Friday, 20 December 2013

Perfect planner?

Having reviewed Plannersims Laurie’s “Going Places Planner” and feeling that, although it is a great design, it isn’t quite right for me, I wondered what would be the perfect design for me.

Things I liked the most about the Going Places Planner:
The yearly goals, quarterly goals and monthly goals double-page spreads, the annual review pages and the notes pages. I thought these were great (though perhaps slightly disjointed in their locations in the planner) and would be excellent for collecting plans and goals and for reviewing how things had gone.

What I would change:
I wouldn’t bother with the information pages – I have never used them and they just take up space. I also have struggled to use monthly pages – the ones where there is a box per day in the month. I can never work out with what ‘granularity’ of information goes there and would prefer to just use weekly pages and log everything.
But the biggest change I would make would be to have horizontal week on two pages as the set-up as I would prefer the shallower, wider space rather than the deep, narrow space. Although I use columns in my work A5 diary, for my personal planning (and, I really do keep work and personal as separate as possible!) I work best with horizontal week to view.

This led me to thinking about my current I-have-no-idea-what-my-plans-are fog (that has beset me for months now; see here and here). I’ve been too busy to think, basically. Any time that I’ve not been working or busy with chores/Rotary/family/you name it, I have been writing. I realised a while back that I hadn’t even looked at my goals or projects for weeks and weeks and I wasn’t sure whether the plans I had made at the start of the year were still current.

At some point, I will manage to sit down and have a long think about it all and some of me wondered about using the Going Places Planner from Laurie to plan the year, but it didn’t quite suit me. I then thought about getting a nice A5 book and drawing out my own planner, but to be honest, I don’t think that I would ever really carry a planner and a separate wallet and a separate address book around with me, especially when I am more than happy with an all-in-one combination in a filofax (or Mulberry). Also, there is no reason to carry all that planning around with me – the essential part is the weekly list, not the project notes, or annual and quarterly and monthly parts – and so I could use a filofax (or Mulberry) for my carry-around and another filofax for the planning, which I would look at during the weekly reviews/monthly reviews/quarterly reviews and annual review.

Those of you who read the blog regularly, know that I bought a navy Portland to use as my planning filofax – it’s a gorgeous filofax and I have been itching to use it but I still haven’t. It will look absolutely fabulous with cotton cream inserts and all my goals and next actions laid out. One day. When I’ve finished the first draft of book #5 and put my mind to planning my life properly!

But, I already know what sections I will put in it!

In the Portland there will be the following sections:
Projects (one page for each project; possibly colour-coded as to life-area); broken into ‘next action’ lists
Annual goals (and annual review, at the end of the year); arranged by life-area and then project
Quarterly goals (and quarterly reviews at the end of each quarter); arranged by life-area and then project
Monthly goals (and, yes, you guessed it, monthly reviews at the end of each month); arranged by life-area and then project

There would also be weekly lists of ‘next actions’ (again, arranged by life-area then project) – these would go on Post-It notes in my day-to-day filofax in the week to view section.

Why that order? In my head, the projects have to come first, because without thinking of them overall, I won’t be able to then think what I might achieve in the year. The projects are, in effect, “Everything I want to do in this life-area but might not manage to do in a year” – hence the annual goals. Also, I want the annual/quarterly/monthly goals to be in list-form, without all the detail that will be in the projects section, and with tick boxes next to them!

Once I have set it all up, I will share the details with you all!

What's everyone's perfect planner system? Please share in the comments.

ps – I gave the Going Places Planner to my sister and have asked her to do a guest post on how she uses it.


  1. You make brilliant points here! I tried to post yesterday on your review article of the going places planner, but my phone ate it and I couldn't face retyping! Essentially, in my personal preferences, you're spot on. Info pages are only useful to me if they're *my* info and in the places I want them, and all goals pages logically seem better together. I've never got on with column views either. That's not to bash Laurie, I think she's done a fantastic job, it just wouldn't suit me personally. So I've been thinking a lot about this whole issue too.

    I've been really inspired by your system of goals to projects to actions, and I'm hoping to implement a custom version of it from January when my new inserts start. I have a few details to work out, but my current idea is to use a personal filofax, and begin with the few pages of general reference I really need, such as key contact information. Then a list of key goals and commitments, broken down into some key areas and steps, followed by the first diary - a Day on 2 Page FC - as a 'Goals' planner, where I target the habits and steps that come from my goals, probably mostly filled out in advance and with notes added each day. Then would be my main calendar - FC tabbed months and another DO2P for the other stuff I actually need to get done (contacting people, paperwork, coursework etc. etc. and general ideas and notes on the day). Then the third section is a 'journal', a place I will sum up what I learn, think, do and how I feel I'm progressing (probably DPP).

    I have a few reservations on this however. I don't know if splitting everything this way will help me, and boy do three FC diaries (one month of each) make for a stuffed osterley! I'm desperately hunting a filofax with 30mm rings to help me before it explodes!

    My plan is to try it, and to allow myself to tweak it, but not obsess (great goal, how to meet it???). I suspect I may go to two diaries - planning and journal, but I can't try until January :(

    Sorry for this rambling screed - It's done me some good typing it, hopefully if you got too bored you stopped reading :D

  2. Hi there! Thanks for the great comments!
    I wonder if two lots of DO2P will be one too many - can you not combine the two different aspects into one set? Otherwise, would there not be a lot of flipping backwards and forwards through the binder? Just my two penn'orth/cents... Would you write your journal while you're out and about? I have a separate journal that I write up in the evening, rather than have one in my binder.
    If you want to chat off comments, feel free to email me! Good luck with the new system!
    Amanda x

  3. I have done well for years with FC monthly pages and two pages per day. I would love the use weekly but I have too much to keep track of.