Thursday, January 29, 2015

E-Planner or Paper Planner: What's Your Style?

Kimberly Wilson's beautiful Daybook

Something that I find kind of humorous is that despite all the free, online planning calendars, productivity apps, etc., there persists the lovers of all things paper and paper planners are hotter than ever it seems. There are planner videos galore on YouTube. In fact, there are entire channels dedicated to planners and planning and how people set up their planners, etc. It's an interesting subculture. This is one of the things that I think the Internet is so great at doing: sharing and even creating subcultures. There are fascinating and bizarre ways of living out there, folks. But I digress...

Filofax is popular and those who use them are called "Filofaxers." Erin Condren personalized planners seem to be the hottest thing among SAHMs... at least those who make YouTube videos. And there are other brands too, of course. But crimeny, they are expensive!! Erin Condren planners start at $50 and go up from there. And these are spiral bound planners. No refills, but a new notebook will be needed every year.

And then there are all the little accessories: markers and stickers and washi tape and pens and pouches in which to keep all your supplies.

This is what planning has become: a great big coloring book to play in for grownups.

And I have no problem with that. :)

Seriously. I LOVE stationary and all of those beautiful accessories. I have my own, little collection of washi tape and pens and spend many happy hours decorating and musing in my journal. The temptation is strong to pick up one of these lovelies despite the price. Actually, the one I probably would get is Kimberly Wilson's beautiful Tranquility Du Jour Daybook. It makes my heart go pitter pat. But, that too is $50. She does offer a PDF version for $28, which is a real bargain. But then again, you would need to print and bind it yourself and find your own cover... and her's is lovely.

Rosmarie at the Busy Budgeter has a wonderful, homemade alternative for those who have more time than money and want to create a DIY version. The planner she made for herself for this year is beautiful, customized, and is sure to be effective.

The thing that I run into with paper planning that I have a hard time with though - at least at this point in my life, is the repeat tasks of my days that I just don't like to write and rewrite on a calendar. This is why - surprisingly enough to me, the paper lover - that I have been using Google calendar for over a year.

I love that I can make events repeat. And the color-coding works great for things like my menu planning. There is a task list that I use regularly that syncs, like the calendar, with my phone, but you need to find a compatible app for it, as for some reason, Google doesn't have one.

The tasks on Google can't be made to repeat though. I definitely wanted this feature, because not only do I have repeating to-do's daily, but I also have a rotating cleaning schedule using zones a la Fly Lady. I don't like having to enter in the same cleaning tasks every six weeks for each of the 6 zones, so I knew that this was going to be a magic feature I needed in a phone app.

It took a couple of hours of searching for just the right to-do list features, but I found it in The Ultimate To-Do List app for Android phones. I am not an affiliate for this app; I just like it a lot! :) It is a paid app: $5 after a 14 day trial. I tried it for maybe 5 days and then I just bought it because it does everything I need it to do - and more actually. I have my settings on the "intermediate" level so I can have advanced repeating tasks, but there is an advanced level available too that I don't really know much about since I don't need those features.

This system is working really nicely for me right now in conjunction with Evernote (which I'll write more about in another post). As I mentioned, I am surprised that I have incorporated so much of  paperless planning into my life. But with the things I do - teaching school, attending school, volunteering, etc. convenience wins the day at this point. I note that many paper-planning lovers have more than one notebook: one for blogging, one for their personal life and one for work, whatever that work is. I used a similar system a couple of years ago, because I just couldn't fit everything into one planner and didn't like carrying separate notebooks with me regularly such as my lesson plans and my personal planner.

Google calendar allows me to have separate calendars incorporated into my main calendar. So, for example, I could have a menu calendar. And last year I had a lesson plans calendar too. I had the lesson plans calendar separate from my main calendar because 1) I shared some planning with friends with whom we did a homeschool co-op and 2) I could hide the calendar whenever I didn't want it competing with my personal calendar.

So this is what is working for me now. I think  -  no, I know - that there are a lot of people interested in productivity, efficiency, time management, and planning. I know it's not just me and I find it interesting how fascinating some of us find it. How people plan their lives and get done what they need to get done is an oddly popular topic, as evidenced in part by all the videos on YouTube that I mentioned at the top of my post, as well as books, and of course the products that are so popular. So, what do you use to plan your days? Are you a planner? Do you like paper or do you prefer paperless tools? Do you pay for higher-powered apps that give you more features or do you find that your needs are pretty simple and you can go with what is readily available for free?

I am still tempted by the paper. In fact, I could potentially see myself using the Tranquility Du Jour Daybook as more of a journal and less of a planner. There's a lot of good stuff in it! I thinking on it. But for planning, right now, I'm happy with this system that is working for me!

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