Ok, everybody take a deep breath. And let it out. Good. Now let's talk.
I see a lot of people stressing out online about their planner situation. Believe me, I hear ya, I'm continually stressing out over mine. Why does it have to be so difficult? It doesn't, actually. I think we're doing this to ourselves.
When it comes to planners, there are no rules. Really, there are not. It's just paper. You can use it however you want. You can write in your appointments, or not. You can use it as a journal, or not. You can carry it everywhere with you, which is the best situation, but if you leave your planner on your desk all the time and that works for you then go for it.
There seem to be a lot of new-to-planners folks out there right now. Either they've never used a planner before, or they are coming back to it after using digital. It seems like a lot of these folks search the web for blogs and videos for advice on how to use their planner. After being snowed under with people showing more about how they've decorated their planners than how to use them, planner newbies come up for air feeling frustrated and confused. It's no wonder.
I want to address a few issues about using planners:
1) Let me be clear here: decorating a planner is not using a planner.
I don't want to make anyone angry, but it's the truth. That's great if you like to decorate your planner, but that's not the same as using it to plan. If you have a planner as your creative outlet, that's great! But you should still be able to plan in it (or in a separate planner). Even the most gorgeous planner is useless if it doesn't help you plan your life. So remember not to get sidetracked decorating to the point where you neglect the planning and doing.
2) It takes experimentation to learn what works for you. What works for someone else might not work for you, and vice versa. You have to figure out your own needs, then practice using planners until you find what works for you at that moment (see below!). If you need help finding your perfect planner, these posts will help you determine your needs.
3) The planner that worked for you last year/ month/ week might not work for you this year/ month/ week. It's ok to change planners mid year, mid month or whenever you need to! I know people who use big intensive planners during their busy times of the year, and little pocket planners in the summer or when they aren't so busy.
4) There are no rules on how to use a planner. Yes there are time-management techniques that work for some people, but they might not work for you. Maybe you need a structured planner system, but maybe you don't. Don't look online at people's elaborate systems and think you need to recreate something similar for yourself. Start with your own needs, and figure out your system from there.
5) It's okay to use your planner differently week to week or day to day. Some days are busier than others. Some days you need your planner to crank it out, and other days you might just write your grocery list. That's okay!
The bottom line is, don't take it so seriously. Again, it's just paper. It won't solve all your problems or make you happy or do the dishes for you. You have to do all those things yourself.
So let's all please try to remember there are no planner rules we have to follow. Feel like scribbling out your schedule? Do it. Want to fill your planner with sticky notes? Whatever works for you. Tired of lugging around your big planner? Try a smaller one.
There are no rules! It's YOUR planner, do what you like with it!