Planning, Productivity, Random, Tips

The Art of Functional Planning

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If you’ve been in the planning community, I’m sure you have heard the term “functional planning” thrown around a bit.

Functional Planning is normally pitted against another term: “Decorative Planning“. And it’s used in a way to show that functional planning is not pretty, it’s just bare bones, black and white, pen and paper planning.

But is that really what it is?

Well, here is my take on things.

The definition of functional planning as defined by Google search engines:

functional planning definition


Now if you read the second definition, which states “designed to be practical and useful, rather than attractive”, obviously it sounds like I’m putting my foot in my own mouth. But then, look at the definition of practical:


practical definition functional planning


And the first definition reads: “of or concerned with the actual doing or use of something rather than with theory and ideas”.


Well, what am I getting at?


I believe functional planning can be both minimalist and decorative. It’s just based on the individual.


Mistaking “Functional” for “Minimalism”

When I hear others refer to functional planning as only a “minimalist” type thing, it sounds absurd. It makes it seem like to be a functional planner, you have to only love pen and paper, black and white, and some other nonsense and that’s just not true!


I perceive that functional planning is the bare bone requirement of what’s needed according to the individual.

Functionality is based on practicality which in essence is whatever gets you to ACT.


Something as simple as using a color coded system with just pens may be too much for someone else. Maybe you prefer to use a black pen to scribble everything. But to someone else, having everything scribbled in the same color makes the page look jumbled and meshed together with nothing to separate one thing from the next.


Functionality Is Based On Your Personality

When creating your own functional planning system, a lot of it will depend heavily on who you are and what you are trying to achieve. This internal system will be based on your goals, consistency, attention span, overall style, energy levels, and general preference.

There are people who don’t like cluttered pages, and people who do. And then there are those who prefer clean pen and paper only planning, and those who prefer to use stickers to mark every appointment and achievement they have.

It’s not that people who prefer black and white only planning are functional, it’s that they are minimalist.


Functionality Changes Over Time

And this is why you have so many people trying different layouts, planners, styles and more everyday!

As we grow, our interests in things change. We may go from loving to draw all the time (*ahem…) to wanting things to be mapped out for us. Others may want to break free from pre-structured planning and want to create their own layouts. Does that mean that whatever they choose to help them be more productive means that they are no longer functional.

No. It just means they’re changing from decorative to minimalist or vice versa.

I believe that ALL planning is FUNCTIONAL… 😐

Let me say that one more time for the people in the back



I feel that people relay functional planning more so to minimalist planning because perhaps black and white planning is linked to being more professional. Along with that, they probably watch a lot of bullet journal artists or decorative planners in general who scrape their souls DRY to create the prettiest spreads and not even use them.

But again, if what you are doing is not motivating you to be productive, it’s not functional. Whether it’s stickered up or stickerless.



Why does this bother you so much?



And, well, I wanted to voice my opinion on the matter. Like hearing people say bullet journaler… I mean, doesn’t bullet journalist sound better? lol Doesn’t go together? Too much like a news reporter? Well, that’s just me being petty anyways, moving on!

This was just a small thing, a very tiny thing that I wanted to speak my ideas on. As long as you are planning and striving to reach your goals and you’re achieving them, you’re a functional planner.

It could have all the colors in the rainbow with the strokes of Picasso himself! Do you Planner Peep!


And I’ll see you in my next post. 🙂



So what about you? How do you define functional planning?

functional planning pinterest

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