A planner is an essential planning and organisational tool for anyone who wants to achieve more, improve their time management and reduce general overwhelm and stress in their lives.
You only need to walk into any department store or stationery store to be spoilt for choice when it comes to diaries and planners and it can be confusing to try and choose the perfect planner if you’re not quite sure what to look for or what you need.
Everyone is busy.
I hear people talk about being a ‘busy mum’ or a ‘busy working mum’ or a ‘busy stay-at-home mum’ but the actual fact is that everyone is busy.
Everyone has responsibilities, goals and actions that they need to complete and although some people seem to bubble along keeping their plans all in their mind, most of us need that special place to write down and record what we need to achieve and plan for success.
So how do you choose the perfect planner?
It’s tempting to just pick something with a pretty cover (and by golly are there heaps of those). But from experience, when you choose something beautiful over something practical, you end up putting it up on the shelf and never using it! And that’s just a waste of money!
Scheduling and time-management is my gig, so here are my top tips for choosing the perfect planner, no matter who you are or what your circumstances are.
Tip 1: Understand your needs
Before you jump into shopping and browsing, take a moment to reflect on the planner you’ve used in the past.
What didn’t you like about them?
Think about the features you used and those that you didn’t. This will give you a fabulous starting point for finding the perfect diary for next year.
What do you need to include in your planner?
Will you be using it just for appointments?
Or will you need to record other planning and scheduling information too?
Do you need to plan for your family or work? Just yourself? Or all of these?
Having a clear understanding of what you’ll be using your diary/planner for will help you to cull and sort through the vast choices that are available out there.
Tip 2: Choose your preferred layout
Diaries and planners come in lots of different layouts. Choosing the best layout will depend on a few things, including the purpose (see above) for using your planner.
Some people like to view a week or a month ahead at a time whereas others prefer a daily layout. Each have their own advantages and disadvantages, but it just depends on how you intend to use your planner.
Weekly and monthly layouts are perfect for people who want to schedule appointments, meetings and commitments ahead of time and view them in either weekly or monthly increments. This provides a clear view and is perfect for those who like to plan ahead and visualise a longer-term plan.
Daily layouts are perfect for people who want to schedule appointments, but also have space to record their detailed plans for the day. This works well for people who want to achieve specific tasks each day and manage their time effectively throughout the day. People who choose to use a daily planner are often more productive, use their time more wisely and achieve their goals a lot quicker.
Tip 3: Size Matters
The old saying of ‘it’s not the size of the object but how you use it’ doesn’t apply to diaries and planners. Certain people require certain sizes (and I’m trying NOT to have a dirty mind here I promise)!! The size that you need will all come down your purpose, the layout and where and when you need to use it.
If you need to carry your planner with you in your handbag, then a smaller A5 diary is a better choice than a clunky, heavy A4 diary. Whereas if you intend to keep your diary in your office or at a command centre then any size would be suitable.
You will also need to consider how much content you’ll be recording, to ensure that you have enough writing space available on a page. Choosing the right size will ensure that you actually use your planner every single day because it will be convenient and easy to access.
Tip 4: Ensure you can surrender to it
This means trusting that the layout and practicality is so ideal that you can completely rely on it as your back-up memory. By placing your schedules and to-lists in your planner, it means that you can step back and trust that your life is organised and in order. A good diary will act like a personal assistant.
If you’re unlikely to allow yourself to rely completely on it, then it’s likely the wrong planner for you.
Tip 5: Commit to your choice
One of the biggest mistakes I see successful women making when it comes to planners is being unfaithful to it.
I can’t tell you how common it is for people to purchase more than one planner for the year. Sometimes they do this because they’ve made the wrong choice to begin with, but other times they feel that they need a different planner for each different area in their lives; or they fall into the ‘shiny object’ syndrome of wanting something else just because it’s pretty (or something better comes along).
To quote Vivienne from Pretty Woman: ‘Big mistake… huge!’
In order to live an organised, stress-free life, you must work from and commit to a single planner. Make it the one core place that houses everything that you need to record and stick with it for the year.
Tip 6: Say no to peer pressure
Just because your friends, colleagues or role models are using a particular planner, doesn’t mean that it’s the right one for you.
If you’re feeling tempted to buy a planner just because someone else says it’s the best thing since sliced bread or ‘all of my friends are using it’, then you need to stop, do not pass go, do not collect $200 UNTIL you have gone back to the start of this blog post and worked through all my tips. This isn’t high school… you’re a grown woman so it’s important to make your own choices.
Here’s the thing…
What works for one person, may not work for you. Even if they’re in the same industry or field, or have the same work/life circumstances as you. There is no cookie cutter process for finding the right planner.
Having said that, if someone recommends a particular planner for you, it is certainly worth checking out. Just remember that you need to be yourself and trust yourself. Trust that you know what will work for you and your life.
Looking for something unique & perfect for scheduling appointments, to-do lists and life tasks all in one? Then The Time Creator might be for you. Take a look!