From time to time I find myself struggling with my planner or planners. When that happens I always have that ‘what am I doing wrong’ panic moment!!! I then calm down by evaluating why I am struggling. So I thought for today I would share my list of reasons why planners sometimes stop working for us or with us.
Not Looking At Your Planner Enough
This is usually the number one reason my planner stops working for me and it’s completely my fault. I know someone is probably reading this and thinking in their head ‘why are you using a planner if you aren’t going to look at it’ and someone else will be reading and thinking ‘I do this too’. Most the time when this happens to me it is because I get busy ‘doing’ and don’t take the time to organize how I am going to ‘do’ things. I always regret this and things don’t run as smoothly, but sometimes it just happens.
If you are spending time planning out your week or your day but don’t start your day by looking at your planner then you are wasting your time with making your plans (unless you are one of those fortune people who have a crazy memory) there will always be something you forget to do.
Tip: Put your planner somewhere that you are going to see it in the morning. For my home planner I have it in my office/book space. I store my work bag in this room, so every day when I get home from work I can look at my planner and see what I want to accomplish that evening. My work planner travels back and forth with me but I am considering leaving it at work on my desk, because often when I get to work I just start ‘doing’ and don’t take my planner out of my bag until noon. My planner isn’t going to work for me in my bag.
The Wrong Planner
So you could be not looking at your planner often enough, but it could be that you have the wrong planner. People use planners differently. You may see someone using a personal sized planner and love the idea of using one, but if you have a to-do list a mile long that you like to keep in your planner and have three kids that you need to keep their plans in your planner, maybe a personal size planner isn’t the best choice for you. Maybe you are using one planner but could benefit from using two.
If you are not being productive with your current planner. Evaluate what isn’t working and don’t be afraid to try out other planners or planner systems. If you are trying to decide between a personal and A5 planner check out my post on deciding –>Choosing Between Personal & A5
Tip: It doesn’t have to be expensive to try out new planner systems. There are many free printouts to try out different planning styles. Print out an hourly planning sheet and tape it into a notebook or use the pages on it’s own to try it out. If you have a ruler and a paper cutter (or scissors) you can cut down a piece of paper draw some lines and try out planning on a mini size to see if personal size planning will work for you before you purchase one. I like searching Pinterest for free printables.
There is no right or wrong way to plan but their are definitely methods that work better for each person and that is a individual choice. Maybe you are planning a whole week at a time but then get frustrated when your plans change and don’t work out so you give up planning. Maybe you are planning day by day but can’t seem to stay ahead and could benefit by planning more days in advance.
Whatever planning method you are using, if it is not working don’t stay married to it. You are allowed to change your mind, you are allowed to change your planning method and even your planner.
I have tried many methods of planning and I still don’t feel I have found my best method yet, but I love trying different things and seeing what methods make me the most productive.
I have a whole post dedicated to pre-planning –> here
If your planning method isn’t working it might not be during the planning process that you are failing but maybe at the pre-planning stage. If you find you are forgetting plans or are getting half way through the week and realizing you didn’t plan enough time for certain tasks, pre-planning may help you.
It is an added step, but for me on weeks that I find my planner is looking a mess and I am not organized and productive I will remember that I didn’t sit down and pre-plan my week to look at the overall picture of the week to make the best plans.
Tip: Have a piece of paper in your planner for the following week or use your sidebar to keep track of anything you think of that you want to put onto next week. I like using the Me and My Big Ideas half sheets in my Happy Planner for this. I find it easier to write things down as I think of them, rather then trying to sit down on Sunday night to come up with my plans for next week.
Trying to Keep Up- Too Complex of a Planning Process
I love looking at bullet journal planning styles. Love them! but I fail miserably at them because anytime I set a tracking page up I go too complex. I made a goal tracking sheet in my personal planner for the month of January and February and although all I had to do was draw a box or a heart and shade it in, I never made the time each day to do it, and would end up filling in at the end of the week or not at all. And that is a pretty basic tracker. I love looking beautiful bullet style planners but I am not the type of person to actually use them (see tip two of wrong planner..cause that is me and bullet journal planning)
If you are colour coding and icon coding and only can write with this style of pen and so on and so on (unless you love it and find it easy to keep up with) you may be causing yourself to not be as productive.
Tip: Pen & Paper. Leave the stickers, leave and icons and colour codings and the..and the… all the stuff behind. Plan a week with just pen and paper and go back to the basics. See if you are more productive without all the frills.
Too Worried About Instagram Worthy Photos
As I said I have struggled with all these reasons a planner isn’t working. Including trying to get the ‘best’ looking planner photo for Instagram. If you are reading this and are a person who likes to post their planner photos on Instagram I am not judging you in the least because I love it too. But I have in the past tried to make my planner pretty instead of productive because I wanted that nice Instagram shot. I have learned from that mistake and know pretty doesn’t always make for the most productive week.
If you have read my tagline for my blog and my instagram it has been since I started in this community ‘Finding the Balance Between Practical and Pretty’ because I like many others love pretty things and pretty planner spreads but I always want them to be practical and productive for me.
I hope that if you are struggling with your planner some of these reasons and tips might help you on your way to making a more productive planner life. Comment below if you have any tips or tricks for staying productive with your planner or if you have struggled with making your planner work for you.
Thanks for reading!