Planner Pergatory – What Do I Really NEED In My Planner

Well folks, I’m about to change the name of this blog to “the Zeitgeist of Neurosis”, because I am still all over the place with my planner choice for 2013.

The problem is not my planner…it is my life. It keeps changing.

I know, I know…life is change, adapt or die, blah, blah, blah. I get it.

I’m not complaining about the ebb and flow of my life; in fact I quite enjoy the spontaneous challenging nature of it. Every day is an adventure…I actually love that about my life; it’s never boring!

Trouble is, I need to write more and more stuff down these days because I simply can’t remember all of it anymore, and finding the ideal medium for managing the adventure is what is causing me fits.

I was sick this past weekend. Trapped in my house. Forty-eight hours of jammies and one helluva Nyquil buzz. And so, predictably, I dubbed around with planners. Like, I mean a LOT. As in, I was in and out of three different ones before my right hand became exhausted and gnarled from re-copying and I gave up.

Typically, I have used my paper planner (I use digital planning tools as well, though only as a backup and for the handy dandy audible reminders) as both a tool for planning the future and as a snapshot of the days/weeks/months.  An ongoing archive if you will.

So I write down a shit ton of stuff. I track minutia like the weather, my mood, how I felt physically, whether or not I flossed or remembered to take my multi vitamin.

I write down stuff after it happens even. If I spend the day out and about with a friend, it’s not enough that I allocate the chunk of time I’m going to need, I have to go back that night and detail everything we did. Lunch at 1pm here, shopping from 3-5 here, here and here, movies from 7-9, this movie, that theater.

Smacks of the crazies now that I see it in undeniable type in front of my eyes.

Thing is, do I NEED all this information in what is supposed to be my planner?  In fact, do I need to know that stuff AT ALL? One could argue that no, I don’t. One could argue that whatever says I do need it is actually my OCD talking.

Do I need that stuff in my planner or am I drifting into the realm of the unhealthy and trying (in vain I might add) to exert control over my day/life by writing every last detail about every little thing down?

That’s what I thought.

So what, exactly, must I have in my planner in order to accomplish it’s one true job…PLANNING?

Two things really…where I need to be and what I need to do. Period.

Where I need to be:

1. I need dates & times for appointments/meetings. Both personal & professional.

2. My work schedule is the same every day, but I like jotting my boyfriend’s schedule down because that does change every week.

What I need to do:

1. I need to know when my bills are due.

2. I need other important dates such as birthdays or anniversaries (and ideally I need these ON the day or I won’t remember them) so I can send cards, buy presents, attend parties, etc.

3. I need to know about the day’s tasks.

The majority of my day, both for work and personally, is task-related. I have already taken my work tasks out of the picture and relegated them to their own (messy) Steno pad at work, that stays at work and gets archived at work.

So it is now only my personal tasks that I have to figure out what to do with. And I think I might be doing a bit of overkill in that regard.

In reviewing my daily schedule for today, for example, I see that I have “Shaw’s” (my local grocery store) scheduled at 5:00 pm in my appointments and also “grocery shopping” listed in my task section.  Wasteful. I don’t need it both places…I know very well I have to get this done today or eat crackers for supper tonight. Again.

And that is not a chore I need any sort of record of, so it seems better suited left as a task.

Other than noting what days I pay a given bill, or meet a deadline (which are few and manageable), who really cares whether or not I have an archive of when I took out the recycling, emptied the litter box or cleaned the house?!

Couldn’t those things be kept, not on a daily planner page that is pricey and may or may not be enough (or too little) space for any given day, thus causing me to purchase several incarnations of them each year in the hopes one will work, but rather on a disposable sheet of note paper?  As long as I have the satisfaction of checking stuff off when I complete it (because you know me…I love to check shit off!), I seriously don’t need to keep my task lists for posterity.

This leaves me with NEEDING only monthly tabs that have nice sized blocks to write appointments in (lined please) and some note sheets…or even better…To Do sheets to make up my planner.

Sounds easy enough.

Where I get stuck is that I also like to be able to jot down cool quotes I come across, or work on projects throughout my day.

I will typically have a few personal projects going at any given time; writing stuff, fitness goals, the upcoming move in March, etc. so my tendency is to want a large book that can accommodate these items as subject tabs.

But those things have nothing to do with planning.

I think what has been causing me to chase my tail  lately has been trying to do, essentially, three things in one book; plan, record personal details and manage projects.

Hence the fail.

I have a journal…I don’t need journaly stuff in my planner; personal stuff is best kept to a personal book. In 5 years I won’t care to look back and discover that I took my vitamin & flossed like a good girl on the same day that there was a Board Meeting! So that’s solved. Personal details  will henceforth go in the journal.

Now, what if I separate out my subject tabs into their own book.

Say, oh I dunno…a nice disc bound notebook, with which I find myself well stocked these days?

The paper is stellar, the sheets nice and large, I can still carry it with me and dig into projects on my lunch break or whatever; but it’s not something I would need with me 24/7 like, you know…a planner.

That way I can get away with what I crave – a small, portable system that would fit in any handbag I elected to use, and go with me always and everywhere without being cumbersome.

Yeah? Huh? Ya feelin’ it?

I think I am.

Whaddya think? Just monthly tabs and To Do sheets that get tossed when they are filled up. Planning only. Sleek & portable.

Can she do it? SHOULD she do it?

Chime in below…

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Erin Dale
    Jan 14, 2013 @ 19:09:03

    JUST DO IT ! ‘Nuff said 🙂

  2. J
    Jan 14, 2013 @ 19:28:34

    Eeek! My packrat/borderline hoarder self is cringing at the concept of throwing away planner pages!

    However, I think the answer really comes back to one question: Do you currently ever go back and look at your old planner pages? Or, are they archived and ignored?

    For me, I write down everything and keep everything not only in case I need the information someday, but because I LOVE going back and looking at my past, even if it means laughing at why I thought I needed to write down which day I washed the sheets.

    I am also terrible at keeping journals. I had one really good streak in high school, but apart from that I have about a thousand half used journals. But if you are good at remembering to journal- that won’t be an issue!

    For me, having everything all in one place is the solution. But it seems like you are on the right track towards your own personal perfection!

  3. Ling
    Jan 14, 2013 @ 20:14:06

    Yes! I think you’re getting somewhere. I’m thinking almost the same thing (great minds and all that..). The paper size and quality of the ARC/Automa is great, the discs are not in my way when I write, the whole notebook is not even as heavy as a stuffed ff personal and with the 3/4 discs it’s nice and slim. As a bonus: you can fold A5 and just stick them in the pocket dividers, which I find useful.
    Yesterday I sent Levenger an e-mail to ask what it would cost to ship the monthly pages + 1.5 inch Clincher discs and 1 inch aluminium discs to the Netherlands. I hope it costs less than the 53 dollar they automatically calculated. *rolleyes*
    I’d like to use the montly pages if I can get them (otherwise I’ll use the Plannerisms monthly pages, but I’d prefer tabbed pages) purely for appointments, birthday and anniversary reminders.
    Next to that I will use the Flourishing Planner pages I came across a few days ago via Plannerisms. It’s the monthly, weekly and daily action planner for january which you can find here: They come with a manual and a Productivity Jumpstarter, which I really needed to read before figuring out how to use it. But now I do, I think it’s great and this might be ‘it’. It gives me a task oriented way to plan my weeks and days and to motivate me to be productive. And I can toss the weekly and daily pages after my weekly review, so it won’t bulk up my discs.
    And then I’d need some sections for journaling, lists, my hotlist for groceries,, all things I’d archive weekly in my extra ARC.
    I’ll use a pocket filofax with weekly pages for taking notes and jotting down appointments on the go and as a wallet. We’ll see how that goes.
    Anyhow, I think this might work out for you!

  4. kivahcanyon (@kivahcanyon)
    Jan 14, 2013 @ 23:35:37

    Add a capture tab & you’re good to go.

  5. Susan Stanway
    Jan 15, 2013 @ 01:30:41

    Ahh! Zoe, I am going through the same thing. I’ve gone through about 3 different ff calendars (I know, its January!) and today I just bought a Dodo Pad! Fingers crossed and good thoughts sent for all who are suffering. We will find what we are looking for, I’m sure 🙂 Glad you are feeling better!

  6. SNARLing
    Jan 15, 2013 @ 01:42:12

    i’m with you there on all this fickality but the thing i’m realizing is that i don’t really want to work that hard to make something work. the pocket luxe worked the best for me, so i’m back to that. monthlies for stuff i need to see at a glance, weeklies (ccwo2p) for weekly and daily todos and appts, and then dailies for all that other stuff that you mentioned above. i had made a 2ppd even to log everything and more but i don’t always have the time to fill them out. i’ve also been journalling in the midori travelers notebook. writing stupid stuff (mood, what i ate for dinner, best thing about the day etc) but i wrote them all because i like to. i decided to give myself a break when it came to that sort of stuff and if i can log them then cool, but if i can’t then oh well. the only thing i really cared about is the animal spirit as i think that one is the most important. so. i took out the 2ppd pages that i made and just have a bunch of rhodia paper in there where i can log daily stuff when i have time and not waste any paper. oh – also, i use the iphone for a lot of things as well. i use pocket informant for weekly recurring tasks (as well as bills due) but yeah, also write those in my planner as i seem to forget when i’m supposed to give my money to those bill folk. but i also have stuff like trash, put the water jugs out, vacuum and that sort of thing. oh and yeah, i put them in home routines as well. but i don’t always look at that app. i was good for awhile and would do my daily and weekly checklist (don’t really do the zones right now since i live in my parents freaking basement) but that one has a nice satisfying star checklist. the other app i use is occassions – for birthdays and stuff (i don’t write those donw in my planner at all) the good/bad thing about that one is it’s connected to facebook so you can get your friends’ birthdays through it – one of the reasons why i’m reluctant to completely get out of facebook – mostly when i’m on it, it’s to say happy birthday to someone. i also have iperiod on there where i used to log my mood – although they don’t have the moods i’d like to use and i don’t really see a way to customize your own, ut that was a way to log that stuff too. i agree flossing and vitamin taking and that stuff is better suited for a journal and the arc is a good choice. i actually got a martha stewart textured one over the weekend that i like quite a bit and have been writing in there. yeah, i decided why limit myself, i should write wherever i damn well please, midori, filofax, arc whatever i want (flossing’s important. plus it might trigger other memories that might have been important that day) and whenever i feel like it (yes. it’s ok if i don’t have the time sometimes.) i think the thing to keep in mind like you said, what do you really need to see everyday. that’s the priority. that’s the stuff you should make sure you do regularly in whatever book you like at the moment (i’m really diggin that pocket luxe. the compact regency couldn’t even take me away from that thing) anyway, for my own journalling, i think i’ve decided on the martha stewart discbound (junior) and i’d like to tab it and make it into a “me” binder. self improvement but no stress. stress on fun only. i want my book to be fun. i find that i’m tired and although i love that whole filofax notebook stationary thing i think this year is the year to stop buying and start implementing and having fun wth my stuff. i have all the resources i need so now i just want to play and have fun with me and my shit. anyway, homework + a TMNT hologram puzzle before bedtime await!

    ps-as per usual – miss you!

  7. Josh LaPorte
    Jan 15, 2013 @ 14:54:07

    Well, this sounds familiar as this was exactly where I was at about 6 months back. I stepped into week on two pages, put a blank page between each weekly spread, and worked off that for months. It worked pretty well, too. But I did find that I missed having a “place” to put all random notes. I would put them in a general notes/in section to sort through later, but found that sometimes I could not interpret the notes without the daily contextual matter… I think what I really came to miss though was the very spare journalling I tend to do on my right hand page. Just quick notes to flesh out what happened that day, things I think I’ll want to remember, things that seem important. It makes it much easier to recall a specific day later on in case of need. I don’t need to flip back that often but when I do need to track down the date that I did something I want to be able to do so. So I don’t know what to recommend. Try the slimmed down approach. See how it works.

  8. thezeitgeistofzoe
    Jan 15, 2013 @ 17:47:40

    thanks guys : ) i did manage to throw together a small/slim planner using a levenger compact with a plastic cover and 3/4″ discs, some spare FC HPOV monthlies and the levenger note paper that came with the compact notebook…so a post is forthcoming on that. using it today and so far it’s pretty damn cool!

    oh, and @kivahcanyon, there’s definitely a capture tab…there’s always a capture tab ; )

    Jan 15, 2013 @ 20:16:06

    I can relate to what you said about life changing every day! My life is so unpredictable right now that it’s hard to know how to plan. I keep thinking a different planner page will help but it doesn’t. At any rate, I used to keep track of a lot more things than I do now. They were things I needed!

    For example, we’re self employed so we purchased our own health insurance. Any time we had a health issue, we had to have a record of all our appointments and illnesses. So I kept track in my planner. Then when I needed it, I had a complete list rather than having to dig through a file. But I don’t need to do that anymore.

    But I’m keeping track of new things that I didn’t need to in the past. My financial section has expanded. But some of those other details aren’t needed anymore.

    Planners definitely evolve and change and that’s the way it should be. Our needs change and so does what we keep track of. It’s nice if your binder and planning system will work with those changes so you don’t have to overhaul everything but sometimes it’s necessary.

    Good luck. I hope the new system works for you.

  10. Sandra H (@skhen)
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 00:59:55

    Love how you discerned the problem and have developed a solution worth trying. Hoping it gets you out of Planner Hell. I’m still here but close to escaping it.

    @Ling–I’ll send stuff to the Netherlands. $53 USD is ridiculous,

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