Is Your Planner Pretty or Producing?

As a self-proclaimed planner junkie, I’ve experimented with my share of planners over the years.

I’ve tried paper planners, index cards, sticky notes, whiteboards, apps, and a half-dozen digital project/task management programs.

There is no end to the different types of planning solutions available.

And while technology is convenient and portable, I still love the simplicity of pen and paper. There’s something about the feel of paper that you can’t get in a digital planner.

As you shop around, you’ll see all sorts of planning options—yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily planning. Each planner will have a combination of a few of these formats. Some will also have extra pages to make space for visioning, expense tracking, project planning, habit tracking, gratitude, journaling, and more. Some planners have dates, and others are undated for even more flexibility. The possibilities are endless.

There are lots of sizes and designs, too, and it seems like every day a new one is popping up. Some planners are large with plenty of space to write, and others are smaller, designed to be portable and travel with you during your day. Some planners are thick with premium paper in big ring binders with gold corners, and others are slimmer—more minimalistic. Some designs have flowers and funky prints and feminine colors, where others are more modern, with less visual stimulation.

So, how do you find the perfect planner?

Well… it depends. The “perfect planner” is a bit of a unicorn. It doesn’t exist, because what’s perfect for one person doesn’t always work for another, which is why so many creatives end up designing their own planners.

Finding the right planner depends on what you want to track and how you want to do it. You also need to consider what structure and visual style you like and what feels right to you.

For example, lots of colors and stickers clutter up pages and distract me. That’s not what I’m looking for, because visual clutter makes my mind feel cluttered. If a planner has too many design elements or features, chances are that I won’t use any of them. I like minimalistic pages with structure that also allow for flexibility. The Passion Planner was too minimal, but the Inkwell Press Planner valued pretty over performance for me.

My bullet journal is my best friend.

You will find that you prefer a certain style and layout, too, but it may take a bit of experimenting to find the right one. Luckily, you no longer have to spend so much time and money researching different planners… you can create your own! (Yes, even if you aren’t a designer.)

I made my own planner pages for years, and sometimes I still do, but now I use a modified version of the Bullet Journal. With a Bullet Journal I can write out what I want on a page, and I can change my mind as many times as I want. This lets me have the flexibility I need and still have everything mapped out on paper.

My Bullet Journal isn’t pretty, but it works. I don’t use fancy pens or make color-coded spreads. My planner system is all about being simple, functional, and easy to use. Some people like to decorate their Bullet Journals with washi tape, stickers, colored pens, and calligraphy. To me, that defeats the purpose of a Bullet Journal completely, but that might work for you and motivate you to get more done.

There’s nothing wrong with having a pretty planner if it’s actually helping to make you more productive. But if you find you’re spending more time making it pretty than getting things done, then what’s the point? Re-evaluate why you’re using a planner to begin with, and be sure you’re spending your time and money wisely.

What’s your planner of choice?