Sick of Planning? 6 Questions to Get You Back on Track

Franklin Covey Planner Page

Franklin Covey Planner Page

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Have you ever felt like throwing your planner away or hiding it in your deepest drawer or closet?  I never used to feel that way, but these days, sometimes I just don’t want to use it.  But, and that’s a VERY BIG BUT, I must use it.  If I don’t use my planner, bad things happen.  When I casually suggest to my family that I’m thinking about not using a planner anymore, they go into panic mode.  They know, as well as I do, that things do not go well for any of us when I don’t use my planner.

If you’ve ever felt that way, too, here are a few questions to consider when you’re tempted to toss your planner.

  1. Have you tried to figure out what the problem is?  Sometimes a little analysis can show you what’s going on.  Do you hate your binder?  Do you hate your pages?  Do you need more color? Do you need less color? Are you frustrated because you’re planning but not getting anything done?  Are you struggling because you don’t know how to use a planner?  Do you feel you don’t have time to plan?  If you can figure out WHY you’re not using your planner, it will be much easier to fix the problem and start using your planner again.
  1. Is it possible you’re over planning?  Nothing will make you want to toss your planner faster than over planning and under performing.  If you feel like planning is a waste of time, using a planner will seem like a waste of time, too.  And you won’t do it.  Or at least you won’t want to.  If that’s the case, it may be time to plan less so you can actually accomplish what you plan.  At least for now.
  1. Is it possible your planner set-up isn’t right for you?  Most of us are willing to switch planners or formats at the drop of a hat but that’s not usually a good idea.  However, sometimes it is actually necessary.  For example, if you’re trying to cram too much into a weekly view, that can cause frustration.  On the other hand, if you have two pages per day and they’re mostly empty, that’s probably not the right format.  Maybe you prefer weekly but you’re forcing yourself to use daily.  Or you like daily but you’re forcing yourself to use weekly.  Take a little time to figure out what you need, what you want, and what actually works.  And if what you’re currently works for you, don’t switch.  Your format isn’t your problem.  But if it isn’t what you need, maybe that’s why you don’t want to use your planner.
  1. Is it possible you’re going through a tough time?  We all go through times when we’re worried, upset, sad, busy, sick, etc.  When we do, dealing with a planner can be the last thing we want to think about.  If that’s the case, maybe it’s time to dial it back a bit.  Instead of going whole hog with the planning, just do the bare minimum.  Don’t abandon your planner – just switch to maintenance mode.  Eventually, when you get through your tough time, you’ll be ready to go back to planning the way you used to.  And because you kept your planner current, you won’t have to start over or fill in the gaps.
  1. Are you letting your planner run your life?  Your planner is not your boss – it’s your servant.  You don’t have to live your life chained to the planner or the task list you created.  If you want to do something other than what’s on the list, count the cost, and if you can work it out, do it!  Don’t take your planner too seriously.  Remember it’s just a tool.
  1. Is it possible you’re just bored?  Instead of abandoning your planner or reinventing a system that already works, maybe you should find something else to do.  Boredom with your life or your routine isn’t your planner’s fault.  Leave the planner alone and figure out a way to make your life more interesting.

Have you ever gone through a time when you didn’t want to use your planner?  How did you get through it?

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Born in Kentucky, I am a wife and mom to 1 son and 2 daughters . I have an ink pen obsession, as well as a love for all things planner. I have been married for 10 years to my high school crush. I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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10 thoughts on “Sick of Planning? 6 Questions to Get You Back on Track

  1. Some of it may be a left brain-right brain thing. Most time management books don’t differentiate between scheduling and planning; whereas I do. For example, I have a deadline for an anthology that’s at the end of the month. Probably most time management books would say to write out a PLANNER list of what you need to do: Research the Washington Monument and maybe break it down into further steps; write the outline; write scene 1, write scene 2, etc., each mapped out to a particular day and time. Whereas, I picked up the book on the monument at the library because I’ve been trying to build my setting skills with general knowledge. Then I saw the deadline for the anthology, noted it on my SCHEDULE so I would have visibility of it. But I didn’t think I was going to do anything for this one. Then I thought about something I’d read in that book and started looking back through it for ideas. Then I started the story. The more important thing for me tends to be not the act of planning out all the steps, but identifying the big picture, and then documenting what I did, like # of words. At work, it’s when I did something because that often turns out to be more important than planning out to do something.

  2. homey –
    i dont use a planner, just cards and lists, but its probably the same. after i’ve used a strategy for a while, sometimes i need to change it – guess when the novelty wears off, like your bored. but some really good ones stick long term, like the cards and lists and calendars.
    if i did have a planner, i’d be terrified of losing it.
    doug

    1. I do imagine your cards are a lot easier to keep track of than a planner. I thought about trying the cards but I like my planner. If my husband did anything, I could see him using the cards.

  3. This has happened a few times. In those times I´m overwhelmed. I´ve found that I can get myself back by starting listing all the things I have done. I have made the beds, I have made breakfast, packed my son´s lunch, did the dishes after breakfast, cleaned the kitchen, wrote such-and-such emails, filled such and such paperwork, made plans for this and this… if you look at it that way, a lot of things have been done already. Than AFTER such a list I brew a big cup of coffee, let it sink in and then list all of the things that need rescheduling after I had a rough patch with my planner (because that´s when things go south) and list all the things that must be done on the week of question. I then prioritize the tasks, place them on my calendar and tell myself to woman-up and just do it. It is imperative that I continue have-done lists as long as I´m back on track.
    I know that so often we demand so much from ourselves that it can get draining to just perform and accomplish through days. Talking in terms of neuropsychiatry, being reminded of tasks already done, of accomplishments, will release norephedrine and serotonine that will increase our experience happiness.

    1. I’m gonna have to get back to you on that! 🙂

      Actually, I think that’s a very good way to do it. Then you’re not always looking for another planner thinking it will be the magic bullet that gets you back on track. It’s eliminating choices and that’s a good thing. What’s gotten me in trouble, besides my crazy life, ADHD and menopause, is the sheer volume of choices. I never do well with choices. The more I have, the more I waffle. So if your philosophy was that you don’t change planners but change how you use it, problem solved.

      Actually, I think about your approach all the time and wish I was like you. You’re my hero.

      1. Patty, she’s my hero too. How does she do it? HOW??? As I sit here I have a Flourish planner by the computer, an Inner Guide, a Family Plus and a Brownline Daily. HOW DOES SHE KEEP IT ALL IN A FLOURISH??? Ah, some things are beyond a mere mortal like me.

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