I know that December is “planner picking time”, but being a bit of a planner nerd, I know that we tend to buy planners year round, whenever we feel life spinning out of control!
I just ordered an Erin Condren monthly planner so I can plan our kids school year and sports schedules. I KNOW I could have made one easily, but having one all ready to go just made sense and plus I love buying planners!!!
Most people just opt for what they always use, but if you are overwhelmed now might be a good time to consider a new planner or system. There are so many options so how do you choose? It can be hard to do, but by sorting through the options and knowing your lifestyle can help.
So what are your options? Well there are electronic ones, printables, spiral bound, ring bound, DIY and pre-made. So how do you figure it all out? Well it takes some thought and asking some questions.
First, how do you set up your day?
- Do you plan out every minute or do you just need to know when certain appointments fall?
- Do you depend on lists?
- Do you set goals?
- Do you want to start setting them?
- Do you have a routine?
- If not, do you want to create one?
Being able to answer these questions will help you narrow down the options to the one that works best for you.
For example, on my kids planner I need to know things like when “Meet the teacher day” is, when they are off of school and then coordinate with my husband to schlepp them around.
But for my work I have a limited number of appointments and have more of a need to manage tasks and plan big picture projects.
Those two different goals are hard to accomplish in one single planner!
What kind of planner do YOU need?
Well if you just need to have some place to make sure you don't miss important appointments, then a plain block calendar or the calendar app on your phone would probably work just fine.
If you like technology, your smartphone will do. In fact it can be set to remind you about appointments so you don't miss any and can be set to show a monthly, weekly or daily view. If you are a list person, look for a calendar that breaks your day down to something manageable and has room for lists of to do's.
If you are a paper planner person like me, then you know that all those dates and times online don't mean a thing and you will want to find some kind of paper planner that can fit your lifestyle. I use the Erin Condren for my kids and a Customized ARC Planner for my business!
What doesn't work?
If you currently use a planner and are thinking about switching, think about what doesn't work.
Is the layout the problem? What would work better? Always keep in mind that your planner is a tool to help you with your life. It isn't a solution to all of your problems! It won't make you more productive, but it can help you not forget important things.
My Realtor friends are more appointment driven so their calendars HAVE to have times during the day from super early to late-late. My blogging friends are more loosey-goosey with the times and just need to be able to sort out editorial calendars, schedule posts and make sure social media campaigns are up and running on time.
What do you want?
What you also need to consider isn't just what isn't working in your current system, or lack thereof, but what you want in a planner as well. Think about things like how portable do you need it to be?
If you plan on carrying it with you all the time, something smaller or electronic is probably a good fit. If it's just to sit on your desk to refer to during your work day, then something bigger would probably help.
Think about how you want it bound. Do you want to be able to move things around? Do you like the idea of a bound, journal like book or does a spiral bound planner appeal to you?
How do you want it to look? Remember, it's what you'll be looking at for a whole year or longer. So consider the style. Think about color, texture, picture or graphic. Do you want to be able to change the cover easily or not?
Still not sure?
Use the next few weeks and try out a few styles. Find a free printable for a few different types and see how they fit. If you think you might want to be more detailed, find one with a daily schedule. If you want less detail, think weekly or monthly. Try lists. Try whatever you think you might want to use. If it works, stay with it, if not, adjust. Then settle into what you decide fits best.
Don't give up!
Last but not least, don't give up! I can't tell you how many planners I have abandoned over the years because they just weren't the right fit for my life.
While I was sad about the wasted money, I didn't worry overmuch about it and just moved on to the next to see if I could find the right fit!
I am 50-ish now and can (finally) say that I have the right planner for work and the right one for personal. It has taken a lot of years and making them myself to get me here, but all the trial and error was worth it in the long run!