I have tried a lot of planning methods. I mean, a lot. I always have this push, this need, to be more productive. I’m a competitive person who has learned that competing against other people is super unhealthy. So, I compete against my past self. I’m always convinced that a new planner, a new method, a new to do list will help me beat old me.
Some of these methods work great. You’ve heard of my love for Bullet Journals, The Pomodoro Method and the Erin Condron Planner. (None of these are affiliates. I just like them all.) Some were a big fat waste of my time. I don’t always lay blame on the systems. I suffer from adult ADD, depression and a general lack of follow through. Here’s the thing, though, I’m not alone. Lots of people suffer from these things, and we still want to get things done.
So here’s what makes a planning method work well, and what makes them fail.
They’re too vague
Say it with me, sisters and brothers, a vague goal is no goal at all. You can say that you want to be a writer. Say that this is the year you want to get published. Super! How you gonna do it? This is why New Year resolutions fail all the time. Lose weight, be more organized, save money. They’re all great things to strive for, but they’re nothing without actual, actionable steps.
They’re not fun
I’ll be totally honest, Bullet Journaling would never have worked for me if it weren’t for washi tape, stickers and Moleskines. I work really hard, and I need to have some fun in my life. Planning is one way to put a little fun into my day, as nerdy as that sounds. Basically, of you don’t want to do it, there’s a good chance you probably won’t.
They’re too much fun
The other side of the coin is that a planner isn’t a toy. A planning method isn’t a toy, and if I am having fun planning and forget to actually get shit done it’s a waste. Yes, I had a lot of fun on the hours I spent with my books and pens, but I could have just gotten it done, finished my to do list, and then played a video game.
They don’t fit your actual lifestyle
I got this really awesome planner at the start of 2015. At least, I thought it was. But the problems with the damn thing became apparent as soon as I took it out of the box. It was too small, a whole week on one page the size of a paperback. It was full of pages that I had no need for. Vacation planning? I intentionally didn’t plan a vacation last year, so there was a wasted page. A gardening calendar when I didn’t have a yard, budgeting on just one page for the whole year? It was not for me. I ditched it in June and got my EC planner. Love it!
They take too much time
Anything that takes a whole lot of time is going to become a chore. I need planning that can be done in a few minutes, at most an hour. It usually takes me about ten minutes to make my plans for the day, an hour on Sundays to plot the week, another hour on the first day of the month to plan for that.
Don’t be afraid to try different ways to plan your life. But remember that the whole point of a planning method is to help you get things done. If it doesn’t help you, it’s not right for you.