There’s this joke in the planner community (yes, the planner community is a real thing) about finding your “planner peace.” They system that makes you the most happy, productive, comfortable, warm and fuzzy, etc.
I’ve had a planner (in the form of a monthly calendar book) since I was 10 so this journey has been almost 20 years long…and still going. Life is ever-changing so while I may experience planner peace for a period of time, as life changes, so do my requirements or needs in a planner. The brief timeline of systems though:
The Early Years
- A Monthly Calendar Book – the kind you get at the dollar store with a kitten on them and daily squares so small only a child with TV to watch could use it to plan
- Weekly Planners – often Monday through Friday with the entire week on two pages. I’ve used one of these from middle-school through college……and…….I admit I still have them all *sad face*
The Digital + Paper Years
- Digital Calendar – I discovered and started using Google Calendar in college. I can’t quite remember when but I found it life-changing to be able to schedule my entire life by the 15-minute chunk…and then re-arrange it again and again. I’ve never looked back. (This has also been my only source of planning besides a jillion post-it notes)
- (Honorable Mention) Wunderlist – While Wunderlist itself is not a tool I use to plan, I have been relying on it for the last seven years as my second brain. I have lists…that have lists. I have notes, random thoughts, and every recipe I’ve ever tried or used ever in there.
- Erin Condren Life Planner – Oh Erin Condren. That B. Circa 2016 I discovered planner stickers made for the Erin Condren Vertical Life Planner. For the last three years I’ve sunk a jillion dollars into stickers and vertical planners. STICKERS, PEOPLE. Important to note I have always known about the ECLP but could never afford one *sad face*
- B6/A5/Half-Letter Traveler’s Notebook – After people realized the Erin Condren (or in my case, the knock-off Recollection’s by Michaels) planners were a pain in the beeeeehind to carry around, people discovered (because they already existed) Traveler’s notebooks.
- (Honorable Mention) Bullet Journals – Around the same time I discovered ECLP stickers I also started watching Kara Benz’s YouTube channel, Boho Berry. The concept is great, but for a person who changes their mind…a lot…I’ve never been committed enough to even try this system out. Talk about analysis paralysis. I wouldn’t be able to write a single thing down for fear of it changing. And you can’t just rip the pages out of the book so…….
- A5 rings – I bought a holographic plastic A5 rings on Amazon. I have a beautiful white pearl Recollection’s one but it’s SO CHUNKY because of the pockets and the larger rings. The one from Amazon is completely flat plastic, no pockets, and smaller rings. I use this for…God know’s what. I just carry it around.
That’s the brief history of actual planners. This doesn’t mention the literally dozens of online to-do/note-keeping systems I’ve tried. And trust me, I’ve tried them all (Google Drive docs, Asana, Trello, Todoist, Planner, OneNote, Wunderlist….)
So where am I today? Or more importantly, where do I want to be? Here’s the crap I usually have:
- Notes – for everything (life, work, clubs, grad school, etc.)
- Long-term to-do’s – a place I can dump to-do’s and prioritize them
- Calendar – appointments and to-do’s I know I will do a certain day
There is no single system I’ve found today so I currently use Evernote, Wunderlist, and Google Calendar (and still a bajillion other systems because no one group of people I work with use the same thing). And let’s not forget email, digital documents, blah blah blah.
It’s depressing, y’all.
I’m not trying to boil the ocean here…but I kind of am. I’ve spent the last 20 years of my life (oh sad 10 year old me) being time-obsessed but feeling very scattered and never quite……put together. I may seem it from the outside, thanks everyone who’s ever said “you’re so organized!”, but in my head…it’s a hot, hot, mess.
So, I thought I’d share my journey to planner peace here. I started reading Sarah Knight’s book “Get You S*it Together” and while it’s not life-changing for me, it is funny and encouraging.
My steps towards planner peace: CONSOLIDATE
- Get all misc. to-do’s that are not urgent and have no deadline into respective Wunderlist list (home, life, work, clubs/grad school/side biz).
- These are coming from multiple sources including my Google Calendar (poor first Saturday of the month where I just dump everything), Evernote, my A5 rings notes, email, and my own brain
- Define a nomenclature for to-do’s going into/in Wunderlist.
- For example, if I need to buy something for the kitchen it’s “Kitchen – Buy – Blinds for above sink”
- Track my day in Google Calendar, not a notebook
- I currently track my day in two forms. What I anticipate doing (scheduled meetings, appointments, things to do)…and what I do. I know, it’s an insane level of personal micro-management but it helps me to see how long it takes me to do things, where I waste time, remember what I eat, etc. Don’t judge me!
- As much as I want a paper planner or notebook to work for me, I don’t think it ever will anymore. They’re too bulky, I don’t carry a purse, and I’m always on the go.