{Planner Maniac} Simplifying the Sistem

by Julia

It’s been a while since my last planner-related post, which is weird considering that the last couple of months have been bustling with planner activity. It’s probably true that the more you do, the less you talk.

I’ll do a more in-depth post on my current set up in a later post, for now I would like to just gather my thoughts on what I’ve learned about planners so far in 2016.

  1. Rings are problematic. When I discovered the whole Filofax world more than 2 years ago, I was captured by the idea of having a ring binder in which I could insert any sheet of paper I wanted. I was using a Moleskine [Star Warts edition] at that time and I simply couldn’t wait to start using a planner offering an almost endless level of flexibility. I’ve discovered that this is actually a double-edged sword as you very often end up throwing in a lot of crap you don’t actually use and that just increase the level of clutter. So, yeah, rings are great – but also to be handled with care.
  2. Mind the gap. At the beginning of every year [or tbh at the end of the previous one] I sit at my desk and start customizing my planner (again, I’m talking about ring planners here). Everytime I let myself be carried out by the enthusiasm of a. a new planner b. a new year c. a new set of inserts d. a new set of yearly goals. The result is a bulky planner full of inserts I’ll problably will use no more than a week or so, together with a constant feeling of unaccomplishment -because no, I’m not using my planner they why I’m supposed to. Which leads me to the following point.
  3. The simpler the better. I started 2016 with a homemade DIY Fish-like set of inserts full of pages, charts, diagrams etc. They were way too complex for the needs of my current lifestyle and even though they were not deglected, they were still unused because I simply didn’t need them. A full spread monthly calendar + extensive weekly pages + daily bullet journal was a mere waste of paper. So I did what I always do around March when I realize I’m not fitting in my system anymore: I simplified. And it worked.
  4. A5 is my comfort zone. Last year I used a personal size planner and I got along really well with it. It was carriable but spacious enough to let me to jot down my stuff with ease. This year I felt adventorous and I decided to experiment with A5, a format I’ve always felt attracted to. And I was right. I love the page size [maybe because, despite my greatest effords, it loooks like I’m not able to write with a small handwriting] and customizing/editing/printing inserts it’s just so easy.
  5. A5 is also an extensive burden. Ok, I don’t think I’ve discovered hot water here. A5 is huge, and it’s burdensome. At the beginning of 2016 I was using a Filofax Original which if I’m not mistaken as 30mm rings, and it was really hard to carry it around everyday in my tote [especially considering that I commuted at that time]. I’ve recently ‘downsized’ to an A5 Boston with 20mm rings and I cannot say how lifechanging this has been. An A5 is always an A5 of course, but I can argue that more than the overall size the element that really makes the difference are the rings. Besides, smaller rings mean smaller crap I can put into planner, so it’s a win-win situation.
  6. No time, no planner. This is a complex matter that I don’t want to discuss in too much details here, but as far as my experience is concerned I can say that a really packed schedule will hardly allow you to take time to devot to your planner. You can use it for urgent to dos and appointments of course, but it’s not likely that you’ll have the time to expand its use to make it a full life tracker/trainer. Planning is essential when you have a very busy schedule, but updating a planner is a very serious, time-consuming matter too.
  7. Review it or you’ll die. Another self-explanotery statement. Whether you use it for every aspect of your life of just for work/fitness/projects, there’s no point in having a planner and not really use it – and when I say use I don’t simply mean to jot down stuff but also to go back to it, evaluate it, consider it and review it. Things written down and never re-read are just dead words. Daily, weekly and monthly reviews are things I’m still struggling with, but I’m aware that are essential steps in my planning process.

I have to say that since a re-adjusted my system I’ve been using my planner a lot and with satisfactory productivity reasults, which goes to show that there’s really no point in keeping using a system when you know it’s not working for you anymore. Life is a quest after all the planning activity is no different.