Friday, January 30, 2015

Why your planner isn't working for you

When you're experiencing Planner Fail, sometimes it's your planner's fault and sometimes it's not. Here's how to figure out if it's user error, or if it's time to go shopping for a new planner.

Planner's fault
  • Wrong size: If the planner is too small, there won't be enough writing space. If it's too big, you might not want to carry it around with you.
  • Wrong format: For example, it's difficult to do time blocking in a horizontal untimed format, you need vertical timed days. Also, it's difficult to effectively plan ahead in a day per page planner, a weekly format gives a better overview.
  • Wrong aesthetics: Maybe you're embarrassed to use it in front of people because of the size or design, maybe you don't like the paper or the cover, maybe the font is annoying to look at. Whatever keeps you from using your planner means it's time for a new one.

Not your planner's fault
  • You don't look at it: It's closed. As my sister says, "A closed planner is a dead planner."
  • You don't have it: It's in your bag. You left it at work/ on your desk at home/ on the bus. You need to decide on a place in your every location where you can leave your planner open and visible. When I'm working it's open beside me. Otherwise when I'm home it's on a book stand in my kitchen.
  • You don't write in it: Figure out why you don't write in it (see You Don't Have It and/ or Wrong Aesthetics). You need to treat your planner as your go-to landing place throughout the day. Keep it with you, keep it open and write in it (and look at it) often. Write your scheduled items, update them when they change, write tentative plans and things to do. One of the Great Planner Truths is, The More You Use It, The More You Use It. It becomes more and more useful the more it's used.
 Are you using your planner effectively? If not, is it your fault or the planner's?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I don't want to panic anyone, but...

Have you noticed a lot of planners are already sold out? It seems early to be selling out of so many planners already, but every day I see more planners that are completely out of stock. Normally the Planner Dry Season begins in March, but this year it seems to be hitting early. I wonder if planner companies printed fewer planners this year? Or if more planners were sold this year?

Either way, if you are on the fence about a planner, you better get it quick before they are all gone!

Has a planner you were looking at sold out before you were able to buy it?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

There are no rules

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!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Kick-Ass Project Planner

Here is a wonderful tool for keeping track of your New Year's resolutions (remember those??), projects or goals: The Kick-Ass Project Planner!
This A5 size book was designed by Marieke van Buytene, a creativity coach. It is set up to help you easily track your goals and projects. It's undated so you can start it any time and use it only when you need it with no wasted pages. The book has a soft cover and is very slim, so it's easy to carry with you everywhere.

At the very beginning there is a page to show you how to use the book to keep track of your progress and evaluate your results.

There are pages to list your goals and projects:

There is a year overview page:

Then the meat of the book is the project tracking pages. List your goal tasks at the left, and check them off each day you do them. This gives you an excellent quick visual as to whether you are working your plan. At the end of the month, evaluate your progress in the right column. The book has 12 of these two-page spreads, to get you through an entire year.

I love that you can track every aspect of your life, broken down by categories, in the one book. You can use one heading for Health to track your exercise, water intake and whether you're getting your 5 a day. Another heading can be craft projects, work projects, or how many pages you're writing on your novel every day. Having a box to tick encourages you to do your goal tasks that day, so you don't leave any empty boxes! If you have tasks that don't need to be done every day, you can highlight the boxes on the days you need to do them so you can easily see what needs to be done and what's completed.

At the back of the book there are several pages for notes, evaluating your projects, or anything else you want to write.

The last page has credits and contact info:

Huge thanks to Marieke for sending me this excellent product to review! I'm sorry it took me so long to get this post up!

For more information and to order, see Marieke's website here: http://www.o-pen.nl/en/kick-ass-project-planner/

Friday, January 9, 2015

2015 Plannerisms planners update

Hi everyone, I have some bad news about the 2015 Plannerisms planners: due to misprints they have all been pulled from retailers. There was a misprint in the December monthly calendar that throws off the days.

Unfortunately I did not get proofs this year before production, and did not receive samples of the final products so I didn't get my planners until they were already in customers' hands. So, I was unable to prevent this misprint from going to production, and somehow it made it past the Collins proofreading team. Once this problem was brought to the attention of the publisher, the decision was made to pull all copies.

A limited second production run might be possible to fix this issue, I am still waiting for information on that and will let you know. If that does happen, orders will be via direct email with the publisher with payment via PayPal. I will have more info for you next week about this.

In the meantime if you are disappointed with your Plannerisms planner and you ordered it from Collins UK, you can contact them to ask about a refund. Here is their contact page.

I do not handle any of the ordering or returns process so I won't be able to help you, you'll need to contact them directly.

As you might imagine I am extremely disappointed about this. It's obviously not up to my standards, and it's not up to Collins standards either. I'll do everything I can to make sure this doesn't happen again!!!