5 Simple Ways to Maintain a Paper Planner

If you’ve already started your paper planner research you’re going to find some super intense camps. Folks arguing Erin Condren vs. Passion vs. BuJo… it can actually get quite intense and be pretty intimidating. And don’t even get me started on Pinterest boards. People turn their planners into literal pieces of ARTWORK, and it can very overwhelming.

If you have all those artistic bones in your body and decorating your planner every week is a form of meditation for you, than by all means go for it. But if you’re just an average Jane like me looking to make sense from the chaos of your life… I am here to help. Here are five simple steps to getting a paper planner, actually using it, and maintaining it!

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1. What do you need a planner for anyway?

First step should be to really think about why you need a planner. Are you looking to manage your side hustle better? Do you have kids and need to see their days side by side? Do you own your own business? These things matter when picking out a planner.

If you’re looking to methodically knock out new goals, Passion Planner is probably your bet. If you’re a teacher, one of Erin Condren’s lesson planners is probably for you. Before you do any research think about your own needs. Maybe even think of the sections that would make your life easier.

For me, I prefer having a daily task list, rather than specific times carved out throughout the day. But you may be different. And if you’re feeling really frisky, try a Bullet Journal (or BuJo) which I started doing this year for the first time. Using a BuJo essentially means you are using dotted graph paper to create your own templates from scratch. Every week I draw my schedule. So far, I’ve been enjoying it. If a format doesn’t work for me, I just change it the following week!

I used Passion Planner for many years but finally felt strong enough to go it on my own with BuJo, and create the sections that work for me. After all, there is no wrong way to plan, other than not planning at all. (Oh wow, something actually quotable coming from the blog, yay!)

2. Start With the Facts

Just like solving a crime (at least I think that’s how you do it), start with your facts when planning for the first time. You can get crazy with colors and pens and everything later.  When do you go to work? Do you need to write your shifts in? When is your doctor’s appointment? Fill in the basic things you know today. Depending on what planner you get you may need to fill in a monthly or yearly calendar, fill it in with what you know. A vacation, birthdays etc. Then start with your first week, nailing all the easy stuff.

As you’re doing this you’ll realize how much random stuff you store in your brain! Storing that stuff takes up brain power. Write it all down and you will feel the weight being lifted. (Such an awesome feeling!) You’ll have the focus to do other things and you no longer have to keep track of 15 slips of random paper or notebooks. All your lists and to-dos are now in one place. Hooray!

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Photo by Hey Beauti Magazine on Unsplash

3. Fill In the Rest as it Comes

Don’t get carried away filling out the planner right away. I know it looks pretty bare upfront, but you will fill it over time. You’ll have bills to pay, new friends to meet, old friends to call. All of these things will come up as they always do, write them down then.

I remember when I first started trying my Passion Planner, I’d scramble to fill up my weeks with goal oriented items and to-dos. Then the days would come and I’d realize how much I had misjudged and overwhelmed myself. Let your days and weeks take shape. You can certainly nudge them along, but don’t get crazy.

4. Use Your Planner as Your Main Source of Information

This may feel off at first, especially as so many of us maintain calendars online with our e-mails, but you gotta trust me and trust that planner. If your girlfriend sends you an invite on Gmail for a girls’ night, write it down in the planner, too.

If you are doing a BuJo like me, where you don’t have weeks ready to go in advance, sit down and do a calendar review at the beginning of each week. I go through my Google calendar and write down every event there into my planner. I transfer everything. When they match, I’m done! It allows me to carve out my side hustle work around my regular day job and social commitments.

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Photo by Hey Beauti Magazine on Unsplash

5. Make Awful Mistakes

I know it sounds corny but go into planning with an open mind. It is going to take time to come to a rhythm that works for you. Planning is different for everyone, and while you can pin inspiration all day long, at the end of it, you’re still responsible for the methods you select and making sure they work for you.

Do your research but also always go back to number one on this list: What do you need the planner for anyway? Keep answering that question with how you keep it. If you forget to write something down – learning experience! If you’re messy – who cares? You don’t need to share it with anyone but yourself. And, if you’re like me, a paper planner will help you with your handwriting. Be okay making the mistakes and find your own rhythm.

I hope these steps help you to feel confident in starting your journey with paper planners. Let me know if it was helpful, and what else you’d like to see in the future as it relates to goal setting and paper planners. I have more to share!

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My Mind is a Mess: Passion Planner Review

One night I was visiting my best friend Kate at her apartment and in between sips of wine and bites of cheese (or gulps and hunks) she turned my attention to her brand new Passion Planner. Wow, I thought, I need one of these.

My whole life I’ve wanted to design a planner that functions how my brain functions– which is million different things all happening at once. Passion Planner is almost perfect. (I still want to design the ultimate planner one day. It’s one of my super nerdy life goals.) My only challenge is that it’s broken down by time slots which is incredibly hard for me to stick too but otherwise, I love the layout.

I’ve been using my Compact version for about 4 weeks now. And each week I get better at utilizing it. I let it help me form my week instead of jamming my week into it. I’ve surrendered to the planner a little bit and it seems to be going well. I stole the below image direct from the Passion Planner website because it’s going to do a MUCH better job of explaining how it works:

PP Breakdown

And all of those things get incorporated into your weekly pages. I know what you’re thinking: HOW?! HOW DO THEY GET INCORPORATED? It seems like a lot. Here are some sample pages from mine. Note: I don’t color in for the time I spend at work. I probably should but it scares me to see how much time I actually spend there. Maybe this week I’ll give it a whirl.

Example Week
I’m trying to teach myself to color code so certain things jump out to me. Yellow is my “Personal Life” color… it makes me happy!
example week 2
This was taken on Sunday of this week. I still had more to fill in and you can see my notes page is pretty open. That changes pretty quick.

I’m sure some people are a little tidier with theirs but I do my best… I’m only human. I enjoy seeing everything that I have to do on one open page instead of having to flip around and see what my week looks like. It’s also nice that there are sections on top of each day that say “Today’s Focus”, I use this to keep the “OMG A NEW PROJECT” part of myself toned down.

One of my favorite features of the planner is all of the Goal Setting material in the front of it. Before you even get to any specific months or days, you are guided through a series of exercises to get some awesome goals lined up for the next 3 months, next year and rest of your life! It’s a great way to keep your goals and passions (hehe) up front while you are toiling away on other things.

As for a mistake I made with it, I wish I had ordered the 8 1/2 x 11 sized version. When I ordered, it seemed like a huge pain in the ass to lug around but now that I am using the smaller size, I realize that I could have used the extra space. Especially because I have goofy handwriting. I think next year I’ll try the larger version and see how that goes.

So far so good with this planner and I am a pretty scattered person. This keeps everything I am constantly thinking about in one place. I’m not the most focused, but this has been helping. I strongly suggest checking them out! And, oh yeah, if you can’t afford the bound version, Passion Planner has PDF versions of the planner pages that you can print out and use. Amazing!