Digital Calendars for Planning? No thank you!
We enter items in a calendar so we can see them when needed. Tell me: on what planet are serial dots & other forms of “guess!” truncation helpful? I KNOW coding permits word-wrapped text within a calendar block because I’ve seen it in action: KeepAndShare on the web, and app iCalendar on my iPad. When the text overflows the space allotted, KeepAndShare’s cal shows a nifty little scrollbar to review the entirety of the entry. But the BigBoys ignore such coding yummies.
Yes, I’m aware of the ubiquitous Agenda list view. But when I’m in the planning zone, Momma craves the standard grid view. I want to see the post titles within the context of a full week or month.
Japanese Planners, Serving as Bible for all Analog Planning Endeavors
On June 1, 2017 —the date of this post’s initial publication— an A5 Hobonichi Cousin Avec rocked my planning world. Its über portable sibling, the Hobonichi Weeks, rounded out my BuJo arsenal. My BuJo habits include using the last three months of the year as a trial run, for the upcoming year’s planning system.
I had, and have, no Hobonichi-sourced complaints. At that time, experience informed me. The Cousin’s Daily pages encouraged duplication and overlap, triggering quiet rage. I’m not one for migrating or anything else coaxing repeated busy work.
That minset led me to Kokuyo’s Jibun Techo. The Jibun’s A5 Slim sizing reduces width by roughly ½ inch. And, because the Jibun presents no Daily pages, it’s substantially thinner and trimmer in hand. I pulled the Jibun trigger in September 2017, but my respect for the larger Hobonichi remains.
in terms of the subject at hand, devising an Editorial Calendar for this blog as well as social media activities, I used one of two methods during successive years. The Cousin’s larger month grid-blocks embraced such planning. But the standard month view within the Jibun proved a tad too tight for comfort. This explains my switch to the vertical weekly view.
Japanese calendars / planners mesmerize stationery nerds around the world. Despite providing multiple calendar views, the books remain flexible enough to embrace assorted bullet journal needs, like trackers. Many are also thin to the extreme. The glorious unique feature set of every Hobonichi book, and “Standard” Jibun Techo planners, include:
- Tomoe River paper: Adored by fountain pen fans, these books yield svelte profiles. Down side? For the heavy-handed among us, the print written on one side of a sheet leaves imprints on its reverse side, i.e. ghosting. Avoidance techniques? Writing with a fine nib pen (e.g., 0.3mm Pilot Juice Up or 0.38mm Pilot Juice, 0.3mm Platinum Preppy fountain pens) coerced me into writing with lighter pressure. Pencil boards, e.g. the cardboard backer of a legal pad, also kill the hassle. Conclusion: the paper otherwise proves to be so friendly to most inks, I’m willing to accommodate the described ghosting grrrr.
- Well-implemented structure, equally matched with intense flexibility: The word “genius” comes to mind. Every page accommodates a wealth of information. The preprinted structure somehow anticipates most needs. Habit tracker? Check. Bullet journal rapid-logging? Check.
A Blogger’s Bullet Journal Log: Editorial Calendar
WorkFlow: My blogging endeavors begin with hammering out planned postings in my bullet journal’s Editorial Calendar, then pushing the posts into the WordPress scheduler. Once draft transforms into a scheduled event, the site-based Editorial Calendar —for public consumption— auto-updates. (How to create an auto-updating WordPress-based Editorial Calendar)
As a general rule, the plan stays 2-4 weeks ahead of reality. This summer, plans bit the dust. As June dawned, Nature stole an immediate family member, without warning. For the 4th time in 4 years, I found myself immersed in funeral, rather than fun summer travel, plans. Result: to give myself healing time, I withdrew from the public aspects of this blog.
Note to others living in the shadow of a cherished one’s death → my therapy came in the form of a top-to-bottom refresh of this site. That includes the substance of every article posted, as well as cosmetics. My way of keeping my head above water.
Because that behemoth chore taught me much about blog-oriented planning, I’ve rewritten this post to share the lessons learned (Summer 2018).
✧︎︎︎ Types of WordPress Posts
WordPress offers multiple post formats in addition to the standard meaty “article.” Translation: posting on most days, with judicious use of those formats, requires few live brain cells. The formats:
- Article: the granddaddy of formats, able to act as each of the other formats; other posting types may present special formatting to highlight that type of post—assuming the chosen theme recognizes post format distinctions (formatting particulars are theme dependent, although that can be tweaked with CSS)
- Aside: think of it as the little sister to a big beefy Article post
- Link : similar to the Aside format, only it’s a hit-&-run link-focused post
- Quote: self-explanatory
- Image: ditto
- Gallery: a gallery of images
- Audio: a single song. Love a particular, say, Spotify tune? Add the corresponding URL as plain text on a line by itself, and a play button adorns your page. The final “look” includes the associated album cover, song title and artist name. Blog visitors can then enjoy listening to a generous snippet of that song. Nice break from retina rotations across a page.
- Video: a single video. Incredible insights lurk within innumerable TED Talk and YouTube videos. Unlike the Spotify arrangement, videos can be viewed, directly within your page, in their entirety.
- chat: a chat transcript.
- status: a short status update, usually limited to 140 characters.
The practical utility of the last two formats continues to elude me, explaining why I refuse to reward either with capitalization. 😂
Because each grid of the Hobonichi / Jibun month calendar is formed by mini blocks (about a 3.5mm graph/grid), one can segment a day’s block with ease. Quick example: I highlight a row of each dated block. Throughout 2017, that row housed the daily quote author’s name. These days, it instead embraces my writing log.
✧︎︎︎ Establishing a Schedule
Gurus advocate at least two primary approaches to blogging: post on a regular consistent schedule; and, don’t over-promise.
The WordPress post-format feature embraces both dictates, while the scheduling feature coaxes smiles with its intuitive simplicity. Hence, my umbrella approach includes color-coding:
- Monday: audio ← orange
- Tuesday: day off
- Wednesday: image, e.g. my bird photography obsession ← brown
- Thursday: meaty Article post ← light blue
- Friday: video post ← purple
- Saturday: link or aside post ← respectively: green, dark blue
- Sunday: day off, but I tend to post an image
- Daily: quote, posted during the 8 a.m. hour ← black ink on yellow background
With the exception of Thursday, no item requires deep thought, so scheduling daily or near daily posts is a breeze. This assumes an awaiting stash of “food” to feed the blog, as outlined below.
A sample spread follows, as it appears in a now-archived Jibun Techo companion booklet, called the Idea book.
✧︎︎︎ The Mechanics of Writing the Editorial Calendar Entries
Within the context of the Editorial Calendar, visual enhancements improve my focus while expediting data entry re the WordPress scheduler. Hence, color lends a huge assist.
Throughout 2017, I greeted each new monthly calendar with my yellow “Hi-Liter”, transforming the last horizontal grid area of each dated block. This formed my quote section, into which I inserted the corresponding author’s name. By adding the highlight long before text insertion, I encountered neither smearing, bleeding, nor feathering hassles as I wrote the name over the highlighted area.
i ended the quote postings in early 2018. Reason: I could no longer rationalize the associated time expenditure.
● Overview of 4 Primary Steps
Then as now, I follow four steps in feeding the Editorial Calendar:
- Find food to feed the blog, dumping the goodies into separate SimpleNote files: link vs audio vs video
- Choose items in SimpleNote to be added in the BuJo’s Editorial Calendar (e.g., preceding the selected item with eye-catching emojis: 🔴 🔜). My habit: one session to go through the files to pinpoint the posting date; another session to feed the WordPress system.
- Schedule postings in WordPress. The process eats minimal time, courtesy of my copy/paste process. Those days when my brain is fried, thwarting a writing session? This is my go-to low mental-energy task.
- Prepend a red ✓ to the associated analog Editorial Calendar entry immediately after feeding the entry to the WP scheduler. This distinguishes between schedule-this items vs done-deal items already in the WordPress system, the latter finalized/scheduled to go live without my further intervention. This proves a critical step, as I’ve been known to populate, say, 3 months of Monday blocks—audio—of the Editorial Calendar in one sitting.
E-Grocery Shopping, a/k/a Gathering Food to Feed the Blog → 4 Apps
Four iPad apps, courtesy of the iOS Sharing Sheet system, assisted in my Editorial Calendar maintenance efforts. Editorial is no longer in my scheme, since I no longer post daily quotes. I retain this info as it may assist others,
1️⃣ Editorial app
With its folding-content prowess,1 Editorial provides a one-tap collapse of all sections to see only a running list—say, the first letter of a quote author’s last name. A tap on any header reveals the content of that section, such as the full content of every quote by every author sharing that first letter. Once a quote is copied, pasted, and scheduled for posting, I prepend a ✓ before the quote in the Editorial app, preventing inadvertent duplicate quote posts.
These MarkUp files live as plain txt in DropBox, making the contents accessible to other devices, such as my ChromeBook. The fancy collapsing is available only within the Editorial app on Apple’s mobile devices.
The contents of this plain-text Markdown-friendly app are available to just about every device imaginable. Free. The relevant files, for my Editorial Calendar purpose, appear with a red vertical bar:
Why do I ignore the native Notes app? Notes insists on adding “helpful” formatting when that is not my intent. Also, the Notes search facility stinks. A SimpleNote search takes me directly to the line containing my search term(s) within a file. Apple Notes? Leads me to the file, but that’s it, coercing a game of Where’s Waldo. 😡
This plain text app, known only to iOS, is one of three apps keeping me in iPad land. It works hand-in-glove with both Safari and TweetBot, serving as my temporary holding area for captured/copied data. Drafts files live in one’s chosen cloud service—here, DropBox.
Example: While at the TedTalks site using Safari, when I see an item of interest I tap the site’s share button, revealing the video’s “short URL.” I copy, then tap the iOS Share Sheet, choosing Drafts. The title and long URL of the video auto-populate the Drafts pop up screen. I paste the captured short URL, then tap append. This opens the list of Draft files available. Selecting WP Videos 2Post auto-appends the described video particulars to the desired file. A subsequent select-all / cut maneuver allows me to move all data from a Drafts file to SimpleNote.
Why not keep it in Drafts? SimpleNote offers easy fluid access to its contents, regardless of device; futzing with DropBox files is more cumbersome.
While reading my Twitter stream, I notice a tweet of likely interest to my followers. I press and hold that tweet, triggering a popup containing the iOS Share Sheet. I click “copy tweet,” capturing the entirety of that tweet, and the popup disappears. Tapping and holding a second time, I choose Drafts and paste the full tweet, then append it into a Drafts file.
Notice: I make it a point to dump everything in Drafts, then from Drafts to SimpleNote. Why? When I sit down to indulge a copy-paste-feed-WP-scheduler session, I want to deal with only one app. In addition, I want “easy,” whether I’m working from a ChromeBook or iPad.
Drafts serves as a superb temporary holding receptacle for items awaiting permanent placement in SimpleNote. Why not capture directly to SimpleNote? Drafts’ append feature makes it is MUCH easier and quicker to use while capturing data.
Fleshing Out the Analog Editorial Calendar
Experience rules supreme. Focusing on one post type at a time, throughout serial entries, banishes mental hiccups while enhancing speed of entry. While the specific post-format per day formula changes from time to time, the basic rule remains intact. The current line-up, as of mid-2018:
✧︎︎︎ Monday/ QuickNote, e.g. Link
When I bump into a particularly enlightening article, I give it spotlight treatment on this day.
✧︎︎︎ Tuesday / Audio: Spotify, YouTube, TED Talk
During an earlier Admin session, I focused on gathering songs. Opening Spotify, I rifled through my playlists for tentative share-this (smooth jazz instrumental) tunes (Motown-era). Using the menu accompanying each tune, I copied the short code URL, then pasted it into the SimpleNote Audio file. Ditto YouTube (old-school R&B classic) videos.
With that stash of tunes open before me, I populated serial Mondays of the Editorial Calendar—typically covering 6-8 weeks—with my orange Pilot Frixion pen: Song title, Artist. As I copied from SimpleNote and pasted into WordPress, I prepended the SimpleNote entry with a ✓, and duplicated the checkmark using red ink in the bullet journal’s Editorial Calendar.
✧︎︎︎ Wednesday/ Image: WordPress “Drafts” Section of Posts
Photography day, usually a bird image.
✧︎︎︎ Thursday / Standard Article: Brain-on-Wheaties Posts
Thursday is my put up or shut up day, when I post a meaty article, such as this one. Unlike the others, Thursday’s scheduled post is seldom finalized prior to the preceding Wednesday evening. Why?
While drafting, I may refer to something worthy of its own post. I complete a rough draft of the initial article, then switch gears to focus on that late-breaking new idea. In essence, I wind up with two juicy posts. The one I finish first hits the next open Thursday slot.
A blue pen handles insertion chores. This color applies globally, spotlighting my writing endeavors in this calendar, my dual time blocks, and more.
✧︎︎︎ Friday through Sunday / blog holidays
The “quiet” rationale of the 3-straight-days as time off? It empowers me! I can keep the Editorial Calendar within the standard month view, AND enjoy adequate space for related notes!
This process honors my overall blogging motif: under-promise; over-deliver. Those seat-of-the-pants same-day publications are not added to the analog/BuJo’s Editorial Calendar. Each is, however, tracked in my iOS “SM.WordPress” calendar, automatically.2 For now, I’ll just show you a screenie to enhance your grasp of the full aspects of this system. (iPad cal app depicted = CalenGoo.)
Remember: the primary purpose of my analog Editorial Calendar is to pinpoint posts to schedule. Where a day already witnessed it’s designated post, I feel no need to note the “extra” post to the analog Editorial Calendar — because I know IFTTT will catch and note it.
Understand: I love and rely heavily on my BuJo. But I use tech when it reduces my workload. Here, tech —in the form of IFTTT automation— logs all my public postings, whether to a public Facebook page, Twitter, Flickr, InstaGram, Reddit, StumbleUpon, or this blog. Cliff Notes version: BuJo = before-the-fact planning; digital calendars, via IFTTT = after-the-fact (posted!) logging.
Add: Social Media Planning → Weekly View, please! 😊
Social media planning, for a time, pushed my BuJo Editorial Calendar out of the standard monthly view, and into a vertical Weekly view. The latter shows the 7 days of the week, each evenly spaced(!!), across facing pages. The columns gift room for the notes invariably accompanying blog post titles. A few examples:
- While working on a 5-part series, detailing my Jibun Techo based bullet journal system, I wanted to jot quick notes in the same area as the associated blog post. No can do, in an organized manner, with a monthly cal.
- I added a freshly published post to StumbleUpon, within hours of posting. Inserting a related note within the same column housing the blog post title makes logical sense, both short- and long-term. Read: no need to rifle back and forth between the cal and notes area.
- 2 weeks later, I schedule a related post, perfect for cross-posting. Again, making notations to the two posts proves tons easier when working in the week View, as compared with the standard monthly view.
Independent postings to social media also merit planning. I once kept that data in a DIY month-based listing, that is, serial descending rows numbered 1 through 28, 30, or 31. These days, I list the networks in the far left “tasks” column, leaving several rows for most.
The Week View relieves tedium. Everything concerning the week, in terms of the blog and social media, appears within the open pages. The watch word here is HANDY! I discover gaps, or a full house, through one set of facing pages.
✧︎︎︎ Update / Summary
I prefer the expansive view provided by the month calendar for my Editorial Calendar. But I also prefer to have all related data on the same page. The compromise: leave Friday through Sunday free of postings anywhere, yielding three adjacent columns for notes.
In August 2018, Hobonichi announced a new 2019 product: an A5 5-Year Diary. 5 years descend the left facing page in evenly spaced horizontal slots. The right facing page is blank. Both pages present a subtle grid background. My daydreams reflected a desire for an all-blog-posts book, spanning years. Thus new entry addresses the dream.
One huge reason I’ve maintained multiple planners concerned the need for 2 calendars —blog planning and hardlandscape events. As a direct result of the new A5 5-Year book, I suspect a core one-book BuJo for 2019. In any event, the subject of this article —the blog (and social media) Editorial Calendar— will move to the new A5 receptacle. Indeed, I plan to slice the 2019 slot in half, and feed 2018 entries to that area.
A useful month-grid Editorial Calendar (word-wrapping text, NOT dots) can be created electronically using
- KeepAndShare.com—offers a monthly grid with word-wrapping, unlike Google / Apple
- iOS app iCalendar
or manually. In the latter category, one can commit to repetitive drawing of monthly spreads, or use a preprinted calendar. That calendar may take the form of a print-out (PDF template), or a dedicated calendar book.
The Jibun Techo and Hobonichi products provide structure, yet remain inherently flexible. Their subtle lines help me when desired; or, I can ignore the structure, repurposing the page as I see fit. Direct result: a Japanese calendar serves as the backbone of my BuJo. The BuJo’s Editorial Calendar muscles the backbone of my online presence, both in terms of blog and social media.