Thursday, July 25, 2013

The More You Use It, The More Useful It Is

I know this sounds like a "duh" observation, but it's one of my Great Planner Truths.

The usefulness of your planner depends more on how much you use it than the actual planner itself. I referred to this phenomenon in my post New Planner Super-Productivity (which is when you are super-productive while using a new planner, but that productivity declines when the novelty wears off and your attention wanes).

The more you use your planner, the more (and more) useful it becomes. Filofax and other ring-binder users experience this when they have their planner, projects, notes, information, contacts and reference information all in their binder. (This is a wonderful type of Planner Nirvana that for some reason is so elusive!) When your binder contains everything you need to plan your life, it is very useful. But only if you use it! You can have all this stuff in your binder, but if it stays closed and stays at home, you'll never use it. Despite its inherent usefulness, it's useless to you if you don't actually use it.

The best planner, no matter what style or format, is a planner you use often, every day. It holds lots of accumulated information. It is your go-to place to look things up whether past reference or general information. Whether you use One Book To Rule Them All (a wonderful phrase from my friend Rori @RoriRants) or more than one planner like I do, you should know where to look to find whatever you need. I keep my goals and planning in my weekly Plannerisms planner, and tons of reference, recorded information and daily details in my day per page planner. When I record information in my planners, I always know where to find it again. When I don't write details in my planners, that information is just lost.

I experienced TMYUI,TMUII recently in a hard way. Until this week, we had spectacular hot (for here) sunny weather. This is Scotland, so I tried to maximize every day because for all we knew the sunny warm weather could end any day and we could have rain for the rest of the summer! So I took my kids out and about every day to maximize our outdoors time while the weather was good.

We had a great time, but it resulted in a planner breakdown for me. We weren't home as much as I'm used to being, and when we did get home at the end of our days out walking in the woods or swimming at the pool, I was tired and just wanted to veg. By the end of the week the house was pretty much out of control. After three weeks, I didn't even know what I was supposed to be doing anymore. I wasn't using my planners like I need to. They stayed closed most of the time (which leads me to another Great Planner Truth, spoken by my sister: "A closed planner is a dead planner.").

This led to my Filofax experimentation I wrote about in my post Planner Paradox. I was going for that Everything In One Book Filofax Nirvana situation but failed (again). I realized I didn't need a new system, I just needed to use the system I have! So when I got back to my system that works so well for me, and actually USED it, everything went back to normal and I felt in control again!

What are your experiences with The More You Use It, The More Useful It Is?

8 comments:

  1. OMG, I just went through all the planners I've used in 2013 (Plannerpad, Filofax personal week on two pages, Filofax personal week with notes, Uncalendar, Erin Condren) and discovered I devotedly use a format for 4-6 weeks and then switch to something else. It's like clockwork - I'm stunned to see this repeating pattern. Thank you for this great post which really got me thinking.

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    1. Back (not so long ago) when I switched my planner systems entirely, I went in approximately 4-6 week cycles too! I wonder what it is about that period of time. For me it was just enough time to cycle through New Planner Super-Productivity, decline and Planner Fail when I realized it just wasn't working for me.

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    2. I love your sisters' saying. I kind of quit using my planner for awhile and used the post-its everywhere method. Chaos. I realized I really needed a personal size (Filofax) wallet for everything and anything. FC (after 20 years) was just too big and stiff to be a wallet and I had been so enabled by the Filofax community that I took the plunge and bought a personal filo,or three,and crammed most of my life into it. Not a single planner fail moment since. Organization. Much less procrastination. It never goes anywhere with out me. Planner bliss.
      Thank you Philofaxy

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    3. YES! I do this 4-6 wk thing. Then I'm off to something else. Wait--what is the cure? O.o I'm so glad it's not just me though!!
      The "just use it" doesn't seem to work for me, cuz I usually quit using something because I don't like it, or it's a pita to open or whatever. *le sigh* I think I'm hopeless

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  2. Very true. There's a story in "The One Minute Manager" that's quite relevant to this, about a man climbing a mountain who loses his footing and finds himself clinging to a hanging root, unable to climb back to a safe ledge above. He calls out for help , "Is there anyone there?" and a voice says, "I am here and I will help you if you trust me. Do you trust me?"

    "Yes," says the man, "I trust you."

    "Well then," says the voice, "Let go so I can save you."

    The man, still clinging to the root, doesn't want to let go. He trusts the voice (he doesn't have any alternative!) but just cannot bring himself to let go. He takes a deep breath, shuts his eyes ... and shouts, "Is there anyone else there?"

    The lesson is that time spent using the tools and methods you have already is likely to be better invested than time spent looking for new tools and methods.

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  3. Wow, Laurie. There's a lot of good stuff in this post, like:

    1. The usefulness of your planner depends more on how much you use it than the actual planner itself.

    2. Despite its inherent usefulness, it's useless to you if you don't actually use it.

    3. "A closed planner is a dead planner."

    4. I realized I didn't need a new system, I just needed to use the system I have!

    The more you use it the more useful it is is definitely true. And in my life, if I don't use it, bad things happen!

    Great post.

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  4. This is why I am in a personal size. Sure, I love the space of A5. But if it's not with me everywhere, then I don't use it!

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  5. I see that there are a lot of positives about the plannerisms planners. But where is the day per page or day per two pages??

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