In lieu of the planner, I made a print-out of all my important dates for the year, and wrote down appointments on it as they came up. At the start of each week, I referred to the print-out and wrote down any events for the week on the current week's notebook page. As you can see, it got very messy and not very aesthetically pleasing to look at:
Speaking of ugly planners, I was always hesitant to decorate the pages too much, knowing I'd throw them away in a week's time. I felt like I was 'wasting' any stickers or washi tapes that I put on them.
On a slightly more serious note: I also had no way of tracking how long a task had been on my to-do list. If there were any undone tasks at the end of the week, I would copy them into next week, or, if there were a lot, cut out that section of the page and stick it on. I had no idea how long some of the tasks had been on the list -- the system was missing a sense of accountability. Sometimes, if I was having a bad chronic illness week and hadn't done much, I would even re-use the same page for a second week. This made me feel better about not getting much done, but it also had the effect of not being able to plan in advance -- I didn't know which page to write future tasks or events on because they weren't dated and could vary. So, my planning was very flexible, but had some large drawbacks.
Then one day back in November, I was in Smiggle (a stationery and accessories shop for pre-teens ... and me!) and saw their new range of 2018 planners. I bought one on impulse, deciding then and there to go back to a proper planner for 2018. After months of waiting, I was finally able to start setting it up on New Year's Day! (I was going to start on New Year's Eve, but I had a sudden urge to clean and tidy the house, and I don't want to deny that urge when it happens!)
It took me a surprisingly long time to set up my planner -- writing in event dates and birthdays, decorating the first few weeks in advance, and glueing in printables to cover up the pages I wasn't going to use. I also added in a list of my goals for the year, and some inspirational sayings. Then of course I had to go through my whole sticker collection, dividing them up into a Planner set and a Hobonichi set. Then I had to prepare some washi tapes and decided to re-arrange my whole washi tape collection, too.
While the Smiggle planner is a lot of fun, if I had thought about it more, I would probably have chosen a different one. All of the coloured pictures you see on the pages are stickers or printables I've added -- all of the artwork in the planner is monochrome, which surprisingly isn't in keeping with Smiggle's colourful reputation. The paper is quite thin: felt-tip pens bleed through, and ballpoint pens leave an imprint. I'm not so worried about that though, as I can always cover them up on the other side with a sticker. The glitter cover, while awesome, means that I can't really whip it out during a job interview!
I'm already enjoying having a combined planner. Planning ahead is easier, and decorating with lots of stickers and washi tapes is fun. I hope that will be reflected in an organised and fun year in 2018.