What you put in your planner is not going to give you a successful planner. What specific planner you choose to utilize is not the secret to a successful planner.
To be completely honest, your planner itself cannot do anything to make you a successful planner.
Planners DO make your life more organized. It helps you get your shit together in absolutely incredible ways that you couldn’t believe possible. But the moment you believe that your PLANNER is primarily what is going to bring you success and organization, you are dooming yourself to fail.
I bet you weren’t expecting to hear that, were you?
But it’s not uncommon to think that it’s the ‘stuff’ that makes you be successful. We live in a society that totes the idea that ‘stuff’ can make you happier and more productive.
It’s totally not your fault that you are struggling.
I want to tell you a little secret about myself.
It wasn’t long ago that I absolutely could not maintain a planner in any way, shape, or form. So I completely relate to your struggle.
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My Struggle Keeping a Successful Planner
I used to be a very disorganized perfectionist.
There was nothing more I wanted than to keep a planner and be the most freaking organized, most put together person in the world.
I envied those who could keep a planner. Literally greener than grass envious. I longed to complete my projects and thought that if I could manage a planner, I could do exactly what ‘those organized people’ could do.
Every now and then, the desire would become strong enough that I would get up off my butt and march straight to a store. I’d purchase a planner or a journal, beautiful pens, stickers, and any other accessory that would help make this dream come true. Then I’d bring everything home, sit down, and get everything set up.
At best, my ability to keep a planner lasted a month. Typically, it was probably just a week or two. No matter the desire, I couldn’t pull it off.
So, I’d eventually label myself a failure, give up, and continue to live my horrifically disorganized life.
So, ultimately, IT’S NOT JUST YOU!!!
You are absolutely not alone.
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if you had at least a few just started planners, journals, and notebooks discarded somewhere in your home. Is there a drawer full of stickers, pens, and washi tape that you have no idea what to do with?
I also wouldn’t be surprised if you find it tough to walk out of a bookstore or hobby shop without purchasing aforementioned items every time you get the desire to try and get your shit together.
So What Is The Problem?
You’ve tried countless systems, you’ve had multiple starts, yet you still languish in your disorganization. Nothing seems to work.
The problem is your mindset.
If you don’t know what every successful planner deals with, you are going to have many false expectations. If you don’t know that every successful planner from time to time judges themselves over something stupid or frustrating, you’re going to think that you’re the only one who fails.
What you see on the Internet is the best of the best.
Those Instagram pictures? Well, that person is using filters to cover up that ugly shade of brown that didn’t turn out so well.
Those “21 hottest planner layout” Pinterest articles? Well, they certainly aren’t featuring that enormous pen smudged page for a reason!
So what things can change your mindset so you can start maintaining a successful planner? You can have a successful planner by employing these techniques I put together to have a more accurate mindset toward successful planning.
Tip #1- Remember That You CAN do it.
Simple as that. You obviously have the desire and the capability. I mean, why would you be reading this article if you honestly didn’t care?
Our brains are hardwired to feed us thoughts all day long. Some good, some not. The key is not to let our thoughts define what we want and need to do.
This method of allowing our thoughts to control our behavior is calling ‘fusing’, and I highly recommend a book called The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris if you feel like you tend to take heed all the negative thoughts that come across your mind.
Tip #2- You WILL make mistakes.
Stop right there. Remember, we are imperfect. Therefore what we create can also be imperfect.
Remember what I said in the first step? About fusing with our thoughts? Well, when we do something wrong, that nasty judgmental internal voice is going to come out big time.
What thoughts do you have when you make a mistake? That you are a loser? You can’t do it? You can’t bear to continue knowing that you have this huge, glaring error in your perfect, pristine journal.
You fight the urge to throw it away (and you might!). If not, you throw it in a drawer, only to rediscover it a few years later and wonder why you didn’t continue. And more internal negative judgments appear in your brain, I bet.
Knowing that you will make mistakes, treat them with love and humor.
(I mean, seriously, who DOES that?!?!)
(Oh right, me!)
See what I did? I chose to find the humor, and now over six months later the humor continues. I’ll never forget it, sure. I’ll also make sure to be more mindful of what I’m writing.
If you can’t find the humor in your error, there are also other ways to remove them that don’t involve throwing your planner in the trash. My favorite tool to cover mistakes is my lovely BIC white out stick. Not to mention stickers and washi tape, too; they are fabulous for covering up any planner ugliness.
Also, helpful tip! Find other planner groups on social media. Whether it be general groups or groups dedicated to specific planner programs, you will find that many other people make mistakes. They will post about it and the humor they found in it.
It’s very relieving to know that other people screw up their planners, too.
Tip #3- You WILL forget to post for a few days (or weeks, or months…)
Guess what? We are all part of this lovely thing called life.
Life brings some fabulous experiences, such as vacations, new houses, new jobs, spending time with friends.
It also brings some not so fabulous experiences, death of a loved one, sudden illness, job loss.
Inevitably, these things will distract you. And that’s perfectly OK! It’s important to pay attention to life more than your planner at times.
When you come across a glaring, gaping hole of nothingness in your planner, you get the urge to throw it away (yet again!) because you forgot to continue.
Well, friend, I have good news! There is no planner system in our living world that says you cannot continue it because life happened. You are ALLOWED to pick up where you started off.
Tip #4- It may take you a while to find a system that works best for you.
Imagine you develop an illness. You go see your doctor, and the doctor prescribes a medication. You go home and take it, and you break out in hives.
So you go back to see your doctor. What do they do? PRESCRIBE SOMETHING ELSE!
And if that doesn’t work, your doctor tries other methods until something works.
Think of your planner in the same light. There are dozens of systems that each provide different aspects to help organize your life. It may take a little bit of time to determine which system works best for you.
You may also find you need different types of planners for different life needs.
Tip #5- Get out of your head and move forward!
Please, just keep using your planner when you can, as you can.
I think Dory from “Finding Nemo” had it best. “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”
Nike’s got it right, too! “JUST DO IT!”
If you do nothing, you won’t get anywhere.
If you judge yourself for normal occurrences that every planner everywhere makes, you also aren’t going to get anywhere.
When you feel discouraged and not good enough, you don’t have to follow the thoughts that tell you to quit. Just acknowledge them as they are and continue on.
So What Now?
If you don’t have a planner and have no idea where to start beyond this advice, I’d recommend everything a newbie planner needs to know to get started!
And if you have a planner, my challenge for you to is to break it open and do something with it today. Anything! Even if you just spend five minutes writing down something you’d like to accomplish today or this week, that is wonderful. It’s a start! Make a plan, and do your best to stick to it. No judgments if you don’t. Awesome if you do!
Tomorrow, try the same.
And the next day.
And the next.