Daily planning is a key step to A Life Of Balance. But what kind of planner will help you with that step?
If you’ve ever looked for a planner to help you organize your life, you know that there are literally hundreds of them out there. How do you begin to narrow it down and choose the best one for you without using up lots of time that you don’t have? Each type is designed to fit a specific work or thought flow.
How many things or people you are keeping track of, the number of appointments you have in an average day/week/month, and how you manage your task list are all things that need to be considered when choosing the best option for you. You also need to revisit this process any time there are major changes in your life because the same planner won’t fit every stage or season of our life.
The first step is to decide what you need from your planner. Ask yourself these questions to help narrow down what features are important to you.
How much information do you want to keep in your planner?
Do you only manage your calendar or do you need to keep track of appointments for of multiple people – bosses, subordinates, family members? The more people you keep track of the more space you’ll need in the calendar section.
Do you manage your tasks daily, weekly, monthly, or a combination? When combined with the calendar questions, this might eliminate some of the options. How many items are on a typical task list for you? The longer the list the more space you need for it. Do you use time blocking to work your list? If yes, many of your task list items will be on the calendar portion of your planner making that portion more important. How often do you prioritize your list and in what way?
Do you use your planner to help you set and track your goals? If yes, you want to make sure that the style you choose has a section for your goals. Do you break your goals down and then add them to the appropriate task list?
Do you track exercise routines, water consumption, blood sugar levels? Is there room on your daily or weekly pages for this or do you prefer to have a separate section for this information?
Do you want to be able to plan your meals in your planner? Do you track what you eat? Again, make sure there is a place for doing this if it’s important to you.
Do you track your budget and spending? Do you keep investment information in your planner? Do you track your debt spending? Some planners have sections for tracking all of this information. Some also have an area on the daily pages for you to keep track of your spending.
If you own your own business, space for business records and planning will be very important.
Do you use your planner as a journal, or is that a separate item for you? If you want to have room to journal, you probably need a 2-page-per-day version, or at the very least a 1-page-per-day type.
Team or delegated work
Do you work with a team and need to know what everyone is doing at any given point? Are you a manager who needs to track the work that you’ve delegated to others?
Do you keep these in your phone, in your planner, or both? These used to be standard in all planners, but as smartphones have become more prevalent, many companies or either doing away with this section or offering them only as an add-on.
Where will you use your planner?
Some people do most of their work at a desk or single location and want something that can lay open and stay there. Others do most of their work on the go and need something that will travel easily. A third group of people needs a planner that works well both ways. The type of binding that you choose needs to match the way you want to use your planner.
Once you’ve thought about the answers to these questions, you should be able to decide what type or style of planner is best for you at this stage in your life.
There are four major calendar view styles: Month at a Glance, Week at a Glance, One-Page per Day, and Two-Page per Day. Planners also come in three major binding types: spiral bound, perfect bound or ring bound. Check out the links above for reviews of the main advantages and disadvantages of each.
Making a perfect choice isn’t easy but it is worth the effort to make you more productive in your everyday life. The purpose of a planner is to help you accomplish more, not give you more to do. You shouldn’t ever feel stuck with whatever choice you make. Throughout my life, I have used two-page-per-day, week-at-a-glance, and one-page-per-day depending on what was going on in my life at the time. I’ve also used both spiral and ring bound planners. Don’t be afraid to adjust if your current pick isn’t working right for you. Whatever option you decide fits your needs best, remember, there is really no perfect planner out there — none of them will work if you don’t work the system.
Check out this post if you need help using your planner: Setting Up Your Planner and A Peek Into My Planning Process.
Each year I review several planners and choose my recommendations for each type. This year’s list can be found here 2018 Planner Recommendations.
Here are reviews that I have done for specific planners:
What type of planner do you use and how is it working for you? Let me know in the comments below.