Friday, January 11, 2013

Your 2013 planner: Planner Fail or So Far So Good?

Now that we're at the end of the first real week back to post-holiday reality, how's your 2013 planner working for you? Well? Not so well?

I've heard from several people lately that they're experiencing Planner Fail or are even in a Planner Quagmire. Some are calling the dog, and some are flat-out floundering.

One issue that's hitting several people hard is the page size issue with ring binders, especially Filofax. I call it the "Page Too Small, Book Too Big" problem. In order to have a page size large enough to write enough planning details, you usually want an A5 page size...but the A5 binder is too big to carry around everywhere. Here are some options:

The one I employ and highly recommend is to use an A5 or 5 1/2 by 8 1/2 bound weekly planner for all your scheduling and plans, and a Personal, Compact or smaller Filofax for your carry-around information. (One thing that helps is to put in your carry-around Filofax only what you really need to carry around with you, and the rest can stay at home or work.) The two books together are smaller and lighter than an A5 Filofax, while still giving you the large planner pages. (I use my Plannerisms planner as my weekly planner, of course.)

Another option for a larger page size but more compact book is to use an Arc, Circa or Levenger disc bound system. You get the same page size as a Filofax A5 but in a slimmer binding system. I've tried a disc bound book before and didn't like it because I didn't feel secure about the page edge tabs staying in the discs, especially after heavy use and lots of page-turning, but there are a lot of people who love these systems. Zoe has a great post right now comparing a Circa with a Franklin Covey compact size binder (click here to see the post). Much bigger page size in a similarly-sized book!

Here's an inspiring post for you from Patty at Homemaker's Daily about a long-term Planner Success, specifically on how she has used her Franklin Covey binder to track her personal and business expenses for the past 10 years! Click here to see her post for some serious financial inspiration. (I figure we can all use some financial inspiration this time of year!)  I love Patty's FC posts, I can only aspire to that level of planner fidelity!!

So what about you? Is your planner system working well for you so far? Does it need some tweaks? Or have you realized what you're using isn't working for you this year and you're in need of a total planner overhaul? If so, please share! Collectively I'm sure we can come up with some ideas to get you back on track to Planner Nirvana!

32 comments:

  1. Hi Laurie, I totally agree with your suggestions. I am loving my compact Chameleon FF as my take everywhere planner & I have an A5 ARC and Finchley which mainly stay at home. Trying to fit everything into a personal FF was too difficult with big rings getting in the way & it was too weighty for me. I am still eyeing up your Plannerisms planner, I just don't want to confuse myself with too many planners, we shall see :). Thanks for sharing your planner insights, I always love stopping by your blog. Amy x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Amy, I'm glad you like my post and thanks for reading my blog! :)

      Delete
  2. I'm loving my planner solution for this year at the moment - I did a round-up of it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TeR73c6lVB0
    Basically I have a small week to view with notes Cath Kidston diary that goes everywhere, and then a midi Paperblanks day per page for in-depth planning.
    I'm considering combining the two into a FF Compact for next year, with a week to view with notes in one tab as well as day on two pages for the next week or so. We'll see how it goes.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've just given up on personal and returned to A5, but managed to find a much smaller binder from a different brand. No bulky padding of the covers, and almost an inch narrower. It means if I want to use the pen loop I have to move the tabs to the top, but it's a small concession. No more cramped personal pages for me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Wendy! Can you please tell us what this binder/brand is?? :D

      Delete
    2. It's a Collins Debden binder, called Bella. It's got a 7 ring configuration that's got different spacing to Filofax - all of my pages have double holes in them, but so far I'm not minding.

      Delete
  4. Hi, Laurie - I'm still using the Women's Success Choice planner for 2013 (used your discount code - thanks!). You reported here earlier that they were changing the format a bit to accommodate more writing space, and I think I like the new design. I purchased an Organised Mum zipper binder to store the spiral-bound planner - I didn't really have a reason to purchase the binder from Organised Mum, especially since I'm in the US, but I'm glad I did. It's the purple faux-leather binder but it has held up nicely as I haul it everywhere I go.
    I purchased the 2013 calendars before you had your planner for sale; I'll have to seriously consider it for next year (or if I get tired of my current choice!)
    Thanks for a great blog! I check it every day!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for the mention, Laurie! As you know, I tried using some other planning options but I'm back to Franklin Covey. The compact is the best of both worlds, I think!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just started setting up a Franklin Covey compact binder and inserts and think you're right; it's the best of both worlds. My binder has 1.25 inch rings and can hold a LOT more pages than a typical personal size Filofax; the page size is comfortably larger with it's increased width. The combination give you something that rivals A5 size filofax binders in many ways but is really not much larger than a personal size filofax. Plus the paper is very good, seems to take almost any ink I have nicely without bleeding or feathering.

      Delete
  6. My planner problem is the same every single year - an A5 Filofax is perfect for me but too heavy to carry around all day (which I have to do). It is absolutely perfect because it holds everything I need in one place. I can just pick it up and don't have to think. If I use a small planner I am always missing something because I left it on my desk or forgot it at home, or I have no space to scribble notes on the WOTP.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm cautiously optimistic. Work's been the real challenge because we have managers who shuffle jobs around to everyone like cards, and then expect magic to happen. I've been using Productive Flourishing's daily planner sheets. It's really helped me identify that I can do one major project a day and a few smaller ones, and then a lot of the little nuisance things I'm stuck with (time management books always talk about delegating, but they never mention the people who get delegated to!).

    In combination with that, I've been experimenting with using Outlook's tasks as a work diary of sorts. Before, I'd tried it as a to-do list and got way overwhelmed. Here, I'm only using it for things where I either really need a record or it's taking enough time that I won't remember the details. So the timesheet I need to fill out doesn't go on them (though it does go on my Productive Flourishing sheet), but the headache someone handed me two days that I'm meeting with someone else on Monday does.

    The last part is a Mead Island planner. It's actually got a full two page spread for the week, with each day running in equal space across the two pages. So far, it's survived 11 days into the New Year. But I like the fact it has equal space for the weekend, which most planners don't, and it doesn't have appointment slots. Plus the pretty island photos ... :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I didn't experience a planner fail but definitely a planner hiccup. I started an experiment a few months back of cutting from 2PPD to 2PPW in a personal size filofax, and interleaving a self-drawn to-do sheet in between the faces of the weekly view. This worked in a way; I kept track of appointments and tasks and generally things got done. The problem was more that I had no where to jot daily notes or really do hour-by-hour time-task planning. At the top of the year, I realized too that with the lack of daily notes it was difficult for me to see what days various things got done; little things like letters received, phone calls made, stuff like that. Then my work got very busy, and I started to realize that what I was working with was just inadequate. I could make it work, for sure, but it was lacking and I needed both more space and more structure. Inspired by Patty at Homemakersdaily.com I just started setting up a Franklin Covey 2PPD system in a used Franklin Quest binder I bought on ebay last week. I realize that I don't need the space of 2PPD every day, all year round, but I think it makes a lot of sense and I like that the notes page gives me space to write out quickly what happened that day at the end of the day, so it's easier to recall specific days, tasks, and events.

    I'm hoping this year to better plan my workload to schedule more things during the slower times of the year to even out the work load. The problem I encountered last year is that after I get the busy rush times sorted and done with, I am so tired I tend to sit back and take it easy. I think this is ok to do, but I need to establish plans to quickly turn back to "held" projects to keep me going until the next crunch.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Laurie,

    I rarely comment, but I've followed your blog for years...

    I'm not experiencing failure yet exactly, but I have auditioned a few different planners. For the second year in a row, I've purchased the Women's Success 1st quarter to help me with a structured approach to goal setting and in an attempt to establish some better, healthier habits, but I don't love the small lines or format, and I probably won't keep using it for the entire year. I'm also working through the Leonie Dawson 2013 workbook and planner, mainly to rid myself of the suck fest that was last year. (It was epic. I'm glad it's over!) As a planner, though, it will never work.

    For my day to day planning and tracking, I'm using the Organised Mum week per view with Levenger compact monthly tabs (repunched). For work, I'm using a Franklin Covey vertical week per view in the back of the same binder (a Filofax Amazona). I have a quasi-GTD mini file system in the binder as well. I need both week per view formats because I need to block out my work time and the vertical format works best for that. (I bill by the hour and I need to plan and track work carefully.) And I don't want work to take over my entire life, hence the separate wpv for tracking MY life. Towards the end of last year, I actually had three wpv inserts in the same planner -- the personal planning one, the work one, and a third that I used as a quick journal, since writing more than a paragraph per day is something I can rarely accomplish. This year, the journal is separate.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I've actually had the best planner nirvana I've had in the last year or so (this doesn't mean it won't change tomorrow, as often happens -- I can be totally satisfied with my system one day and have it all shot to s&@t the next). I use a FF compact and dpp inserts for my carry-around daily planner. I carry a years worth of monthly inserts and 2 months worth of dailies. In addition, there's room for several pages of notes and lists. At home stays my personal Malden with everything else I need but don't need with me outside of the house -- a full address book, projects details, financial information, etc. this system seems to be the best for me. I've been using it for over a year and don't see myself straying any time in the near future. But again, all it takes is one big shake up, and the system no longer works. Only time will tell!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have bought so many different planners this year and am not sure which I will use. None totally fit my life, but I think many of us have that problem. I am contemplating whether I just need to use multiple planners for different things.

    I would like some advice if anyone can help!
    I love all the planner printables you can get online, but hate trying to get them into a filofax because my filofax hole-punch is rubbish and I am too clumsy to manage to punch each hole individually. Does anyone know of a Filofax-type A4 and A5 binder that has two rings. Obviously, I could just buy an A4 ring binder, but all the ones I have seen are stiff and plastic or cardboard. I want something rounded in a Filofax-type material.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. pennywhistler can you give us some more specifics on what you need from your planner? Do you need a big weekly overview? Daily details? Space for notes? I'm sure we can come up with some suggestions for you. :)

      Delete
    2. I think it's not the planner part I want as such in that I want to put together my own from printables etc. What I really want is an A4 binder and an A5 binder that pretty much looks like a filofax (rather than a traditional ringbinder), but only has two rings. I looked at leather folios, but none were as thick as a filofax so I couldn't get much in them. I don't think such a thing exists, but if anyone knows different I would love them forever!

      Delete
    3. The Brepols Palermo looks Filofax-ish, but has 4 rings. There is the Eastpak Forganizer, which has 2 rings and lots of pockets, but I think you'd prefer leather?

      Delete
    4. Thanks for the Eastpak suggestion. That might just work.

      Delete
  12. Have been convinced by Patty @ Homemakers Daily and am doing a FC compact 2 pg per day with a pouch pagefinder to hold the weekly list. Must have a ring binder to manage project notes & the FC compact seems not too big, not too small. Also this system seems comprehensive. I am optimistic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that FC should send a thank-you present to Patty @ HomemakersDaily.com for marketing their product so effectively!

      Delete
    2. Josh I completely agree! I know FC has benefited financially from my being inspired by her posts! ;D

      Delete
    3. FC has the Veronica leather binder 60% off via their Daily Deals tab on their website. Great price!

      Delete
    4. Actually I'm buying skhen's Veronica binder from her. She bought it in the sale but doesn't care for it, and I've been wanting one so it should work out well! I'm looking forward to the soft suedelike leather and bigger rings.

      Delete
  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that I don't need a diary. By which I mean I don't need a printed diary.
    A month on two pages planner would work for appointments, and plain paper, dated, works for my day-plan.
    My Plannerisms Planner is for Goals ONLY so there is no overlap.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Nice to find your blog and it's quite a relief to see there are other "strange" people out there who love diaries, planners, journals and notebooks. I'm an addict and have been for many years! :)

    Currently I'm using a Moleskine Weekly Notebook for personal use. I track exercise, food, ideas and also use it as a traditional diary (appointments and so on). I also manage various projects using Google Docs (I use the GTD system) and I copy my next actions into my Mole to form a TODO list. I also find the year planners in the Mole very useful.

    With regards the Mole, the only thing I would like is a week planner. Think of this as a timetable where I can plan out regular activities such as lunchtime walks, gym sessions, work, commute, project work for the week etc. My solution in the end was to find something on the Net, print it off, and try various weekly plans until I found something that worked - it's the prototype for my week. That's now posted on my wall by my desk, but I'd prefer to use pages in my Mole. It's possible to add this by hand to one of the blank pages though (which I think I will do).

    Couple of other things - why do they have less space for Saturday and Sunday in the weekly planner, when I have more stuff going on at the weekends! Also, why do so many planners assume people's days start at 8.00am! Mine starts at 5.00am!

    So far everything is working well though!

    Great blog!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Tony, thanks for your comment! I used the Moleskine Weekly Notebook for several years with varying levels of success. FYI, 18 month version has just the timetable pages you're referring to. It starts in July and goes all the way through the end of the following December. Any dated pages you don't use can be used as Notes pages, and there can never be too many Notes pages in a planner if you ask me! :)

      I agree about the small weekend days, in fact that was one of the reasons I abandoned the Weekly Notebook. I guess you could use the bottom of the Notes page opposite for more weekend space if you need it.

      I hear from a lot of people whose days begin and/ or end earlier/ later than the printed times. That's why I didn't print any times in the day columns of my Plannerisms planner, so users can adapt it to their needs.

      Delete
    2. Thanks Laurie for those useful tips. I'll check out the 18 month version - I didn't see that when I was in the shop. I guess I'll need to check out these Plannerisms planners too at some point - they sound pretty cool!

      Delete
    3. So, a month in and I've run into another issue. I've got annual goals, but I've also just started doing monthly "mini-goals". I experimented with them through January and found them very useful. Problem with the Mole is there isn't a convenient place to record mini-goals. I'm using the standard notes pages at the moment - there's not enough room in the small space at the top of the page at the start of each month. I could also use the tabbed pages - I might try that. I think the Plannerisms planner would be a win here as it allows tracking of annual and monthly goals - very useful. How are others tracking monthly goals with the Mole?

      Delete
    4. Hi Tony, sorry for the late reply. I'm still recovering from the flu and trying to catch up!

      The lack of goals space is another big reason why I gave up the Mole years ago. There's no place to record and track monthly goals.

      BUT, if you want to turn them into weekly goals, the weekly notebook works great. I used to use that space above Monday for my specific week goals. Or you can write them at the top of the week's Notes page. Wherever you write them, make sure to put them at the top of your page and preferably in red or a color you will notice. Because once your week's pages start filling up with writing, it gets hard to see those goals.

      Hope this helps!

      Delete
    5. PS the 18 month (July-start) Moleskines are usually available in stores by May, if not sooner. I usually pre-order mine from Amazon so it ships as soon as it is available (and it's significantly cheaper). Right now on Amazon.com search Moleskine 2014 18 month and you'll see they are currently available for pre-order, shipping in March.

      Delete