Hello. My name is Jenny and I am a stationery addict. There I’ve said it. I’m fairly obsessed with notebooks and planners and regularly have at least four different ones on my desk at work for various purposes. You’ll often find me standing in the stationery section of John Lewis inhaling the sweet aroma of fresh paper and turning the diaries over in my hands to get a feel for them. Purchasing a new diary is not a decision to take lightly.
But too often, when I start to actually use my chosen one, I find them lacking in some respect; not exactly suited to my needs somehow. My main problem is that I tend to have a several plates spinning at any one time, with lots of different projects on the go in addition to my day job and actual personal life. I’ve found previous planners aren’t always practical for keeping track of everything.
The solution has now presented itself in the the shapely form of the Busy B 2016-17 Busy Life Diary, which you can also get in standard 2017 format if you are so organised you are buying next year’s diary already. The Mid-Year option runs from August-August so I’ve been using it for a month over the summer hols.
The absolute beauty of the Busy Life Diary is the week-to-view layout which provides you with a double page spread to compare two different schedules. Depending on your requirements you could use for work and home, personal and blog planning, grown-ups and children, or whatever else works for you.
I have split mine into personal appoinments, family stuff and any project deadlines on one side, with my regular work stuff like meetings and events on the other. This way I can check what work commitments I already have when making personal plans and vice versa without having to delve into a second diary. I find the layout preferable to previous planners I’ve used, in that it still keeps the schedules separate so each one is clearer to read when you’ve got a lot on.
The really eye-opening feature, which has completely changed how I approach my general organisation now is the integration of sticky notes into the diary. You can purchase little pads of various sticky notes which are perfectly sized to slip into a slot in the back of the diary so they are always to hand. It may sound a bit mad, but they have been genuinely life-changing. Instead of filling the diary with permanent to-do lists, or reminders I only briefly need, I’m using the sticky notes to prompt me instead, so I can simply discard when I’ve actually done the thing I’m supposed to do. It’s very satisfying, and stops the ‘Reference’ section from being filled with info you only need temporarily.
The diary has eight ruled ‘Reference’ pages at the front and a ‘Reminders’ spread with a little pocket every three months which I have taken to using as kind of sticky note dashboards, to keep my prompts and lists to hand. Each weekly page also has a ‘Reminders’ column down both sides which I stick notes to as well. I’m using a double page spread in the ‘Reference’ section as a ‘Blog Planner’, with lots of sticky notes for post ideas, outstanding reviews (one to tick off here!) and general to-dos. There is also a little contact section at the back, and the whole thing is finished off with a ribbon page marker, an elastic closure (which I always like) and a useful stretchy pen loop.
Aside from looking gorgeous, it is hands-down the most practical and thoughtfully designed diary I’ve yet owned, and at a handbag-friendly A5 size, you can always have it with you.
Which brings me on to the truly fabulous Busy B School Year Calendar, which you can’t carry with you but will take pride of place on any family kitchen wall. No space is wasted on the August-August calendar, with the whole monthly spread given over to a big grid for everybody’s appointments. The bottom half of the calendar also cleverly doubles as a sturdy pocket which is an absolutely genius way of keeping together all those letters from school, party invitations and hospital appointments which would otherwise end up in a big pile on the dining table only to disappear when you actually need them.
The fun bit is in the form of a sheet of little stickers for you to highlight everything from sleepovers to dentist appointments, with coloured strips to mark holidays and other longer events. With six columns to fill, you can personalise the calendar any way which suits you, with room for grown-ups, children and important dates. The writing surface is matt not shiny, which I like, and you could even keep some more sticky notes to hand for extra reminders.
All in all, I’m hugely impressed with the Busy B range. The products I’ve been using have worked beautifully for me and the calendar will definitely come into its own once term starts! You can also shop from the 2017 collection if you’re being prepared, which I definitely will be from now on.
The Mid-Year Diary is priced at £9.99 and the School Year Calendar £10.99 from busyb.co.uk. Various designs of sticky note pads are £3.99.
I was sent a Busy B diary, calendar and sticky notes for the purpose of writing this review. All opinions and descriptions of the product are my own.