Choosing Your 2022 Planner
It’s the most wonderful time of the year...new planner season!
As a Time Management Coach and someone who has created their own planner system, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that shopping for new planners is something I feel very passionate about.
And because this is the time of the year when everyone is in the market for their next planner, today I am giving you my expert opinion on what you should look for in a planner and the different types of planners available to you.
Don’t worry, this is not simply a sales post for the TOP Planner. I, of course, wholeheartedly believe in the power of my planner and the trainings that go with it, but I ultimately want you to walk away from this post with all of the information you need to choose the planner that will best meet your specific needs.
The Three Types of Planners
The very first decision that you need to make when choosing your 2022 planner is to decide whether you’re committing to a paper planner, a digital planner, or an electronic planner.
Paper planners generally speak for themselves. They are a physical planner that you can hold in your hands like a book. With paper planners, you are writing with pens or pencils directly onto your planner.
A digital planner is a newer planner option, and it’s similar to a paper planner but is designed to be used on a tablet such as an iPad. Instead of writing on paper with a pen, you’re writing on a screen with a stylus like an Apple pen. I actually offer a digital version of The Top Planner, which you can learn more about here.
The third type of planner is an electronic planner, which you use through an app on your devices. Some of the most common examples would be a Google Calendar or iCal. These planners are actual pieces of software that can integrate with other things and can push notifications to your electronic devices.
They are distinctly different from a digital planner, which is just basically an editable PDF document with some hyperlinks. Unlike electronic planners, digital planners do not integrate with other systems.
Choosing the Planner System That is Best for You
All three of these planner types are fantastic, but the magic lies in choosing the one that is best fit for you and your lifestyle.
An electronic planner may be the best fit for you if you are somebody who is usually in front of a computer screen during the times of your day when you are making yes or no decisions about how you're spending your time. And I do want to emphasize that this should be a computer screen with lots of visual real estate and not just your phone screen.
When I was working in corporate and staring at a large screen for 50 or more hours a week, I planned using a Google Calendar because it was easily accessible and viewable when I was determining what would and wouldn’t go on my schedule. Then, I could reference my plans on my phone when I was on the go. Keep in mind, I wasn’t using my small phone screen for my actual planning process. It was just used for reference.
A paper planner is ideal for people who are living the lifestyle I’m currently in where my days are very fluid. I don't actually have a lot of time in front of my computer, and so it doesn’t work for my planning and decision-making to rely on using a big screen to look at my weeks or months.
At this stage of my life, my paper planner is my go-to, and it’s a very mobile solution for me!
So, where do digital planners come into play?
A digital and paper planner are essentially the same in how they function, but a digital planner is a fantastic solution for people who use their tablets all the time.
When deciding between a digital or paper planner, the only caveat you need to think about with a digital planner is to make sure that whatever tablet you're using supports the app your digital planner needs. The two most popular ones are the GoodNotes app for Apple and the Xodo app for Android. Each of these apps will allow you to write on PDFs and will be key for your digital planning.
Key Things to Look for in a Paper or Digital Planner
Besides having the appropriate app to run the digital version of a planner, the elements you need to be looking for in a paper or digital planner are essentially the same.
First, your planner has to have a weekly view, and within that weekly view, you need your days to have the hours of the day in them and not simply a blank box for the whole day.
I always encourage people to get a weekly planner that has columns for each day of the week, so that the hours of the day line up from day to day. This makes it much easier to map out available versus unavailable time.
Another thing you should look for in your weekly planner is a space to write some of your low-hanging tasks each day. This spot is for the things you don't want to forget but that don’t require an actual appointment or blocked off time on your calendar to get them done.
Every planner should also have a monthly view in addition to your weekly view.
Beyond this, your planner doesn’t need to have much else. I am a firm believer that you should not be purchasing any planners that include a lot of other extraneous stuff.
What do I mean by extraneous stuff? Planners that have space to create entire fitness routine schedules, map out health goals, meal planning, journaling, vision boarding, goal breakdowns, etc.
When you try and combine a true weekly planner, whose sole purpose is to tell you what you should be doing and when you should be doing it, with all of those other tools, it’s going to become too much.
I'm not saying those other things aren't important to have. I absolutely have them and use them myself. But they are separate resources.
So, if you’re searching for a planner — paper or digital — that really fits this bill and will also teach you how to plan along the way, I absolutely recommend checking out The TOP Planner.