Stop Cookie Cutter Planning | Giftie Etcetera: Stop Cookie Cutter Planning

Friday, May 29, 2015

Stop Cookie Cutter Planning

Cookie cutters are useful. If you want a plate full of cookies that look exactly alike, use a cookie cutter for consistency.

But planners are not about consistency (except, of course, about their consistent use). They are about practicality.

A planner must work for you, and since you aren't a cookie, a cutter cutter planner won't do.


Ring-bound, spiral, or arc?

Monthly, weekly, or daily?

Horizontal? Vertical? Printed holidays? Note pages? Addresses? Project planning? Menus? Household tasks?

The only way to create a planner that fits you is to think about your life.

I don't know any easy way to show this except to tell you about my life. (Projects, files, monthly, weekly, and daily refer to parts of my planner.)


I'm a mom, so I have to keep track of PTO meetings, school calendars, lunch payments, and project deadlines. Also, my planner has to be very portable, to bring to volunteer meetings, events, and occasional substitute teaching. I need to oversee chores and homework and drive the kids to karate practice.


Projects - to plan my volunteer work
Files - to store each year's "First Day of School" checklist
Monthly - to book meetings and practice; to note school calendar
Weekly - for tasks and deadlines, like pay lunch money
Daily- for planning all of the parenting responsibilities with everything else


I'm a lawyer who works part-time, mostly from home, as a staff attorney for a company.


Laptop - to research and write; to file 

OneNote - to outline and edit
Monthly - to schedule appointments and note paycheck periods
Weekly - to note deadlines and time sheet requirements
Daily - for making a list of what needs doing today


I am home (not working or doing carpool) about 10 hours more than my husband each week (and more during his busy overtime season). I do much (but definitely not all) of the housework. I do all the grocery shopping and the majority of the cooking.

Monthly - to note grocery shopping days
Weekly - to write menus and time-sensitive tasks
Laptop - to track daily household tasks
Daily - to make a plan for the day

I'll stop there, but you get the idea.

I would add that I don't have a lot of set meetings during the day most of the time, so I don't need a lot of scheduling space. Vertical weeklies don't work for me, since most of my stuff is not scheduled. I also don't need addresses in the planner. Those are captured electronically.

The point is that I stopped and created a recipe for my planning. I decided what I need and what I do need, and I created a system that deals with that!

Someone else's system might have elements that work for you, but the system that YOU create is the one that will make your life easier.

Join us at Facebook in our discussions of customizing your planner for you by clicking on my signature below.



Jaime Barfield said...

I have found that a daily and monthly work best for me, so I usually have two planners. One that stays on my desk (the monthly) to cover bill due dates, recurring appointments, etc. The monthly I carry around with me everywhere so that I know what my schedule is like for the day. I try to plan my days early morning every day and work around appointments that have already been made. I have never designated a specific grocery shopping day, but I like that idea. I also like the idea of certain days to sit down and do the budget. Thanks

Unknown said...

So true! I had too much trouble trying to make a pre-made planner work for me, so I made my own! I think it's also important to plan a time to stop and evaluate how your planner is working for you- I realized that I had too many sections (and wasn't using all of them). No need lugging around more paper than I need!

Mary Wimbley said...

Ha, this is ironic. I just commented on the post about uneven planner pages that I'm working on making a custom planner. But yeah, I'm in the same boat. This is the very reason I can't seem to stick with one particular type of planner for more than a few months. Store-bought planners are too cookie-cutter for me, always have been. I believe I've finally reached the point where I refuse to spend money on a planner ever again, unless it's just on something like tabs or pockets or plain paper. I have binders in big and small sizes. I have two hole punches, one of which is set to punch smaller pages. There are mind-boggling tons of free printables all over the Internet. Why would I ever need to buy a new planner again?

Angela said...

It's so true. The "perfect" planner is never attainable - making one may be on my list of goals for next year!

Kid Minds said...

I made my own too. I could never find the perfect one.