Planners are a tool that I have used for many years. I’ve gradually learned what elements in a planner work for me, and which do not work for me. Our lives are complex and a planner can help us keep track of the many aspects of our vocations. They are a good tool.
I have used Daytimers, Dayplanners, FranklinCovey, Erin Condren, and other planners. I learned something useful from each and every planner I tried. For ME, smaller is not better but the larger format (8×10) is too big. I use the middle size which FranklinCovey calls the Classic, and which is the most popular form of the Erin Condren.
I had a Daytimer, both a pocket size with monthly spiral inserts (did not work for me) and a larger ring bound (this I found bulky so not good either). Next I had a Dayplanner “week at a glance” that was 8×10 and set up for making appointments. Daily pages are too much waste, weekly spreads work, pocket is too small, 8×10 too big.
I switched to a FranklinCovey Classic in a spiral. Two page spread for each week and a section for the months. I liked the format, size, spiral, ease of use, ease of carry, the place for the pen on the cover I put it into, and the organizational aids in the leather cover. Very nearly perfect. SADLY, when I looked for a colorful version, FranklinCovey had several–all ring bound and I did NOT want a ring binder! The planner that worked ONLY came in bland.
I looked into the Bullet Journal. This is amazing, creative, and infinitely adaptable. I LOVED the idea. The FUTURE PLANNER pages in particular were a revelation to me. A place to put everything onto a calendar which I would LIKE to do, which I might do, but where it is still not nailed down as something I MUST do. Future planning is for me!! Pages for projects and brainstorming fit a need in me. However, you must make all your own calendar pages, drawing out what you want. This is great for those who love doing that sort of thing. But for me, I needed a pre-made planner.
I found lovely book bound planners with Bible readings and places to journal about those readings–but I was not seeking to replace my plan of life with a new one.
I found lovely notebook planners with lots of pages for tracking health, weight, diet, meal planning etc.. These might be perfect for someone else, but not me.
I found colorful and creative planners that were filled with good things mixed with religious ideas contrary to my own.
I found places to get pages to put in a ring binder–but I had already learned that I actually don’t LIKE ring binders.
A friend suggested Erin Condren. This planner is expensive but has a delightful colorful version, it has a vertical format option in three sections that you decide how to use. I call mine Day, Kids, and Evening. I place appointments in DAY, homeschool or scouting in Kids, and evening club meetings and practices in Evening. I use the monthly pages for future planning.
I also have a notebook (classic size) for my SCA projects. I have a small bound notebook for my Puppetry. I have another small notebook for Beekeeping, and this works for me too. Lots of room for brainstorming and taking notes, but I only carry what I need that day.
It was a LONG process of using and discarding planners. Most I attempted for a year, few made it that long.
My message is don’t give up, make lists of what you liked, and did not like, what worked for you and what was wasted paper, then keep trying planners and refining that list. The inexpensive Dayplanner and FranklinCovey actually worked for the entire year. Learn from each planner you use, and be bold in seeking out what you need.
This is my first year using the Erin Condren, project notebooks that are separate from my planner, a small pocket planner by my bed is my gratitude planner(this from a Michaels craft store), and Habitica at my computer. THIS is working.
Dear Lord, Thank You for all the creative options in planners that are out there. Thank You for making people creative. Thank You for helping me to find the right mix for my needs. +Amen.