2009 is just around the corner, so if you haven’t already, it’s time to start thinking about buying next year’s planner. I got mine a few weeks ago, but it certainly is not too late to choose a new one now. Planners are all about helping you organize your life, plan ahead, schedule events, and basically stay sane amidst chaos. But before springing for your next planner, there are a few things to consider to ensure you choose the style that is best for you.
1. Evaluate this past year’s planner
You want your planner to actually benefit you, not just sit on your desk collecting dust. So take a look at your trusty 2008 planner and ask yourself how useful it was. Did you use it for what you hoped to use it for? Was it ultimately beneficial in helping your organize your life? If so, then you might consider just sticking with the exact same style because you are used to it. That’s what I did, because I’ve found a planner that perfectly suits my needs. But if you didn’t find your 2008 planner particularly useful, then you might want to consider switching styles.
2. Choose a basic planner format
Whether you are switching styles because last year’s planner just didn’t cut it, or you are switching for a fresh change, the first decision you’ll need to make is what kind of format to go with. You could choose the basic wall calendar, a slightly more detailed monthly planner, a hefty weekly planner, or even a daily planner. What you decide on ultimately depends on your lifestyle, how busy you are, and how much you actually like to write things down.
If you have a daily planner, but you only end up writing in it every four or five days or so, then perhaps a weekly planner is better for you. In the same way, if you are trying to cram all your events and appointments onto a small wall calendar, then maybe you should switch to a more comprehensive monthly planner.
What do I use? I tend to write most things down, from my appointments to my meal plans. I would never fit everything onto a wall calendar (ya right!) or even a monthly calendar, so I went with a weekly planner, where each day has a space to write what I need to.
3. Pick a planner size
After choosing a planner format, you can next move on to choosing a planner size. Some people love to be able to throw their planners into their purse, while others would find that size far too small. Consider what size would work best for your lifestyle. Do you need to bring your planner with you wherever you go? Do you want your planner to be really obvious on your desk?
I use an 8.5X11 size weekly planner. It sits on my desk right underneath my computer monitor so I can basically glance at it almost constantly. I don’t need to bring my planner with me everywhere, so getting one to fit in my purse wasn’t necessary. However, I certainly still can throw it in my backpack or suitcase if need be.
4. Decide which features are important to you
Now that you’ve chosen a format and size, the last thing you need to consider as far as design goes is which special features you want to be included. Consider if note-taking areas, mini-calendars, time schedule breakdowns, or full month spreads are important to you. All planners are different in these ways, so be sure to page through your potentials before buying to see if they contain the features you desire.
5. Consider going digital
In this digital age, it’s important to consider the option of a digital planner, not just because going digital eliminates clutter. If you are comfortable with electronics, then it’s worth trying a digital planner because of its flexibility. You can keep a planner on your PDA and easily take it with you whenever you want, scheduling alarms and notices to remind you of appointments or events. Plus you could also keep other organizational materials in the same PDA, like your address book, phone book, grocery list, or gift list. Also consider having a planner on your computer or even online.
Stepping outside the planner box
If keeping a traditional planner is not your cup of tea, but you still want a way to be able to organize your schedule, to-do lists, events, and appointments, then consider an organization binder or something similar. For a great example, visit Simple Mom and read her excellent series of posts about Home Management Notebooks for some creative ideas.
Do you keep a planner? What style do you have?
After the new year, I’ll explore creative ways we can use our planners to their full potential, so stay tuned!
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