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.
Sometimes I think the world can be divided into two kinds of people – those who use a paper planner and those who don’t. Maybe 10 years ago the division would have been between those who planned and those who didn’t, but it seems electronic tools changed the dividing line.
I fall firmly into the category of people who use a paper planner so obviously my perceptions will be clouded by that. But it seems to me the paper planner users are always on the defensive because the other group have somehow taken the higher ground. Apparently in this modern world, people who still use paper must be out of date and inefficient; if you need to plan at least use an electronic device; but obviously the highest form of efficiency is not to need any kind of planner at all but have it all in your mind.
I can use an electronic calendar and I see the benefits of being able to share calendars with family or colleagues. My main issue with them is trusting data entry. I can even use electronic means to do a brain dump. If I’m simply trying to get all thoughts out of my head then any notes or word processing app will do. In fact people call me a gadget geek so they find it doubly strange that I choose paper planners over electronic means. But something about the act of writing consolidates things in my mind. I can get a sense of security when I’ve written something down which I’ve never had from typing it out.
Yet within the paper planner community, over the last few years a new division has arisen. Between those who decorate and those who don’t. And those who don’t decorate seem to feel the higher ground is theirs because planners are functional not for decoration; if you have time to decorate, you’re not busy enough to need a planner; and there are a large number of housewives and W/SAHMs who decorate so it must be a bored woman’s play tool.
The simple fact is the scrapbook and journalling communities have meshed with the planner communities and a new type of planning has emerged.
Perhaps it’s a matter of terminology – people who write about events that already happened aren’t planning they’re recording. But using a planner to keep wish lists and even contact details isn’t really planning – it’s storing.
Our eyes have been opened to the world of creative planning, which in its truest sense blends function and form to enhance functionality. For me it’s a wonderful opportunity to use both the left and right sides of my brain together in a simple planning session.
Yes, I get frustrated by the endless plan with me videos which show decorative layouts but no functional planning and there are many things about decorating planners that confuse me, such as why pay $50 for something you’re covering every inch of? But the answer’s probably as obvious to those people as the answer to ‘why do you need so many planners?’ is to me.
Last month I decided to try the #onebookjuly challenge which is to use one book and one pen for one month. As I understand it, the idea is to get back to basics with your planning system.
I shared my set up in this video
I finally uploaded my update video here
Basically I didn’t manage to keep with one book or one pen for the month. As I explained in the video, July wasn’t the best month for me from a planning perspective and it’s more of a reflective month. But trying out one book was still a very useful process for me because it got me thinking about how I plan, what I plan and how my brain works.
I’m spending the rest of August really thinking about my planning and organisation needs so I can try a new set up from September.