{Filofax Friday} How I Got Out of Planner Fail

Planner fail seems to be a recurring theme amongst us planner addicts. Most of us always seem to be searching for that perfect planner – the perfect system. I’m no different. I’ve bought my fair share of planners and accessories to test out different methods and setups, but this year, I’ve practically banned myself from buying all things planner related. {With the exception of odds and ends to make my planner cuter as long as it doesn’t change the set up.}

Sorry guys, no fancy pictures this time around…

I assume my planner obsession started out back when I was in elementary school. At the beginning of every year, we were given a preprinted 8.5″ x 11″ week on two page academic planner specially made for my school. They were pre-punched to fit in a 3-ring binder, thin enough to keep in a 2 pocket folder, and had boxes with each subject already printed on them for each day. Some teachers required you to use them and even checked them before you went home at the end of the day. Others didn’t care. Since I attended the same school all the way through eighth grade, this was one of the things I looked forward to each year. If I could find one I’d share it, but they’re likely all tucked away in the basement somewhere.

In high school, we were given a ring-bound lined week on two page planner that was in between a personal-sized and A5-sized Filofax page. The front half of was the school handbook that had all the school policies and the times for all of our alternate schedules should we have had various delays or assemblies. {I think we had about 9 in total…} In my group of friends, these little books were always with us. We’d tape our class schedule to the front cover. The weekly layout was a pretty standard lined Week on 2 Page layout, but I have a feeling since most of us went to the same elementary school, we all adopted a method loosely based off of that elementary school planner and ended up writing the school subjects written down under each day. During free periods, we were usually drawing on them, highlighting the pages, or even carving designs in the plastic covers. It was like a secret competition with everyone comparing their handwriting, designs, and doodles to everyone else’s.

My first year of college, freshmen got a tiny pocket-sized,  I believe, planner at orientation. {I really don’t know because I found it utterly useless and threw it in a corner of my room somewhere.} After that, there’s somewhat of a blank spot in my mind until I started using Moleskines. I discussed my planner journey from then on in part 3 of my Filofax Tour series if you want to read .

The real problem started once I got a job and had money to buy my own planners. I’d buy a new planner every other month it seemed. I’d see the lovely pictures on the internet and think, “Wow, that’s a great idea! I want that!” Twenty minutes later, I was purchasing a new planner, and before long, I had shelves full of planners that I’d used for a week and gave up on. I’d spend more time setting up planners to get things done than actually doing the things these planners were supposed to help me do.

I had this idea that I could find the perfect system – one that would solve all my problems and make me super woman capable of doing everything, I just hadn’t found it yet. The obvious solution was that I needed to keep buying more until I found the right one. {What a silly idea!} There’s only so many formats and styles, and I had just about tried them all, so one day I sat down looking at my pile of planners and actually thought about why I kept buying so many planners. That’s when I stumbled across my first problem:

I didn’t want a planner that would help me be able to do everything. I wanted a planner that would everything for me!

I wanted a planner that would magically do all my work, so that I could sit back and relax, but let’s face it, that’s obviously never going to happen unless my life suddenly turned into a Disney movie {although it would be nice.} I eventually accepted the fact that no planner was going to miraculously get rid of the things I had to do and put me on autopilot so that I didn’t have to do a think, but using a planner could make all those things more manageable.

Then I read the wonderful Imy’s series on Falling back in Love with Filofax, and it was around that time I decided I would declare to use one and ONLY one planner for 2013. I gave myself 2 months to find what I wanted and then I was going to stick with it. No exceptions. I bought myself a few options and eventually opted to treat myself to a Plum Osterley for Christmas with the understanding that I wasn’t going to buy anymore.

Three months later, I’m still in the lovely Osterley, and the only change I made was swapping the lined week on two page diary for a week on one page with notes diary. Everything else has stayed the same, and I’ve ended up with my perfect system. I also figured out the other half of the reason I was always in planner fail. It wasn’t just that I wanted a planner to do everything for me or that whatever planner I was using wouldn’t work for me. The problem was pretty simple actually.

I was switching planners so often that I was never giving them a chance to succeed in the first place.

So to all of you who are stuck in planner fail:

  • Commit to trying one system and sticking with it – It will probably evolve a bit here and there as you use it, but committing to and sticking with a plan is how things get accomplished.
  • and remember, this is your planner – Everyone’s lives are different. What works for one person, whether it be full of cute doodles or incredibly neat and organized,  may not work for you, and that’s okay. Find what works for you and embrace it rather than trying to force someone else’s system to work.