Planners, Planners, and Planners...OH MY!

productivity Aug 16, 2021
Planners, Planners, and Planners...OH MY!

Planners, planners, and planners, oh my.

I get asked about planners all the time, "Mark, what planner should I use? Should it be paper? Should it be electronic?"

The main takeaway: use what works for you.

Paper versus electronic

I'm 56 years young, and I remember I was so excited when everything started going electronic. I loved it. I got ebooks and apps on my phone and my iPad, and my desktop. I was like, who needs paper?

Now, I have fallen back in love with paper. I love paper. I love reading print books, and I love using my paper planner. But I don't use a traditional paper planner. I've tried many of them. As host of The Mark Struczewski Podcast, many people with planners have sent me their planners. And I have nothing negative to say against them or their planners.

When you use someone else's planner, you have to use it the way they designed it. You may like it 90%, 80%, 50%, but you say, "well, I wish they did this. Or I wish it didn't do that." Well, you can always create your own planner. But you have to stay within the lanes of what the planner creator set up. There's a reason why they set the planner up the way that they did. 

The same thing applies to electronic planners, whether on your desktop or your smartphone. The developers set up the planner that way, and you can live with it and use it or not. The choice is yours.

What I have decided to use is the Moleskine Classic Notebook, Hard Cover, Large (5" x 8.25") Ruled/Lined, Earth Brown, 240 Pages (affiliate link) which I use as a bullet journal. I like it because it's completely free-flowing. This is what I like to use for my planner, for my notes, for my ideas, for my brainstorming. This works for me.

Now please don't say, "Oh, Mister Productivity, uses a Moleskin notebook for his planner; that's what I'm going to use. That's not what I'm saying. Remember, use what works. Don't use the Moleskin notebook just because I use it.

Some of the mistakes that people make when they adopt planning.

I see people make the number one mistake: looking for the perfect planner, the perfect notebook, and the perfect app. They don't exist. So don't get too fancy. A lot of people say, "Yeah, I really liked the bullet journal. But I can't find the right notebook." That's called procrastination. Don't do that. Choose if you're going to go with paper or electronic, but choose. And then once you decide, if you're going to go paper, find a notebook. Don't spend hours on end looking on Amazon for the perfect notebook. If you're going to go with an app, don't spend hours on end on your app store looking for the perfect app. Find one go, with it. And it's better to plan than it is to procrastinate looking for the perfect way to plan.

Number two: don't use what's selling or an ad you saw on Instagram or Facebook. I follow a lot of productive people. They always seem to be saying, "Hey, I got a planner, I've got a journal. I've got something that helps you gain clarity or gain focus." Look, they may be really awesome planners but don't buy it just because you saw an ad.

You can look at the ad, decide if you want it. You can look at the samples. I like the bullet journal because it's totally customizable. Every page, I can customize it the way I want to. I'm not restricted to someone else's setup. But if that's what you want to do, go for it. Just be careful when you buy a planner. Please don't get it and then complain. No one forced you to buy it.

Do your research. Go out and ask some other people. "Hey, have you used the XYZ planner yet?" Ask them what do you like about it? Or, more importantly, what they don't like about it.

One final thing: a planner rarely stays with you for the long haul. You may try to use a print planner that serves you for six months, then decide to use an electronic calendar. And then maybe you go back to print. Don't be married to your planner. You are going to change; your life will change; you're going to start doing different things with the planner.

As I said, I've tried many different planners, and I like the Moleskin notebook as my bullet journal and planner because I don't want just a planner. I don't want just a notebook. I don't want just a task list. I want something I could do whatever I want in it, and it serves me well.

Planning is so important; it's really critical that you take the time to tell your time where to go instead of wondering where it went. You have 168 hours a week, like every other human being on this planet, and you have to be intentional with your time. Would you please not keep your plans between your ears? That's a recipe for disaster. You need to write these plans down or, at the very least, put them in a planner.

I want to say this one more time: use what works for you. Do your research, but not too much research. Find something that works for you.

What say you?

Click here to let me know what you thought. I'd really like to know.

Thanks for reading.

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