motivation for planner

I've been having a few of my clients use a planner to better organize thier time and life. However even if they start to use it, it seems that "sticking with it" for long periods of time has become a problem.

Therefore my question is:

What motivation did you guys use inorder to stick with your planner and make using it every day a habit?

I've tried saying the following:
1: If 20% of the time needed to do a task was spent planning then you would save on average 80% of the time.
2: If you were going to die tomorrow night would you not at least plan your day the night before?

Obviously I am not a salesman.


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Reading about backsliding


I haven't really figured it out yet myself--I flirt with planner systems every year and at some point during the year it falls apart somehow.

But I'm reading a lot of Julie Morgenstern lately (Time Management from the Inside Out and Organizing from the Inside Out as well as Never Check Your Email in the Morning). She talks about how to get over the hump when you feel like letting go of the organizing strategies you've implemented (and liked). I recommend her stuff, because she tries to go after the reasons WHY things work or don't work, and what it would take for you to LIKE a system and therefore WANT to maintain it.

On the organizing side of things, I bought some plain pastel-colored photo boxes to use as organizers for stuff kept in the bathroom closet (bottles, gadgets, gizmos, etc.). I *love* those stupid little photo boxes that were $1.50 each. It makes me happy every time I look in the closet. I've got them labeled neatly and they're sitting accessible on the shelves. The labels are even funny--one box is labeled "Teeth" and another is "Ears"..I think that would be startling if that's really what you found when you opened the boxes, but it describes exactly what kind of stuff goes in there. I love that little bit of nothing, so I know it's going to last.

So now I'm working on making my planner into something I love. I've designed pages that I think will work well for me--that track what I need to track. I'm making my own tabbed dividers and using colored papers for a purpose. I bought a binder that will probably suit my needs better than the one I had before, and it was inexpensive to boot. I might even buy some fancy papers for my most frequently used forms if I'm feeling spendthrift.

I figure if I love looking at it and it suits my needs exactly, it will have a better chance of being the be-all-and-end-all it's supposed to be. I've tried several different varieties of canned forms and they all irritated me just slightly with wasted sections. Why would I want to look at something that irritates me, is ugly, etc.?

But really, each person is going to give up using a system for a different reason. Another irritant for me was rescheduling to-dos. I have to reschedule items constantly and rewriting is an obnoxious waste of effort IMHO. So I'm trying to work out a way where I don't have to rewrite to reschedule.

So, find out why the individual gave it up and see if there's a way to fix it. Is it too heavy? Try a smaller size or a hipster. Is it ugly? Find a way to pretty it up. Are the pages not suited to your life (wrong time range on the schedule, an expense section when you don't need one, etc.)? Then design your own with the widget kit or Word or Excel or something. Anyway, the list of possible reasons is huge, but each one probably has a solution.

In the end, though, it's a matter of self-discipline. If the user has "I shouldn't have to" or "I don't need to" or "I don't like it" on his mind then there's not a lot a salesperson can do to change that view. You gotta know when to Let It Go--the sales pitch, anyway.


Planning motivation

Instead of "20% of the time needed to do a task was spent planning then you would save on average 80% of the time" etc how about going right back to the fundamentals, for example:

- Planning enables you to identify what tasks are important and to find the time to do those tasks properly.

- If you plan then you can delegate when you want to and you can have that trip to Tahiti you've been dreaming about without worrying that there's something you've forgotten to finish at work. (And having a big "I need to find time for this" goal is a good way to get into a habit.)

- Planning turns daydreams into achievable realities

- Planning helps you ignore the irrelevant tasks that are stealing your life.

Change things as necessary

Perhaps loss of motivation means that the person needs to evolve the planning system or the tools. My systems have evolved over the years to meet my needs and as experimental ideas get tried. As I get more ideas from these forums, I will probably try some of them or combine them with what I have done in the past.

If your system is more overhead than it's worth, then you may just not want to use it.

Trust, but modify (your behaviour)

David Allen says that you need to make the planner your trusted system. I interpret that as meaning you abandon all those other ways you remind yourself to do things and plan, so this becomes your one system, thus you depend upon it, and you use it as second nature, as you use your bed to sleep on.

However, I see the problem as getting there - getting into the trust relationship - where my problem is like yours. I've found two things useful - one is a sort of self behviour-modification - where I 'reward' myself for using the planner (no, not food). Usually, this involves allow myself to indulge in making new page designs or something, which I find intrinsically self-rewarding, so that I look forward to the planner/review sessions. Quickly, reward was not necessary, because the planner is rewarding in that it gets your life in order and reduces uncertainty.

The other tactic is to make using it routine, I set up a Friday time for review and a spot each morning for using it (obviously, don't prevent yourself from using it at other times).

I must say, these two solutions have only been partly successful so far, I do fall off the system. I look forward to other people's experiences.

Been there, done that.

I tried keeping a planner for years before I actually managed it. It started when I was in school, and the planner my school required students to use just didn't work for me. Once that was behind me, I tried a few things and settled on something I just "clicked" with, and feeling good because I got things out of the way more quickly.

Franklin Got Me Started

I purchased my first Franklin Quest planner back in 1993. I read one of Hyrum Smith's books on how to use the Franklin planner, and it literally changed my life. I've been using planners of one type or another ever since. For me it all boils down to calendars, lists, and a trusted filing / retrieval system. I enjoy tinkering with them all.

Take this with a grain of salt

I'll start off by saying that I have also been an on-again-off-again planner person. Ranging from paper to computer to PDA I've tried a number of them

My observations about why some people may fall off the wagon are based purely on my own observations of myself.

First, I think that many people who quite a planner system do so because they don't really need one. For a long time I liked to think that my life was much more complicated then it was. My planner was going to help me organize my hectic and busy life. Turns out, looking back, that my life wasn't all that hectic or busy. As a mechanical engineer my days are very structured. Other then the occasional meeting or question my days are almost all the same. Get to work, turn on computer, design machine, turn off computer, go home. Trying to force myself to schedule and track stuff became a chore that took more time then what I was scheduling. I think everyone just needs to take a step back and figure out what they really need to do. I, like many here, like the GTD system but it's not applicable to everything I do. Forcing yourself to use a system, or technology, because it seems neat is good way to make yourself fail.

My current planner is a mear shadow of what many of you use, but it works for me. My first planner had two pages per day forms because I thought I needed that. Currently I use two pages per month and I have never run out of room.

The other reason why many people give up on a planner, myself included, is because they think the system will do something that it won't. My case is pretty classic. I hate paying bills. I know they are due, I just don't like to do it. A planner will not solve that. A planner won't get your bills payed on time, or help you make more money, or make you a better person/worker/husband/etc... Using a planner to solve a problem like this won't work. In fact for me it made it worse because I had a daily reminder that I had to do something I hated doing.

Today I pay bills online and allow my creditors to direct debit from my account. Now my planner doesn't have anything about paying bills in it and I love it.

My advice to anyone just starting out is start small and work your way up if you need to. In my case I started with everything and went the other way. Imagine how much time, effort, and money I would have saved if I had started small.