A Mid Year Planner Switch Out

Okay this is the post where I confess WHY my current planner isn’t working for me.  Trust me you won’t hear this reason too often I’m sure.  But first let me back up a little and show you my current soon to be old planner.  I use my planner to keep my blogging business life organized.  I use a different method to keep my family organized which I talk about below.

Back in October I put together a planner using a small Martha Stewart binder and dividers along with some calendar pages from Daytimer.  It is a great looking planner that allowed me space for the different sections of my blogging world which was awesome.  It also included, from the Martha Stewart line, a zippered pen/pencil pouch and some business card holder pages.  It was very functional and pretty too and I really did like it. In fact I took it to my blog conference in October in the US and got so many compliments on it.

However….there was just this ONE teeny tiny problem with it.

It was a pain to write in because I’m a LEFTIE.

There I said it.  My planner doesn’t work for me because the big binder rings annoy the heck out of me every time I try to write in it.  Now you’ve probably heard it all right?  lol

martha stewart binder

So much so that eventually I just stopped using it altogether which for an organized person like me is a bit of a problem.  Let’s just say I’m feeling a little scattered these days.

Sometimes we just have to cut our losses and move on.  So, on a recent trip into the city, I picked up a new planner at Target by Blue Sky.

It’s just a simple inexpensive calendar that has monthly tabs which I really really like.

weekly monthly agenda

Plus it has a ton of daily space to write my lists on :)

Blue Sky Planner inside

The best part?  It has a small spiral binding that doesn’t interfere with my writing.  Sweet!

I also like the durable cover which acts as a big pocket so I could put my own picture in if I wanted to.  Another bonus, which the Martha Stewart binder didn’t offer, is the ability to flip one side under the other taking up less space on my desk.  That’s a very nice option for small spaces.  The only problem with this planner though is that it doesn’t start until July so I’ve got another two weeks of disorganization and then I’m golden.  Ha! :)

I know many of you swear by digital planners and calendars and while I’ve tried many of them they just don’t work for me.  I try not to complicate my life more than I need to and keeping it simple is what works best for me.  Many of you use your iPhone for such things but your eyes must be so much better than mine because I get totally annoyed by the little calendar screen.  As for keeping my family organized, I use a large family fridge calendar and because it’s front and center on the fridge everyone sees it multiple times a day.  The problem with digital organization for families is that it leaves the ones that don’t have a digital product (usually the young ones) at a disadvantage and families can’t run smoothly unless EVERYONE is using the same system.  Just my two cents.

Anyone else out there a leftie that has experienced this same problem with their planner?  Come on, admit it!

Also I’d love to know if you have ever had to abandon your planner at some point during the year for a different one?  Would love to know why.

Have a great weekend everyone!


Linking up at Somewhat Simple and Design Dining and Diapers

Filed under: Calendars/Planners, My Life


67 Responses to A Mid Year Planner Switch Out

  1. 1
    Elizabeth says

    I love the blue sky planners. This is my 2nd year using them and they are perfect for me! I ordered mine from Amazon. It is nice to know they are at Target too!

    • 1.1
      Suzanne says

      I am so with you. I have a planner and for that same reason I am stuck. I am also a lefty and i get stuck with writing because of those rings, annoys me to no end.

    • 1.2
      Laura says

      Can’t wait to start using mine :)

  2. 2
    Alicia rosienewoutlook says

    That is awesome Laura, and as a fellow lefty I absolutely feel your pain….just like those stinking right hander desks in high school! I wanted to let you know I also saw customizable notebooks at Staples. Thanks for you wonderful blog!

  3. 3
    Barbara says

    After I bought my daytimer planner, I regretted it because of the binder rings. My hand has to sit on them to write on the left side. So it looks like I will be going back to spiral bound!

  4. 4
    Fergee says

    I am totally with you on the binder rings and I am a rightie! I can’t stand binder rings! I would never buy a planner that had them in the first place…exactly why I don’t have a fancy filofax one :)

    • 4.1
      Laura says

      Yep a Filofax definitely wouldn’t work for me either…plus I find them way too bulky and heavy.

  5. 5
    Alli says

    That’s a cute little planner. I love coil bound planners. I find binders great for reference materials, but not for writing in, and I’m a rightie. I’ve got my eye on the Arc Notebook system at Staples. The punch is a little pricey, but it lets you have all the customization of a binder but functions more like a coil bound book.

  6. 6
    Annette {This Simple Mom} says

    I bought my soon-to-be-first-grader a steno notebook for summer journaling since she is a leftie. I don’t know if it will really help, but thought it might.

    Poor Lefties!

    • 6.1
      Laura says

      Ahh thanks for the support :) Peeling potatoes has always been a big problem for me too lol.

  7. 7
    Mary says

    I am a rightie but I can see where you are coming from! I am definitely a hard copy planner person and hate using my phone or computer calendar options. My husband is all Outlook, all the way. He doesn’t get me when it comes to calendars.

  8. 8
    Brenda says

    Another Leftie in the house! I hear you. I like something low profile, b/c otherwise, I can’t comfortably write around it. I’ve used the Blue Sky planner before and I really, really liked it. I tried a Vera Bradley one this year and it’s okay, but it’s still a smaller 3-ring binder, so…I probably will head back to Target at the end of the year.

  9. 9
    Lori says

    I am disappointed that you didn’t like COZI – everyone (even the 5 year old) in my house uses it and it works for us so effectively – anytime, anywhere.

    But I am glad you found something you like and works for your family- THAT is what is most important.

    • 9.1
      Laura says

      It’s not that I didn’t like it (I can totally see how it could work for some) but I find there is just too much room for error….our one spot on the fridge and NO ONE misses it ever because everyone uses the fridge throughout the day. Everyone writes on it and adds their stuff and it is constantly changing. I never have to remind anyone if they checked a device because I automatically know they’ll see the fridge and that puts my mind at ease which is a good thing :)

  10. 10
    Nancy says

    I have taught 7th and 8th graders for 20 years. Believe me, if I can find a way to make their work (chicken scratch or worse) neater and easier to read, I will give it a try.

    One of my former students was left handed. His mother found spiral bound notebooks that were bound on the opposite side. These were made just for “lefties”. She saw some binders that were also made for lefties, but they were so expensive that we decided it wasn’t worth the cost.

    • 10.1
      Dede says

      I’m not a leftie but for the spiral notebooks why not just write in them upside down?

      • Laura says

        Hi Dede, even upside down the rings in the middle will still be a problem unfortunately.

  11. 11
    Christine says

    Another fellow leftie here as week as my daughter. I just got my first planner from Franklin and I am learning to live with the center rings and adapt. Isn’t that what us lefties do, adapt? At downtown Disney they use to have a lefties store and I bought my daughter the 3 subject notebooks that were printed backwards so the holes were on the left and the spiral was on the right. She loved them for school. I need to get her more!

    • 11.1
      Laura says

      Oh my, I would LOVE to go to a lefties store!!!

      • Christine says

        Yep it is awesome. I need to go see if its still there. They had a coffee mug with a small hole in the lip on one side so if you used it right handed the coffee would pour out! Ha!

  12. 12
    Amy says

    We use Cozi here so everyone has the same info. My younger two can even have the app on their nooks. I do print the calendar out on 13×19″ paper at the beginning of each month to hang on the wall.That way we all have a quick visual without having to turn on a device.

  13. 13
    Jessica says

    I totally understand tossing out the older planner with a new one. I have done this a couple times thoughout my life as different compies come out with different styles and set ups.

    As for digitial planners, there is one that does try to include the whole family, by having a family password and assigning color codes for each family memebers events and activities.


    It may not work for you but I love it and perhaps others may enjoy it to.

    • 13.1
      Laura says

      My only concern is the 4/5/6/7 year olds that are then left out of the loop. My son learned at a very young age how to check the calendar and know what was coming up. Since we cross of the days as we go he always knew what day we were on and it really gives them a sense of being a part of the family.

  14. 14
    Mhairi says

    Lovely! I just bought the same planner after giving up on digital organization…I’m going back to paper as I also like to be able to see the whole week/month at a glance with all the bits of information visible (as opposed to my iphone where I need to click to see what the event actually is from calendar view)

    I’m having a hard time waiting until July to put it into good use, but I am excited to give it a try!

    • 14.1
      Laura says

      Yes I need to have a full view of the entire week and month at one time…it calms my brain :)

  15. 15
    Sunshine says

    I am a lefty, too. I love the flexibility of a ring binder planner but can’t write in it! Have to have spiral.

  16. 16
    Beth N. says

    I hear ya sista! I am also a lefty as well as my daughter. I love the notebooks with spiral at the TOP! It is hard to find things that work well for lefties for sure. I too, would love to go more digital with the family but it really doesn’t work well. The calendar on the frig is what we work with also. My husband is seriously digitally challenged ( he refuses to even reply to an email) so stuff on frig is about the only way we function. Good luck with the new planner, I might have to give one a try!

  17. 17
    M says

    Why not take the pages out, hole punch them on the other side, replace them and use your binder “upside down”? Then the rings would be on the right. I have an adjustable hole punch (does regular or half-size pages) and I’m sure it didn’t cost me more than $10.

    • 17.1
      Em says

      That’s what I was thinking. I have left handed students that start in the back of their spiral bound notebooks so the spiral is not under their hand.

  18. 18
    Alana @ Sparrow + Grace says

    I love the idea of being able to add and take away pages in a binder and I *LOVE* the look of the Martha Stewart binders, but I struggle with a similar issue when it comes to using binders as organizers: I’m not a leftie, but I do struggle to write with the pages in the rings. I have to remove them in order to write all the way across the page. Ugh!

    Honestly, I have yet to find my perfect solution. I have a love/hate relationship with paper planners, yet I cannot seem to stick to a digital solution long enough to give it a fair shot. *Sigh*

  19. 19
    Kris Van Allen says

    I have the Martha set up that you do, and I am also a leftie. It is starting to get to me, too!!

    Does the Blue Sky that you bought have a month-at-a-glance page?

  20. 20
    Jennifer B says

    I am also a lefty, and I have been using the Blue Sky planners for a few years! Target and Walmart carry them. I used the medium sized ones (5 x 8 I think) for many years before switching to the smaller, more purse friendly sized one last year. I was scared about it not being big enough for everything that I write, but it worked out just fine. I don’t go anywhere without my planner! I like that I still have the weekly pages and the month-at-a-glance even with the smaller size.

    My husband uses his phone for his reminders, but I just feel so much better when I write things down, so I stick with my written planner!

  21. 21
    Amanda says

    I’m a leftie too and I feel your pain! I have been thinking about switching to an electronic calendar but I like to write down my appointments, maybe I should switch to Blue Sky…

  22. 23
    Sara Beth says

    I’m a leftie and have the EXACT same planner for mostly the same reason! I love it so much! It’s simple but perfect.

  23. 24
    Rhonda F. says

    I’d never try to convince you to switch to digital because there are some things that always have to be paper for me. If paper works best for you, then that’s the way to go.

    However, digital doesn’t mean anyone is left out. Even a four year old can check the family calendar on the family iPad if that’s how your family rolls and with every device synced, we are all sharing the same calendar from anywhere. For me, a paper calendar hanging on the fridge won’t help anyone who is out and about. I won’t know my husband’s schedule while I’m scheduling appointments for the family. My husband won’t know that I scheduled a teacher conference at the same time as an important business call he scheduled earlier in the day until we get home and manually “sync” our paper planners. Paper means collecting little reminder cards and hoping we don’t double book anything. It also means writing the same thing down in several locations and hoping nothing gets lost in translation. It’s so incredibly cumbersome and inefficient.

    We use Google Calendars, color code everyone, and sync all our devices. Monthly, I print out a copy for the fridge for quick reference and for those too little to have their own devices. If we add something mid month, we add it to Google and everyone is informed on their device. To keep the printed calendar synced, we just write it on the fridge calendar the old fashioned way. So, there is a small duplication of effort, but it’s better than writing it in my planner, writing it my husband’s planner, and so forth and so on.

    Both ways have advantages and disadvantages. It’s just about which one is least troublesome for each family.

    • 24.1
      Ginny says

      You stated my concern exactly: what happens when you are out, away from the fridge calendar, and you have to schedule an appointment? (For instance, you have to make a follow-up with the doctor while you are still in the office.) Do you simply call when you get home, or do you have a good enough memory about what is on the fridge calendar that you can make the appointment then and there?

      This isn’t a concern for me at this stage of life as my children are grown (one still lives at home, but she has her own life for the most part and our schedule doesn’t affect her for the most part), but I am curious. I still use a paper calendar in a small Day Timer-like zippered binder, and I have learned to write in pencil because appointments are always changing, and there are a lot of them (my husband is terminally ill). I also have a calendar which hangs below the phone, and I have a white board calendar which I erase and update every four weeks or so. That one is color-coded. Yes, it’s probably overload, but it works for us, and when you have as many appointments and medical tests to keep track of – and since I have been known to forget important things! – the triple check is important.

      Ultimately, each person/family has to find what works for them. If that means abandoning a system in the middle of a year because it’s not working, then do it!

      P.S. My daughter is a leftie, and she was ecstatic to find a left-handed calendar. She says it’s pricey, but worth it.

    • 24.2
      Laura says

      Yes that makes perfect sense which is why it is so great that there are so many options out there to meet everyone’s needs. My husband doesn’t have a planner or a smart phone and never ever makes an appointment himself. So without him being digitally connected via mobile it would be just too tough for us. Since I’m the only one making appointments in the house that does make it a little easier for me to do so as I don’t have to worry about double booking.

      I love that we can have this discussion as these are all things people need to consider when deciding which way would work best for their family.

      Thanks so much for chiming in!!

  24. 25
    Susan Brown says

    Some years ago when we all used to pay our bills by cheque, I noticed that US chequebooks had the stubs along the top of the cheques. Being left handed I thought this a brilliant solution to me not being able to write on our Australian cheque stubbs which are always to the left of the cheque. I approached my bank and suggested they adopt the US style of chequebook but they showed no interest. As for writing in binders, I always turn the page and write on the reverse side (ie Page 2)

  25. 26
    Diane says

    I changed my planner in mid-May and just went to a spiral-bound college ruled notebook for my calendar, daily sheets and to-do’s. I put the removable index tabs for the sections I needed and I have a separate smaller binder for my reference items I don’t change out.

  26. 27
    Julie Bestry says

    Makes sense to me. One of the first questions I ask my new organizing clients is whether they are lefties or righties. It makes a huge difference for using planners, filing in tabbed folders, notetaking for work or school, etc.. You should be commended for not sticking with a system that eats up mental energy on tolerations. Good job!

    • 27.1
      Laura B says

      Hi Julie! Nice to see you here as well. I am a big fan of the Blue Sky planners, am just starting my 2nd July-June one. (And I’m a lefty.) I am a rather creative person who loves to craft, scrapbook, etc; but for my planner, I want something attractive but pretty simple in its setup. I’ve done the Day Timer, Dayrunner, and similar planner setup and they are not for me. Too many options or customizations and I get bogged down in its appearance and don’t get down to actually USING it!

    • 27.2
      Laura B says

      Of course you do, Julie! You’re awesome like that!

  27. 28
    Amanda A. says

    I am on my 3rd year using this binder. The first year I had the spiral and last year I changed to a leather one by Big Sky . I didn’t like it for the fact that I couldn’t fold it over. So this year I went back to the spiral bound and I love it so much.

  28. 29
    Amy says

    Have used Blue Sky planners before and they are nice! CurrentlyI use theErin Condren life planner which is amazing! Glad you found a better option for you!

  29. 30
    Elizabeth says

    Yes! I love Blue Sky binders! I got one in Jan of this year and I actually use it…first time I have actually used a planner everyday because the pages are so big and I can take it with me in my tote bag I take to church. I write down EVERYTHING in mine and it is always on the kitchen counter every other day of the week! Thanks for letting me know that Target has new ones in, so I can get mine for next year without worry!!

  30. 31
    hallie says

    I too am a lefty and have the hardest time writing on things in binders because of this. I also hate most notebooks because the spiral is too big and gets in the way.

  31. 32
    Tracy says

    In school I always had the notebooks that were spiral bound at the top instead of the side for this very reason. And when I use a big binder for a calendar and notes, I usually print everything in landscape so I can turn it so that the binder rings are the top of the page when I’m using it.

  32. 33
    kimmie says

    I LOVE BlueSky planners!!!!! I couldn’t find a pattern I liked in May, though, so I picked a greenroomeco planner at target. It’s nice but since it’s eco friendly, the pages are a little thin so I can’t use gel pens with it because it bleeds through.

  33. 34
    Barbara says

    Another lefty leaving her 2 cents. St. Augustine, Fl. used to have a lefties store, but it was quite pricey. Both my husband & I are lefties, BTW. I too prefer my notes/ calender to be on paper, & believe it or not, at back to school time, $ Tree, Family $ & $ General all carry calender/ planners for the following year Starting with Jan, not July. And, they are bound, like a composition book (sewn down the center), no wire spirals anywhere! And, they’re only a buck!. That’s my solution, because even small wire spirals annoy the hell outta me. Hope this helps somebody.

  34. 35
    Jodi says

    I’m a leftie too and absolutely hate the binder ring on my calendar…but I also love how versatile having a binder is instead of a spiral book. I like being able to add extra things to my planner so everything is in one spot.

  35. 36
    Patricia aka Mamaw says

    For all the lefties out there some one needs to create a 6-8 inch planner with spiral or rings that flips open at the top, like a wall calendar. That way whether it has rings or spirals lefties and righties can use it without the rings and spirals getting in our way.

  36. 37
    Patricia aka Mamaw says


  37. 38
    Denise says

    I am a leftie, and I take my pages out of my binder so I don’t have to be bothered by those darn rings! You are spot on about them being so annoying!

  38. 39
    Laci says

    You can have things put together with a spiral bond for almost nothing at most copy stores. I used to bind my note packets and written reports in grad school. You could collect planner pages from different sources, customize the order, and then bind for a couple bucks.

  39. 40
    Frances says

    Thank you for posting this blog at the perfect time for me to understand that google calendar is NOT working for me. I’m off to Target to get a new planner and a dry-erase one-month wall calendar.

  40. 41
    Tracy O says

    I have been using the same Blue Sky planner for a few years now and I love it. I also love that they change their designs every year…the hardest part for me is picking which design. I like how the daily pages have a lot of room to write. I actually draw a line down the middle of each block which helps me organize my day even better “to dos” go in the left and appointments on the right. My daughter is a leftie and uses the same one for school…no complaints. Your MS binder is pretty…but you will love the blue sky one.

  41. 42
    Christie LeBouef says

    I’ve actually stopped using a planner for the same EXACT reason. I can even remember in college or high school switching to notebooks because this was an irritation to me. So funny, I’m glad I’m not alone. Now that technology has taken over, I mostly use my iPhone and iPad for the calendar but since I’m a very visual person I like to have a paper calendar as well. I am in the process of starting my own Virtual Assistance business so I need to find a planner that is truly functional!

  42. 43
    Jodie says

    You should try the Arc notebooks from Staples. They’re customisable spiral bound notebooks. You can add dividers, pockets and even extra paper. I’ve been using mine for uni so that when I run out of space in one section I can just add more paper into that section. They also have weekly planner pages now with lots of space to write.

  43. 44
    Sharon says

    I bought myself a Blue Sky planner this year. I love it! I have one of the horizontal 10×8 monthly/weekly ones and it is awesome. I do my menu planning on the weekly pages and have my shopping list on the “notes” column. I like that the horizontal ones have a full column for each day and the weekend is not crammed in. I can then add my schedule under the menu at top. And the month is on a full page by itself, so you don’t have to keep the book full spread to see the calendar. The extra “essential” pages in the back have some cool template lists too.

  44. 45
    Connie Weiss says

    I bought the same planner a few weeks ago to use for PTA (I’m the President). It’s perfect for me because our year starts in July and ends in June. I’m going to *attempt* to use my iCal for everything else. Wish me Luck!

  45. 46
    Christa says

    I could have written that post exactly myself! LOL Except that I got the pink planner instead of the blue one. :) I printed out a few weeks of a blank June calendar to use until July 1st. I tried Google calendar, but my brain just handle it! I like seeing the daily “boxes” and knowing where something is written on the page helps me remember which day something is scheduled for. That sounds crazy, huh? LOL

  46. 47
    sally says

    Love it.
    for decades it’s worked for me.
    so much space, so many ways to organize
    uncalendar.com is the site

  47. 48
    Julie says

    Hi there! Next time you could print your own and have them spiral bound the right side at an office supply place. Or use and ARC system (disk bound) and punch on the right, put the rings on the right. Might look different to a right hander, but it would be functional for a left-hander.

  48. 49
    Vanessa says

    Hello! I love these binders too, and I was wondering – how did you keep yours clean? With the light mint color, it picks up dirt from my desk and shows pretty well :/

    • 49.1
      Laura says

      Hmmm I haven’t noticed that problem here…but I love that they wipe down nicely with a damp cloth.


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