The Planner Experiment didn’t turn out the way I expected – and that’s probably a good thing. I’m pretty sure I was hoping to get a list of planner options from which I would randomly choose one and miraculously stick to it forever, or at least for a long time. But it didn’t happen that way. Instead of a list of planning systems, you all gave me great advice and some things to think about. You tried to figure out what I needed so that I could finally have planner peace again. And I thank you for that. You are all wonderful and I’m blessed to have you reading my blog.
Since you had such great advice, I decided to start this post by sharing some of it. I know there are other people besides me who are struggling to find a measure of planner peace and these suggestions could be helpful for them, too. Since most of this is available in the comments, what’s in this post is a summary.
Cat: But you keep going back to compact Franklin Covey two pages per day?
What is it exactly you do NOT like about the Franklin Covey two pages per day that you keep going back to? This is a great question. Anytime you’re considering switching or feeling dissatisfaction with your current set-up, ask yourself what it is you don’t like. If you can’t fix it, at least you have a better idea of what to look for in the new system.
Cat: IF IT WORKS…THEN WORK IT! The grass (or planner) is not always greener on the other side! This is SO true! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve decided to switch sizes or formats and was in the new size and format only minutes before I realized it wasn’t an improvement and ran back to my Franklin Covey.
Elena (weekendwife.wordpress.com): I would think that with the amount of writing you do on a daily basis that you would be hard-pressed to switch to a format that would hinder how much you write. You want freedom in your planner, not feeling like you’re being suppressed. And this is one reason why there are so many different options. Elena hit the nail on the head. I want lots of writing room and freedom within structure. Trying to find a system that goes against my basic needs will never work. That’s true of everyone. If you like writing, you can’t choose a system with no room to write. If you don’t like writing, you don’t need a lot of room. If you write large, you probably won’t be happy with a tiny planner that requires tiny writing. So the first rule in choosing a planner format is to choose one that meets our basic needs.
Elena (weekendwife.wordpress.com): My other vote would be to still use classic/A5 (as you need space) and just use plain lined or grid paper and perhaps draw out different types of layouts (either weekly or daily) and test them out that way without spending money on formatted pages first. There’s no rule that says you can’t use blank paper. Blank paper can be a very effective planning tool.
Doug Puryear (addadultstrategies.wordpress.com): homey – read your requirements. Haven’t you already picked the right planner for you right there? Would you consider trying it for 6 months instead of one? Wouldn’t that make your life better? Or are you on the quest for the Holy Grail? Duh. Doug’s right. My “rules” outlined a lot of details about the planner I want. Sometimes we know what we want but we still think something else will be better or more interesting or more exciting. The truth is that time management and doing the do’s on our list is work. It’s not necessarily fun. And having the right planner doesn’t make it more fun to clean the kitchen or do the laundry. A planner is a tool. When my husband chooses a tool for a remodeling job he needs to do, his primary focus is whether it will do the job and if it’s the right price. Obviously we can have a little more fun with our planners than he can with his tools, but the bottom line is the same – a planner is a tool.
I wish I could tell Doug I wasn’t searching for the Holy Grail. I didn’t think I was but maybe I am. Or maybe I’m just bored with my to-do’s and hoping a different planner will make them more fun. Has anybody had success with that? I’m guessing not.
Bree (simplyparticular.blogspot.com): I do think any planner is better than no planner, but I don’t think any planner will work if we stick with it. I think you’re right, Bree. I think one reason Ashley can make any planner work is because she’s staying with a similar style. She knows what she likes and the different formats she tries are all within that style. If she tried using something different, like GTD, I don’t think it would work for her. We have basic needs in our planning system and certain planners meet those needs better than others. Within the style we like, there can be other options, though.
Bree (simplyparticular.blogspot.com): What are the things that you reference when you take your planner out of your purse away from home? (Not the just in cases, the actual things you refer to). What do you like most about the ring binders that you keep returning to even though the pages inside don’t always work? Texture? Color? Layout? Clasp style? What are the things that create friction and prevent you from using a planner that’s working okay? (For me, I’ve learned I won’t deal with all the folding pages like DIY Fish, I must have a binder that lays flat, I must have dated pages, and when I design my own pages I have to print a ton because when I run out I don’t always have the time/energy to get the next batch going). What colors, font styles and designs make you happy? What colors and designs bore, repel or frustrate you? What planning tools have intrigued you, if money were no object? These are great questions, Bree, and I think that before any of us make changes we should ask ourselves these. The more we can figure out ahead of time, the more money and time we’ll save in trying to find a system we like and that works for us.
Helen: I have two thoughts on this – On the one hand, you need something that works the way you do. On the other, if you really want to prove the claim you make in the title, that *any* planner can work, you need to go 100% out of your comfort zone, to something totally different to what you’ve used before. Wow, Helen. You’re absolutely right. To prove that claim, I need to do something different. But in my “rules”, I pretty much laid out the same system I’m currently using. The truth is – I don’t want to try something different. I want to try something just a little bit different than what I’m currently using. I had no idea I was doing that.
Jane: I really think that you should stick with compact Franklin Covey 2ppd. I know it’s boring, but it really does seem to work best for you. At least my impression is that you complain less on your blog about missing things or feeling stressed out when you stick with that system. That’s probably not what you wanted to hear, though. You’re right, Jane. That’s not what I wanted to hear but I’m hearing that a lot. Even when people suggest other options, they end with the idea that I probably really should stick with my Franklin Covey. Sometimes the best system for us is the one we already have.
Kim (tinyrayofsunshine.blogspot.com): Ultimately, pick whichever has the least amount of friction for you and makes you feel like you’re actually happy and getting things done. If some part of it is getting in the way, perhaps it isn’t the size but the type of planner. I’ve heard that there’s a big thing surrounding ring-bound planners called “perfect size, but too small pages”. If this is the case for you, I suggest ditching them altogether and try a different ring system like the discbound system, their pages tend to be closer to the actual size of the notebook itself while lending to format of a notebook and flexibility of a ring-bound binder. Interesting idea. I had never heard of that but it’s exactly right. I’ve never considered the discbound system but maybe I’ll look into it.
And finally, I thought this was a good note to end on:
Kim (tinyrayofsunshine.blogspot.com): And lastly, you might totally hate the challenge if it turns out that a few days in it’s not the way YOU plan and what you like. That’s perfectly okay, we all have our preferences. If this happens, I suggest forgoing the challenge and going back to the last system that worked best for you and find a way to be happy with it. You probably don’t need to even lug it around with you. I leave my Bullet Journal at home most of the time. When I go out for dinner and errands, no need to bring a planner type deal with me! Instead I bring a pocket notebook just in case anything comes up that I need to write down. Back to what I was saying, do what’s best for you, don’t keep doing the challenge to try to please us, we read your articles because we like you, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of your own happiness. Good luck with whatever you decide to do! You’re right, Kim. No one can choose a planner for us – we have to choose for ourselves. I’ve sat down with my family many times and forced them to choose one for me and then I promptly used a different one. Actually, that can be a good strategy for figuring out which one you really want to use! Unfortunately it doesn’t sit well with the people you forced to help you for the millionth time.
So what did I decide? In case you’re interested, I’m going to use –
Personal Filofax Guildford
DIYFish Life Mapping Pages
I’ll keep you posted on how I use them. And thank you again for all your help and support.