Saturday, January 17, 2015

On Dealing with Planner Fatigue

For those who don't know me, I am a paper planner nerd.  I have been ever since my first real job as a receptionist for a printing company.  Our bosses introduced the team to the Day-Timer planners. From the moment I saw it, I was hooked.  Even before the Day-Timer, I used the free pocket calendars from Hallmark to note birthdays and such.  But the Day-Timer was definitely the turning point for me.

I used a paper planner consistently for several years, and then backed off a little bit.  I don't really remember why.  And then I was introduced to the Franklin Covey planner system, and once again, it was love.  The Franklin Covey system was even more in-depth than Day-Timer, because it helped me focus on my goals, and getting those goals broken down into manageable tasks.

I continued with the Franklin Covey system for several years, becoming more and more dependent on it as the years went by.  My system became a well-oiled machine.  Soon I started to wonder about other ways I could use my planner, and so I started reading blogs and looking at photos of planner pages on Flickr.  Yes, I had it bad!

It was then that I was introduced to Filofax.  I had heard the name before, but never dreamed of moving away from my Franklin Covey, so didn't look into it further.  Until I saw the photos.  Oh, the photos.  There were so many!  From there I stumbled upon YouTube videos.  Yes, YouTube videos! People actually filmed themselves flipping through their planners, and sharing how they setup their planners.

It was nirvana!  I had found my Happy Place!  Not only was I able to see how others used their planners, but now I had a community of people who loved their planners as much as I did!  Woohoo!

It wasn't long before I started taking photos of my own planner, and I even created my own YouTube channel and started recording videos of my own!

Fast forward to the end of 2014.  I was in a new, more demanding, position at work, the daughters' school and activity schedules were busier, and life in general was just more hectic.  You would think that I would have become more dependent on my planner than ever, but for some reason the opposite occurred.

My planner became a burden.  Suddenly it was too much trouble to write things down.  It was too much trouble to flip through pages and tabs to see if we were free for an event or already booked.  It was too much trouble to sit down every Sunday and do my weekly review and planning for the coming week, which had always been something I treasured as "my time."  Suddenly, I no longer wanted to use my planner.  And so in October, I put it away.

I started entering appointments and reminders in Google Calendar.  And my tasks went into Remember the Milk.  Everything was electronic, and so EASY!  I could access everything on my phone (iPhone 6 Plus = I can see!) or my laptop.  I shared my calendar with my husband so he could see on his own what was on our schedule, rather than having to ask me.  My tasks were set up to recur automatically.  I didn't have to rewrite anything, and just had to click a box to complete a task. It was awesome!

Still, there's a sadness in my heart -- a feeling of being unsettled.  I miss the paper, and the pens. And I miss my lovely Ochre Malden, with the soft, squishy leather.  I've tried several times over the past month or so to go back to a paper planner, but just a few minutes into it I'm turned off by having to write everything down.  I just don't have time for that.  And the desire is not there, either.

For those who are not in the paper planner world, I'm sure you think I'm a nutcase.

But those who do use a planner know where I'm coming from.  I'd love to get some feedback from you. What do I do?  How can I find a happy balance between using my paper planner, and having the ease of the electronic world at my fingertips?

Thanks a lot for stopping by.


  1. I suppose that I am still in an early phase of my planner usage. I can't offer you any real guidance as I really have never been able to make electronic systems work effectively; I end up with sprawling, unorganized task lists that just stress me out so I ignore them. And nothing gets done. With paper, I am much more deliberate and tend to follow-through on my plans.

    Of course, the aesthetic qualities are important. Something about the heft of the book, the tabs, the neatly inscribed pages of reference information. The security of knowing it's all there. I never, ever feel that security with electronic systems. I also find entering information on a phone to be too fiddly and fussy.

    I always, always use my planner at work. I go through phases throughout the year where I have almost zero interest in the planner but just keep using it. During those periods of no interest, I typically stop writing much personal stuff in the planner beyond appointments. At other points of the year I am super-engaged with the planner and am constantly writing in it.

  2. For me, the planner is not just future oriented, it's a record of events. I do periodic reviews of my progress on goals and would not be able to gauge this as well if I used electronic records. Plus I make notes of contractor calls, medical meetings, cost estimates - so much captured all in one place for quick reference. Do I like writing in my planner? Sometimes I feel a sense of loathing when I look at it! It's a matter of discipline, of knowing it's a tool that really does make my life work better. I use my phone for reminders but it just isn't up to the quick notetaking and integration of information that I find in my planner.

  3. Some people take a middle ground approach where they print off their google or outlook calendar weekly and put it in their planner. The planner still has their reference material as usual too.

    I think it's okay to prefer electronic calendars for this period of your life. It doesn't mean you'll always find them more useful, just that you do for now. I'd definitely hang onto your planners; you may find you want to switch rather quickly. I've used pocket sized filos with a week on a page for 14 years but was moved to change to personal sized day on two pages last month. It was quite sudden, but a very hectic fourth quarter left my week on a page so over-written I could hardly put up with it. I'm loving the space and serenity in this new format, so I understand your relief with a new system.

    Over the years, I've used filofax, moleskine, generic calendars, and made a stab at online calendars. At some point I'm sure I'll make a change again. You probably will too, and paper will always be an option. You could consider other uses too , like journaling. That way you aren't obligated to write in it, just when the spirit moves you. Anyhow, I say enjoy what's working for you. :)

  4. For my personal life, I used to use paper all the time, then switched to electronic about five years ago, then relied on memory up to a few months ago (which was fine until I had to organise a joint funeral!), and now I'm back on paper. Currently using a filofax domino I got on sale but will upscale soon to vds compact - for the luxe and the slimmer more portable size.
    At the office I was all electronic but now finding a notebook of tasks to be handy.

  5. My system is work appointments in boring useful google calendar, home stuff and long term planning on paper. For some reason paper works like magic in getting things done. I also love the little journals in planners though don't do it myself.