My Love/Hate Relationship With DIY Fish Life Mapping Inserts

DIY Fish Inserts

DIY Fish Inserts

Since I caught my first glimpse of DIY Fish Life Mapping inserts, I’ve had a love hate relationship with them.  I still remember the first time I saw them – I was COMPLETELY overwhelmed and didn’t even give them a second look.  After that, every time I saw them in someone’s planner, I kept right on going.  But then my curiosity got the better of me and I watched a couple of videos.  I was REALLY overwhelmed after that.  But for some reason, I was consumed with curiosity so I finally took the plunge and purchased the three month package – just to see what the fuss was all about.

I looked through the PDF files from Fish and then watched some more videos.  I tried to print the pages, unsuccessfully, and then watched some more videos.  I continued trying to print the pages, still unsuccessfully and with greater frustration by the minute.  Then my tech savvy son came over and I offered him $10 to figure it out for me.  It took him 2 seconds.  There was just one little box on the print screen that I hadn’t checked.  I figured it was something like that but I just couldn’t find it.  Once I got the pages printed, I started making progress.

But . . . they still weren’t clicking for me.  So I watched more videos and read more posts.  And then it clicked.  All of a sudden I got it.  And once I actually started playing around with the pages, it clicked even more.

And now . . . my love/hate relationship with DIY Fish Life Mapping pages has turned to LOVE.  I love this amazing system.  It provides freedom to use the system in a way that works for you and yet there’s structure within the freedom (which is what works best for me!).

I don’t do videos yet (although I’m going to try in the near future), so for now, you’ll have to make do with some photos of how I’m currently using these pages.  Remember, I’m just getting started so my use hasn’t even scratched the surface of all the opportunities these pages provide.

So without further ado . . .

DIY Fish
On the cover page, I put my budget for the month. Not my ENTIRE budget – just the discretionary spending part. The rest of it is set in stone but this is the part that gets me in trouble.
DIY Fish
I’m just getting started with the Monthly Chart. I didn’t use it at all the first month but this month I listed some things I needed to do sometime this month. I also had to draw the horizontal lines so they were easier for me to see. And I put vertical lines between the weeks. Just as reference points.
DIY Fish
And here’s the monthly calendar. I really haven’t had any trouble adjusting to the vertical weeks although I did put M – S letters on the side just in case. The squares with highlighted boxes are to remind me that those are special days that will require action by me. I also draw a line through the days as they’re completed.
DIY Fish
I started out using the weekly section as another calendar but quickly realized I didn’t need that. Between the monthly and the daily, I’m well aware of what’s going on in my week. So instead I use the weekly as a place to record things I need to remember to do on certain days. I don’t write them on the daily page until I’m making an action plan for the day. I like having a to-do list which lets me know what I need to do and then a separate action plan which shows how I’m going to do it. This has been working PERFECTLY.
DIY Fish
I’ve been using the page directly to the right of the weekly section for my menu and to plan my blog posts.
DIY Fish
The weekly chart is next. This weekly chart is from last week. I wasn’t sure if I liked this or not, especially for items that are done just one one day, but I actually kind of like it. It helps me see patterns – like the fact that I’m more productive at the beginning of the week than the end of the week.  Again I drew horizontal lines just to make it easier.
DIY Fish
I do like a little color on my pages but I don’t want to spend a lot of time or effort. So I’ve just been outlining them with highlighter. It works for me.
I also use the schedule column differently than intended. I break it up into morning, afternoon and evening. Then I put a filled in dot next to appointments and a box next to tasks. I record them when I hope to do them. If I have a random task that doesn’t really have an assigned time, I put it in one of the boxes to the left. I also don’t record detail on the schedule column. Any detail – like my dinner menu – goes in one of the boxes on the left.
DIY Fish
In the upper left hand corner, I like to keep lists of things to talk to people about or things I need to give them.  On this day I was going to see my daughter-in-law and I wanted to remember to take some dog food my dog won’t eat but her dog probably will.  I also write things I want to talk about to that person.
DIY Fish
I ran out of writing room on the right side so I used the upper left box for overflow since I hadn’t used it for anything else.
DIY Fish
This day didn’t go as planned.  I can’t remember why but it sure didn’t.  I think I was unrealistic for a Sunday afternoon with the grandkids here.
DIY Fish
This day hasn’t happened yet as of the writing of this post.  You can see that pretty much all I do in advance is record appointments and “talk to people lists”.  The evening before, I’ll sit down and make an action plan.  That’s when I fill all the to-do’s in.
DIY Fish
On this day I recorded a quote from a book in the upper left box.  And I’m still recording my husband’s jobs on the upper right side above the line (he’s self-employed and we have to keep track for tax purposes).

I still have a lot to learn – like the color coding system – and I have some blank pages that could be used for additional random information.  But I’ll get there.  In the meantime, I’m enjoying the freedom and structure that this system provides.  Thank you, Fish, for a great product.

What do you think of this system?  Have you tried using it

More time management/planner articles are available here.

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Born in Kentucky, I am a wife and mom to 1 son and 2 daughters . I have an ink pen obsession, as well as a love for all things planner. I have been married for 10 years to my high school crush. I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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33 thoughts on “My Love/Hate Relationship With DIY Fish Life Mapping Inserts

  1. I have had the same love/hate with it. I don’t do daily pages and I don’t track anything; but I’ve seen she has a line that’s a little more fun looking and functional so I may try those. 🙂

  2. Like you I’m fascinated with this system. Like you I watch videos about it. Unlike you I remain in total confusion and stay away because my life is really busy right now and adding a new system to the mix (really anything with a learning curve) seems unwise. Went down to bare bones planning a few weeks ago due to planner confusion overload (just using a moleskine bullet journal & monthly calendar), so am probably just incapable of functioning with DIY fish at the moment. But I remain fascinated with DIY fish and am very happy that you’ve taken the plunge and shown us how it works for you. AND please get that You Tube channel – I’d love to watch your videos!

    1. Christine: You’re probably right about not trying this while you’re crazy busy. But I really think you have to just try it in order to understand it. So when things calm down . . .

  3. I second the request for a video! Would love to see your planner and the DIY Fish inserts in action.

  4. I have the same relationship with the DIYFish inserts! Haha. I have gone through numerous papers just to get the feel of it but I’m really glad that I took the plunge to try it. I just love it’s functionality and versatility. I am continuously finding new ways on how to use it and I love finding inspiration from other users such as yourself. Hoping you’d do a video sometime. Cheers! 🙂


    1. Dawn – seems like there are a lot of us who have been down the same road – struggled at first but then fell in love. These are definitely great inserts.

  5. I have an Ialian Blog an I asked her to send me one month to give a try before purchase, she unlikely replayed that I must to purchase the three month. So she losted me and potentially have more seller from Italian Country. Aniway, she didn’t invent nothing, there are different Moleskine user that already use table to track to do list, and really what did you need it’s word! Create one table whit 32 or 6 coloumn for months and week respectively, cell size 5X5 or 4×4 mm. The first cell, the one for the to do list could be resized on the basis of our diary size, and the fact that if you want the table in landscape or portrait. Print out. Done. €? 0. Check my blog for examples, you can also find some free printables.

    1. I disagree, because Fish’ inserts are more than just a table. It’s the way it functions as a whole which sets it apart. It’s great to be ably to see the monthly, weekly and daily pages in one view. Fish provides great customer service, interacts with her customers and uses their feedback to make her product even better. I think it’s unfair to call it an unlikely reply when she asked you to buy the three month trial set instead of giving away a month for free. Especially since most of us have a planner related blog. I wouldn’t even consider asking for a free month, just like I wouldn’t ask Piaric, Filofax or anyone else selling inserts. I think there is plenty of info, pictures and videos for you to see if they may work for you. If you think they might, the three month set is a small price to pay for such well designed inserts.

      Thanks for the review Patty. I have printed them for my A5, but never got around to using them, because I moved straight back in to my personal. I am not only technically challenged, but also cutting a straight line is nearly impossible for me to do, so I have been eying the personal sized inserts, but do not think they are for me.

      1. I’m pretty bad at cutting a straight line, too, but I did okay cutting these. I watched her video and then did it the way she demonstrated. It worked really well.

        I really LOVE the personal size inserts. I did try the A5 also but I found I really didn’t need that much room. There are so many different places to write in the personal, that I’m able to make it work easily. Are you passing on the personal because of the cutting and printing? What inserts are you using instead? Just curious.

    2. I guess it didn’t bother me that I had to purchase the 3-month set. I was pretty excited that that was an option. Most places don’t allow you to do that – you have to buy the entire year or nothing. And she does allow you to reduce that amount from the cost of the full year if you decide to purchase it.

      I’m not sure I could create her pages. I might be able to create one of them but the way they all work together seems very complicated. I can make simple pages but nothing like that. And the truth is – I’m not sure I want to. I’m so busy right now, I’d rather just print out pages someone else has created.

      Sounds like you’re pretty good with software. I wish I was better.

    3. Sounds to me that you are more upset that you couldn’t get something for FREE, so you are trashing a system you know nothing about. That is sad and surely would not encourage people to even look at your blog with that attitude. DIYFish’s inserts are amazing and are not anything like I have seen. They are so versatile to use however you see fit as well as having the normal things of calendars, weekly and daily sheets. You don’t know what you are missing and $9 for a 3 month set would not hurt anyone’s pocket book IF they really wanted to explore something that will literally make life a bit simpler as well as having everything in one place & planner.

  6. They completely lost me too until Carie Harling did a video and it clicked. I had no trouble printing mine except when printing the backs the printer decided to suck up two pages. I have a love/hate, I hate flipping pages and I hated cutting all the pages out–otherwise I love them. I wish other companies would use the 24 hour column, this is the best feature of the planner if my opinion

    1. Cassandra: My printer does that, too – sucking up two pages. SO IRRITATING! I usually print in smaller batches so it’s easier to fix if it does it. I’ve tried all kinds of crazy stuff to try to fix it but so far I have not been successful.

      See, the 24 hour column didn’t work for me. I don’t need all those hours so I felt like it was wasted space. I solved it by dividing the column into morning, afternoon and evening and putting my appointments and tasks. It works great. And that’s the beauty of these pages – you can use them however you want. I tried doing the same thing on my FC 2ppd but it didn’t work because the lines and numbers were so prominent. Does that make sense?

  7. I bought the three months package after looking at Carie’s video at least a dozen times. Tried it for a week and that was it. It doesn’t work for me. Too much flipping pages to find information I need. Too much detail, if that’s possible. But for someof us, it’s a great system. There is no question it is well thought out. I take my hat off to her.

    1. It has been an adjustment flipping pages. I find it’s a little harder to find what I’m looking for. I’m used to my FC which is much simpler.

      What are you using instead?

  8. I’m a little bit late to this post, but this is SO HELPFUL! I’m finding more and more that you and I seem to have the same planner habits. I have been watching these Life Mapping inserts with the same reservations you had. But seeing how you have incorporated them into your life makes total sense to me, and now I can see how they can work for me. I’m absolutely going to pay someone to print them for me (because if I try it, someone will get hurt). Thanks for sharing your experience!

    1. Sharon, I tried the Fish inserts for two or three weeks, then had second thoughts, then went right back to them. I really love them. They will work very well for me, I think. Printing is a pain but it gets easier. However, if you can pay someone to do it, I say go for it! Let me know what you think.

  9. I was wondering if you still have a monthly index you use with the LM inserts. I really liked how you indexed your month at the end of each month to keep track of impt dates that occurred that month. Specifically think it would be very helpful trying to quickly see illness, hospitalizations, etc for my child. Thank you for all your posts, photos, tutorials, they are so helpful for this ADHD working mama!

    1. Jenna – I absolutely do keep a monthly index with the life mapping inserts. That’s the most important part of my system. Fish calls it a Table of Contents. I’m actually going to do a video about it this week since its the end of the month.

  10. Thank you for your quick response. So glad to hear it and looking forward to the video. Seeing your planning systems has made it possible for to even stick to a planner again. Especially when I saw your idea for monthly index. It will be invaluable to have those indexes to quickly look back on. Again, thank you for speaking to the ADD / ADHD mind. You have NAILED it

  11. I tried this system but couldn’t figure it out. It is so well designed and thorough, but too fragmented for me. I used the classic size which was very easy to print which is a bonus. But when I tried to put the whole thing into action I kind-of couldn’t wrap my head around it. I really, really want to like and use this system but just have not gotten there yet.

    1. Josh – It’s a great system but it takes time to wrap your head around it. I was SO overwhelmed when I first started it. But as I began using it, it started making more sense. It’s really brilliant. But it isn’t for everyone.

  12. I only just getting into “plannering” and am trying to find a system that will help me keep track of own appointments, selling stuff on eBay and my blog. So far I haven’t found what others seem to call planner peace yet.
    Diyfish I have I ky just come across a couple of weeks ago and whilst I feel one of her systems might either fit the bill or at least work well with some tweaking I just don’t have the time at the moment to “learn” how to use it…

    1. Stef – It does take time to get familiar with DIYFish but it’s worth it. Maybe you’ll have more time in the near future. I do have several videos I did about how I use the inserts.

      What systems have you tried or considered so far? I used Franklin Covey compact two pages per day for years and it worked very well for me. It’s simple, pre-printed and comprehensive.

  13. I am VERY late to this page. I love the DIYFish system, especially that the month grid is laid out vertically to line up with the weekly horizontal spaces. The ‘Hate’ part for me are the daily pages. To clarify that statement, I usually use a W2P vertical spread, so dailies are only useful for the busy times. I have adapted her month grid to fold-out on the left, so I get a thorough view of my month and W2P. When I need a daily page, I have a FC Swingpad for that or just slip in a blank page between the week. Lists and Notes are treated the same way, they are punched and slit so it’s easy to move to the next week.
    I’ve read your post many times and taken notes. If ever my system becomes ‘not enough’, your explanation makes the most sense to me.

    1. Sounds like you’ve taken the best parts and turned it into something that works for you. That’s what it’s all about. I like your adjustments. Very interesting.

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