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Thursday, November 10, 2011

How have your planning needs changed over the years?

I'd love to hear about your personal Planner Evolution!

My planner needs have changed drastically over the years. I first started using a planner in high school to record assignments. Very basic. In fact I just drew up my own in an extra notebook I had. Even in undergrad I just used my planner to keep track of assignments and work hours in my part-time jobs.  Back then I used whatever planner had the best scenery or wildlife photos.

While working in Alaska I first got turned on to a Filofax-style binder, which changed my entire life. You can read all about that revelation here.

In grad school I bought my first real Filofax, and it held my life together. I wrote assignments, reminders, course requirements, grade records, travel plans and everything else into my Filofax. It hardly left my side.

When I worked in a corporate office I continued to use my Filofax for personal things and Outlook at work, which everyone had to use to schedule meetings. I didn't have a problem keeping my Filofax synched with Outlook.

Then when I had kids things suddenly got much more complicated. We moved to Moscow when my daughter was a newborn, and had my son just a year and a half later. While the kids were babies we made multiple international trips per year which required tons of coordination and loads of gear! Packing lists, dosage lists for over the counter infant medication, vaccine records, calendars and more were stuffed into my Filofax.

Since then life continues to get more and more complicated, and I'm always searching for a planner that can handle it all. Both kids are in school now with after school activities, projects and events. I schedule parent volunteers in both kids' classes, which is fun but does require some mad planning skills. I have my own things going on too, with multiple blogs to write and/ or contribute to, household chores etc. And most likely we'll be doing another international move next year, which I am already starting to gear up for!

I'd love to hear how your planner needs have changed and evolved over the years! Have they gotten more complicated? Have you streamlined or simplified your planning needs? Please post a comment!

And if you haven't yet entered to win a personalized Moleskine planner from Jenni Bick, click here to enter!


  1. Back in 2007, I posted a note explaining my planner needs to the 43 Folders board, and got a huge response, which put it on the front page: http://www.43folders.com/node/58046/336066

    Some of the clever people who check that board helped me find the Moleskine Planner + Notebook, which served my needs for a good 2 years, that is, until I needed an online calendar. Now I've switched entirely to my iPhone's calendar, which syncs seamlessly between my phone, home MacBook, and work iMac. My wife can even subscribe to it, so she can see what I'm up to if she's planning dinner with friends or something like that.

    At times, I miss being able to scribble in an appointment with my pencil into a nice, paper planner, but I've begrudgingly accepted that this is the way I need to operate now.

  2. My planner needs have evolved quite a bit. I started in high school with spiral bound, Wo2P books, mainly to write assignments and my work schedule. I briefly used a FC binder in community college, when I was managing the newspaper and had a lot going on. Through the rest of undergrad, I used a bajillion different spiral bound books, never being truly happy with any of them.

    I finally bought my first Filo just about a year ago, and I'm SO happy I did. For the first time, I feel like my planner works for me, not the other way around. I really think that despite some flaws, a ring bound system is perfect for my needs!

  3. In undergrad I started with the planner that they gave us for free as Freshman. After that you could purchase it in the bookstore for $3. It was a simple weekly format, open with no room for notes, but I mostly just kept track of assignments. Then my senior year of college I had a big on campus position and was literally attending more meetings in a week then actual time in class. So then I got turned on to the planner pad. I've used it for years but am always looking for "something better." I've tried so many different planners over the years which is why I am hooked on your site because I feel like I was a crazy person with 8 planners a year but you have shown me I am not alone in trying to figure out my needs. Now I am a grad student and mom of two. My husband does not use any kind of planning system outside of his work calendar on iCal. So I plan all of our family stuff on iCal and send him the updates so we can share our info. But, I still always have a planner. Currently I am using the Erin Condren Life Planner, its my 2nd month and I love it so far but you never know. I always seem to find my way back to the planner pad for whatever reason. Thanks for posting great planner info!

  4. I didn't start using a planner until I entered the corporate rat race after college. I started with a huge Day Runner planner with lots of tabs and a beautiful zip-around leather binder. But the available formats weren't quite ideal, so that started me on the road to seeking my own "planner nirvana." Like you, Laurie, I switched planners as often as weekly, trying to find exactly the right one for me. (This was all pre-Internet -- how different my search would have been if I had had blogs like yours to learn from!) Eventually, I found the 2-page-per-day Franklin planner, and stuck with it for nearly 20 years. Then in 2003 I left the corporate world for part-time freelance work, and just this year I realized I had simplified my life to the point that 2 pages per day were no longer necessary. So after a brief planner crisis of trying a few formats (much easier this time, since I had discovered Plannerisms!), I settled on a day-per-page pocket Moleskine that is working out perfectly. Through all of this, I've always used only one planner for both work and my personal life. I try to keep my life as holistic and integrated as possible. I really enjoy reading about how you and others use your planners to the greatest effectiveness. Inspiring!

  5. In high school I used planners with a basic WO2P layout. I had spiral ones and cheapo Franklin Covey ones. My college freshman planner was something called the "Original Student Planner" from Barnes and Noble. It had three squares for each day, one for homework, one for due dates, one for other things. It worked pretty well, and I still have it. As I went on in college, I realized that I NEEDED a monthly view! My last year of college I actually used a day-per-page planner. It worked very very well for me then.

    Now, I could probably get by with a wall calendar if I wanted - but I don't. I've used all sorts of things, and found that I like having space for to-do lists and sometimes recording things. I actually love my Week with Notes Moleskine, but I'm thinking of switching to a daily Moleskine for next year. I also use my pocket Filo with WO2P. That goes with me everywhere and has appts. To dos etc go in my Moleskine.

  6. Obviously my planner needs have changed over the years. However, it might be worth mentioning that my planner needs change throughout a year aswell! Which is why I tend to change planners/sizes. In our line of business we are very very busy in spring and fall. Summer is calm, I have a reasonable amount of work todo's, a lot more household (as in maintenance, painting etc) todo's though. Then in December it all flaws out again, to be picking up by the end of January (the latest). I'm totally past the point where it bothered me that I couldn't or wouldn't stick with ONE book (or inserts) only per year. I just take a large Ikea DVD box, label it with the year, and archive all my inserts/books/notes etc. in that box.
    I feel that a planner's foremost task is to serve ME and MY needs, not the other way around!


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