I love the idea of having an organized life. In my pre-SAHM life, I worked full-time and my boss sent all of his employees to a Franklin Covey planning seminar, which officially launched my love of all things planner-related. I was devoted to Franklin Covey for those working years, then once I was at home full-time I switched to using the Happy Planner (because it really is so darn cute AND affordable). I loved using the Happy Planner.
But as all of us who have attempted using planners will probably at some point admit, it wasn’t meeting all my needs. I love planning and journaling and list making.
But I eventually got tired of carrying multiple notebooks around in my purse. I got tired of making lists and then forgetting the list at home. I wanted access to ALL of my systems ALL the time in ONE place.
The one thing I was sure of was that an electric/online planning system was not going to work for me. I was committed to having a tangible, paper planner to scribble on and doodle on and spill coffee on. Surely there had to be a way to combine all my necessary elements into one planner?!
Enter the traveler’s notebook.
I first heard about traveler’s notebooks (or Midori notebooks) on a podcast. I had no idea what the podcaster was referring to, so I started researching and completely fell down a rabbit hole. The premise behind a traveler’s notebook is that it’s a notebook you travel with, so it’s not big in size, it’s durable, and it’s portable.
It’s set up like this: you have a cover (of leather, vinyl, cloth, etc) and lots of little removable notebooks inside. Once you finish using one of the notebooks, you pop it out and replace with another notebook. It’s genius in it’s simplicity. And totally customizable. Love!!
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I’ve been using this system for a year now, and don’t see that changing anytime soon. I’m all in. For my traveler’s notebook, I use a standard size leather cover that I bought on Amazon. Before ordering notebooks/inserts, I thought long and hard about what I want my TN to accomplish for me. And I ended up with six notebooks in my TN:
- Notes. This is where I put meeting notes, coaching notes, sermon notes, conference notes…basically a place to jot down notes from anything I attend. For the time being, I’m also using this as my journal.
- Commonplace book. I copy down thoughts/phrases from books that were meaningful to me so that I can reference them easily.
- Lists. I use a grid-style insert to make all of my lists. This notebooks includes things like my daily mood tracker, my daily gratitude tracker, meal ideas, bill pay tracker, books I want to read, crafts I want to make, blog post ideas, etc. Anything that I need to get out of my head and dumped onto paper goes in this insert.
- Weekly planner. This is the heart of my TN. I use a two page spread for each week: one side has each day of the week listed, so this is where I place daily tasks/errands; the other side is blank. I use the blank side to track my daily habits, my to do list, water consumption, a sleep log, weekly meal plan, a Bible verse that I’m focusing on, etc. I love that it’s a blank canvas because it gives me freedom to add/change things from week to week. (This is pictured in the photo above.)
- Traditional annual calendar. So I can plan things on a monthly basis and see what’s coming down the road at a glance.
- Art notebook. Watercolor paper pages to do nature study along with my kids. I’m terrible at art. But I try. 😉
I love that there are limitless possibilities of lists and trackers to include in a traveler’s notebook. But if you need more ideas, I’d check out this awesome Dot Journaling book – you can read my thoughts about it here. And you can check out my list of “13 Essential Lists You Need in Your Planner” for even more ideas. In the future I’ll probably add a specific notebook for journaling. I’m not doing much journaling right now and I’d like to get back into it.
I feel like I need to say that I am definitely not a TN expert. There are many people out there who are doing it WAAAAAAY better than I ever will. But there are two reasons I’m confident in using TN’s. One, I feel prepared. I’m not scattered. Everything is in one place. It evolves with me…a trait which I appreciate since I can be kind of flighty sometimes. 🙂 And two, there’s really no wrong way to do it. Everyone has the freedom to do it in a way that works for them.