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Top 5 Reasons Why Planners Fail and How to Fix Them

Have you heard that using a planner will make a huge difference in your life, but every time you buy one it just just doesn’t work for your life? Thinking of trying again, but hesitant to actually shell out the money for another failure? Check out these common reasons that planners fail and learn how to fix them.

Why planners fail and how to fix it

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

Have you started this whole ‘planner thing’ in the past?  You made your goals and filled out your schedule with high hopes of making all that you want to happen actually happen for real 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.

Adjust your thinking.  Using a planner should be your ‘real life’.  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!

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 to others.  Make sure you are scheduling margin into your day, because maximum productivity should not be your goal.  


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.

If you have trouble figuring out what those steps are check out But I Just Don’t Know Where to Start! for tips to figure out how to break down your goals into those simple steps for success.

If the whole goal process is overwhelming, check out Simple Steps to Goal Setting for a simple explanation of how to figure out what you want and then how to plan to get it – all without a fancy planner..

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!

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 read a lot,  you might want to brush up.

Here are some posts that explain all those tips and tricks without all the fanfare and without a sales pitch:

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 run 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 boxes in that planner that was designed to help you focus on improving your life, perhaps they weren’t the right kind of boxes.  Is tracking how much water you drink every day something that’s REALLY important to you?  If not, you don’t need that special water tracker then!  Sure you could just ignore it, but it will probably just make you feel bad because it’s sitting there telling you to drink more water.

If you want a planner that works, 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.  If you don’t have a solid planning routine, start the process now with just a pad of paper and this post.  After a month or so of planning you will know exactly what you need in a planner for it to be a helpful tool in your daily life instead of a dusty bookend.  

Don’t be afraid to take that time. 

Why did your last planner fail?

I’d love to know what your struggles with planning are! Let me know in the comments below or shoot me an email!

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