The Quest for the Perfect Planner

I don’t know what is wrong with me sometimes. The other day, I was walking through Michaels, on my way to buy a new sketchbook for my design projects (I go through three or four a year), when I saw a rack of discounted planners. I was momentarily distracted by all of the pretty planners before I reminded myself that I have a planner system now that works like a charm for me right now.

The thing is, this is a lifelong struggle I’ve had.

Planner, My Precious

The Quest for the Perfect Planner.

My Lifelong Quest for the Perfect Planner, and What I found

I should write some sort of lengthy Lord of the Rings sized tome about the 40-year search I had for the perfect planner system.

I should write some sort of lengthy Lord of the Rings sized tome about the 40-year search I had for the perfect planner system. Click To Tweet

The first time I walked into a stationery store at the age of 8 or so, I was in love.  Pens. Notebooks. Then there was the most magical of all of the stationery products: the executive planner.

I was about 8 years old and had no idea why I needed the stupid thing, but somehow I did.

It didn’t stop once I got older either. I usually go for stickers in my planner too.

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A New Planner and the Promise of Organization & Productivity

In high school, being an uber-nerd, I would map my course to academic success using whatever planner I bought that year. I didn’t actually use it as much as I thought I would.

I think the thrill I got was more from the promise of being organized, productive, successful and all of the other things a planner seemed to represent in my mind.

There was something energizing about a new, blank planner to start the new year.

Ah, there is always something energizing about a new, blank planner to start the new year. Click To Tweet

Later on, I graduated up to a Filofax, because my favorite college professor had an ancient, highly-distressed and well used Filofax, and something about that appealed to me. She carried it around and called it her brains, which made me feel like I’d be as cool as my professor if I had a Filofax.

My Lifelong Quest for the Perfect Planner, and What I found

I parents did that weird, doe-in-the headlights blink-blink-blink thing at me when I told them I wanted a Filofax for Christmas, and then proceeded to try to make it look like I’d owned it longer than I’d been alive.

Alas, the Filofax didn’t keep up its end of the bargain and make me organized and productive either.

It didn’t stop me from buying fresh sheets every year for it or any other planner that came my way. I even started putting my graphic design skills to work by designing my own planner pages.

Planner in a Box

For a while there, I was more homebound as a stay at home mom, trying to get more domesticated than I was naturally predisposed to be. My mother used to call me Slobalina. Now I was trying to keep house full time.

During that time, after reading a book written by fellow undomesticated slobs, I started planning out my recurring to-do list with 3×5 cards in a box. To be honest, this one works pretty well. I still mostly use it to remind myself of household duties that need to be done in a recurring fashion or to assign chores to those adult kids still living at home.

The problem was, once I started working from home and freelancing, I needed a better project management system. Store-bought planners weren’t cutting it. The 3x5s weren’t cutting it either (though I tried).

The Bullet Journal Planner

This gave way, eventually, to Bullet Journaling. I saw something about it on Facebook.  I loved the fact that I could use my hand-lettering skills, buy a pretty Moleskine journal, and finally get more done.

When I used it for more than a full year, faithfully, I was pretty sure that I had finally solved my planner woes.

Then I started realizing how much time I wasted spent doodling up my bullet journal. The amount of time I spent doodling, drawing, illustrating and otherwise making perfect this journal of mine was starting to get ridiculous. I couldn’t seem to stop myself.

I tend to be a little bit on the easily distracted side (I think the clinical term is ADHD). The bullet journal just fed into that with the promise of making me the most productive me I could be.

Now, for the last several years, I’ve used a modified version of bullet journalling only digital, with the Evernote app, which brings the best of bullet journaling for me, while keeping me on task. It has the added benefit of helping me organize all of the other extra information and ideas. When I come across ideas in my everyday life that I don’t want to lose, I can store it.

The Paper Planner Can’t Do Everything

Here’s the thing of it.

A Paper Planner, though useful, still can’t do everything. I still use a paper planner for general planning, one day at a time, but for managing larger projects, nothing quite beats Evernote.

It’s all about the right tools for the right job, right?

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