Saturday, April 18, 2015

Allowing ourselves to get bored with our planner

I had a planner epiphany this morning. Follow me as I walk you through my flash of brilliance.

I've been looking at planner websites for a long time. Starting about 8 years ago I checked Philofaxy every day, back in the day before Nan invited Steve and me to be authors. Now Steve (along with Nan, Anita and myself) posts interesting updates every day. But back when I was desperate for ideas on how to best use my Filofax, Philofaxy's infrequent posts were my only source.

Similarly, I checked the Quo Vadis blog daily and commented frequently in a desperate attempt to find my perfect planner. I've loved Quo Vadis planners since my first experience with them and was instantly hooked. The Quo Vadis blog was a great resource for learning more about the planners and how to use them. Now I'm the Quo Vadis blogger (and if you know me at all you'll know how absolutely thrilled I am) and it's still a great online planner community.

All of this was back before Twitter, Facebook, You Tube, Instagram, Pinterest, etc etc etc. Philofaxy and Quo Vadis blog, and a few people's pen and ink blogs were my only sources for planner information.

Now if someone wants information on how to use their planner, they are flooded with information. Pick a brand of planner: Filofax, Midori, Hobonichi, Franklin Covey, etc you will find blogs, videos, Facebook groups, and loads of other online information about how to use, and especially how to decorate your planners. This is something I've talked about before so I don't want to repeat all that here.

But it brings me to my point: I think because there is so much visual interaction in our day to day lives with the internet in front of us so much of the time, we unconsciously expect that same level of interaction from our planners. Which of course is impossible for paper planners. They don't beep at us, show us links to other pages, or suggest things we might like. Personally I like that about paper planners, because I need a break from screens.

But I think a lot of people are used to a high level of interaction from the things they use (laptops, phones, tablets etc), and I think this might be where the planner decorating fad comes from. The act of decorating their planner, and seeing the result feels more interactive than a blank page.

It's great that some people find a creative outlet in their planners, but so many I've seen seem to miss the point of a planner. Maybe they would be better off decorating a scrapbook or art book instead. I've even seen people stressing out over decorating their planner: What should this week's theme be??? I can't find the materials I want to decorate my planner!  In the end, your planner should keep you organized and help you get things done. You don't need to decorate it.

And it's not just decorating. It's finding new binders/ covers/ colors/ dividers/ etc. These things are great, and anything that makes you enjoy using your planner makes it more likely you will actually use your planner. But so often, people get caught up in the other things and end up disappointed with the functional aspect of the planner itself.

In the end, all this effort is ultimately futile because our paper planners will never be as interactive as an online experience.

We need to allow ourselves to get bored with our planners.

And that's not a bad thing. Far from it. In fact, right about the time when you become bored with your planner is when it's working. Just working. It's not exciting. It's not new or flashy or wow. It's just working.

Often when people get bored with their planners, they think something must be wrong. So they abandon the planner to try something new. I've definitely done this, countless times.

But the next time you get bored with your planner, think before you abandon it to try the next thing. Think about whether the planner is actually helping you get your tasks done and remember your appointments. Think about whether it's effective at keeping you organized and up to date.

If it's not, fix it. But if it's working, keep using it. And give yourself permission to feel bored with it.

16 comments:

  1. Part of the problem may be that once we buy one, it's a commitment for an entire year. That can be particularly hard for creatives, who actually might need to change up things periodically. I can like a color a lot, and then one day, I look at it, and I've got to change it.

    The other problem is simply availability. I use a monthly planner, and frankly, the designs are really boring. It seems like the monthly ones have a lot of choices if you're using a pocket planner or a desk planner, but not a lot in between. The result is that I end up with black, which is boring and too corporate, and in 2-3 months, I'm wanting a change to something that looks better. I also don't do any decorating. There are better things to do with my time.

    If I can find other colors when the academic ones come out, I might consider getting two different colored planners. Then I can just switch them out when the color wears on me.

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    1. I get bored with black covers too. I don't want to decorate them because I know I'll be disappointed with my result or get sick of it. Removable covers help a lot, if they don't add much weight to the book.

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  2. What an interesting thought. I'm sure boredom is a big factor in planner switching although for me functionality is often the cause (like yesterday making an appointment on the wrong day because I got the call while in a grocery store and just didn't read the day headings right on my small monthly calendar). I want to make a change straight away but that's one reason I goofed up in the first place - because some of my monthlies have had different day distributions on either side of the rings. If I'd just stuck with one all year long, I'd probably know that third block from the right was Friday and not Thursday. Consistency is my unicorn.

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    1. Monthly calendars with different day distributions are definitely confusing. Recently I switched from a monthly planner that had the notes space on the left to a monthly planner with the notes space on the right, and I mis-wrote several things on the wrong days.

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  3. Ten or twenty years ago I would have been first in line for stickers and washi tape, but I've had enough hobbies over the years to recognize that decorating would be yet another rabbit hole for me. I have a system that's working great for me now, but I also have a Leuchtturm1917 notebook I'm setting up and I want to try a Quo Vadis agenda. I'm having fun using different formats while reminding myself that it's just paper; rather important paper as far as form and function, but still just paper.

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    1. lisa that is the best thing to remember: it's just paper! It's okay to abandon it, change it, adapt it to your needs or try something else.

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  4. Yup, boredom often gets me into trouble. I switch my planner binders as I do my purses, sometimes even more often. That's no problem. The problem is switching formats. Not just horizontal to horizontal, but horizontal to vertical, notes on the left or on the right.

    I'm not a "pretty planner", do not pre-decorate (if you could call what I do "decorate".) Any washi, except for what is used to extend my KS pages to FC Compact size, or stickers have a specific meaning. Yes, they are colorful, but only on the "past". Those pages are an explosion of color. Current and future pages are just for planning.
    Got the system set. Now if I could just decide on the layout.

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  5. I've bought too many Filofax binders the past year (and a little bit more). Too small. Too TOO small. No lines. I had an Erin Condren Life Planner last year and a Plum Paper planner this year for my whole family's schedule. The A5 Filofax with VERTICAL pages seems to be working for my stuff but I think, for 2016, I'm going back to a Mead or a Blue Sky spiral planner for family. I wouldn't use it any differently than I'm using the expensive ones.

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  6. You're so right. For me, I also like the novelty of something new. I used the Women's Success Choice Planner for years (and it worked), but I just wanted to try something new. Since I made that decision, In the past six months I've used the following: Uncalendar, then Uncalendar pages put into an Arc, Alice's Daily Diary, my own homemade planner in a Leuchtturm 1917, an Inkwell Press planner, and now I've started using a Webster's Pages planner. I also ordered two clearance Franklin Covey planners which I haven't used yet. After reading your Midori post, I immediately priced out a passport and regular sized set because I loved your set up. I'm letting it all stew for a bit before I make a decision. Typing that list makes me embarrassed and also thankful for undated calendars (all but the Inkwell and Webster's).

    Unfortunately, you need to buy to try, and you won't know what works for you unless you try a variety. I'm not into decorating things and really just want function. I exclusively used bound planners for a long time but have wanted to see how I like the ring system. I'm enjoying exploring different systems, but it all kind of stresses me out. I think I like the idea of having this ultimate planner with all my "stuff" in it, but I don't know if it's practical. Maybe I should just stick with a monthly and weekly calendar with some note pages. I don't know.

    But I did like this post, and for me, it hit home.

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  7. I think people who spend more time decorating and dressing their planners than actually being productive do not really want a planning tool -- they want a way to express themselves creatively, and a daily or weekly planner gives them a structure for the expression. Personally, I like keeping my planner relatively plain and simple (but with enough color that I don't get bored), which enables me to get the necessary things done so that I have time to be creative in other ways. But everyone has to figure out what works for them.

    - Tina

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  8. Yes!! I pick out a FC set, and try different designs for each year, but that is my extent. My planner is purely for planning, if I feel the need for creative procrastination I do it somewhere else. I see two planner companies now have changed their planners and added decorating items, I was very dissappointed both have chosen to jump on this with their marketing, they see the wave that was created and are wanting to capture that money.
    I think boredom sets in when the system is all set up, I have been using a planner for 20 years and it is still exciting to clip in that years worth of monthly calenders and fill in dates and monthly task lists--a couple hours of hype and then its back to the day to day lists-where the rubber meets the road.

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    1. And why there are a million blogs and videos on decorating and so few on actually using a planner--I think people really don't know how to use a planner--they see all this decorating, but nothing to help them use it and they're running the wrong rabbit hole.

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    2. Amen, Cassandra! Love that - the wrong rabbit hole!

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  9. If I abandon, ever for a day, things go downhill.

    I know this. Now, if I could just live this! :)

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  10. When I revamped a 20 year old COACH planner last fall I was inundated and overwhelmed with photos and sites of Pretty Planners. Truly my mouth dropped open at the level some go to with creativity. Fantastic! Not for me though. It's a money and time sink. My planner has enough of me added to it to give it some personality. (Currently rocking a Pillarbox Red Personal with a Wonder Woman theme.) My main use is for planning and organizing my life and goals. It has been nothing short of fabulous for my evening classes. My notes go everywhere with me so I can study while waiting for appointments, to pick my son up at the trolley, etc. My menu planning is inside so I can write down dinner inspiration. (I love, love to cook.) I transferred recipes to personal sized paper. That is MY creative outlet. I am not bored with it because it's keeping my life straight. My memory isn't what it used to be. It's my Brain, my Life In One Place.

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  11. Totally agree. I don't like my planner to be overstuffed I like to see what I need to be doing . Simple as.
    I do have a soft spot for the odd sticker though :)

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