Ho, ho, ho! The long holiday break surely gave everyone a good long rest, and ample time to plan for the year ahead. Last Monday (December 28) was the outset of jotting down the first activities on my 2016 planners. And yes, you read it right – PLANNERS. In 2015, I worked with two (2) journals, each managing a different personal agendum – (1) daily planner (2) financial planner. The move made me do more, instrumental to hitting many of goals for 2015.

This coming 2016, I decided to add a third (3rd) journal where I can scribble down ideas and draft my sunny demiurgic future. I trust that the third planner would  bring about speedy feats on the aims I have set for the new year.

Why use a physical planner when you can put your activities on your smartphones?

Well, for some reason, writing down my plans and goals on a physical journal works 100 times better than just typing it on my iPhone’s calendar. Plus, it’s also one way to remind me, “Hey, I still know how to write!” Writing on journals is one of the three chances  ( the two others are:  filling out forms and writing Birthday and Christmas notes)  I get to write on an actual paper after college. Teehee.

But seriously, with our social media accounts and games snugged in our smartphones and gadgets, it is very difficult to resist the temptation and eventually giving in to the more “fun” digital activities than actually doing the plans we had for the day. So writing on a physical journal surely keeps us on track, with less chances of straying from our goals.



Choosing the right journal/ planner may be instrumental to your success

I started to religiously use an actual planner in 2009 which I got for free collecting coffee stickers at Starbucks Coffee. For four (4) consecutive years, I have been using the Starbucks yearly planner until I switched to  the  “The Giving Journal” which I scored at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in 2014. The planner shift made me improve on my outlining skills. The planner taught me on how to set goals well and live a balanced life of work and fun, as well enjoy the benefits of strong relationships, joyful spirituality and personal growth. But bringing The Giving Journal with me everyday had some setbacks. Very sensitive entries on the planner , like financial matters, are prone to being read by other people.  For example, I am in a meeting and  about to set a follow-up talk on the next week, and as I flip through the pages to check on my schedule, I accidentally exposed some confidential information during the action. So to solve the dilemma, in 2015, I used the Starbucks Planner as a financial planner where I jotted down my daily expenses and financial goals and The Giving Journal to plot my daily activities. My “Financial Planner” I keep on my bedside table and the “Daily Planner” is the one I bring everyday.

Choosing the journal to suit our organizing needs is vital in planning the year to come. Some wants a small planner which they can fit into their shoulder bags, others need more writing space on their daily sections to write all the details of their plans. For the creative ones, they love those journals with blank and activity pages where they have a space to put notes, doodles and calligraphy; while some prefers a straightforward journal containing the useful and basic pages to plan the year.

As a guide to help iLuvCebu readers choose the right planner,  I wrote a comparison on three (3) 2016 planners which I earned from collecting coffee stickers and stamps. You can read more about it here: https://www.iluvcebu.com/so-which-planner-are-you-going-to-use-in-2016/

Planning for 2016. Before I wrote down my aims on my 2016 planner, I reviewed the blueprints of my goal-setting this year to pinpoint the ones that worked and the ones that didn’t. In 2014, I used to set my personal goals based on five (5) sections – the same sections that guided me though my journey this year (2015). And in 2016, will be adopting the same categories to think out a holistic 2016.

Five Categories to consider for a well-planned year:  Relationships, FinanceTravelHealth and  Spirituality.

1. Relationships

Relating well with people is imperative to living a wonderful life. Each one is designed to be in relationships – a son/daughter, a parent, a friend, a partner, a classmate,a co-worker or any kind of ties.

We may also build relationships through reaching out and helping others. One of the things I am proud of is spearheading and being part of a team that share the same vision – eliminating rural illiteracy in Cebu.  For 8 years now, my team and I have reached out to more than 400 pupils yearly in three (3) rural elementary schools in our province. iLearners Inc. became a medium that brought a strong bond not just between its members but also with the community it has been reaching out to.

iLearners Inc. with the pupils of Caohagan Elementary School

iLearners Inc. with the pupils of Caohagan Elementary School

Ways to build a stronger relationship with people that matters to you with the use of your planner.

1. Marking the dates of our friends’ birthdays, anniversaries and other celebrations on our planners to make sure we don’t miss to greet them on their special days.

2. Setting dinner dates or coffee sessions with our special friends to know what’s up with them.

3. Making a list of our special friends’ likes, dislikes, favorite colors and other information so we’d be able to know what to give them on their special day. Gifts do not  have to be expensive. To our friends, it’s the thought that counts. But hey, if our budget permits, by all means, let’s spoil our friends.

4. Also, try joining and be involve in an organization with a cause we truly support. And from there, we can build camaraderie among the members of the organization, and the people we are helping out as well.



2. Finance 

We should not spend more than what we earn. And to avoid overspending, let us keep track of all our monetary transactions. Write all our financial transactions down on a journal. It’ll help us manage our money, control our expenses and put up more ka-ching on our savings account! This may seem difficult to master, but it will become effortless when we get the hang of it.

Tips to better your budgeting skills: 

1. Allocating a specific amount/ percentage of our monthly earning on our priorities.

Example: 100% Monthly  Salary = 55% Expenses, 20% Travel Fund, 10% Savings, 10% Emergency Fund ,  5% Charity

2. Set a daily budget and as much as possible do not (NEVER) exceed our everyday allowance.

3. Write down our daily expenses on our Finance Journal. This is important so we’d be able to track on which expenses we need to cut down on, so we can save even more. Also, to better organize the tracking of our expenses, it is very helpful to categorize our expenses on which tender we used: Cash, Credit/Debit Card, check, etc.

4. Pay our taxes. We don’t want BIR running down on us, do we? So pay the right taxes, and ON TIME!

5.  It is very important to purchase a  Health (HMO) insurance. Medical emergencies cost thousands, which may eat up all our savings. So it is wise to invest in a good HMO insurance Provider. Also, investing in variable Life Insurance is a great ideas too.


3. Travel 

Preparing for a trip needs planning. And before plotting our vacation dates, we need to consult two important minutiae first – (1) Budget (2) Schedule.

It is helpful to first map out an itinerary – the places we want to go to, the restaurants we want to dine in at, the mode of transportation to get to our desired destinations. From there, we can then research on how much the approximate expense would be for that specific travel.

Through strategic planning, I was able to visit four (4) destinations for the first time this year and gladly did not go overboard the specified budget for all the four (4) adventures. I toured Bali (Indonesia) , Sagada (Luzon, Philippines), Japan (Nagoya, Kyoto, Nabana no Sato, Nagano, Osaka and Tokyo Prefectures) and Seoul (South Korea) for the first time in 2015. And don’t worry, the  itineraries I used on the those trips and the corresponding breakdown of expenses will soon be posted on my personal travel + style blog, Doyzkie.com. 😉

My first snow experience at Nagano Ski Resot, Japan

My first snow experience at Nagano Ski Resot, Japan

Above the clouds at Sagada

Above the clouds at Sagada

Witnessed Uluwatu Temple's  Kecak Dance in Indonesia

Witnessed Uluwatu Temple’s Kecak Dance in Indonesia

Trying out traditional Emperor's  Hanbok in Seoul

Trying out traditional Emperor’s Hanbok in Seoul



4. Health

It is paramountly important to stay healthy to reach our goals. To keep ourselves in tip-top shape, one should exercise. Eating healthy is just as important as exercise as well. And ample amount of sleep is essential too!

Though I have been on and off on exercising at gym this year, I already listed details on how to stay focused on working out. On my planner, noted my exercise schedule and routine; plus, drafted some healthy recipes to support my health goals.

It is beneficial to keep in mind that we are more efficient when we are healthy. So it is an important step to a healthier living to learn and understand how our body works, know which food our body needs and which food to avoid, how many hours we need to keep us sharp and which exercise routine works best for us.




5. Spiritually

The sun doesn’t rise in an instant. It always ascends from the darkness of dusk.

“So be thankful even when it’s difficult.” Wise words from Mr. Bo Sanchez.

No matter how difficult life can be sometimes, we can easily put on a smile when we can pull out a gratitude string from our “mental library of blessings.”When we have a grateful heart, we can unravel a happy life and unlock our peace. So let us all be thankful in all circumstances.

Here are a few good exercises to practice our gratitude muscle. Praying before rising up and going to bed. Also, saying “Thank You” to anyone who gave us assistance even in the smallest way is a good work out as well. A “Thank You” to a stranger holding the door for us, the barista who prepared our cup of coffee, the elevator operator who pressed the button up the 3rd floor parking, the grocery bagger who arranged our food in our green bag, the gas boy who filled our gas tank up and cleaned our windshield would go a long way to brighten-up their day.

We can also work a notch higher in practicing our gratitude muscle through supporting worthwhile causes and organizations that we wish to be a part of.


These five sections on which I based my planning on since 2014 on my journal made me learn so much in maximizing my time, focusing on things that are personally important and attaining “little triumphs” everyday; becoming more responsible and productive each day.

I hope this blogpost would help you organize and plan your 2016 better.

Also, for 2016 be open to new adventures, challenges and responsibilities.  Personally accepted and pledged to an important responsibility of taking care of “Spike the Cactus”.  Raising Spike would mean I have to tend to his needs – giving him a bit of sunlight daily (but not too much for him to get sunburned) and sprinkling his soil (but not too wet, he’ll drown) at least twice a week. Plotted Spike’s water and sun-bathing schedules on my journal to make sure I don’t forget. 😉

Spike the Cactus

Spike the Cactus

In a few hours, we will all be welcoming a new year. Wishing everyone a productive and prosperous 2016!

“If you are not giving it your best, you’re not doing well enough.” – Kirby Martin

This blog post is in support of the #DoMoreWithLess advocacy led by Electrolux Philippines.