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Friday, March 28, 2014

Free For All Friday No. 29: Your Planner Page Preference: Structured, or Open-plan?

Some people like their planner pages to be very structured with designated spaces to write their appointments, tasks, tracking things like expenses or exercise, and sometimes even with boxes to check off to indicate when you have completed something. Some examples of very structured planner pages are Franklin Covey and the Women's Success Planner.

Other people prefer non-formatted pages, like most Moleskine planners have, without designated spaces to write specific things. Sometimes this is so people can format the page themselves and customize it to their own needs. Other folks just like a free-form, open page.

I like a medium amount of formatting in my planner. If it's too free-form, I don't have the structure I need to show me what needs to be done. If it's too formatted with too many spaces to fill and boxes to check, I feel like it's too much to keep up on and I rebel.

What about you? Do you function best with a structured planner so you can fill in each space as appropriate? Or do you prefer the freedom of mainly unformatted pages?

And as always on Fridays, feel free to discuss and/ or ask anything planner-related!


  1. I like the space to be broken up somehow so that I have some sort of consistency with each page. However I don't want the content of those spaces to be dictated to me, such as 'to do' headings. I prefer to put non appointment information where it works best for me. It doesn't even have to be deliberate space either. I can happily work with incidental space if it is big enough.

  2. I definitely like structure, but I too like to make my own headings. I've tried open pages and get frustrated when things start mixing. I just require a vertical timed area (this is the hardest for me to find because I need early morning hours), a space to write tasks for the day and a journaling space. From there I can plug in my whole life.

  3. In that my day is managed by my Outlook calendar so everyone can look and figure out where they can schedule my time, my planner has become a very unstructured composition that I generally use a week a per front back page. In that space I note things I have to do, good things that happen, what I want to do better at, and various ephemera. It has also become a fixture on my blog!

  4. Probably "medium" structure for me too. I definitely need lines but I don't like designated spaces. I never had any idea what to do with the Uncalendar at all and all the colors bothered me. And I dislike headings telling me what to put where because I feel the need to "correct" the heading to indicate what I am writing there. I have general areas where I write things (appointments to the left on approximate time spot for the day), to dos upper center and right, info to keep for later upper right, etc. But if I want to doodle and ignore the usual plan then I do that too. I think I don't want my pages to be too bossy.

  5. Right now I'm really loving the FC 2 page per day in my FC compact binder. It's just big enough to capture notes, do my event schedule and write a task list. (anyone notice that these are the exact points of a bullet journal, with forward planning built-in?) But I am fed up to here with detailed tracking, quite frankly. Three months of daily tracking have convinced me that we ought to do this monthly or by the lunar cycle. Point being that the more tracking you do, the more (customized) structure you want. Just read an e-book called 'Planner Perfect' by Jenny Denton (www.plannerperfect.com) which promotes a system that is about as unstructured as you can get: Just (full size) monthly calendars followed by plain notebook paper for the monthly goals and dailies. This was instantly appealing in concept and I've actually set up a full size planning notebook on those principles to separate my week to week and daily planning from the big picture. (I'm not a paid promoter & have no affiliation with her website). So, in short, the closer the time period (today, this week) then I want some structure. The wider the aperture (this year, next year) then I want totally unstructured.

    1. I need a new planner. I am not in planner fail, but I want something fresh. I have been considering a monthly planner with BIG squares and a separate notebook for my version of the bullet journal, so it looks like we are on the same page.

  6. It depends on the day, but I think I'm like you, Laurie, in that overall I like medium. Too little doesn't work but too much makes me claustrophobic.

    I've never really considered Franklin Covey as "very structured" though. But I guess that's because I have rarely used them the way they were intended to be used.

  7. I like a fair amount of structure; I like the efficiency you achieve in a familiar system when you know exactly where to look on the page to find certain information. I've been really busy lately and my notes and tasks have become mixed up because the tasks space is not large enough to capture everything, and then I need to carefully read because I can't see what needs to be done today v. what I want to do in the future (notes).

  8. I tried a very structured layout, designed by myself to have all the categories I wanted to see/track each day. I lasted a few days before I just gave up - too many categories was making me feel totally overwhelmed and I simply wasn't writing anything in it. Now I'm using a week one two pages diary (lined) for meetings, appointments, and deadlines, and A-Z tabs to separate various lists (work, personal, crafting, specific projects etc) - all on standard lined paper. This seems to work for me - although every now and then I feel a bit overwhelmed with the amount of tasks I need to add from emails coming in and feel I need to move up a size and get back into an A5. :-)

  9. I can't stand too structured. It annoys me when the planners tells me how to use it and labels everything. Even something like lines for appointments with the times is way too structured. But I'm also a right-brained creative type, and there's a lot of stuff out there that doesn't work for me.


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