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I'm not greatly into Social Media - Instagram for connecting is fantastic, Pinterest for browsing the web visually, and I use Facebook for family only. However, one platform I've recently fallen in love with is Bloglovin'.  Having previously followed blogs via RSS feeds until my favourite platforms disappeared, I have simply kept a bookmark list and occasionally visited the sites I loved. Once I got onto Bloglovin' and started following sites, I've found I'm reading and engaging with blogs more, and love the email digests of my favourite sites posts. 

And now you can follow Where we Gather on Bloglovin' too! 

My Top 3 Australian Designed Planners for 2018

Purchasing a paper based diary / planner from overseas is a significant investment for Australian Planner Addicts! Options readily available in our stores are the boring black corporate diaries that line the shelves of Officeworks and newsagents at the turn of every year, along with Filofax, Day Planner or Kikki K. We need a Michaels, really! So, those of us who want something different take to the internet.

Online, you'll find a wide range of functional and beautiful planners available from the US: Day Designer, Simplified Planner, Erin Condren, Plum Paper, Inkwell Press, Happy Planner and more. However, currency conversations and postage to Australia make these very expensive even if you're buying from a local stockist. For example, I priced the Day Designer with postage and it would cost $140 AUD for one Flagship planner, and then I have a 6+ week wait for it to arrive!

Having ordered and waited for expensive planners to arrive from overseas, receiving them eagerly and then find that they’re just not right for me, I decided to seek out local planner designers instead.

There are so many talented Australian designers offering aesthetically beautiful and functional options that are comparable to the premium US planners, and I encourage you to consider them!

So without further ado, I present for you my Top 3 Australian-designed planners for 2018!

1. Amelia Lane Paper - Life Designer

Australian stationery start-up Amelia Lane was launched in 2016 by Chanel White - a former terrorism analyst turned entrepreneur - way to go, Chanel! She offers six planners: Desktop Daily, Compact Daily, Signature Weekly, Compact Weekly, Wedding Planner and Monthly Planner.

The Daily and Compact planners are lay-flat case bound, while the weekly is wire bound in a sturdy cover. The covers are beautiful, with bright artistic designs that make me think of sunny Gold Coast beaches - take a look at some of the photos from her Instagram, they just gorgeous!

Inside, you'll find Goal Planning pages, Monthly Health Tracking (great for me, since I have big health goals this year!), and Finance tracker followed by the monthly layout, and then the Daily or Weekly format, depending on which planner you have purchased. I've ordered the Desktop Daily and will do a more detailed review when it arrives, and talk about how I'm going to use it - I can't wait to receive it!

 Daily Planner Layout -  source and more layout images here .

Daily Planner Layout - source and more layout images here.

The Details

  • WHERE TO BUY - Online at Amelia Lane Paper or selected stockists (including US and UK!)
  • LAYOUT - Daily, Weekly or Monthly layouts in large and compact planner sizes. Consult this handy comparison chart for more info.
  • BINDING - Hard Cover lay-flat case bound, or Wire Bound with a hard cover (similar to Kate Spade). More planners are using the case-bound lay flat design however it is unique for a planner like this - I'm looking forward to not having a coil, disc or wire in my way but am concerned that I'll be annoyed when it does not fold back.
  • PRICE - Starting at $19.95 for the Monthly up to $69.95 for the Desktop Daily. Afterpay is available!
  • POST - FREE or $9.95 Express Post (within Australia)
  • PRINTABLES - YES! Chanel provides printables of the planning pages, so you can get a feel for the size and layout before you buy.
  • WHAT MAKES AMELIA LANE UNIQUE? Having tried the layout printable, I think this will be the most unique part. I love how much room there is for to-do's and general notes, much needed to map out and keep track of my study commitments around full time work.
  • CONNECT WITH AMELIA LANE - Instagram | YouTube | Facebook

While watching Amelia Lane videos on YouTube, a recommendation came up with drew me to the very stylish, newly launched...

2. Selah Planner

This planner speaks to the refined and sophisticated woman, who needs space to write her schedule and tasks in a compact handbag-friendly format. The Navy Blue or Blush cover is accented with foil and gold accents, and the style continues inside.

 Image source:  Selah Planner

Image source: Selah Planner

 Sleek and sophisticated layout. Image from the Selah Planner  Facebook  page.

Sleek and sophisticated layout. Image from the Selah Planner Facebook page.

Offering a single layout style, the Selah Planner has a unique weekly layout that I have not encountered elsewhere: two days to a page. For me, typically an A5 size planner with 3-4 days per page does not provide sufficient room. Kristy has taken the A5 format and made it into something really special - I think she explains it best herself in the following video:

The Details

  • WHERE TO BUY - Online at Selah Planner
  • LAYOUT - Weekly Layout, 2 days per A5 page with space for pause and reflection, and weekly planning.
  • PRICE - $56.00
  • POST - $12.50 within Australia
  • WHAT MAKES SELAH PLANNER UNIQUE? The two days to a page layout, providing a unique weekly spread that I sense will work very well with the patterns of work life, and stylish beautiful design that is perfect for the career girl or entrepreneuress
  • CONNECT WITH SELAH PLANNER - Instagram | YouTube | Facebook

Now, if you're into planning then you've probably heard of the Erin Condren Life Planner and have seen layouts Planner Girls share on YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest. I'm not into stickers or planner decoration (if I use these, they're highly functional) but for those of you who love that, take a look at the...

3. Whistle & Birch Planner

If you have considered buying an Erin Condren Life Planner (EC) or Plum Paper Planner (PP), then take a look at Melbourne-based Whistle & Birch (and put the savings you'll have by not paying for currency exchange and postage toward buying stickers instead)!

Whistle & Birch Planners have the same coil binding, customisable covers and choice of four layouts including Horizontal, Vertical, Timed and Family as the EC and PP. You have a choice of starting month, too! The internal design is neutral, which gives plenty of options for those who choose to decorate with stickers and washi, as well as those who prefer a minimal design.

 Images via the  Whistle & Birch Etsy  store

Images via the Whistle & Birch Etsy store

YouTuber Danni Vee has created a great review and walk-through, and I’m really impressed by this planner:

The Details

  • WHERE TO BUY - Online at Etsy
  • LAYOUT - Four layout options including Horizontal, Vertical, Timed and Family
  • PRICE - $58.50
  • POST - $12.99 within Australia
  • WHAT MAKES WHISTLE & BIRCH UNIQUE? Custom Design! And by that I don't mean putting your name on a cover - Whistle and Birch offer complete customisation services, so if you have a particular layout in mind, they can help. Take a look at the Custom Designed Planner Etsy listing.

And the winner is...

For me, it's a tie between Amelia Lane and the Selah Planner, both of which are on order and I'm eagerly awaiting to receive! Especially since I decided on Dec 31st that the Horizontal Plum Paper Planner that I spent two months waiting for and six weeks admiring on my desk wouldn't actually work for me... (but I love the paper and quality, and will continue using the notebook I purchased).

When they arrive, I will provide an in-depth review of them and how I plan to use them (one or both, still unsure!). 

There are so many other beautiful planners I found when seeking out Australian designers that we really do not need to resort to overseas options, unless you've found planner peace of course! Here are a few more standouts that you might want to check out:

  1. EmmaKate Write your own Adventure Planner in a beautiful case bound book with gold foil, and plenty of room to write and tackle those unplanned things that come up in life,
  2. Paper Elephant Press, stunning letterpress covers and a wide square format, with plenty of room to plan
  3. Lorna Leigh Lane, wire bound planner offering a colourful weekly schedule layout, simple stylish cover and gold accents,
  4. The Bullet Planner, a minimal illustrated planner for those who love Bullet Journaling but want a planner with established layouts,
  5. MulberryPOP Planner, offering an Erin Condren / Plum Planner style layout in compact A5 format,
  6. And of course the very much loved Kikki K (I'm lucky enough to have a store 5 mins down the road from my house!)

What Australian Planner designers do you know of or use? If you're currently using a planner from overseas, might you consider a local option in future or have you found your planner peace? I'm interested to hear your thoughts - but being a new blog, I might not yet have readers! :)

Here's to a well-designed 2018!

Kate xx

Becoming a reflective practitioner

 Photo by  Hannah Olinger  on  Unsplash

We learn everyday, whether formally through an educational program or informally through our work, hobbies and daily life lessons. As I lay falling asleep at night, the days activities flow through my mind and I may talk to my partner about things that happened or my worries, and I make a mental note to learn from my mistakes and fall asleep. That is the extent to which I reflect.

I commenced my Master of Business Administration (MBA) in late 2016, and was introduced to the practice of reflective writing. Having an undergraduate degree in creative writing, subsequent postgraduate and vocational qualifications in my belt, and fifteen years work experience - and yet, I had never been exposed to reflective writing as a tool to grow professionally.

As an Educational Technologist, I had implemented tools for Education and Nursing teachers to conduct reflective practice activities with their students. Ten years ago, these were blogs and the emergence of electronic peer review through such a tool, while more recently ePortfolios have enabled reflection and curation of a students' learning. Education professionals have long established personal learning networks, suites of online tools to collect, curate and share learning, with this concept starting just prior to the emergence of social media. I was, once, a part of this authoring a blog on ed tech from circa 2003-2007, now long lost and blogging has changed dramatically since then.

Despite this, my role in reflective practice has only been around enabling others to do it, delivering technology or talking about technology. I had never really stopped, deliberated on what I was reading and doing professionally, and interpreted it through an academic lens. The MBA has exposed me to this as an assessment, and I have been reflecting on how this practice can be useful ongoing, to develop as a manager and in managing myself.

In their article Four Reasons to Keep a Work Diary, Teresa Amabile and Steve Kramer cite four reasons to develop this practice: focus, patience, planning and personal growth. They go on to quote Sarah Krauss, entrepreneur behind S'well, as saying:

"Journaling about work has given me the focus to identify my strengths and the activities that bring me the greatest joy... I have gleaned many lessons about where I can be most engaged and therefore most successful in the workplace"

They talk further about the personal growth opportunity of keeping a work diary, that the author can gain "new perspective on themselves as professionals and what they needed to improve".

These are really good reasons for developing reflective practice.

There is so much more I can, and want, to say about growing personally and professionally as a manager - for myself, and to share my learning with others for I am a strong advocate of collaboration - that I decided to create this space, Where We Gather.

Where We Gather will be a place for me to practice reflection and writing on topics that interest me, both personally and in my profession. I am most passionate about engagement, bringing people together to collaborate on some awesome thing that will make a difference. Hence the name, Where We Gather: we gather ourselves, we gather together, in physical and digital spaces, that become places when we apply meaning.

And so welcome to my journal, my reflective practice - a space where we gather to learn, reflect, collaborate and make meaning.