Thinking about making big changes to your planning system? Sometimes big changes are necessary to make it work. But other times it’s better to resist the urge and ride it out – just in case the changes aren’t really necessary. If you’re not sure whether your planning system should be changed or left alone, these 10 questions might help you decide.
1. What’s not working? Before you start making any changes, figure out what you don’t like or what isn’t working. Once you have that information, you can decide if the system needs abandoned or just tweaked. Sometimes one small change makes all the difference.
2. How long have you been unhappy? If it’s only been a day or two, or even a week, you should probably wait to make any changes. If your frustration continues, you can probably safely assume your set-up needs work.
3. Has your life changed? When your life changes, your planning system might need to change, too.
4. If your life has changed, are the changes permanent or temporary? My life changed big-time recently when we put our house on the market. Selling our house means more cleaning, more picking up and an unpredictable schedule because of showings. I’m embarrassed to say I did have a knee-jerk reaction yesterday regarding my planner. I tried to fit one more appointment in the tiny box on the monthly calendar and it wouldn’t fit. I said: “This size planner isn’t going to work. I can’t fit everything on here.” But if I switch to a bigger size because I have more appointments right now, when the house sells and life goes back to normal, I won’t need a bigger size anymore and then I’ll want to switch back. So rather than change my system due to temporary circumstances, I need to figure out how to make my current system work. Unless I’m okay with temporarily moving to a bigger planner – which I’m not!
5. Is your planner too small? If you keep track of a lot of information and truly can’t fit all of it in your current sized planner, maybe it’s time to switch to a bigger size. But before you do, here are a few more questions:
- Do you really all that information in your planner or can you eliminate some of your information or sections?
- Do you want to carry the bigger size around or will you decide it’s too big and end up leaving it at home?
- Do you really need more room or just want it?
6. Is your planner too big? If you’ve been carrying a large planner but find that you don’t need all the space or you leave it at home because it’s too heavy and bulky, maybe it’s time to switch to a smaller size.
7. Does your planner meet your needs? Figure out what you need your planner to do and then determine if it’s meeting your needs. If it isn’t, can you tweak your current system so that it does? If it doesn’t meet your needs and can’t be tweaked, then change it.
My daughter dealt with this recently. She tried using a custom page per day in her personal Filofax, upgraded to custom 2 pages per day and realized neither of the daily formats was meeting her needs. Daily pages were overwhelming and she needed to see the week. So she switched to a vertical weekly format we created for her and is much happier.
8. Have you personalized your planner or are you using it as is? If you’re using it as is and it’s working fine, that’s great. But if it isn’t, there are lots of things you can do to personalize it. If you’re not sure how to begin, check out the articles in the time management section of this blog and the many articles and videos on Philofaxy. While you’re there, you’ll discover a whole bunch of other blogs about planners.
9. Is there something else going on? Confession time. I’m going through peri-menopause and it’s kicking my butt. I’m dealing with brain fog, lack of focus, indecision, fatigue, etc. As a result, I’ve been struggling big-time with my time management and especially my planner. After years of using one planner faithfully, these days I find myself going back and forth between two planners and multiple planner formats. Despite my best efforts, I haven’t been able to choose a planner and format and use it for more than a few days. This is not me.
After talking with my doctor this week, he put me on an anti-depressant. I’m not exactly depressed but because of the difficulties I’m having due to menopause and ADHD (ADHD can get worse during menopause), I need help to clear the fog and feel like myself again. I’m optimistic that once the medicine kicks in I’ll be able to get this planner mess under control.
But back to the question. If something else is going on, it might be a good idea NOT to change your set-up until you figure it out. Chances are the system you’re using will be fine once you can solve the underlying issue. If you make a change, you’re liable to do like I did and end up making a big, fat mess.
10. Is it possible you’re just bored? Some of us, when things start rolling along smoothly, get antsy and want to change for the sake of change. If that’s you, DON’T DO IT. Instead, try to make some little changes that make it more fun.
- Get a new binder.
- Add some washi tape and stickers.
- Use a different colored pen.
- Make new page dividers
If you can stick it out, the boredom will probably pass and you’ll be fine again.
So what did you decide? Is it time for a change or time to stay put?