Should you aim to find Planner Peace? Or Planning Peace?
I know for the majority of planner people out there, there tends to be a lot of switching up from planner to planner throughout the year. And that leaves a lot of our beautiful, stationary friends in what I call…
“The Planner Twilight Zone”
For others, the point of switching up planners might be as simple as just wanting a new pretty planner to dance with. For me? It runs a tad bit deeper.
If you read my Art Planner Setup article, then you’ll have noticed me tossing around the fact that I wanted to create a “positive planning experience” for the new year.
THE IMPACT OF MY ENVIRONMENT
Planning, outlining, devising plans and whatnot came very natural to me. And the discovery of decorative planning helped kick in my creative side entirely! I thought decorative planning was going to be the ONE THING that made 2018 the most productive year I’d ever had.
And in actuality, 2018 WAS a pretty productive year. But I also learned some new details about myself. One being that I am actually more of a “big picture” thinker, so my inadequacy in paying attention to details was sorely revealed this year.
Positive Planning… Take 1
You may hear me frequently speak about discovering the impact emotions had on me and that’s mainly because it’s a very important realization.
The fact that my emotional side was starting to cause me more harm than good revealed itself through my finances. I was glad (and shocked) to have managed to have kept consistent with my monthly budget and for good reasons! It encouraged me to continue to practice my drawing abilities, and then it also made it clear that I was emotionally spending. Mainly on eating out, but later it was through business expenses.
I went into that a lot deeper in this post, so I won’t draw on that here.
Positive Planning… Take 2
I noticed that over the year, I would have moments where I had bursts of energy, excitement, and motivation to achieve goals. I had the mindset, the strategy was clear, and I was focused.
When that energy died down, so did my planning altogether. I also became one of those planner people that switched between planners often, thinking that maybe I just needed a change of scenery.
And with all the beautiful planners out there, it made it so easy to switch! I had an Erin Condren Hardbound Vertical. Then I hopped to the Erin Condren Hardbound Horizontal. I started planning in the EC Deluxe Monthly. Then I hopped to bullet journaling. But when I wasn’t sticking to paper planning, I figured that maybe I should try digital planning. That didn’t work. And it got so bad until I just went back to scrap paper and sticky notes for awhile. I even almost purchased a Happy Planner, since everyone else just seemed to have such great success with them.
BUT I FINALLY ASKED MYSELF… WHY?
Why was I about to drop some more money on another planner when I had at least 3, nearly empty planners at home? Was another decorative planner REALLY going to help me stay productive?
A big part of me knew that sometimes, things just didn’t work out. And the beauty of testing out different planners is so that you will be able to find the one that suits your needs best. And your needs may change frequently as your planner may change frequently. But for me, I felt it was something different I wasn’t addressing.
When I really thought about it, the decorations actually had very little to do with why I stayed in a planner. The only planner I seemed to keep up with consistently is my budget planner. I’ve been in the same planner for over a year, and have had no intentions on jumping into anything else.
So the question remained, why was I constantly jumping around in my other planners? What was it about my budget planner that kept me consistent? Kept me wanting to come back to it? And kept me wanting to fulfill my goals in it?
Was it really the decorations?
No. Because, then I would’ve stuck to my bullet journal.
Was it the brand of the planner?
No. I have so many Erin Condren planners in my Planner Twilight Zone that I’m trying to re-purpose, it’s ridiculous!
It Was Positive.
My budget planner has a record of some of my worst financial fails this year lol, but somehow I have managed to find a balance in still making it a positive atmosphere.
And without getting too deep and technical about it, I realized that my budget planner really fit my personality. It was bright and colorful, and my art in it made planning that much more fun. It wasn’t too involved where I would need to create a page for everything like with bullet journaling, but wasn’t too structured either.
Also, it was “filled”. Which I explained in my art planner setup that a filled planner makes me feel “satisfied” at the end of the month.
IT WAS SIMPLE.
On top of that, planning in my budget planner didn’t require me to check in everyday like a daily or weekly planner would make me feel. It didn’t require me to over-exert myself, as in spending a ton of time decorating every week or everyday, like a bullet journal or weekly planner. I decorate it once a month, and I’m good and free to work on other things. It was actually the simplest planner I had ever had! Though I tend to decorate it the heaviest.
The planning experience was… Positive. For me.
So that’s why, with all the planners I’m going to be using in 2019, I’m going to keep this in the back of my mind. My planning peace is promoting a positive atmosphere, not just dancing around with a new fancy-shmancy planner.
So. How do you go about creating a positive atmosphere when you’re planning? I’ll just say right now that a lot of my tips are based on getting to know yourself. There are many articles out there that will help you sort out specific brands and planners for you. But here, I want to help you narrow down what type of planner format you may want to start with first.
And without further adieu, here are a few of my tips!
TIPS FOR A POSITIVE PLANNING EXPERIENCE
Know WHAT Your Personality Is
There are so many different ways to plan, and so many options you have to choose from. But knowing who you are from the inside out can be the difference between dropping money on a quality planner you know you’ll benefit from. Or going broke bouncing around from planner to planner. (Trust me. I know ALL too well. 😐 ) A couple things to think about include:
PAPER OR DIGITAL?
The ladies of the planning community make paper planning look GORGEOUS! With their beautiful stickers, the foil, the calligraphy and all the amazing things they do with their planners can just make you want to rush out and grab the same thing! But wait!
If a stack of books in the corner of your room make you crawl with anxiety, paper planning is not going to last for you. If all you can ever think about is all the trees being wasted. Or somehow a fire engulfing your planning the minute you purchase it. Well, you may not be a paper planner. Perhaps your heart longs for the ease of electronics.
However, if you’re leery of the technological world and don’t care to have your information swirling in a cybernetic vortex with other information that can easily be hacked… you might not be a digital planner. Heck, it doesn’t even have to go THAT deep. You might just HATE having to constantly update apps or perhaps you don’t want to deal with possible slowdowns and other electronic malfunctions… or constantly forgetting your passwords. Paper planning might provide a little more peace for you instead.
DECORATIVE OR MINIMAL?
As in the above section, you may LOVE to grab a cup of tea and sit down to watch your favorite youtuber decorate their planners above and beyond! But that is DEFINITELY not for everyone.
First of all, consider the costs! If you’re not into decorative planning, congratulations. You’re that much closer to being richer than the rest of us. Even the cheapest decorative planner has a monthly spending spree whether it’s $10 or $50. Keep that $10 or $50 and invest it somewhere if decorative planning isn’t your style.
But perhaps minimal design just doesn’t grab you. It looks nice, it’s pretty, but you LOVE the extra. The luxury. The glam. The jump-off-the-page-and-make-you-wanna-scream sticker kit layouts! It doesn’t just keep you coming back to your planner, it provides a calm for you. The process of putting it together is therapeutic, and it just creates such a wonderful experience that you can’t believe you ever went this long without it!
Then you my friend.. might be a decorative planner. (JOIN THE DARK SIDE!!! lol I’m kidding).
FLEXIBLE OR STRUCTURE?
I love bullet journals, and the bullet journalists out there creating all of these incredibly beautiful and GORGEOUS spreads! And you would think, with me having a love for drawing, I would WANT to express my creativity on those captivating blank pages. I would WANT to have the ultimate flexibility in setting up my planner.
But I don’t… actually.
With me having a love of creating ideas, having ultimate flexibility usually stalls me. For one thing, I get SO invested in trying to create the perfect setup that I… don’t… set it up. And especially if it doesn’t look the way I want it to, it just disheartens me completely. On top of that, the pressure of HAVING to create every page of every spread of every month drains me. Sometimes, I just want to open my planner and USE it. And not all the time do I feel like doing a whole entire spread and setting it up.
On the other hand, bullet journals don’t HAVE to be extensive and glam and filled with art. I’m just speaking for myself since I am naturally drawn to decorative planning. I have other gripes with keeping a bullet journal that I may create a separate post for on another day.
But perhaps you don’t work that way. And you can’t find a planner that can just let you do YOU. You don’t want structure and you have a very clear outlook on what you want, what you need, how you’ll use it, etc. Then bullet journaling (or something equally flexible) might be your style!
And while we’re speaking on flexibility and structure, consider the overall build of the planner as well. Does being able to move around pages appeal to you more than a coil bound planner does? Or perhaps you love the security of coils and just not into the disc bound system? Or perhaps you want the happy medium of a ring bound planner to keep your pages secure but still have the flexibility to move around your pages.
So many things to consider right?
SPACIOUS OR MINI?
This is important too. If you write big, will keep the planner somewhere specific, tend to have a lot of tasks/appointments/etc, or just like to have a lot of space, you might opt for a larger sized planner. Though if you need something on-the-go and can slip right in your purse (pockets??), don’t need a lot of space, write small anyway, or just don’t need a big, clumsy planner, minis might be more your style!
ONLY ONE? OR MULTIPLE?
This is a HUGE one. There’s many people out there (myself included) who love to have at least one additional planner in their organizing system. But then, there are also plenty of people who prefer to keep everything all tied together in one catch-all planner. Figure out where you land in that spectrum.
If there is one area in your life that is just overtaking your regular, everyday planning, then it might do well to have it’s own organizational setup. Then again, perhaps different areas in your life require minimum maintenance on a daily so there is no ONE area that requires it’s own book.
If you’re just getting into the planning world, try to fight the urge to find a need for all the new and pretty planners you come across. Otherwise, if further on down the road you realize how much you loathe keeping up with 2+ planners, the rest will end up in the Planner Twilight Zone, waiting for you to come up with a useful way to re-purpose them. Which leads me to my next point…
Know WHY You Need It
You need to make sure you have a very thorough understanding of WHY you need a planner. And even though there are a lot of planner topic ideas out there (I’ve even done two videos on them lol), understanding the purpose it serves in your life and how it will benefit you is very valuable to know. Do some of your reasons include:
YOU’RE TOO BUSY
You REALLY need to keep track of kids extracurricular activities, the pet’s vet appointment, the deadlines due at work, the family events throughout the year, the self care appointments, the car maintenance check ups, keeping the home tidy, developing your side hustle, UGH it’s just too much! Daily and weekly planners might suit you the best. But monthly planners could do great justice too if your tasks are things that just needs to be done within the month and not by a certain day.
WANT TO REACH CERTAIN GOALS
Having a planner to assist you with reaching certain goals is a GREAT reason to invest in a planner! Goal planners exist all across the board of the planning community, you just have to find one that works best for you. But, if your planning personality is generally “flexible”, your goal planning could be setup right within your bullet journal!
Not every planner has to be about productivity. Memory planning is a wonderful, and creative outlet for many and does not have to include buying foiled sticker kits and washi bundles. Dated planners can be used for journaling, for printing photos and using as a scrapbook, and more. And they are the kind of planner you keep forever! And maybe hand down through the generation. 🙂
And then there are the planners that are just meant to hold information. For instance, a budgeting planner would be an example. A recipe planner. A planner for car maintenance, business planning, and more. It doesn’t just have to be daily to do’s, appointments, and events. It can assist you in whatever area of your life needs to be a little more organized.
Know WHEN You’ll Use It
A planner is it’s most effective when it’s actually being USED. Remember that, and your planning experience will go far! Using me as an example, I actually hate having to routinely check in with my planners. Even my budget planner, I usually only check in around 2-3 times a week. But that’s all it really requires of me. So what is your personality like? Be sure to evaluate whether you…
CHECK IN EVERYDAY? WEEKLY? MONTHLY?
Realistically speaking, do you adore having a routine? Can you do the same thing day in and day out and get adjusted or even enjoy doing it? Do you have enough reasons TO check in everyday? Or would weekly be more your speed? Or do you just need a planner to check in several times throughout the month to keep you on track?
More consistent use of your planner promotes more productivity. But if it overwhelms you, and sometimes you avoid or forget to do it, your check in routine might be either too involved or not involved enough.
ARE ROUTINE? OR SPORADIC?
As much as I would like to be, I am not a very routine person. It’s taken a lot for me to even MAINTAIN a planner, much less check in with it consistently. I don’t have routine days or times where I check in with my budget planner, and I prefer to keep it that way. I am a sporadic planner at the moment (and I need help! lol), so taking off the pressure of being rigid and routine has encouraged me to at least continue planning. And some effort is better than none at all.
If you are more routine and consistent with your planning style, then dailies and weeklies may really benefit you in the long run. It’s something you can adjust into your daily routine and not feel too stressed or overwhelmed to keep up with.
Know WHERE You’ll Keep It
Believe it or not, knowing where you’ll keep your planner matters a lot in your planning peace. If you’re constantly going somewhere, think about how comfortable you’d feel carrying a college book-equivalent sized planner around. And if you’re at work… ummm, how do you REALLY feel about opening a planner full of foiled unicorn stickers around your boss? Yes… it matters.
ALWAYS WITH YOU? AT HOME? AT WORK?
Keeping a planner at a specific place might mean that you are okay with having a larger sized planner. If it’s your home planner, and you’re decorative at heart, than it probably won’t bother you, and matter of fact, make you happy, to have an open planner next to you in all it’s decorated glory.
On the other hand, if you’re constantly out and about or at work, you may want to intentionally have a more minimalistic and professional black and white planner. Unless you just don’t care then by all means, open your planner to that fluffy cotton candy spread you did last night and show it off for all your co-workers to see! (I personally don’t think I’d recommend that though…).
Bullet journalists are coming up with beautiful ways to decorate even DIGITAL planning, so you are not stopped from that if you prefer digital planning over paper. If you prefer to keep your plans in your phone rather than a book, then you can bypass a lot of “starting planning essentials” altogether.
WILL COLORS MATTER?
Not only will color choice in planners matter in terms of where you keep your planner, but also in whether it distracts you or help you focus. Me, personally? With my dad being a wonderful painter, I grew up around colors. I grew up being in tune with the way colors and music could evoke certain emotions in you, so they are far from distracting to me. They are naturally apart of me and my style.
For others, too many colors and patterns and textures can actually be extremely distracting for them to focus. It may look pretty and inviting to you when others plan in their planners, but always keep in mind what will work for you! Yes, I spend a LOT of time decorating planners, but as long as it’s fulfilling my needs functionally, I can overlook all of that and use it for what it is. If you can’t do that, you might want a more neutral toned planner.
Neutral toned planners are also used by glam planners so that the colors of the planner won’t affect the way they lay out their sticker kits. So keep that in mind as well. 🙂
But above all, if you don’t take anything else from this article, DO take this…
Functionality Is FIRST!
Every planner should serve a purpose in your life. Even if it’s a hobby like memory keeping, it’s still serving a purpose. Make sure that before purchasing new fancy planners, trying to incorporate a decorative style, or doing anything else, that you keep in mind it’s functionality first.
Once your planner loses it’s purpose to you… it loses it’s appeal.
Though in the end, if you really want to get those new fancy planners just to experiment with, then by all means! Jump in! That’s an entirely different story. 🙂
But if you are switching between different planners out of frustration because you can’t seem to find a system that works for you, I hope you find these tips useful.
But if not… well… I do thank you for reading. 🙂
And you all have a wonderful day.