As we get to the end of the year, many in the stationary community will share their reflections on what they’ve used and what changes they’re going to make for next year. I have had a really good year stationary wise, so I thought I would share my usage and plans as well.

So with that intro, I’d like to discuss 2023: The Year of Plotter.

Technically the year of Plotter began with this same exercise last year. I had been using a Rhodia Goalbook as a bullet journal for multiple years, but saw the Plotter hype online, and found a way to convince myself that I needed one instead of the goalbook. I honestly don’t remember what the justification I used was, but deep down they looked nice, and I wanted to see what the fuss was about. I took possession of my A5 Plotter in early October.

Plotter A5 with several accessories on a desk

Adorably, I thought I would make it to the new year before beginning to use the Plotter. I made it to the end of October.

For the first 6 or so months of its life, the Plotter was just a really fancy Bullet Journal. I used the Monthly Schedule Refill as my Monthly log in the front of the notebook, 5mm dot grid pages for my daily logs, and the occasional Project Manager to keep up with certain items from work and sermon notes from church. It worked well and delighted me every time I opened it.

However, in May, I began what ended up being a 5 month long transition to a new position at my company. AKA, I was doing 2 jobs at once. AKA, my system couldn’t keep up.

The beauty and the problem with Plotter is their binders can only hold 80 or so pages. Between all the notes I was taking for both jobs, my tasks, and everything else, I was running out of space. So…I bought another Plotter. Shocking, I know. This time I bought a Bible size.

Bible sized plotter and accessories next to A5 on desk

My intention was to use the A5 for all personal planning and notes, and the Bible for everything work related.

The intention was good, but buying a whole organization system right at the start of a new job is not always the best idea. I didn’t fully know what my day to day work would be like or what kinds of things I would need to keep track of. I came to discover I don’t like having tasks between separate notebooks. One gets neglected.

I’ve spent most of the last few months trying different layouts, paper types, arrangements, and more between the two plotters, and I finally have a system that is mostly working now for going into the new year. I have decided to let the Plotters be good at what they are, and nothing else. That means there will be other notebooks/journals (and boy will there be 😂) in the mix as well, but I will discuss those another time. I put a few of these items on my Christmas list, so we’ll have to see if Santa comes through.

The A5 plotter will no longer be for any task management. It will only be for storing personal notes, mostly sermon notes and other studies I’m completing. The Bible sized will be my planner for all tasks and work notes. The goal will be to organize these notes into project managers.

In the Bible size, I plan to use Plotter’s monthly refills to keep track of the sprints my dev team will be completing as well as holidays and team PTO. This will allow me to understand how much work can be accomplished each sprint, and can always be quickly referenced as I plan ahead. I currently already have the monthly refills for the first quarter of 2024 in the binder.

When the new year actually beghins, I plan to use Plotter’s weekly refills for planning my days and actual to do lists. I’m concerned this may not give me enough space for all the tasks I will have in a week, but I at least want to try them. If I need to, I can always add a Plotter To Do List page in the middle of the weekly laylout.

Separated by the pen holder/lifter, I have a project manager at the back of the binder with notes on all the features our team is currently building into the software or will build in the next quarter. Each feature currently just has a single 5mm dot grid page dedicated for notes. I write down things we need to consider, questions we have, and general info I will need to reference as I begin to build out development tickets for the team to work on.

While there are still some unknowns, this setup feels like it aligns with my needs, allows me to use the notebooks I enjoy, and will help me get everything done I need to. I hope to do a check in further into the year to share how things are going.