I was watching a video by Carie Harlin of Dispatches From The Frat House and had an ah ha moment. Carie was talking about all the different planner formats she used last year, and I suddenly realized that it’s okay to change your format as often as you want – as long as you do it the right way.
My life has changed significantly over the last several years and I’ve been trying hard to figure out a planner size and format that works for my new schedule and responsibilities. But the way I’ve been doing it is the wrong way. I’ve been going back and forth between planner sizes and not using any planner very well in the meantime.
When I complained to my family about my planner issues, my daughter-in-law said to me: “Just pick a size then do whatever you want within that size.”
That’s the right way to switch formats. When you switch back and forth between sizes, you have to re-write a bunch of information every time and that’s no good. It’s tedious, boring and time consuming. And you miss things – things that turn out to be important later.
If you stay within one size, you can just pick up where you left off without having to re-write a bunch of information or worrying that you missed something. Heck, you can use a new format every single week if you want.
But if you’re switching back and forth between sizes, bad things can happen.
Like incomplete archives. I’ve always been diligent about archiving my old pages and looking back for important information. But since I’ve been doing the planner dance the last couple of years, my archives are incomplete. When I look through them, there’s an odd assortment of pages and lots of them are blank. In order to get a complete picture, I have to look through several archive books for just ONE year.
Missing information. I was at the bank the other day and they needed the social security numbers for my kids. I didn’t have them in the planner I brought with me. They were in the other one – the one that’s a different size. I was really frustrated because not having the information meant I had to call the bank later and provide the information. That’s the kind of stuff that happens when I go back and forth between sizes.
Not knowing where to write something. If you’re switching back and forth between binders and sizes, when you need to write something important, you have no clue where to write it.
Procrastinating on something you need to do because you need your planner in order to do it and you don’t know which one you’re using. I’m talking specifically about some financial reports I need to do. We bought a fixer upper in November and I need to keep track of the expenses in fixing up the house. Since I keep my finances in my planner, I want to do it in my planner. But since I can’t decide which one I want to use, I haven’t done it.
So if you want to switch formats on a regular basis, it will work much better if you keep the same size binder. And if you’re willing to do that, go ahead and switch formats to your heart’s content!
A list of other time management/planner articles is available here.