In my opinion, the greatest productivity tool around is the planner. I prefer paper to tech when it comes to organization. It turns out, I’m not the only one. There is a huge planner community online, mostly in the form of Facebook groups. After being involved in these groups for a while, I’ve noticed people have developed many bad habits in their quest for “planner peace”. If you are new to the planner world, I want to address some of these things so that you don’t fall into the same traps.
5 Steps For Finding Planner Peace
1. Stop buying new planner covers! This is the biggest problem I’ve noticed. People post about their new binder claiming it will bring them planner peace and then the next week they are selling it because it didn’t live up to their expectations. The problem is not the planner cover. The problem is your system and a new Kikki K can’t fix your system. Your system should work in any planner. If you are constantly buying new planners, you are just using the quest for planner peace as justification for your shopping addiction while ignoring the real problem.
2. Stop buying planner inserts. Step back and figure out what you need in a planner. What do you need to track? Are you just trying to keep track of your appointments and to-dos or do you need it for more? Are you a top-down planner, a bottom-up planner, or somewhere in between? Are you a time based planner or a project based planner? Do you need a visual time tracker? What are your roles? Do you need monthlies, weeklies, and dailies? I could ask endless questions but if you actually sit down and assess your life and how your mind works, it will be pretty obvious to you. It’s okay to buy planner inserts but only if you do so thoughtfully.
3. Don’t overdo it. I’m constantly seeing people ask for suggestions for things to add to their planners. They start adding everything that people suggest into their planners and before long they are overwhelmed and stop using their planners. Chances are, if you have to ask for suggestions, you don’t need those suggestions. You are already tracking everything you need.
4. If you are stuck, pull out an old notebook and draw out your own planner pages. That is what I’m doing now. Admittedly, it’s kind of a pain to draw your pages out on top of planning but I’m finding it to be quite effective. It allows me to experiment and I’m not wasting paper by printing out pages that I end up not using.
5. Be flexible. You may have planner peace now but your needs are going to change as your life does. Don’t freak out when you realize that it’s not working for you. Keep that notebook and then you can go back to the drawing board whenever you need to. You already know how your mind works and your core system set up, so each time will be so much easier than the first.
***Bonus Tip*** Don’t decorate your planner unless that decoration is functional. Decorate your journal, pick up scrapbooking, paint, but don’t use your planner as a creative outlet. I know that may seem like strange advice coming from a creative but it’s important. Once you start decorating your planner, you will most likely focus on that instead of planning. I regularly see people complain about not feeling organized and forgetting things but when you see their planners, they look like scrapbooks and don’t have any room for actual planning. I know many of them will say that they won’t use it unless it looks pretty or colorful but that’s not true. If they sat down and figured out what they needed in a planner and designed it based on those needs, then they would already like the way that it looked. Their brains would respond positively to it. Don’t get me wrong, creatives usually do need visuals, that’s why I use a visual time tracker and colorful pens. Get stickers, do sketch notes, color code, just make sure that it is functional.
Planner peace is not something you can buy. It requires self-reflection and an understanding of how your mind works. It would be so much easier if I could just order some cute inserts online. However, because I have a good understanding of how my mind works, I know that the inserts I’ve found so far will not work for me. I’m better off drawing my own until I’m satisfied with them and then make my own printables. If you are having trouble with your planner, it’s likely that you need to do the same.0