We are officially halfway through summer, y’all, and much as none of us wants to think about it, school is right around the corner. I know, I know, let’s not talk about school yet. Instead, let’s talk planners. If you’re anything like me, you probably have a half dozen planners or more you’ve tested, tried, used, and abused.
Finding planner peace is a task often despaired of in the planner community. Go on Facebook or Instagram, and you’ll often find people discussing the enigmatic “planner peace” that continues to elude them. What is planner peace and why is it so hard to come by?
Well, let’s talk about your options first.
From rings to strings to flatlay, you can chose the planner binding that suits you best. From horizontal to vertical to bullet journal, you can find a planner with a layout that works for you. From yearly down to daily, planners offer a variety of overviews you can include in your perfect setup. There is no wrong way to plan, but there are about a million different options out there if you’re looking for something new and different. The problem is finding that perfect planner setup that not only suits you aesthetically, but also functions for you so that you will use it.
Let me tell you about me. I am the chronically addicted person. Chronically addicted to stationery, pens, and notebooks, that is. As a student, I spent every August excitedly approaching the school supplies with my list of things I needed, which almost always included a planner to help me get through school. I searched and usually found a spiral-bound planner filled with all manner of extras that just screamed my name.
I’d clutch my prize close to my chest in excitement, take it home, and eagerly put in dates that held some significance, usually a last-minute trip and the start of the school year. The semester would start and I’d add in due dates for homework, upcoming tests, and extracurriculars. By mid-October, however, the sheen had worn off the planner and I usually ditched it altogether.
Does this sound like you? Are you that person who grabs a planner for work or home and inevitably feels the die-off of excitement and sets it aside? Have you grabbed the shiny planner with all the extra tabs and stickers for things you never do and therefore never use? (Here’s looking at you, all you extra “manicure” and “massage” stickers!)
If you, like me, have never found your planner peace, I’d like to challenge you to answer a few questions and see if you can figure out what to look for. These questions will lead you to a general idea, not a specific answer. You won’t come away from this saying, “Yes, that Erin Condren planner is exactly what I need!” I think it’s important for you to figure out what elements will work for you.
Take a minute and think about the answers to these questions:
- What kind of binding do you like? There are all kinds of options, including: spiral-bound, ring-bound, binder, stitched spine, hardback bound, and flatlay. As a left-handed person, spiral-bound is definitely not my jam, but stitched spine and hardback work well for me.
- What are your top five page-types that must be in a planner? For example, you might want a yearly calendar, monthly overview, weekly pages, meal planning pages, and contact info pages. Or you might need more space to write and want daily pages, weekly pages, extra notes pages in the back, a budget planner, and goal tracking pages. Figure out your top five things that need to be in your ideal planner.
- How much detail do you like? By this, I mean that you can find planners with weekly/daily pages laid out by the hour vertically so that you can plan down to the minute, or you can have horizontal weekly pages that have as little as a few inches of space in which to jot things down. Do you need lots of structured details available, or do you find open and empty space freeing for jotting things down?
- What kind of extras do you enjoy using in a planner? This might include things like stickers, washi tape, markers, watercolor, colored pencils, highlighters, die cuts, and so much more. Or you might be a minimalist who enjoys the sight of black and white on your paper. Figure out what extra things you like to have to make your planner something you will enjoy using regularly.
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have a better idea of what kind of planner you’re looking for. If you need some more inspiration for using a paper planner, check out this article the New York Times shared last year or this intense review of a number of different kinds of planners that includes tips for choosing the one that will work best for you.