Too many planners

The problem with planning nowadays is there are too many options.

Sometimes my soul yearns for the simpler times when our only choices were either some type of Filofax or we could buy a standard diary from a Woolworths type shop.

Now we have planners rather than diaries – bound or spiral or looseleaf.  It seems like every other Kickstarter campaign is for a planner. And the number of inserts that are available? I laugh at my younger self actually using the inserts that came with the Filofax. But as well as your Filofaxes and your Franklin Coveys and your Paperchase, there are so many Etsy stores that sell printables or printed inserts. Desktop publishing has a lot to answer for.

But with greater choice comes greater procrastination. I spend so much time looking at different planners and trialling different inserts. I repeat information in several planners just to test what it looks like with different layouts. I admit there are other things I could be doing with my time. Each time I change my Filofax binder or Erin Condren inerchangeable cover or swap out the dashboards I’m taking some time away from doing things that are actually productive. The joke is we spend so much time planning or planning out our planners we don’t actually DO anything.

How much of this is true? Are there really people who don’t get anything done because of their planners? Wouldn’t these people be the type who wouldn’t get things done anyway? If someone is actually using their planners primarily for planning does it really get in the way of doing?

I don’t miss appointments or events and if a task has a deadline it gets done. So what if I change my planners with the seasons or try a different planner every week. It’s one of my hobbies. My planner addiction really doesn’t stop me getting things done.

But it would be easier with fewer options.

Being Busy?

Most of my days are really busy with a packed schedule. Take this day in January for example – I woke up and did my morning routine which consists of getting up to date on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube and getting ready for the day. This took about an hour. I then had sheduled in time to catch up on my TV shows and Netflix which took around 4 hours. After that I scheduled an hour for a leisurely lunch and some more YouTube. Then it was a crazy afternoon.

In fact here’s a picture of my schedule.

  

As you can see there was, like, only an hour of my day unaccounted for.

Okay so I know this isn’t actually a busy day. I know you can have a full to do list and even schedule out every second of your day and not really be busy. But then I’ve never been one of those people who think being busy is some kind of accomplishment.

In the working world it seems that being busy is an indication of how important you are. But stay at home parents and homemakers often complain they have no time and that they’re busy, as if it’s something to be proud of. To be honest, people who complain about being busy all the time because of the NUMBER of tasks they have to do are probably indicating to me how ineffective they are at prioritising, or worse, how inefficient they are.

Obviously there are times when people are genuinely busy. A person who holds down two jobs while studying and being a single parent can claim to be busy. But on a smaller scale, if you have two events at the same time then you can’t attend one of them because you’re already busy. The same is true if you have an urgent deadline on one task so you’re busy and can’t go to a meeting or work on another task at that time. But these are examples of time constrained busy-ness.

Always having something to do or having somewhere to go doesn’t mean someone’s a busy person. More importantly, it doesn’t mean they’re a useful or productive person.

A change of mindset is needed where people stop thinking being busy is something to boast about. Don’t be busy, be productive.

A Month of Planners – update

In this post, I explained how I was going to re-use some of my 2015 planners to help me decide on my basic planning system for 2016.

Over November and some of December I tried

  • Passion Planner
  • Day Designer
  • Erin Condren Horizontal
  • Plum Paper M.E Planner
  • Plum Paper Regular Horizontal
  • MAMBI Happy Planner
  • Franklin Covey Her Point of View – Classic inserts
  • DIYFish

I didn’t use my Inkwell Press Planner simply because I’ve already bought the 2016 planner and will trial it next year. I also didn’t use my Limelife Planner – in all honesty I picked it up, the cover fell off and I just couldn’t get past the poor quality and awkward layout.

The Day Designer is just too big but I do like having the option of a daily planner.

I never did a review of the MAMBI Happy Planner. I really think this is a great quality planner for its price. But it wouldn’t be fair for me to give it a full review because I struggle with the disc bound system. I have a real like/dislike relationship with the discs. Simply, if you get on with the discs I would recommend the Happy Planner.

The Passion Planner‘s weekly layout doesn’t suit my needs at the moment. I would have to make too many changes to the layout to make it worth my while. This was a really helpful insight since this planner has been high on my list to re-buy for 2016. I do like the passion plans and some aspects of the monthly reviews but I think it would be easy to incorporate these into my basic system, particularly since a PDF is available.

I’m still undecided about the Plum Paper Planners. Instinctively I think the layouts may be too cramped for me. Luckily I bought 2015/2016 planners for both the M.E and horizontal so I can trial them again next year. But they definitely won’t be part of my basic system.

My biggest surprise over the last few weeks has been how I’ve gravitated towards the bound planners. I have been a Filophile for so many years it’s possible that last year I was trying to develop a system which used a Filofax rather than thinking about whether a Filofax suited my needs. I’m even beginning to suspect a Filofax (or other ring-bound planner) will not suit my needs if and when I return to work next year. A correlated surprise is I think a personal sized planner may be better for me than an A5, if I ever do return to a Filofax. I will definitely trial different inserts and set-ups in ring-bound planners next year but I don’t foresee them forming part of my basic system.

So now I have a better idea of which planners work for me, I can think about what I need from my planning system

A Month of Planners

As we approach the home straight of 2015 my thoughts inevitably turn to my planning set up for 2016. I don’t strive for planner peace in my set up; I enjoy trialling new planners so much I don’t think I’m even looking for the perfect planning system.

But ultimately planners have to be functional, I can’t play with planners at the risk of missing appointments or forgetting tasks. In order for me to have confidence enough to keep my planner hobby going in 2016 I need to make sure my back up system functions really well. This year one of my failings was trying new planners without maintaining my back up. Or perhaps my back up wasn’t really working that well.

Also a part of me is constantly tempted to buy the latest version of a planner I’ve already reviewed in case there have been changes which affect how they function (on that note, review on Emily Ley Simplified Planner 2016 coming soon). But with so many new planners entering the market it seems a little counterintuitive to buy planners I’ve already trialled.

So in November (and maybe December) I’m going to try something a little bit crazy – I’m going to reuse the 2015 planners I’ve previously trialled. Not only can I update some of my reviews,  and remind myself why some planners didn’t work for me, it can also help solidify my back up planning system for 2016.

Obviously it would be ridiculous to use all the planners at the same time but I will use each one for at least one week. Inevitably there will be some planners I use for more than one week and I may use a planner for a few weeks but tweak the way I’m using it each week. I know this means I’m going to be writing the same appointments, tasks etc several times each week but I can’t see this short-term duplication (or triplication etc) being a huge burden. If I do get frustrated it should help eliminate layouts that aren’t working for me.

So a couple of caveats before I start –

  • I’m only including 2015 dated calendars – there’s no need to try undated planners at this time
  • where I know the planners have been revised for 2016, I’ll trial the layouts on that basis as far as practicable
  • I would like to have one planner as my back up system so I’ll be seeing how each planner could work towards that.
  • I’m concentrating on retesting weekly layouts, for my monthly layout I’ll rely on iCal.
  • I already have some notebooks set up which are working for me (e.g. for writing and project planning) and I don’t intend to change that.

Some of the planners I’m thinking of using over the next few weeks –

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And of course Filofax using different inserts

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To make sure I don’t miss anything during these crazy weeks I’m going back to basics and using a simple weekly layout for appointments and a list for tasks.

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Wouldn’t it be ironic if this simple layout was my ultimate ‘planner’ peace?