Using a planner can be overwhelming. There are so many choices! And once you finally choose which size you want, which format you want, and which company you want to order from, you still have to set it up!
And speaking of setting it up, this is where it can get overwhelming FAST. A planner isn’t just a calendar. It can include things like:
- To-do lists
- Address pages
- Food Journals
- Project lists
- Party planning
- Special occasions
- Gift lists
You’re only limited by your imagination – or by the ring size of your binder.
But if you’re just getting started and that extra stuff overwhelms you, skip it. Focus on the “guts” of the system which is the calendar and to-do list. Keep in mind that a planner’s basic purpose is to help you manage your appointments, to-do list and any information you might need. So start with those.
My first planning system was a 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 three ring notebook for information, a spiral bound week-at-a-glance calendar for appointments and a steno pad for my to-do list. It worked well for a long time.
But then I discovered Franklin Covey. As soon as I saw one of the Franklin planners, I wanted one. ASAP. So I squeezed money out of the budget and headed over to the Franklin store to change my life.
That was in 1993 when it was still Franklin Quest. And when you bought a planner, it came with a cassette tape that explained exactly how to use it. I listened to that tape so many times.
But my first planner was really simple. I mean really simple. It included:
- Monthly calendar for the current year
- 2 months of two page per day inserts
- 12 tabs that were pretty much empty
- A-Z tabs for names and addresses
I wrote everything on my daily pages. I mean everything. I didn’t have sections at the back for any of the categories I listed earlier. Everything was recorded on the daily pages or the monthly pages. At the end of each month, I filled out the Monthly Index which listed where I could find information on the daily pages. Used pages were stored in my storage binder. And that was pretty much it.
I didn’t use colored pens, washi tape or stickers. I didn’t have multiple page finders or tabs that came out of the top, bottom and sides. My system was simple to use and simple to maintain.
Eventually I started adding things – like
- Financial information
- Car and truck information
- Medical information
- User id’s and passwords
- Food Journals
But it took a long time. My system evolved as my life changed and my needs changed. And it was still pretty simple. In fact, it still is pretty simple. When I start adding too many categories, I get overwhelmed.
So if you’re just starting out or thinking about getting a planner, start simple. Start with the basics. Live with the basics a while and then starting tweaking. But start with the basics. If you never progress beyond the basics, that’s okay. If you turn your planner into a complex work of art, that’s okay, too. That’s the beauty of a planner – you can make it anything you want.
But start simple. A planner is an awesome tool that can help you keep your ducks in a row. But if you make it too complicated, you might give up and then who knows where your ducks will be.