How to choose the perfect planner

How to choose the perfect planner

When you are looking to choose the perfect planner are you left wondering how you are going to choose between all the options? How are you going to know which one will work for you and make a difference to what you do and how much you get done? This article takes you through three things you should consider when choosing the perfect planner for you.

Author: Bekka Prideaux

What is the perfect Planner?

Do you have a planner to help you get things done?  One of the questions I get asked a lot is which is the best kind of planner.  And with so many options promising to make sure you have ‘your best year ever’ or ‘become more productive’ many promoted by business celebrities whose agenda is to sell you a dream to get you to part with your money, choosing a planner can become overwhelming.

So here is the truth.  There is no perfect planner.  Expecting a planning notebook to revolutionise your life is a huge expectation to put on a notebook!

Don’t get me wrong I’m a big fan of planners and have tried many of them, and some have helped me more than others.  A planner is only as good as the way you use it and the way it fits into the way you work.

What should you consider when choosing the perfect Planner?

1. What do you want the planner to do for you?

Knowing what you want from a planner will help you select the best one for you – do you need something with lots of prompts each day, something to collect your thoughts and reflections, manage your appointments and to-do list – or would a notebook do the trick?

2. How are you going to use it and how will it fit with any other tools and systems you have?

Let’s avoid creating extra work for ourselves, let’s avoid duplicating how we do things, and above all else let’s keep things simple!

3. How does it fit with your planning style and preferred ways of working?

The best planner for you will work with your brain and preferred working style.

That’s great I hear you think – but how can I work out what my preferred planning style is? Well that’s why I designed this quick quiz to help you find out.

Before you take the quiz – a couple of things to keep in mind. 

  • There are no right or wrong answers
  • You may find yourself thinking more than one of the answers applies – that is normal and you may well work differently in different circumstances.  This quiz is looking to give you insights into your most natural way of working, so pick the answer that applies most often or which feels most natural to you
  • At the end of the quiz there are some hints and tips about your planning styles strengths, that is the things you can build on, your danger point or things to watch out for and tips for planning at your best

If you have any questions about this please do email.

The Planning Style Questionnaire

Q1: Which one of these best describes you and planning?

  1. I think about what I need to do, but mostly I just wing it and go with the flow
  2. I have everything written down and I follow it methodically
  3. I have a plan which I try and follow but I’m easily distracted especially when a new idea comes along

Q2: Which one of these best describes how you organise your days and your plans?

  1. OMG! I’ve got notes and ideas everywhere, some are written down, but most are in my head
  2. I have everything beautifully organised and yes, now you ask it’s colour coded
  3. It depends – I tend to write down the big things, but I don’t always check back to see what’s on the plan

Q3: You have a big deadline approaching do you

  1. Leave things to the last moment – caffeine and the pressure of the deadline for the win!  Afterall that is what deadlines are for!
  2. Start in plenty of time – work out what needs to be done to get to the deadline and systematically work through everything
  3. Plan in plenty of time, get distracted and then grab a coffee, shut the world out and get it done somehow

Q4: You are due at an important zoom meeting, do you

  1. Turn up late and just dive in
  2. Turn up early, having done lots of preparation and having put an agenda together incase no one else has
  3. Turn up just in time but a bit frazzled as you got distracted as you were getting ready and then suddenly it was time for the meeting

Q5: How do you start your workday?

  1. When I get to my computer, I see what looks most urgent and just start
  2. I open my planner, decide my top 3 tasks for the day and start with those
  3. I look at the long list of things I have to do, feel a bit overwhelmed, get a coffee/tea and then start again with the things that have to get done today

Q6: When someone asks you to get involved in a piece of work, do you

  1. Say yes and then replan around it
  2. Work out if you have the time to do it before saying yes or no
  3. Say yes and then worry about fitting everything and end up working late to make sure you don’t let them down

Q7: Having a plan makes me feel

  1. Constrained and not at my creative best
  2. Secure and in control
  3. That I have a starting point

What your answers tell you

Mostly answer 1: The reactive planner

  • Strengths: You are very present in the moment and easily able to take advantage of opportunities that come up.
  • Danger Point: You may find that you start a new thing before finishing what you were doing so are not making the most of the opportunities you have and all that juggling can either leave you exhausted or other people feeling let down.
  • To plan at your best:  Keep focused on where you want to be in the long term, be aware of the opportunities and dangers, and keep your goal setting and day to day planning as minimal as you can to ensure that you are meeting your commitments.

    Mostly answer 2: The systematic planner:
  • Strengths: Everything is organised, and you have a process that works for you and makes sure you are doing the important things first.
  • Danger Points: When things change, or something unexpected comes up it can ruin your whole day.
  • To plan at your best:  Once you have set your long-term intentions break these down into short term goals and set out the steps you need to get you there.  Review and refresh the plans on a regular basis to adapt to your progress and any external changes.  Plan in some ‘flex time’ to cope with the unexpected.

Mostly answer 3: The flexible planner:

  • Strengths: You have thought through what needs to be done but you are easily able to flex what you are working on.
  • Danger Points:  You are easily distracted, especially if someone asks for your help and may end up working late to catch up so you don’t let other people down.
  • To plan at your best:  Try thinking of your plans as a treasure map, your goal is the treasure, and you can see lots of routes to get there.  Use the excitement of new things to keep you moving forward, saying yes to them if the are in

Happy Planning!

To find out more about planning at your best please contact the author