How to Discover Your Ideal Planner Type
Tips, tricks, and a mini-quiz to find the best planner for you
Your planner might fit neatly into a box, but you do not. That’s why the planner you used last year (and the year before, and the year before that) might be feeling a little tight under the arms.
Each type of planner comes with its own strengths, and drawbacks. The key to choosing a planner that will work for you is to pick a set of features that reflect your highest priorities, and has a set of faults you can live with. — That’s also good advice for choosing a life-partner, by the way!
While you’re not marrying your planner, you will be relying on it for the better part of a year. That’s why it’s important to pick a planning-partner that won’t let you down. One that will have your back, and be satisfying to use.
In this article I’ll be discussing the four main types of planner (most people have never heard of the last one), and who they’re best suited for. We’ll look at why you might choose one for work, and another for personal notes. Finally, I’ll show you the planners I use to keep me organised and present, no matter my focus.
Full disclosure: I create planners for a living, but I also use what I make, every single day! And I don’t stick with what I don’t like.
The 4 Planner Types
No planner type is inherently, objectively better than another. Each caters to a different set of needs.
Perhaps you’ll choose to keep a paper notebook for day-to-day ideas and notes, and a more structured system for work. Or, you may choose different digital systems for separate areas of your life. Any combination is fine as long as it works for you.
Sometimes I think there are more planner varieties in the world than there are sheep in New Zealand! No wonder it’s a tough call picking just one.
The key to choosing a planner that will work for you is to pick a set of features that reflect your highest priorities, and has a set of faults you can live with.
Before making a final choice, it’s wise to identify your priorities with regard to organising information and retrieving it again. Number the following items in order of their importance to you, with 1 being most important, and 12 the least. Or, if you prefer, you can give each item a star rating out of 5.
A lightweight setup that can easily go anywhere
Being able to write by hand
Having your notes backed up, and in sync across all your devices
The feel of a real book, made of real paper
Being able to decorate your planner pages with coloured pens and stickers
Not having any specific app standing between you and your notes
Being able to easily add audio to your notes
Having access to a capable database
Being able to access and manipulate your notes from more than one app
Having your regular digital calendar integrated into your notes
Being able to convert your handwritten notes into normal text
A cost-effective — or free — way of creating and accessing your notes
Having the option to extend the functionality of your system with plugins and/or code
Now compare the features you rated the highest with the following planner types:
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