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.