Best Planner for 2021
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How to Buy the Best Planner for 2022

 Are you determined to buy a new planner and start 2022 ‘right’?  Is 2021’s planner gathering dust somewhere? 

Surely, there’s a ‘best’ planner out there that will solve all your planning problems, right?

But, really, the best planner is the one that you actually use!

There are plenty of people out there with planners they’ve designed to help people organize their lives and meet their goals.  But are they designed to meet your specific needs?  

How do you know if they will work for you?

The answer is pretty simple – figure out why last year’s planner didn’t work for you!

Top 5 planner problems and their solutions

1 – You don’t have a habit of using it

Have you started this whole ‘planner thing’ in the past?  You have made your goals and filled out your schedule with high hopes of making all that you want to happen actually happen this year!  But then ‘real life’ intervenes and you don’t have time to plan today.  And one day becomes another day.  Pretty soon that planner is sitting on the shelf and you are back where you started.

Solution:

First of all, adjust your thinking.  Using a planner should be your ‘real life’.  The best planner for you is the one that you actually use.  Buy one that you will want to have with you all the time, and that you will like writing in.  It should be something you feel comfortable scribbling in because using a planner isn’t about being perfect, it’s about using it – especially when life gets so fast that you have to scribble. 

If you have to carry it about town, it should be sturdy.  If it needs to stay open on the kitchen counter it shouldn’t be one that’s so precious that a little spill will ruin it.  Adjust your expectations as to what a planner is – it is not a work of art, it is a tool.  

Most importantly, work just on establishing the habit of using it before you try to change the rest of your life.  In fact, start right now by reading this -> Don’t Start By Buying a Planner.

2 – You are trying to do too much

Do you start every planner foray by being overly ambitious?  Do you schedule your day so tightly that one little deviation creates a ripple that makes the rest of your carefully planned day dissolve into chaos?  Do you beat yourself up at the end of each day because there are still so many undone things on your to do list?  I bet that using a planner ends up just making you feel bad about yourself at the end of each day.  If that’s so, of course you will stop using it!

Solution:

If you constantly try to do too much, look for one that has the hours of the day laid out instead of just a place for a list.  This can force you to actually write in what you need to do in each hour of the day so you can start your day with reasonable expectations.  Make sure you are scheduling margin into your day.

If you are constantly overwhelmed by all the stuff in your schedule, consider whether you truly know how to say no to yourself as well as others.  Because maximum productivity should not be your goal.  Really.

3 – You aren’t breaking down your goals into actionable steps

Speaking of goals, have you enthusiastically set up goals in past years only to start the following year setting up those same goals? The point of goals is to actually reach them 🙂  Achieving a goal is not done by stating what the goal is, it’s done by doing small simple things consistently that push you towards that goal.

Solution:

If you have goals and never seem to be able to achieve them, you might want a planner that helps you break those goals into smaller steps and to get those steps into your schedule.

If you have not been successful with a planner in the past, your very first, and only, goal should be to establish a daily planning routine.  I  am actually a little wary of recommending a planner that starts with goal setting because so often we use up all our energy dreaming up our big goals that we’ve lost any steam for actually creating the routine that will get them done.  If you have that problem – please read Don’t Start By Buying a Planner.

By the way,  it’s not necessary to have a special section in your planner to write down and dissect your goals into steps.  You can do it on any old sheet of paper using the tips here

4 – You haven’t learned the tricks to planning effectively

Do you think that being organized is just a matter of will power?  When it all starts to fall apart in the second week do you just give up because you’re just not ‘good at planning’?

Would you expect to be able to learn to sew a dress without getting some advice from a seamstress?  Could you drive a car through a snowstorm the first time you sat in the driver’s seat? 

Is it wrong to seek out help to learn how to do things better?  No!

Solution

If you are not already well read in the field of planning and getting things done, there are definitely some tips and tricks out there you could benefit from.  Even if you have heard alot,  you might want to brush up.

There are plenty of planners and even more books that will tell you their magic formula to getting things done.  But most of them are repeating the same information. I try to simplify some of the most popular and useful techniques in planning without all the fanfare or sales pitches.

If you are generally overwhelmed, learn about the Power of Routines and How to Chunk Your Schedule to Have More Peace.  

If it’s the list that’s the problem read Overwhelmed By Your To Do List? for some great tips to get that list under control.

If you have trouble running out of steam check out 4 Steps to Use Your Energy Wisely.

If you have trouble with distractions check out How to Maintain Focus.

5 – You are forcing the planner’s structure onto your life instead of finding a planner that is designed for your life.

The planner shouldn’t use you, you should use the planner.  If you got tired of filling in all the little glasses of water boxes in that last planner, perhaps tracking how much water you drink every day is not something that’s really important to you?  You don’t need a planner with little water glasses then!  Sure you could just ignore them, but will it make you feel bad that you haven’t filled them in?

Solution:

You have to start the process of looking for a planner with a clear understanding of exactly what you want in it.  I’m thinking that if you are reading this post you don’t actually know what that is.  

The best way to know what you are looking for in a planner is to start planning.  Don’t wait for the planner. If you don’t have a solid planning routine, start the process now with just a pad of paper and this post.  

Don’t be afraid to take your time

It might take some time, but you can get a planner that will be a helpful tool as you build the life you want.  You spend time picking out a new car. You spend time reading labels in the grocery store. Don’t be afraid to spend some time and consideration as you pick out a planner. A good planner, used well, can be the most important tool you have in creating the life you want.  

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