Achieving Planner Peace: Six Questions to Ask Before Buying a Planner

Achieving Planner Peace

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I have always been fascinated by paper planners. As a young girl, getting a new planner for school was the highlight of my year. However, I didn’t always use my planners to the fullest. I definitely had room for improvement.

Fast forward 25 years and you’ll find that I’m still in love with paper planners. However, I have had a difficult time finding one that worked well for me. In fact, there is no telling how much money I have thrown away on planners that I thought would work but sadly did not fit my needs.

Believe me when I say I have tried them all. Franklin Covey, Filofax, Kikki K, Erin Condren, yeah all those plus a few cheap ones from Target and Walmart.

As I’ve been on the pursuit of planner peace (i.e. finding the “perfect” planner), I’ve discovered a few things about myself and what I need most out of a planner. We all know there is no such thing as a “perfect” planner. But, I think we can all find one that meets most of our needs.

I recently bought a Planner Pad to try. Don’t let the name fool you; it really is a traditional planner. The calendar in it doesn’t start until October 1, so I’ve not had a chance to use it yet. But, don’t worry, I will have a review on it in a few weeks. Please let this be the one! 🙂

Now, for you who are electronic planner enthusiasts, please don’t tune me out. I’ve come up with some questions that I’ve asked myself on my journey to finding the right planner for me. These questions can definitely apply to electronic methods. Because there are so many apps and programs available for time management, you will need to know the answers to these questions, too.

1. Digital or paper? I have tried my best to go digital. I know in some respects keeping up with my time and activities could be simplified by going digital. However, I’ve realized that I need to see my to-do list on the same page as my calendar. I’ve yet to find any digital source that offers this on my computer, my iPhone, and my iPad. I’ve found some apps and programs that will work on one of those platforms, but I’ve not found one that will work on them all. (If you know of any, please let me know!) It is important to me to be able to use the same app or program on all my devices if I go digital. Maybe you are unsure which would be best for you. I think your answers to the rest of these questions may guide your decision better.

2. What layout works best? No matter whether you choose paper or digital, you need to figure out what layout works best for you. Do you just want to see a month at a glance? How about the weekly view? Would a week on one page or two pages work better for you? Or maybe you really like to see things one day at a time. There are even options to see a day on one page or two pages. There are so many options when it comes to paper planner layouts that it may take trying a couple of different planners to see which one works for you. Check out my Pinterest board that has links to free printable planners in a variety of layouts. Try a few before you commit to buying one to use full time.

3. How detailed am I? By this I mean what do you really need to see at one time? As I mentioned above, I really need to see my to-do list on the same page as my calendar. Maybe you just need a calendar to keep up with appointments and use other methods to track your to-do list. In that case a simple monthly calendar would suffice. Or, maybe you want to keep up with menu planning, health and fitness, or some other category in your planner. You’ll need to take those details into account when choosing a planner.

4. What size? Some of you may just need a small pocket calendar. However, I would think that most people would benefit from something larger. There are sizes to suit any need. You can go as large as an 8 1/2″ by 11″ binder.

5. Do I need a separate planner for work or can I combine it with my personal planner? If you have a job that requires you to keep up with a lot of details, you may need a separate planner. However, it may be beneficial to have just one so you won’t let personal appointments interfere with work responsibilities or let work take over your personal life. The rule of thumb is that it’s best to have just one calendar, but depending on how your job is structured, you may do better with two.

6. Will one calendar work for me? As I mentioned above, it’s more preferable to have just one calendar. However, there are situations that would allow for two calendars. Although I primarily use a paper planner, I still use iCal on my Mac and iPhone for my main appointment calendar. I do this because my husband can see it and we can sync events to each other’s calendar. Another reason to have two calendars is to have one for yourself that is portable and then have one large calendar where the family can see what is going on.

So, do you have a better idea of the type of planner that will work for you? I hope so! Just remember, the best planner to buy is the one you’ll actually use.

Be sure to come back on Friday when I share some of my favorite resources for FREE planner printables. I want to explore the topic of planner layouts. If you are still stuck even after answering these questions, maybe I can help you narrow down your choices by showing and explaining different planner layouts.

Comment below and share what kind of planner you use!

Note: There are affiliate links in this post. This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I’ll get a small portion of the sale.

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  1. I love my Life Is Crafted. I currently use an 8×11. I posted a blog post about setting mine up and why I use the 8×11. That being said, I am really thinking about downsizing, but keeping my 8×11 for goal setting and maintenance of Mary & Martha and SOS current projects.

  2. I use a Franklin paper planner 8.5×11. And, it helps me so much to see where I’ve been (to learn)…and what’s going on in the future so that I don’t overload myself.

    I also use the “Errands” app and I LOVE this because I can set up reminders throughout the day according to what’s written in my paper planner =D

    1. Annie,

      Thanks for sharing about the Errands app. I’ll have to check it out! It would be nice to have a mobile version of my to-do list so I wouldn’t have to carry my big planner with me all the time.

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. I recommend *always* having a back-up calendar with the critical info on it, such as appts and events that are not part of the routine….just in case the real deal goes missing or gets left behind somehow. I left a planner behind at a Bible Study and it felt like I was walking brainless till I was able to retrieve it!

    1. Cat,

      Yes! I have found that keeping my appointments on my calendar phone helps with this. My calendar app is where all the important appointments go and my paper planner is where I keep up with the details. That way if one of them goes missing or malfunctions, I’ve got a back up.

      Thanks for sharing!

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