Sometimes I get stuck in planner mode, not planning mode. Instead of focusing on my plans or even my planning techniques, I’m more consumed with my planner. I spend hours and ays fussing over my layout and looking for a planner I think I need.
I often get excited about a planner that I’ve seen someone using and I’ll succumb to the temptation and buy it. Only to realize that my life or even my mindset is very different from the people using that planner.
These days, we are not short of inspiration at all. With social media and blogs, we have a steady flow of planner layouts and designs. We can spend hours peeking into people’s planners and most of them are really worthy of praise. As I look at these, I keep feeling like I could have a better layout or prettier pages. I’m tempted to switch planners or spend time doing something that really does not add to my productivity.
I went through a cycle of 9 planners this year and for the most part, I get stuck feeling that the planner wasn’t working when in reality I was probably the one to blame. I focused so much on what I wanted the planners to look like that I forgot to actually use it as a tool to enhance my productivity.
Your planner should be working for you, not the other way around!
Here’s what I learned from my crazy rollercoaster of nine planners during the year:
Life changes, so should your planner
I have always been a weekly layout person. Every time I tried daily planning. I failed miserably. Yet now, I use a daily layout. Why? Because my life has changed. I no longer have the kind of day that I used to have in a corporate job. I am feeling so much better now that I’ve started using a daily layout. (Here’s my post on why I switched to a daily layout)
Just because a planner works for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you
I bought a Passion Planner. It’s a great layout and has everything you could possibly ask for … weekly layout, monthly layout, undated pages, 40 note pages, monthly reflection, place for goals…but it just didn’t work for me. I thought I was doing it wrong and after the first use, I went back to it a couple of months later. Unfortunately, it was still the same problem. Since, I had bought the A5 size, the layout was simply too packed and everything seemed so messy and jammed in there. I couldn’t use the larger size because of portability issues. May be someday, if I go back to a desk job, I will be able to make it work for me.
White space can be a good thing
When I started using the Erin Condren Life Planner, I started feeling like I had to fill the pages. The layout is bigger than an A5, I wasn’t really used to using the size. I would look at layout’s online and feel extremely guilty that my pages weren’t as packed as other peoples. Bad idea for me. I slowly started to get distracted and I eventually felt like the planner wasn’t working for me. I still think it’s a great planner and yet again, one day if I have an office and a desk I will give it another try.
Your planner should relieve your anxiety, not create it
I started to get anxious about using my planner. I’ve always used a planner to manage my anxiety and stress but here I was feeling so overwhelmed about using my planner. I kept over scheduling my days feeling like I needed to accomplish so much more than I was doing. I wanted to be too productive and it ended up making me more unproductive. Oh, the irony! It was a vicious cycle. These days, I’ve learned to pack only so much into the day. In fact, daily planning has helped with this because I now only focus on one day at a time.
Your planner doesn’t have to have everything
I kept on trying to fit everything into my planner. I felt like I needed everything in one book. I don’t feel multiple planners work but, it’s also true that you don’t need to have your entire life in one planner. I have separated my draft notes, writing projects, journal and everything else that I don’t need to always carry around. My planner is now simple, light and something that I actually look at versus being block of reference material that I don’t need when I’m on the go.
I’m stopping with the planner craze and I’m determined to just focus on my work and productivity. I’m trying to find a better way to plan instead of a better planner. I’ve settled on my final and 10th planner for the year and it’s still work in progress but I’m trying to take it one day at a time.
It’s been awhile since I’ve visited your blog. I like the updated format. Followed links today through Philofaxy. Good article! Thank you.
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Thank you for the feedback.
After some experimentation, I have ended up with the following: a Hobonichi Weeks, a Personal Filofax and miscellaneous notebooks/planners for specific subjects which are relevant in my life. I am retired and very active. The Weeks is my Everyday Carry. It fits in my purse! I use the Hobonichi undated 40 page notebooks as a bullet journal style daily whenever needed, usually a few times a week. This slips right inside the weeks. The Weeks slides into the front of my Filofax Malden whenever I want it to. This personal sized planner has household stuff, more reference material and trackers. I use a desk size planner to track my music practice and learning, an A5 planner to track exercise & health, and notebooks for various courses I am taking, Boards I am on, or projects I am working on. I am still deciding on a format for my reading journal. Minimal decor in all of these, just doesn’t work for me. Obviously, it also does not work for me to have a single planner! I journal in a basic composition book, and use all the planning decorations I purchased in scrapbooking or junk journals. Everybody is different.
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Wow I do admire how you’ve set it all up. It sounds like you have a solid system going and that’s great. The main goal of any planning system is making sure it works for you and from what I’m reading, you’ve got that covered.