Does THE perfect planning system exist? – Find your own planning system

I have watched many, many videos on You Tube just to get some ideas to create my own planning system, but also to find inspiring ideas to decorate my planner.

Now, this post is not about decorating your planner but about the bottom line of what a planner should be used for: To PLANN! Through the years I have tried different systems just to figure out what works best for me. If you are new to planning you might be going through this stage right now, if you are a veteran planner then you probably have a much more clear idea of what works for you and what doesn’t.

I will share with you my own system but also, I want to go over a little bit about that abstract concept of “the perfect system”. I think many planner people would agree with me in that there is not such a thing as “the perfect system”, in an absolute sense. A good system is one that will work for you and that will help you stay organized, remember things and enhance your life, not make it more difficult.

Life changes all the time and because change is at the core of all of our lives, our planning systems also change, they will change and it will happen often. It took me some time to figure out whether I needed a system with a day on one page or a week on two pages or a week on one page, and so on.
Now, many planners later and also, what sometimes feel like, many lives later, I now know what works for me. I will try to help you figure out what system works for you and if not, I will at least assure that that it is okay if you still haven’t figure out what works for you.

Before going to the store to buy the most expensive inserts, ask yourself, what areas in my life do I need to manage? How is my life usually divided and what tasks do I need to remember? Do I make a lot of lists and are lists a good way for me to remember things? Do I need to have an overview of my entire week or do I need to have lots of space per day to write everything down? Do I need extra paper for notes or do I need to use other ways to highlight my alerts? Do I need space for emergent tasks or can I go ahead and use regular inserts to plan ahead of time? Do I plan ahead of time or do I usually go day by day?

These are some of the many questions you can ask yourself before navigating the endless Internet for free printables or buying your own.

The perfect system will be one that will help you remember things, have an overview of what you need to do, keep your mind clear and your ideas organized and also, will house the different areas for different tasks that you need to undertake on a specific day or point in time.

Let’s go to my own system and maybe it will help you try to figure out which areas are the ones that you need to manage in your own life?

1. The size of the planner: I mostly use personal size planners and I recently ordered an A5 filofax that I plan on leaving home as my main family/home planner. With my I carry my personal size original Filofax and this is enough to help me stay organized on the go. My job requires me to go around the City attending meetings and also transport my planner from home to the office and so on. This is why I chose to have a personal size, it is practical, easy to carry and it gives me plenty of space to write everything I need to remember. There are plenty of organizers and binders out there at a very reasonable price that you could buy with a pre-set system in different sizes if you want to try one out before buying an expensive binder.

2. Customization: I love decorating my planner and this is something important to me but if you are not into decoration you don’t even have to worry about it. I use a binder because this allows me to insert or remove things as I need them, or don’t need them. I like taking the time to create a dashboard and enhance my planner. I need this in my life because I deal with very tragic and serious issues at work so these colorful pages help me remember that life is not that serious and that I need to keep going in the best mood possible. A binder allows you to customize your planner according to your needs contrary to not having this option with a bounded planner.

3.- A section for lists: I am not much of a list maker but I do need this section sometimes, mainly to remember things I need to buy, steps I need to follow (because I am a new mom and lately my brain doesn’t work properly), or just general numbered things that I need to remember on a certain day. I created a lists section not with a divider but with a journaling card. This is not perfect but I made it myself and it works for me. By being creative I can be a little “fearless” and I dare to make mistakes so I actually enjoy this process of coming up with my own sections and dividers.

4. My next section is “To do”, in here I write down things that don’t necessarily fall into the “list” category but these are things that I need to do, these are actions that I need to undertake, rather that a list of things. Here I write down the actions that I need to do on a specific day and things that need to get done for me to move on with the next actions in my professional life. I chose this section because I usually need to work on a series of things that I need to accomplish by a specific deadline. I do write down some personal things at the bottom or highlighted with a color but usually these are mostly professional tasks.

5. Next is my “year at a glance” section, because I sometimes have to plan things ahead of time and I need to have an overview of things that have to be done in specific months or days, way ahead of time. Also, I plan my vacation ahead of time or my travels. This section also allows me to set goals to myself, such as if I want to save money for a trip, I write down the place where I want us to go and this serves as a “vision” board for the things I want to do in my life. Here I project actions and plans that may or will happen during a year. This is an Filofax insert that I bought from a local shop at 50% discount but these days you can find plenty of free printables if you need one of these inserts. I know that Philofaxy has this insert available and you can print it for free.

6. The next section is my monthly overview or a month on one page, also known as “one month at a glance”. This is my main guide to plan my weeks and project tasks. This section to me is one of the most important because not only does it help me have an overview of how my weeks look like but also as a planning tool to manage my projects and remember deadlines. Some people really don’t need a month at a glance when their lives are not very predictable but you need to ask yourself if you need to know the things that have to get done by a specific deadline or whether this section won’t be too useful to you because you plan on a daily basis or weekly basis? This is also an insert that I bought at a stationery shop and that were on sale.

I made these dividers myself with some scrapbook paper, as well as the clips, which I made with ribbon and clips. If decoration is a distraction to you, you don’t have to decorate your planner at all, again, this is something that I enjoy.

Finally, I have my “daily or weekly section”, I don’t like calling it “weekly” because it confuses me a little bit so I call it “daily”. This is straight forward, it is a section where the planning happens. I fill this section out based on my monthly section. My monthly serves a bit as a master guide to fill out my weekly or daily section. This section gets filled day by day with planned tasks but also emergent tasks as my days progress. I have been going back and forth between using a week on two pages, this is the original insert that came with my planner, and using a week on one page with another page for notes and it worked fine but right now I want to try this format again and see if I can make some changes or if this is enough. After all I also have a notes section in the back of my planner.

I made that monthly divider myself with some regular note paper from a Kikki.K notepad and the journaling card is only for decoration. These pages are not as decorated as I would because this planner is for professional purposes but believe me, I wish I could decorate it even more!

My last section is contacts but I didn’t take a picture because I am not sure if I really need this or if I will end up removing it. I usually use my mobile phone to record contact information from people or other information like that so I am not sure if I need this here. I still created it because the inserts came like that and I didn’t want to waste paper. I have all of my personal contacts in my main family planner but this is why you need to ask yourself, how much do I need a specific section or if I need it at all?

Last, I have a small notepad that I bought from papyrus I believe for 50 cents, I have it because sometimes I need to take note of meetings or calls. This is a small notebook that is big enough to take substantial notes but also small enough to fit it my planner.

This is the overview of my work planner and the sections I have for now. I am not sure if these will change in the future but for now they work for me and have helped me be organized, effective and have a clear vision of my professional projects, tasks and also project things ahead of time, and why not, even dream of saving enough money for traveling and seeing the world!

I hope this post has helped you a little bit to define your own sections and if not, that they will inspire you to find your perfect system.

Em Jorden

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6 thoughts on “Does THE perfect planning system exist? – Find your own planning system”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your sections and thoughts regarding each (and the great photos too)! A personal size Filofax works best for me too, and I love to decorate my pages. It has added a creative dimension to my planner that makes planning more fun and keeps me motivated for the 'task of planning'. 🙂

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  2. This is also one of the reasons why I wanted to keep the contacts section, because I don't trust technology LOL I like having my contacts on paper, but since I use the work computer, home computer and phone, these days also with having Gmail which allows you to store all your contacts I am not sure I need to have contacts' info in my planner, but I am still figuring out that section. Thank you for your comment. 🙂

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  3. Thank you for your comment Sharon. I totally agree with you. Adding color and being creative with my planner allows me to have an outlet and also, make it more fun. My work deals with some human rights issues so having color and being able to be creative allows me to “let go”. Besides, visually, I enjoy it and stay motivated in a way too. 🙂

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