How long does it take for a planner to fail? Well, that depends on the planner, and your needs.
Planner Fail is something I think about a lot, because it happens to me so often. My planner problem is that my life changes frequently. The planner system that worked for me last year/ month/ week might not work for me this year/ month/ week because my circumstances are different now. A planner that works well for me at home might fail when I travel (due to not containing the right international information, or being to big/ heavy). The situation I'm facing right now is an international move later this year. A big transition like that requires a lot of planner power both for the preparation and follow-through.
Some planners fail the first day, because they just aren't what I need. But let me be quick to point out: don't judge a planner at first glance. Something that looks odd or confusing at first could turn out to be your Planner Holy Grail if you take a few minutes to figure out how it could work for you.
Most planners take a little time for the flaws to become apparent. Usually 1-2 weeks is the gestation period for a Planner Fail. It happens the same way every time: I get excited about some system and decide to switch over to it. But after a week or two I have that familiar feeling of floating in space, getting nothing done, and not knowing how I've spent my days. Planner FAIL.
Some planner Fails take longer to emerge, or the user keeps plugging away at a system to try to make it work. (Side note: whenever I say I'm going to try to "make it work," that's the signal it has already failed.) Sometimes the system doesn't fail horribly, but it limps along instead of performing like a well-oiled machine (the way a planner system SHOULD).
Nan's recent post over on Philofaxy about retiring her work A5 Filofax got me thinking some more about planner Fails. Her system didn't work great, but it worked well enough for awhile. But then a change in circumstances--an increased workload--caused the final Epic Fail and the system crashed and burned.
Now that we are a couple of months into the year, you have a pretty good idea of what 2010 will entail and what your planner needs will be. By now your planner system either sinks or swims.
Is your planner sinking or swimming? Is it time for a few tweaks, or maybe a total overhaul?