With many things in life, there are two types of people. In this case I’m talking about planner people vs non planner people. In what I’m about to write about, you can even break it down further to paper planner people vs digital planner people. I am a paper planner person, I am also, as of a few years ago, a printable paper planner person. This means that I felt that there was no planner out there that had the exact components I wanted in a planner, so I now print bits and pieces from a few different designs and make my own awesome planner.
If you meet a fellow paper planner person, you quickly become aware of your shared loved. You begin talking obsessively about the big names in planner land, and Erin Condrens name is tossed around like she’s your best friend. You compare likes, dislikes, what the current designs for this year look like, how you use yours and what planners you’ve used in the past. I eve have friends who are super planner people and they collect all varieties of planners, cases, inserts from all different designers and are active in both facebook groups as well as IRL meet-ups with other super planner people.
As much as I love planners, I am pretty utilitarian about it. I don’t carry one around with me, I don’t really care what it looks like, I’m annoyed where there are added frills like quote and inspirational images. I want a super functional system that aids my productivity. Because of these preferences, I tried really hard to go digital, as it just makes sense. I bought all different types of software and apps that each gave me hope and promise that I finally had found the digital system that worked, but I always ended up back on paper. Part of it was that duplication and deletion issues were causing too much frustration with synching between my phone and computer. Part of it was that I could never see a quick and broad enough view on my phone. And then another part of it is that I like to take pen to paper and I find that list making is a big part of how I use a planner and it was too much text for digital. In general, I really prefer writing anyway, its quicker for me, and I remember things better when I write them down. The only issue I was having was finding a planner that had all of the things that I like, but not having the things that I don’t like. Which is of course why I ended up being so into the printables. I found Scattered Squirrel a few years ago and for two main reasons, fell in love. One, is that there are so many different styles and options that I can cobble my dream planner together exactly how I envision it. Two, that I can try something new and print out a few weeks of pages (which is only a couple of sheets of paper) and if it doesn’t work for me, I can print something else out swap it out in the binder without having to switch planners, transfer content or waste paper. So good.
I will however be the first to admit that this is a bad idea for those who are not hyper organized. I imagine you would be overwhelmed with the options. Remembering to print out ahead of each month or whenever, could be overwhelming and figuring out the order to print the pages can get tricky. I love it though and find that it works really with the GTD system. That is another awesomely obsessive topic…who else swears by David Allen and GTD?? I tend to fall off course with it from time to time, but I still find that even when I am not my most productive and focused, just the basic knowledge of the system means that I get everything done that has to be done. The brain dump concept is one of the best things to happen to my mental state and something we should all do to clear the mental clutter often. If you are unfamiliar, the idea is to spend a little time, ideally once or twice a day or when feeling overwhelmed and just start writing/typing everything out that’s on your mind. I think it’s mean to be done in list form but I have started to write a few pages free form in the morning before I start my day to just get all the chatter out, then I brain dump a list of to-do’s. During the day, I am more of a random, jot down when I think of it person so I typically do one brain dump a day, but at night I sometimes will use my phone when I’m lying in bed to type up a brain dump and send it to myself. This is really helpful if you are the type of person to lay awake at night over-thinking. The brain dump concept is brilliant in that it really allows you to “let go” of all the stuff you are focusing on that is unnecessary. For example, that I need to buy a lightbulb for over the kitchen sink, order the new book for book club and lower the feet on the dryer are things that are bouncing around in my head right now as I have not written them down. As soon as I note them on paper, these things quiet and I can focus on say, the ideas I have to write here. The most important thing to remember with this though is that you have to make sure you do gather up and create action with all of these brain dumps, not just stuff them in a drawer and forget about them. Which is why of course we GTD people are also planner people.
The only downside of my current planner usage is that I like a large planner and I like to keep it in a 3 ring binder. This almost always lays flat and open, on my desk. I do not take it with me ever. This meant that keeping track of meetings and appointments when I made them out of the house was getting tricky. I dislike ical enough that I was not using it so I was taking photos of a couple of months of my planner and trying to reference them when I was making an appointment but that sounds useless even when I am writing it. It was obviously not something that worked. When I started doing the tv project, I needed some way to have at least meetings and events entered in my phone that I could see a month at a time without clicking on the day for details. I eventual discovered the app Fantastical as it has a feature that I especially enjoy. When you rotate your phone horizontally, the calendar turns into a block view, similar to what a printed calendar looks like, and gives a quick and effective overview. So now I just have to make sure I have things entered in both the paper version and the phone. It’s not a perfect system, but it works.
Sooooo, are you a planner person? If you’re a paper planner person, what system do you use? The beauty of this world is that there is something for everyone, share your system in the comments!