Planners: What Planner System Do You Love?
I've written on planners a few times, and honestly, I've been through many planner systems. A lot of them have gone over my desk over the past year to find the right one for me, and here I'll talk about a few of them and the one that I found that finally worked.
I've gone through so many planners in the past year. I may be ashamed of how much money I've spent on them. From Erin Condren, Happy Planners, Clever Fox, Panda, you name it, I've probably tried it. These were great, except that they missed one thing—flexibility and space to plan out my day.
They all had goals, aspirations, time slots, what did I do great today, how can I improve, and other nifty features about them that helped me, but none of them had any direction or space for me to write out just what I needed to do that day and more kept me trapped in the planner to what they thought I needed to do. Then some thought I only needed a certain amount of space to plan out my day.
I'm a list maker more than an hourly planner. And while I do things sometimes by the hour and on the hour based on what needs to get done, that doesn't mean I need an hourly schedule to do that, as often I don't stick to that schedule because I need to be flexible. Sometimes I have clients; sometimes, I don't. Sometimes I need to write; sometimes, I don't. I do budget out my time and make sure I'm not making busy lists instead of being productive, so I don't feel like I have wasted my time.
So how do I stay productive with a planner? What planner system did I choose? What systems are out there that might be right for you? It depends on what your needs are. If you're one that likes to decorate with stickers, do art, and other things, then bullet journals might be for you. Some planners also allow space, and in fact, encourage the use of stickers in their pages. Planners such as Erin Condren and Happy Planners make their own stickers to do this purposely.
If you're into the sticker game, there are tons of ways to get these. Amazon, Etsy, you name it, there are probably stickers out there. Functional ones, cute ones, seasonal, pets, it's probably out there if you're looking for it. You can print out your own stickers if you're like me and pickier and have the tools to do it, though I don't recommend this for the faint of heart unless you know what you're doing. It's fairly easy, though, once you pick it up and have the right machine.
Now, let's get down to planners and planner systems.
There are the Erin Condren and Happy Planner systems that I tried - these are pretty much planners with calendars that allow you to map out your daily routines, either hourly, weekly, or monthly. While I found that these were useful for a few tasks, the space wasn't big enough for me and didn't help me list enough tasks that I needed to get done during the day. That and I wouldn't say I liked that the Erin Condren system was coiled or that the Happy Planner system was on discs, to my problematic hands, a pain to get paper in and out of the discs switch out pages.
Then there were the softbound planners like Clever Fox - in fact, this was my very first planner. I was used to having an hourly schedule with my business until it was shut down earlier this year because of COVID-19 and unfortunately never really recovered. While the business is still running at some capacity, my schedule isn't nearly as busy as it used to be and doesn't require the hourly schedule anymore. I found this to be frustrating and useless because it no longer fit my needs.
While the Clever Fox planners had nifty things like goal setting, how to improve on the day, and other questions that it would ask you, I found that I didn't fill these out very often as I was focused more on the day's tasks and getting things done than those things. I didn't need extensive help in figuring out how to improve my day; I just needed to plan out my day effectively.
Then I found the HB90 method a few months ago. This is a planner by a writer, for writers. At first, I used it for personal tasks and found it extremely useful, mostly because I wasn't sure how to use it for my writing business and write my book. Then the more I studied it, the more I became familiar with it, the more productive I became with it, and fell in love with it. This is the first planner that I stuck with for more than a few weeks, and the first one that I found was most effective in keeping me on task, on time, and productive each day.
The HB90 method focuses on a 90-day goal-setting budget of your time in which you set a schedule of that 90 days, set your schedule of what you plan on doing during the week each week, realistically plan out the quarter as much as possible, and define your goals. While I said above that I wasn't all into that goal planning mumbo-jumbo, I found that doing it quarterly was great; doing it daily was not. This helped me focus on what was important, and that was getting stuff done that needed to get done, not so much the things I wanted to get done.
There is a course that Sarra Cannon, the creator of the HB90 method, takes you through, and I encourage you to look at it if you're into the method of planning. This method is brilliant if you're a writer of any sort. I have a friend that is also using it, and she's a writer, and though she doesn't write books, she writes nonetheless and finds that it works for her. It keeps me, personally, focused on writing and my personal and work life as well.
Come Dec 13th, I'll be starting Sarra's boot camp course, and I'll do a review as this course takes you through the HB90 method, and she promises that it will make you more effective in how to use it. I'm looking forward to the course and will let you know how it goes!