Currently Using a Paper Planner

So you’ve got a paper planner, but it’s just not working for you. Your old planner is still valuable and it can help you find a better way to get organised. The following is a list of ideas that should get you from your old paper planner to your new D*I*Y Planner.

  • Take stock of what you have. Make a list of everything in your existing planner. One type of page, one line. Beside each type of page detail (briefly) how often you used it and what you used it for. If your list is very long, but your details are scant, your planner isn’t working as well for you as it should. Chances are your list of uses differs slightly from the page type (for example, do you have sections of your planner that are almost obscured by notes? Are there forms that are almost entirely blank?). Don’t judge it, just make the list.

  • Evaluate your list. For every page type in your existing planner that you actually used appropriately, put a check mark on the line. Those lines with check marks show the list of pages that you are using that work for you. Those without check marks are a list of what didn’t work. This is not what you are going to 'fix' or do 'better', instead it shows what you have been doing.

  • Let go of what doesn’t work for you. Your planner has to work for you. If your contacts are never kept up to date in your planner, but are always up to date on your cell phone – maybe you shouldn’t keep your contacts in your planner. Eliminating something that just doesn’t work is the first major step to having a planner that is a tool for you rather then a series of pages that should be used. A planner should not be a little personal bureaucrat that insists you make your life fit its form.

  • How does what works fit in your planner? Once you know what forms are likely to work for you, start thinking about how they should fit in your planner. Do you want to make sections for different forms? Perhaps sections for different places, parts or your life or project would make more sense. Think about how you are going to put your planner together before you start printing out forms. Look back at your list and your evaluation. Are the notes clustered around a date, or on a blank page? Do you organize things by the day or date on which they occur, by topic, or by something else? Add this information to your list.

  • Once you know what forms are likely to work for you, start thinking about how they should fit in your planner. Do you want to make sections for different forms? Perhaps sections for different places, parts or your life or project would make more sense. Think about how you are going to put your planner together before you start printing out forms.

  • Add in new things as slowly as you can. The D*I*Y Planner offers a lot of templates. I hope that no one needs them all. They offer a strong temptation, but having a place for a specific type of information doesn't mean you are going to actually use the template and track that data. Keep your planner simple and start with as few forms as possible. By only using the forms you really need you can keep your planner slim and actually use it.

(contributed by Melissa Carrell Hall)

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