It’s that time of year where you’ve probably been using your current setup for a while and you’ve probably got a sense of whether it’s perfect for you, or whether there’s something not quite right. It’s hard to know where to start when you’re thinking about what you need, so these 5 steps should give you a bit of direction and help you make up your mind. Have a read and then grab the printable from the bottom of the page to complete while you have a go.
What are your current planner needs? Do they match your setup?
If you’re anything like me, life never stays the same for long. Sometimes you start off with the perfect planner, but after a while you just stop using it. If this is the case, maybe it’s because it’s just not doing what it needs to any more. Planners work best when they’re uniquely personal to you, but when was the last time you stopped to think what you actually need from it? Have you ever got a weekly setup because you saw a picture of someone else using it on Instagram and you thought it looked fab… but then realised it didn’t work for you at all? So - have a think about what you need to get from you at the moment - is it a task system, is it a journaling space, a meal planner, a very brief weekly check-in? Compare it to what you’ve currently got and see how they match up.
How often do you use your planner? What do you do?
The main red flag here is if your planner isn’t actually being used. If you’re hoping to be using it every day, but don’t end up opening it for a couple of weeks, it’s probably not serving you. My guess is that you’re either making notes on scraps of paper, using an app for an aspect of your planner, or just not doing something you were hoping to. This suggests that something needs tweaking - are you expecting too much of your time? Are you trying to use a planner that works brilliantly for someone else, but not for you?
How well-used are the sections?
It may be that on the whole, your planner is working well, but there’s one section that just doesn’t get used. Maybe you’re like me and keep hoping that you’re the sort of person who makes time to reflect and journal, but in reality, it’s just not the phase of your life for that just yet. If a section’s not working for you, don’t be afraid to just scrap it and revisit it one day when your circumstances are a little different.
What’s missing? Do you make notes elsewhere or forget stuff?
It could just be that there’s a whole chunk of your life that you’re spending time trying to organise or log and it’s missing from your planner. Maybe you’ve just started on a new health plan and you’d like to integrate it into your planner. Maybe you’ve been binge-watching book review videos on YouTube and you have a massive reading list to make your way through. Whatever it is, remember that planners don’t just have to be about dates and tasks - bring in whatever you want to focus on.
Your setup to-do list
Lastly - what’s next? What does all of this suggest about what you need? Do you need to start from scratch with a new setup? When I went through this exercise, I realised that I needed to change sizes - an A5 gave me too much space and at the moment, I value something a bit more portable. If not, I think I would have just edited my divider selection and streamlined it a little. How much you want to do is completely up to you - if you can end up with a system that helps and gets used a little more, we’re winning.
How about a quick makeover?
If after all of this you realise that there’s not much that actually needs doing, you may just benefit from a bit of a makeover. A bit of novelty works wonders when you’re feeling a little stale. The easiest way to do this is to change the view when you open your planner. In most cases, all this needs is a change of dashboard and a few different decorative bits and pieces. It’s a great time to have a dig through your stationery stash to see what you may not have used in a while. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even change your planner cover - it’s amazing to see what a difference it could make. Have a go and see how different you can make your planner feel without changing the inserts!
If you’d like to have a go, download the printable that works best for you. They’re available in A4 and US Letter sizes, but there are also planner versions available for A5, personal and pocket sizes. Just download the version for the paper your printer uses and all the sizes will be in there.
I’d love to hear if this has helped you improve your planner - leave me comment, or share this on social media and tag someone who would appreciate the help!