Welcome, Planner Babes, to the first of four parts in Planner Basics. With the newest planners releasing, many people will be out searching for planners. While many people are planner veterans, there is still a large amount only now discovering the community. People are discovering the planner community daily and the amount of information that exists creates an awe and overwhelm in the newest Planner Babes. After all, the planner community currently focuses on the decorative side of planning. While not new, the extent of decorating that’s common in planners now is overwhelming to many. There has become less of a focus on productivity and functionality and plenty of focus on creating a “scrapbook” planner. If you’ve fallen in love with the planner community, there is a chance you have seen the term “planner peace.” This series will help assist on the journey to surpassing planner peace. Planner nirvana is within reach.
What exactly is planner peace?
Planner peace is the very act of finding a planner that gives you a sense or feeling of peace. Upon discovery of this planner, it will become your only planner. If you use more than one planner daily, you will soon own many versions of this planner. Planner peace means you have found your “holy grail.” While the term planner peace was created to be a positive term, it scares newer Planner Babes. The pressure to find planner peace is very high and is often the by-product of not knowing what to do with a planner.
My Quest for Planner Nirvana
Finding my planner has never been an easy task. My journey has taken place since middle school. At 12 I was looking to create a way to organize my life as I spent a lot of time in extracurricular activities. I spent a lot of time juggling my school work with the long hours of being a theater student. I had lofty goals of becoming a musical theater triple-threat, meaning I could act, sing, and dance. I spent hours at dance classes and music lessons. I very rarely had a break and wanted to keep myself organized. My middle school offered us free planners, but there was never enough room for me to keep track. This started my first venture into trying to find a new planner, but I was limited. The resources that exist now didn’t back then and I had to rely on getting rides to stores. Limited funds also didn’t help the equation. This left me to writing my plans anywhere and everywhere I could think to remember and look. My planning style was not streamlined. By the time I reached high school, I gave up on finding the perfect planner. I learned the valuable skill of creating mental lists, but the need for a physical planner still remained. I’m a visual learner and I lacked the visual aspect and often became busy and would forget what I needed to do.
By the time I finished college in 2012, I still hadn’t found a planner that met my needs. By that point I had given up on finding a system that worked and resorted to writing on Post-It notes. Everywhere I could leave a Post-It note, I left it. Sometimes I would use my phone, but I often times forgot I wrote something in my notes. This meant a lot of cancelled plans and showing up for work shifts that had changed. It would take another three years, but in 2015, things finally changed for the better.
A lot of the companies that are well known today were starting to gain traction. Social media was at the beginnings of how we know it today and communities were forming. While it would take another year to discover the planner community, social media was now providing new information I didn’t know. The planner I looked at before getting to where I am now was the Passion Planner. I adored the concept, but wasn’t ready to buy a product that I couldn’t touch. I could only look at photos on a screen and couldn’t have a tactile response to the product like I wished. At the time, Passion Planner was still very new, but another brand new product would make its way into my life.
One summer day, while browsing through Michaels, I stumbled upon The Happy Planner. It was love at first sight. While the concept of a disc-bound planner was new to me, I thought it was fantastic that I could pull pages in and out. That feature alone was a selling point. The amount of accessories that the planner launched with made me very excited! I didn’t buy the planner the first time I saw it. I also didn’t buy it the second or third time, but by the fourth time I had seen it I finally took the plunge. I did no research on the planner and was very surprised when I saw it had a vertical layout. I had never seen a planner with that before, but I understood the planner world was going to change. I didn’t know how or why, but I was very excited to be an early adopter.
At the time, I had no idea that I had planner peace. It would take me deciding to venture further into the planner world to find this out. My second planner was an Erin Condren Life Planner, which, while beautiful, was not for me. I had too many issues with customer service in regards to my Erin Condren planner and that had turned me off. I also wasn’t pleased with the quality for the price I paid. I knew that there had been issues with my particular planner the previous year, but I remained hopeful. After all, they had plenty of time to fix the issues that existed. Unfortunately, I was not so lucky. As beautiful as it was, I wanted to return the planner two weeks into owning it, but was not given that opportunity. After that, it was back to The Happy Planner. At the time of my issues with Erin Condren, the newest 18 month Happy Planners were being released.
I have since purchased more Happy Planners and have loved each one I own. I have also added a Carpe Diem planner to my collection and love it as well. Both planner brands help me in different ways and inspire me to live a happy, functional life.
Choosing Your New Planner
Choosing your new planner is an experience that should bring you joy. You should be able to make your planner purchase with confidence. When making your purchase, there are a few factors that should be considered. The deciding factors consist of –
Type of binding
Going further, you can also look into customization options. With customization, the color scheme can be important and even the cover type can be a factor.
The first factor in your planner decision, in my opinion, is the monthly and weekly set up. Once that decision has been made, it’s easier to narrow down your planner based on the size and binding. Since every planner is different, knowing what you want in the planner itself is helpful.
Some planners come as a monthly set up, a weekly set up, or they come with both. Depending on your planning style, one set up could be more beneficial than the other. If you want a wide platform to see where everything is in one spot, a single monthly view could be helpful. If you want to have more room to write, then a weekly set up might be for you. If you’re visual, but need the space, then having both would be the best option.
When it comes to the weekly setup, there are a few additional things to consider. Weekly set ups often run as a vertical layout, horizontal layout, or even an hourly setup. If you prefer to have a more linear and timeline like approach to your planning, vertical would be beneficial. Horizontal is a standard weekly setup and is definitely the most common. When looking into a horizontal layout, take note of if you would prefer the layout to have lines to write on or be a blank slate. If you need to see where free time is available or need to schedule a lot of your day an hourly setup is perfect.
If you’re unsure of what set up you would prefer, I recommend taking time to find free printables to try. Take time to write out your plans (or make mock plans!) to gain a feel of what setup feels right. Either space out the printables over a few weeks or use the same week to create your plans. A few days into a system will let you know which setup will help you the most.
Another important factor in a weekly setup is whether you would prefer a Sunday or Monday start. If your work schedule starts on a Monday or you prefer to have your weekends together, then you would need your weekly sheets to start on Monday. If you prefer to follow a calendar week that starts on Sunday, then you would require a Sunday start.
Once you’ve decided on what setup you’re looking for, the next factor should be size. Planners feature a large range of sizes, from a tiny pocket planner up to a letter sized page planner. Sometimes they can even come in odd shapes such as square, although uncommon. The most common size of the pages is often the size of a paperback novel, or the size of half a piece of US letter sized paper. This size is known as A5. While larger pages are becoming more common, sizes smaller than A5 planners are also becoming the norm. This is another moment where you can take sheets of paper and cut them to the proper size or find printables in a size that you’re interested in. The less money put out in attempting to find the perfect planner, the better. There are dozens of free resources to utilize. I’ll make sure to add some printables for you to take advantage of in the free printables section of the site.
After taking the time to figure out your setup and size, it’s a great time to look into what binding you would like. Certain types of bindings are not available in certain sizes, so there might be a need to be flexible. If you’re looking to have ultimate flexibility, look into a disc bound system or a binder system. Both systems allow you to remove and insert pages as needed. This works well if you are looking for an easy way to write in your planner as you won’t have any form of binding in your way. If you’re not worried about customization, then a spiral bound planner provides a classic look. It’s a timeless look that is replicated by many companies and is the easiest to find and purchase in store. Luckily, if you’re interested in a degree of customization, special covers can be found. There are many Etsy sellers that sell covers specifically for spiral bound planners. If you’re looking for a sturdy planner with no fuss then book bound will be your biggest ally. Many book bound planners come with a hard cover meaning it can withstand travel and use very well.
Once you’ve answered questions on a planner’s functionality and purpose, your final decisions will be cosmetic. You can fall in love with a planner and realize that you’re looking for something colorful, but doesn’t offer a bright solution. You can also have the same issue with wanting a neutral planner, but it’s full of color. If you need a professional planner, you might not want one covered in color. This is also an important factor if you’re looking to “pretty plan” as it can affect your decorating. Also, some brands come with special dashboards, or monthly dividers, that you can either love or hate. If you’re not thrilled with how your dividers look and want to put in minimal work, that can change your mind. I recommend looking on YouTube for planner flip-throughs to see what you think. Nothing will match up to looking at and having the planner in your hands, but videos will help narrow your decision. At this point, your planner decision starts to become a reflection of yourself and your desires. If the planner helps you and it’s something that you’ve fallen in love with, inside and out, then it is meant to be.
If you’ve completely decided against a physical planner, that is entirely okay. There are dozens of apps that will allow you to create a digital planner experience and work between multiple devices. Another option that I’ve seen are Planner Babes who purchase a planner and scan the pages in and plan digitally. It takes a little more effort, but it’s an option if you would like it to be.
At the end of the day, when searching for your planner you should look at functionality first and appearance second. You can fall in love with a planner, but if it doesn’t fit your planner style, it’s not a planner worth having. Take your time and don’t rush, your perfect planner is out there. If you’re still struggling, make your own! Someone else might be looking for exactly what you’re looking for. Also, always make sure to look on Etsy and Pinterest. Both websites are valuable resources in finding new solutions you might not be familiar with.
I hope part one of this series has helped you. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments.