Ok, where did the time go? December has just started but I feel like I am playing a bit of catch up as I am planning for next year, I feel like I should have done more to prepare but alas I have not. What I do know is that I have done more to prepare for next year, than I had done at this time last year so I am making progress.
Imperfect Progress is Still Progress!
Make A Plan To Plan
I know that this month is one that tends to be a bit slower for me, so I am going to take advantage of it and plan! It is time to take advantage of this slower time to be productive and help set me up for next year rather than while my days away and then find myself behind the eightball. I will continue to:
- Develop my new product idea (if you haven’t taken the survey yet do it here!)
- Plan marketing ideas
- Research new trends
- Plan social media posts – Goal is to post more
- Determine if I should add more social media, if yes how many and which ones
Last week was the inspiration for this post about planners, first I had wandered the aisles of Joann Fabric, which is like a toy store for me. I enjoy various crafts and they had a selection of Happy Notes planners and I was checking them all out. I have included pictures of my Happy Notes planner in previous posts and I really enjoy it, I currently have the ‘Classic’ size but I am contemplating something a bit bigger for next year.
In a happy coincidence, the next day a member of my book club posted this article about planners. As I read the article and looked at the planners they suggested it was more fodder for me to think about what I will need and what I think will help me be a more effective planner.
This is where the planner comes in, and I’m not talking about the type that only allows you to jot down birthday reminders and every single task you think you need to complete. A planner is most effective when it’s used to create order, direction and clarity about your goals and what you really want to accomplish.
I have a smartphone so I am good, or am I?
Smartphones and calendar apps are great, wonderful even, I use mine often. Yet I am still drawn to a paper planner. I use it to help me see the bigger picture and schedule longer projects as well as jotting down ideas for just about everything. I make notes about bad things that happened and how to fix them, it is an insight into my daily life that also makes it part journal part calendar and is a snapshot of my life.
...the idea of reducing the rest of my life to tiny cells on my phone screen fills me with dread.
I can identify with that sentiment, the tiny entries in my phone have a way of overwhelming me and making me feel like I am, go go go all the time and I won’t be able to fit everything in. Additionally, it is easy to schedule stuff that I don’t need to do, there is no sense of urgency in prioritizing my tasks, it is all digital I don’t need to erase to move things, so I just move them without any thought to the task. There is no reason to evaluate if I still need or want to do the task at all, I just move it and deal with it another day. And I have found that when I write down what I need and want to do I find that it reduces my anxiety.
Furthermore, studies have found that the act of writing things down can have a calming effect — the kind of relief you don’t get when you’re typing things in the notes section of your smartphone (while a text message notification rolls down from the top of the screen).
What Planner Is Right For Me?
There are so many planners out there it can be overwhelming to decide what is right for you. I am very happy with my Happy Notes Planner because I like the bright cheerful colors and quotes. I also like the sturdy cover and that it is modular so I can add and remove sections to suit my needs. The aesthetic is very feminine and that may not suit your personal style, but have no fear there are plenty of options out there. I am a fairly traditional planner so this system works well for me, and while there are a ton of different add-ons like stickers, etc, I am not into them at all and don’t use them. Give me some different colored classic BIC pens and I am good to go. I like it pretty but functional and I don’t want to spend a lot of time dressing it up with stickers, your mileage may vary.
Things to consider when picking a planner:
- What do you want to track:
-   Client Projects
-   Social media posts
-   Bookkeeping tasks
-   Administration tasks
- Do you want to journal
- Do you want inspiration in the planners
- Do you want a dated or undated planner
- Do you want your planner to be utilitarian or fancy
I found an article from ink + volt to help you determine your planner style, what I like about this article is that there are suggestions for different styles and great prompts to determine your style. What I don’t like is that it is from 2018 so not all their links are current. However, if you find a link to a style you were interested, and the link is not current, it is easy enough to find a 2020 counterpart.
The NYMag also had a “best” guide in 2019 determined by productivity experts. Within this roundup, there are several styles and could easily be appreciated by both male and female planners. There was one planner mentioned that made me very nostalgic, it was the Day Timer which is the style of planner that I used in college and for a short time after I graduated. What I liked about the Day Timer is also what I like about my Happy Notes planner, it is modular so I add and subtract what I need, and it is refillable which allows me to buy only what I need.
The final round-up style article is by Business Insider and they cover the Best Overall, Best for Teacher, Best for Student, Best for Setting Goals, and Best Fashionable for 2020. The list gives pros and cons for each of their winners, but remember this is your planner so if you think that the teacher or student planner will work best for you go for it, there is no planner police. Pick a planner that you like and don’t worry about the titles.
Bullet Journal; Alternative to Traditional Planners
You have almost made it to the end and if your enthusiasm is starting to fall off, don't worry you can make it. Maybe you still like the idea of planning and think it will help you be more productive. And perhaps you have even looked at a few different styles and found something you like. But the thought of using a calendar and plotting things out is overwhelming, maybe consider planning using the Bullet Journal. I will say flat out I find this style overwhelming and would not work for me, but guess what; it may work for you. A bullet journal like traditional planners can be as fancy or plain as you like, the embellishments are totally up to you.
the Bullet Journal is meant “to help you track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future.” - Ryder Carroll creator of Bullet Journal
Writing in Medium Melody Wilding describes it as:
Bullet Journaling for Unartistic, Impatient People
Bullet journaling is much more than a glorified to-do list. It’s cracking the code on helping people be happier and more productive where other methods (and professionals like doctors and personal trainers) have failed. The unique combination of pure enjoyment, engaging multiple senses, and externalizing thoughts is what seems to make this method so effective — that is, if you can stick with it.
If you go to the Bullet Journal website there is a 5-minute video that describes the process.
After watching the video you may want to check out part 2 of Melody’s series about bullet journaling which includes 8 quick steps for beginners if you like reading tutorials.
A really detailed article about how to get started can be found on Tiny Ray Of Sunshine and provides this bit of advice:
"First, let’s talk about your motivation for using the Bullet Journal. Most of the people who Bullet Journal tend to do it because it’s a flexible system that lets them work the way that they work.
It’s important to think about what you want a system to do for you before you dive in. That said, you’ll figure out your needs more as time goes on, so get started after you’ve thought about it for a little while."
In summary, there are a lot of different planners out there, grab something that you like and think you can work with and get started. Whatever style you find you will be able to find articles about how to work that system to peak efficiency but don’t be afraid to make tweaks that make sense to you. Ultimately if it doesn’t make sense to you it won’t be efficient or effective. Don’t hesitate to make changes along the way as you become more comfortable with planning and after you have been doing it for a while, there is no planning police, make it work for you.
You can always comment on my Facebook page I would love to know if you have a favorite planner or if you are going to start using one in 2020.
NOTE: I am not being paid for my mentions of people, articles or books I used above nor do I receive referral compensation. The links I provide are for your convenience only.
DISCLAIMER: This advice is general in nature and not to be taken as personal professional advice. This blog does not provide legal advice if you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.