Friday, June 6, 2014

Free For All Friday No. 38: Ending the Planner Fail Cycle

A reader emailed me recently for advice on what planner to use and asked, when does the cycle of Planner Fail end? My answer: it only ends when you decide to end it.

There is no Perfect Planner. Every planner has its pros and cons. The ring binder that is so flexible to use is heavy and bulky. The bound planner is sleek but not the perfect format, or doesn't have enough notes pages. The planner with the nice big pages is too big to carry around. That cute little portable planner just doesn't work well enough for you.

You can print your own pages to put in your binder, but that binder is still going to be heavy. You can hand-draw your ideal planner format into a notebook, but you are still stuck with a limited number of pages in that book. In the end, you have to find the planner that you like enough and that works well enough.

And of course the bottom line is, a planner isn't going to do your tasks for you or achieve your goals for you. A planner you enjoy can make planning pleasurable, but in the end no planner is going to make you happy if you're not already.

I've gained this wisdom after spending years and years (and hundreds of dollars) trying to find my Perfect Planner. Take it from me, it doesn't exist. You have to decide for yourself to end the cycle, end the search, and just use your planner.

Have you put an end to your Planner Fail Cycle? How did you do it?

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

15 comments:

  1. Taking some time and writing down what I wanted/needed in my planner made a huge difference. I was then able to focus on those that provided closest to that list. Mine is the fact that my life is changing from high to low and DO2P can be wasted paper and a WO2P isn't enough. Frustrating, but having a DO2P causes the least amount of frustration. If I don't use the notes page today, I am learning to be ok with that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have you thought about a DO1P instead of the 2P? I find myself torn between the 2. It seems that some days require only 1 page and some days it takes 2. What to do, What to do?

      Delete
    2. Yes, but they don't have room for the times I need. I need very early morning appts and the 8-6 or 8 just doesn't give me room to write three to four appts before 8 am

      Delete
  2. Planner fail is something I don't understand. I bought my first Filofax in 2012 and haven't looked back. I have changed my diary format once and the binder once, both early on. Although having said that I used to have a basic cheap diary every year that only ever had coursework deadlines, exams and birthdays in... I don't think I really needed it and that's why it barely got used..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know what you mean, once upon a time my planner needs were simple and pretty much any old planner would do. But when life got more complicated, so did my planner needs.

      Delete
  3. Life has forced me to end Planner Fail and replace it with Good Enough. At a certain point the planner hobby has to pause and just get stuff done. I'm relatively happy with my current setup, and I just got caught up enough to do videos on both planners yesterday, although I haven't even had time to link them on my blog :P

    http://www.youtube.com/user/simplyparticular/videos

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks to your DIY (or modify-it-yourself) creativity and inspiration, Laurie, as well as ideas from all over the Internet, I've finally come up with a planner and journal that I think are as close to perfect as I will get -- and I had to make them myself. Interestingly, they were also inspired by my own DIY sketchbook, which started a whole trend of thinking that I don't have to tolerate less-than-ideal store-bought products when I can make something myself. Please see these two blog posts for details:
    http://tina-koyama.blogspot.com/2014/06/sketchbook-inspired-digression-part-1.html
    http://tina-koyama.blogspot.com/2014/06/sketchbook-inspired-digression-part-2.html

    Thank you for your continual inspiration!

    - Tina

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank God for the Uncalendar. It's saving my bacon again. It's the closest thing to the perfect planner for me.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I just did a post on trying to tackle planner fail. I suppose there is never any perfect method and you put it rightly, we can choose to put a stop to planner fail. I think, very often we think it's planner fail, when actually our planning needs have changed. We just have to give in and accept that no planner is perfect and find a system that works for the moment.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'd like to elaborate on my earlier comment about the Uncalendar. Having been in a constant cycle of planner changing over the past 18 months I've decided to keep my FC compact with Mo2P and Do1P and use it alongside the Uncalendar. Using both together is helping me deal with the shortcomings of each. It's not as unwieldy as it seems - I take the compact shopping, while the Un lives on my desks at work and at home. The compact is list and note heavy, the Un pulls it all together into a weekly display. The key is to use both. It fails if either half of the equation is missing. I need a big view, I need a portable system. This is the only way for me to have that.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Laurie: I have to say that you are BRILLIANT - ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT. Sometimes the simplest things make all the difference. I had an ah-hah moment yesterday (unrelated to planners) and I just had another one because of what you said. Two things actually.

    1. "My answer: it only ends when you decide to end it." Brilliant. That is SO absolutely true. If you don't end it, it will never end. Never. I'm going to write that in my planner.

    2. "I know what you mean, once upon a time my planner needs were simple and pretty much any old planner would do. But when life got more complicated, so did my planner needs." That's what happened to me. My needs should have gotten less complicated since my kids grew up and moved out but they didn't. They got more complicated because my family got bigger and there was MORE going on, including two adorable grandkids. My simple life got complicated and I had a hard time figuring out how to keep up.

    But the bottom line is still that there isn't a perfect planner and the search will only end when you end it. Thank you, Laurie. You're a genius.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw thanks Patty! I'm glad the post resonated with you. :)

      Delete
  9. I think, sometimes, that we try to make our planners do too much. In the attempt to forward plan, capture today, and refer back to days past, we overload. The overload is not really the fault of the planner, but rather our capacity to manage the planner. From reading posts I get the impression that planners often end up moving from tools to help you manage your life to being another thing to manage! Of course, any planner will require inputting information, review, and maintenance; but many of us have come up with very complex systems. And those systems can take a lot of resources to maintain. And that investment can be unsustainable, leading to the failures.

    I often think, and I may be totally mistaken, that many people could manage with a much less complicated planning system, and ultimately find more success. Myself included!

    I've never had a planner "fail" but have found reasons to tweak setups and have rebuilt from scratch a few times. I find that I am less and less inclined to start over; it is way too much up-front investment and there is always the risk that the new setup won't work as well as anticipated.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I Rarely if ever have planner fail more doing fail if the truth be known

    ReplyDelete
  11. There is a great podcast on GTD Virtual Study Group. It is episode #143: System Overhaul, dated May 13, 2015. The advice is general enough for all planning systems not just GTD.

    ReplyDelete