habits

Why Your Planner Is Not Working

October 17, 2022

Thank you to Basecamp for sponsoring this episode.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

A New Planner Is Not the Answer: The Real Reason Why a Planner Won’t Solve Your Time Management Problems

A new planner would help you stay on track, right? …. Statistically speaking, no. Planners aren’t the solution to your bursting calendar or your overflowing inbox. Instead, your planner might be CAUSING more issues. What should you do if a planner isn’t helping?

We all know the feeling. We see an ad for a new planner or we’ve heard one of our favorite influencers talk about the planner that “changed their lives.” 

We think we HAVE to have it — because it will fix all the chaos in our lives and help us finally get our stuff together.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good planner. My personal favorite is the Simplified Planner by Emily Ley.

Of course, if you’ve ever bought a planner thinking it would help YOU get your life together, you know how this story ends. You sit down, you plan everything out, you’re using your gorgeous pens and washi tape and highlighters and…

In a couple of weeks, the planner sits on your desk or counter and doesn’t get touched again.

We’re just about to enter new planner season,

where all the big brands are dropping their collections, so I wanted to make sure I talk about this before all y’all go out and buy a new planner that you’re hoping will just totally change your life.

But don’t worry — I’m not telling you to throw out your planner and never use one again. You can still order one if you absolutely want tone! 

But I AM telling you that feeling disorganized and like you never have enough time to do anything… is not going to be solved by a new planner, no matter how amazing it is.

I think that one of the biggest faults of the time management industry is that it teaches us a well-organized planner is the end-all-be-all of success

And honestly… that couldn’t be further from the truth. A well-organized planner is great, but the thing is that if you aren’t KEEPING to that planner and the routines it helps you create, it’s not going to do you much good. 

So, what are some reasons your planner might not be working, no matter how well-organized it is? 

It’s not actually a planner

If things aren’t working with that shiny new planner you’ve got, you’re probably not using it like a planner. You’re using it like a calendar. 

Say you have a deadline in your business in two weeks. When you use a calendar, all you’re going to do is put that deadline in. Maybe it’s recording a YouTube video. 

But a YouTube video isn’t something you can just throw up. There are lots of steps involved in getting that video together. Instead of writing “post new YouTube video” on the date it goes live, you need to plan out when you will do the steps involved. 

When will you be researching the video? Scripting it? Recording it? Editing? And then posting? 

Using your planner as an ACTUAL planner means that you’re writing down the days you need to complete all of those steps instead of just writing the final product and hoping you’ll mentally work backward. 

You view white space as a failure

If you think that white space is a failure so you try and fill in every blank spot you can… that’s just going to lead to intense overwhelm. This is where you run into the “I have no time to get anything done, I have no time to relax, oh, and I have things scheduled in every second of the day!” 

This happens a lot for high achievers, and I talk about it in Episode 115, so go listen to that next.

But let’s get this straight: white space is NOT a failure. In fact, white space is necessary to give your brain a break and ensure you don’t burn out.

Beyond that… filling in a planner just to fill it in will leave you with days worth of activities that aren’t actually specific to your needs. Listen, putting the same daily tasks and appointments that everyone else does will only get you so far, which is why most “how-to plan” courses or books haven’t worked for you. 

Instead, you need to develop a system for planning out your days and weeks that is completely specific to you. It doesn’t matter whether it makes sense to Susie down the street or not. 

What matters is that it makes sense and works for YOU. If you only sit down once a month to plan out the weeks ahead, and create a very loose system, but you get everything done without feeling overwhelmed… that’s totally fine! 

This is actually one of the things I talk about in my group coaching program when I lead my students through my HEART methodology. 

Time management isn’t a one-size-fits-all productivity hack. It’s an intentional system that needs to work for an individual FIRST. If you’re curious to learn more about my program, you can go here! 

But how should you be using your planner?

Still want to use a planner? This is where time-blocking will come into major effect. Instead of planning out each minute of my day and writing the smallest of tasks down, I’ll organize everything into buckets. 

So, one of my buckets might be work. Another might be organizing the house. 

And within those buckets, I create daily to-do lists that I prioritize according to importance. This way, I don’t have a thousand different tasks written down in my planner each day, and I also have a system to decide what tasks need to get done first. 

Time blocking and learning time management skills is the absolute best way to ensure you stay organized. Honestly, it doesn’t matter how clear your planner is. If you don’t have the time management skills to keep yourself to a schedule… it’s not going to work. 

Most importantly, though: you need to find strategies that WORK for you. And once you do, you need the accountability necessary to keep those strategies up. That’s why working with a time management coach is so vital to the success of your time management skills! It goes beyond just teaching you how to work with a planner. 

This is about creating a set of life skills that will allow you to handle any time management problem that comes your way, without the overwhelm! 

In fact, I’ve intentionally designed my group coaching curriculum to do exactly this with you! Make sure to check it out here! 

Use what works — and ONLY what works

Managing a busy schedule can be overwhelming if it’s not properly managed. But next time you think about turning to your planner and having another long session (that doesn’t really help you), I want to encourage you to take a step back and examine if this is a problem with your planner… or a deeper problem with time management.

The true path to time management success is going to be found in getting support and accountability like you’ll find in my 6-month group coaching program. What’s even greater about group coaching is that you won’t have ONLY me to lean on. You’ll also be able to lean on other woman on the same journey to successful time management. 

I hope to see you there! 

In this solo episode, I talk about:

  • WHY you’re using your planner wrong
  • How a perfect planner isn’t enough
  • The benefits of accountability when it comes to planning your life
  • How you can get access group accountability for planner-less freedom today

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Related Episodes


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