Feb 222015

I have to admit I love the look of planners, all planners, but every time I attempt to use a so-called classic planner that is divided up into monthly, weekly and daily sections, I end up with more blank pages than not. Perhaps the one exception occurred years ago, when I taught after-school enrichment classes at six different elementary schools. At that time I had a need to more closely track my doings in a more traditional way. These days, however, my activities are more project-based; they simply take the time they need to take. Deadlines are loose and self-imposed, so a planner that provides line-by-line spaces for each hour of the day brings a smile to my face, but doesn’t particularly appeal to me. Still, I love the idea of such a traditional planner.  Whether it’s useful or not depends on your life circumstances.

Last week I read an inspirational post, Joining the world of Filofax, by freelancer Rose Clearfield of Randomcreative Art in which she describes the flexible planner system she has decided to adopt. Rose goes into even more detail in this second related post, How I Set Up My Filofax Personal Finsbury: My Ring Binder Organization and Tips. What seems to make her Filofax work especially well is the fact that she can personalize it any way she wishes. She has created two types of calendar sections (monthly and weekly), as well as sections for contacts, household tasks, and personal pages. The Filofax, a six-ring pocket-sized organizer, enables you to easily add or remove pages, as well as rearrange them. It’s helpful, of course, if you purchase a six-hole adjustable punch, as Rose did, to take advantage of that flexibility. Rose points out that while you can decorate your pages, her philosophy is to “Concentrate on organization first and decorating second.”

The strength of any ring-binding system is the flexibility to add, remove, or rearrange pages. Image courtesy of blackstock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

The strength of any ring-binding system is the flexibility to add, remove, or rearrange pages. Image courtesy of blackstock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

When my husband worked in pharmaceutical sales, he used a monthly planner, but these days he supervises about 80 people across six states and finds a daily planner more appropriate for his needs. “I simply found that the monthly style didn’t have enough space for all of the events and people I have to track,” he told me. John’s statement underscores how your needs can change over time.

John's Planner

I mentioned in a previous post that I recently received an e-mail from Etsy, indicating it had just revamped its product categories and subsequently re-assigned sellers’ items to new categories. To my surprise, I discovered that my address books were identified as planners. This made me think about what else a planner might be. For example, would  my “Save the Date” (important dates reminder) books be classified as planners? What about the “Sewing Machine Stitch Diaries” I sell?

Other Types of PlannersAccording to Andrea of the Scattered Squirrel Web site, a planner doesn’t have to be a paper-and-pen organizer. “A planner,” says Andrea, “is simply a tool or system used to help you keep track of important dates and appointments, build or maintain routines, and make the best use of your time and energy.” As such, it can be the address book you keep on your smart phone, mind maps you sketch in a blank book, a shopping list, sticky notes you paste to a bulletin board, a mood board (either physical or digital)—basically any systematic approach to collecting ideas or information that you use. To answer my own question from the previous paragraph, all three of the books I described—address book, Save the Date book, and Sewing Machine Stitch Diary—are planners.

In her series about Creating the Planner That Works for You!, Andrea stresses that you can’t really know what kind of a planner will work for you until you identify what hasn’t worked for you in the past, as well as what has worked well. She points out that while you can purchase a planner with pre-existing sections, there are many free or economically priced planner printables on the Web that you can download to create a personal planner that is perfect for you. There are printables for busy moms who organize family appointments, grocery shopping excursions, children’s chores and household tasks. For bloggers, there are printables that help you track social media and blog statistics, keep track of sponsored ads, keep all of your blog post-and-series ideas in one place, identify your goals, provide an editorial calendar, and follow up with contacts. In short, there are printables for every need you can conceive, and what you can’t find you can probably create yourself using your favorite word processing software.

This post is not intended to provide a comprehensive list of printable resources, but below are a few links that provide a starting point for planner printables:

In my next post, I’ll discuss what kind of a personal planner I believe will work best for me, and how I arrived at my conclusions. Let me know in the comments below what planner system(s) you use, and why they work for you.

© 2014 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.