such rituals until I started using the Full Focus Planner.   

Franklin Covey Daily Pages are perfect for journaling on the go!

Which led me to return to my favorite organizational system, Franklin Covey.  I first used the Franklin Covey System twenty years ago.  I did not appreciate how thorough this system is otherwise I would not have abandoned it.  If you are familiar with Franklin Covey's book, The Seven Habits of Effective People, you understand the basic concepts at the heart of this planning system.  It builds upon the core principles and habits discussed in the book.  The system requires the user to dedicate 5 to 10 minutes each morning to planning.  The steps to daily planning are simple yet powerful if completed with fidelity:
  1. Review yesterday to see which tasks weren't completed.
  2. Check today's appointments and block out necessary time.
  3. Make a realistic list of tasks for the day.
  4. Prioritize your tasks (ABC,123).
Step number 4 is similar to Michael Hyatt's "Daily Big Three".  Prioritizing tasks is key.  It is one step above the traditional "To Do" list in that it forces you to focus on completing tasks that will help you reach specific goals you have set up in advance.  Whether you purchase a Franklin Planner binder or utilize another type of binder, I highly recommend filling it with Franklin Planner inserts.  You will be one step closer to reaching your goals.  

PlanAhead Monthly/Weekly Organizer 

Which brings us to the Plan Ahead Organizer!  This compact binder is a real bargain.  The pages are undated so you can purchase it at any time.   The binder on its own is understated and plain but the extras are worth as much if not more than what you might pay for systems that cost five times as much as this one.  There are so many goodies included in the PlanAhead Monthly/Weekly Planner that they are ALL worth mentioning:
  • Dividers are provided for each section of the organizer
  • 12 Monthly pages, each organized on two pages 
  • Weekly pages, organized on two pages 
  • Ruler/Pagefinder
  • To Do section for tracking to do's and checking them off 
  • Work section for tracking important phone calls 
  • Personal section for birthdays, budget tracking, recording expenses, auto maintenance, and medical information
  • Reference section for conversion charts, US & Metric Units, Time Zone Map, etc.
  • Contacts section with A-Z tabs
  • Zipper pocket and a photo/card pocket 
  • secretarial flap
  • pen holder
  • note pad
NOW you see why I chose this particular binder!   The extras alone would cost as much as the entire binder if they were each sold separately.  I am very happy with this purchase.  I also have no qualms about swapping some things out and inserting new ones.  I can truly make it my own.   Later, I can upgrade if I find something that suits me; but for now, the PlanAhead Binder is perfect.


I recommend that you resist the urge to purchase ready-made dividers and cutesy pages and consider customizing your organizer on your own.  When you customize it yourself you will feel an immense sense of satisfaction and save yourself a ton of money.  After all, you are setting up the binder for planning, not for playing each day.  This is a serious task that deserves thought and "planning"--pun intended.  
Fun stickers, clips, and theme related goodies from the Dollar Tree!
With that in mind, start browsing the stationery section of discount stores like the Dollar Tree or browse the clearance section at Kirkland's.  You will be surprised at what you will find, especially if you already have a THEME in mind.  I believe that is what people start searching for online. They start out looking for inspiration and end up getting carried away with all the bells
and whistles.  Before you know it, the purpose of the planner is lost altogether.  For this demonstration, our focus will begin and end with
functional planning.

Step 1: Create a Theme
  • How do you want to decorate your dividers?
  • What do you collect?
  • What activities do you participate in?
  • Do you want to include family photos?
The answers to these questions will help you stay focused as you shop for decorative paper, stickers, or fun pocket items.  

I chose to create a relaxing yet feminine floral background as a backdrop to insert my favorite scriptures.  I chose this beautiful calendar to create my primary palette.  At a price of $1,  it cost mere pennies to create section dividers.  

Step 2: Block Out Time for Creating

You will need a minimum of one hour but you don't have to do this all at once.  Set aside time in your planner to create your perfect dividers sections, decorating your pocket, and filling out information that will help you figure out how you want to use your planner.  This may take several hours so plan accordingly.  I went to the local Library so that I would not be distracted by social media, Television, phone, or food and worked for 4 hours cutting, pasting, labeling, and taping.  It was truly satisfying but afterward, it felt like I had really worked at a job all day!  I needed to get this done and out of the way once and for all so that I could get on with the business of transferring my information from the Full Focus Planner and get on with the business of creating my daily plans.  Set up takes work.  You are worth it!

Pretty pens, 3 for $1!
Step 3: Personalize Your Pages 

This is indeed the fun part so go crazy with it!  You are going to open it several times a day so you might as well make it pretty to look at.  Just remember--keep it functional.

When I open my planner, the first thing I see are things that make me happy: flowers, coffee quotes, and scriptures!

This is my DIY dashboard.  I created it by inserting stickers into the cardholder (left) and by covering the existing page divider with a page from the calendar.  The back page of the calendar held thumbnails of the larger size pages from inside the calendar.  I placed the thumbnail in the center of the divider page and laminated the page using clear packaging tape to give it reinforcement.  The tape also creates a smooth surface that holds post-it notes very well.

The first section in my binder is labeled "To Do".  Again, I covered the existing divider with a page from the floral calendar.

I filled this section with Franklin Covey's Compact, Ring Bound inserts I opted to use the Two Pages Per Day version, decorated in "Blooms".  This pack serves me well because it is preprinted for July 2019 through June 2020.  Perfect timing for this planner!

The next section is labeled "Work".  I am using this section as a blog tracker.  I purchased the pretty pink ruler from the Dollar Tree a year ago.  I punched holes to use it as a second page finder for this planner.  It is just perfect for my theme!

  This section of my binder is for "Personal" tasks pertaining to my goals, morning and evening, rituals, budget tracking, and medical tracking.   I use the ribbon bookmark as a third-page finder.  I tried to vary the floral pages from the calendar to keep it interesting.  I love the pattern on this page!

This section is for "Important Contacts" that I want to have access to in case of an emergency, even if the phone dies out.   The facing page is the final section of the "Reference" Section.  I highlighted places on the map that I have visited.   I much prefer having this in my binder than  on my wall!  The calendar pages again provided the covering for the existing section divider.  The pink and green contrast is vintage chic!

Step 4: Start Organizing Your Life

Write down daily tasks, appointments, grocery lists, projects, important phone calls, birthdays, celebrations, and vacation itineraries.  Write it all down!  The more you use your planner for recording your ideas and thoughts the less stressed you will be and the more organized you will become.  Martha Stewart once said that she keeps a small pad by her bed so that she can write down an idea in the middle of the night and go back to sleep.  That is brilliant.  It proves that even a busy person like Martha Stewart understands that she can dump her brain and come back to it later without losing precious sleep.  A compact planner is easy to use everywhere, even at your bedside!

Step 5: Enjoy Your Planner
Use your planner daily and take it with you everywhere--even when you travel!

Amazon Associates Disclosure:
Miles and Coffee RV is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.  If you choose to use the links provided on this blog to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  THANK YOU!

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Is Van Life for You?

It seems like the #vanlife moniker is everywhere these days, especially on social media.  In light of this craze, one would be led to believe that van dwelling is something new, when in fact the craze started during the sixties.  It was the recent RV renaissance that helped bring back the nostalgic vans.

CBS This Morning recently aired a segment about why people are choosing to live full time in a van.
Watch the video and then decide for yourself whether this lifestyle is for you.  It just might persuade you to adopt #vanlife as well!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Summer Travel Idea #5: Hawaii

The iconic Diamond Head volcano in Oahu.

A panoramic view of Waikiki from the peak of Diamond Head

Visit Trip Advisor to book your trip to Hawaii!

Touring Historic Downtown Guadalajara

Photo by  Texas wedding photographer, Matthew T Rader This is Guadalajara Cathedral at Plaza de La Liberacion in Guadalajara, Jalisco ...