The Perfect Planner for Your Type - Which One Are You?
Finding the perfect planner takes time. By discovering which one of these three types you are can speed up the process.
You see them in droves every December and June. Crisp, unopened planners waiting for you to fill their pages with your to-do lists and goals. You love a clean, new planner. It presents new opportunities. A clean slate. But you come to find that you’re not using it as you want to.
You’re not alone.
A lot of people buy planners with the intent to use them. You start strong, writing in it daily, but then you leave it somewhere to collect dust. You buy a new one the following year and promise yourself to use it. But you get the same result and a pile of half-used planners.
People buy planners and hardly use them all the time. I’m guilty of it myself.
You want to know what you can do to make sure the next planner you buy, you’ll actually use.
First things first, you need to stop buying the wrong planner.
How can a planner be wrong?
Planners, like people, come in all shapes and sizes. They're meant to make your days more structured. But not everyone structures their days the same. It’s also important to note that not everyone plans their day the same way.
Finding the right planner that works for you can take time. It’s almost like finding the perfect partner. It can take opening a few frogs to find the prince of pages.
I’m here to tell you that finding the right planner can be easy. The key is learning what kind of planner you are.
Are you a daily planner?
If you have a lot of meetings, phone calls, and appointments to keep track of, daily planning is your savior.
One of the most popular methods in this category is the time ladder. With that you can structure your day by the hour or half hour. It’s ideal for people who have a lot of appointments to keep track of.
Another daily structure is the good old fashioned to-do list. This is for the people who don’t have a lot of appointments but have a lot of tasks. They list the things they want to get done that day. They avoid overwhelm by selecting three things that absolutely must get done. The rest can be done anytime.
If you’re a daily planner, you shouldn’t have to waste your money on a pre-printed planner. If you have a lot to do throughout the day sometimes the space they give you is not enough. I recommend buying a basic lined journal or dot journal.
Write the date at the top of the page and write out your to-do list. If you prefer time ladders, write the times on the left side and fill it in. There are planners with pre-printed time ladders, but they can get bulky. Especially if they include 12 months. A pocket-size notebook would suffice. A convenient way to carry your to-do list around with you.
There’s a lot of great daily planning notepads available. They include a time ladder, regular to-do list, and a section for your top three priorities.
A lot of daily planners are also monthly planners but we’ll get to that in a second.
Are you a weekly planner?
Weekly planners are the bread and butter of planner companies. You aren’t overwhelmed by seeing a whole week of tasks laid out in front of you. Kudos!
The primary thing a weekly planner needs to figure out is line direction. Do you prefer vertical or horizontal lines? It seems trivial but it can change the way you plan in an instant.
Vertical lines give your tasks a more to-do list feel. Horizontal lines can seem cramped, particularly if you have a lot of tasks. If you're interested in trying time ladders, a few printed planners include them.
Weekly planning can overwhelm some people. Looking at a spread with a ton of tasks can quickly derail you from wanting to do anything. My advice is to fill out each day the night before. This is a great way to clear your mind before bed.
Planners are supposed to help you be productive. They’re not meant to scare you away. That’s why most people are monthly/daily planners. Weekly planning can become an eyesore. So be careful with how much you write down at one time.
Are you a monthly planner?
I wish I could be a monthly planner. All they need is a desk calendar, a wall calendar, or a super slim planner for their bag. Monthly planners are the people who know what needs to get done without a list telling them.
That takes skill.
Some monthly planners could use their phones to keep track of things they need to do. But I haven’t met a monthly planner that has anything more than three things on their to-do list. They just know.
A lot of printed monthly calendars include a “Notes” section. That might be the only spot you find tasks these kinds of planners need to remember to do that month.
Pocket-size monthly planners are the most convenient to carry around. Slim and sleek.
Monthly planners don’t have any less appointments or tasks to keep track of. But they’re able to stuff it all on a month’s worth of days and know. I bow down to these planners.
Are you a combination?
As I said earlier, most printed planners are made for weekly planners. combinations. Most do include a monthly overview that is helpful.
Another factor to take into account is visual. Do you prefer craft or minimalist planners?
If you’re more creative, the bullet journal might be your best option. Or a customized planner. There are tons of customizable planner sites. Golden Coil, Made To Plan, and Erin Condren are some. Customized planners can get pricey. But they're worth the price if it means you get the "perfect" planner.
If you’re interested in learning more about the bullet journal method, check out creator Ryder Carroll’s website. He offers a ton of helpful videos.
Monthly/daily planners may choose to keep their monthly planner at home. I prefer a wall or desk calendar. Then they carry around a separate notebook for their daily tasks.
Weekly/daily planners may have the bulkiest planners of all. Or they may leave their weekly breakdown at home and carry a smaller notebook with their daily tasks.
It’s all trial and error.
Before committing to a certain planner, I recommend a trial run. Try each method for a week. Then ask yourself which one made me the most productive? It’s one thing to figure out what planning style you prefer. It’s another to know which one ensures productivity.
Because that’s what planners are meant to do. They’re a collection of things you want to accomplish. And when you can check, cross off, or remove a task from your list, it feels good.
Size is another factor that influences decisions. Some people don’t want to cart around a bulky planner. Others can’t live without an 8.5” x 11” sized planner while others are content with a pocket-sized notebook.
Binding and design are other things to consider.
When deciding, be sure to ask yourself what am I going to carry my planner in? A tote bag. Purse. Hand-carry it. Am I going to leave it at work?
Finding the right planner can take time. But once you do you’ll be amazed at how it’ll help you. And know that if a system works for you now, it may not work for you in the future.
Our lives are constantly shifting. If your current planner isn’t working, don’t force yourself to use it. Come back to the trial run and see if how you plan your day has changed.
The wonderful thing about planners is they’re not going anywhere. The right one is out there for you. You just have to take the time to look for it.