I’ve had a couple of conversations recently about how to choose a planner and use it effectively. Today, I thought I’d dig into that subject a little. I'm not going to review or recommend specific planners, but I will share with you what I’m using right now and how it’s working for me.
How we can use planners to maximize our productivity
What is a planner?
From Wikipedia: “A personal organizer, datebook, date log, daybook, day planner, personal analog assistant, personal planner, year planner, or agenda (from Latin agenda – things to do), is a small book or binder that is designed to be portable. It usually contains a diary, calendar, address book, blank paper, and other sections. The organizer is a personal tool and may also include pages with useful information, such as maps and telephone codes.”
Paper planners are not the only option you have. There also are excellent digital planning tools available. I'm not talking about those this week, but if you’re interested, let me know and I can do an episode about those another time.
Do you need a planner?
It depends on your life. If your commitments are fairly simple and you feel like you’re staying on top of things, you probably can manage with a calendar (paper or digital) for appointments and important dates, and a notepad or notebook for to-do lists and brainstorming.
You might need a planner if you have a lot of things to keep track of--multiple roles/life elements, or multi-step projects you need to plan and keep track of, either for work or personal life.
You definitely need a planner if you feel like you’re missing appointments, things are slipping through the cracks, or you’re not keeping up.
Tips for choosing a planner
The best way to select a planner, without getting overwhelmed by all the options, is to decide first what you need it to do for you.
* Is it for home/personal life or business or all of the above?
* How full and complex is your life? If it's fairly simple, a notepad or blank notebook where you can plan projects and create to-do lists, plus a calendar (paper or digital) for appointments might be enough.
* What do you want to plan? Household things? Personal to-dos? Business/work projects? Events?
* How do you like to view your plans--month at a glance? Week at a glance? Full page per day (useful if you have lots of appointments and to-dos each day?)
* Do you simply want month/day/week pages, to-do lists, and maybe a monthly calendar, or do you want extras, like goal-planning worksheets, motivational quotes, habit trackers, budget-planning sections, or blank pages for brainstorming? All of these and more are available in various types of planners.
* Do you want a utilitarian (plain, businesslike) planner or something colorful and pretty?
After you've done that, spend a little time researching options
It can be overwhelming and intimidating to figure out which planner to try. A search on Amazon for “planner 2021” showed over 4000 results! That’s why thinking first about what you want to do with your planner will help because you can eliminate anything that won’t fit those needs.
Different formats of planners
* Hardbound or Softbound
* Disc bound-- nice to be able to remove and add and move pages around
* Spiral or Loose-leaf
* Pre-dated or Undated
* “Full” sized, medium, small
* Preformatted vs. flexible design (e.g., various sections you can use the way you want to)
If you can’t get to a store to look at planners in person, check out YouTube and search for planner reviews and walk-throughs. You’ll find lots of videos that will go through the features and design of different planners.