Why I Broke Up with My Planner

My planner and I were not friends.

Planning my day is difficult for me.  Appointments and such go on my calendar, of course, and I don’t have a problem keeping them.  But deciding exactly what I’m doing at what time of day drives me nuts.  I’ve tried just about everything.  Giving myself rewards for following my schedule was a bust in the end, and that was the closest I came to success.  I knew I had to try something radically different.

I decided to Unplan my day.

I Broke Up with My Planner

Traditionally, your planner helps you know what to do when.  I use an opposite approach: I tell my planner what I’ve already done.  I actually feel like I get more done, too!  Priorities change day-to-day, after all.  The things you planned to do yesterday might not end up being as high a priority today as you thought they were.  Thus was born my Unplanner.

Unplanning My Planner

I use four tools: an under-$2 planner I’d already gotten from Wal-Mart, Post-it notes, and a pen and pencil.  No $40 custom planners or anything!

Why I Broke Up with My PlannerI start off by keeping track of what I need to do on Post-it notes. That note gets stuck to the opposite page that I’m using that day, so it doesn’t get in the way.  The tasks on the note aren’t organized in any way.  They’re just written down as they come to mind and crossed off as they’re completed.  Eventually, I end up with a note with a lot of crossed-off tasks, and I just transfer the remaining ones to a new note.

As I complete tasks, I write them down in the Unplanner.  The tasks on the note are written in pen; the tasks in the Unplanner are written in pencil.  This is because sometimes I amend them: “Worked on ___ post” becomes “Finished ___ post.”  This just adds some of the flexibility I need.  I usually write the tasks on the Post-it note in pen, so that I can’t change them to make tasks easier on myself.

Annnnd that’s actually pretty much all I do!  I know it sounds way too simple to work, but it does.  I started using this strategy at the end of September, and I’m now going a little over two weeks strong!

Why It Works

Some people need a lot of structure for them to be successful.  Honestly, I wish I worked like that.  But I don’t, and if you don’t, that’s okay.  It just means that you have to recognize this and learn to work with it.

Because priorities change, it’s worthwhile to recognize this and adapt.  Planners have a place in life, but it doesn’t have to be the traditionally accepted way!  My planner doesn’t plan me, and yours doesn’t have to either!

If you get a brilliant idea for a blog post or a family member gets sick, your other plans are going to play second fiddle!  Learning to roll with the punches is a valuable life skill.  Combining my Google Calendar appointments and obligations with my Unplanner gives me the best of both worlds.  Give it a try and see if it works for you!

Have you tried Unplanning?  What planning method works best for you?

Co-Founder and Strategic Manager at The Spare Room Project

Having grown up near Seattle, Jenn is Washingtonian to the core, and believes that trees that lose their leaves are unnatural and snow is evil. Right now, though, she calls the-middle-of-nowhere Ohio home, having stayed after college. With a vastly varied background in creativity – from hosting a radio show to jewelry design to filmmaking – becoming the Strategic Manager and Wearer-of-Many-Hats for TSRP was meant to be!

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