How To Be An Imperfect Planner

Photo by Claire Morgan on

How long ago did I claim to have found planner peace? Then I participated in OneBookJuly and lost it all.

Please understand, I am in no way dissing OneBookJuly or any of the creators or participants.

I chose to participate. I chose to change the way I did things. It’s all on me.

The real issue is after OneBookJuly, I have never really found that perfect planner peace again.

One thing I have learned is that imperfection in my planners is fine.

So, this is how I do it.

I have tried a variety of other notebooks, planners, set-ups, and schedules.

I thought I had things under control this past year when I bought my Hobonichi Weeks Mega. I thought my planning system was under control.

I started to lean into decorating my Bullet Journals, two different ones, this past December. In March of this year, I let go of that.

Neither the decorating nor the Bullet Journaling fulfilled my needs, so I set both notebooks aside.

I can always pick these notebooks, either one or the other, at any point in the future. I can open either one and put the current month into the notebook and move forward as if I had never set the book aside in the first place.

A while back, I tried Bullet Journaling in a B5 notebook. It lasted a couple months, but once I figured out it wasn’t for me, I set that notebook aside. About a month or two ago, I picked it back up so I could pull out some of the information I have written inside it. But, while I was pulling information out of the trackers I had set up, I started to use the remaining pages to write notes, scribble notes, and make lists of topics I am planning to write about at some point. So the notebook that was a Bullet Journal became a notebook. One where I put notes and not much more.

I have bought planners, pre-printed planners, undated planners, and out-of-date planners. I have stacks of dot-grid notebooks that I bought in anticipation of using them.

Now, there are tons of different things that can be done with older planners. This is not the post where I discuss that.

This is about giving yourself some space and some grace to work through your notebooks, and your planners, without castigating yourself for not doing it right.

In my March Bullet Journal spread, I painted a cover page for my set-up. I hated it. I’d never worked with that paint prior. I hadn’t taken the time to find the correct paintbrush for the job. But I painted anyway. I enjoyed the activity of painting even if I hated the results.

Even though I had stopped Bullet Journaling that month, the painting was enjoyable. I let go, or set aside Bullet Journaling for now because I wasn’t using my BuJo. I had set it up and ignored it. I didn’t bother creating my weekly trackers that I used on a daily basis for three or four weeks before I called using my BuJo for now.

I have my much-beloved undated 5-in-1 GoGetterGirlCo planner. Each planner holds six months. It contains monthly, weekly, and daily spreads, along with various reflection and coaching tools scattered throughout. I used this planner, after had already bought enough GGGC planners to cover the next eighteen months after I finish this one. I used this planner for about four, maybe five months, before I set it aside and let it sit.

I have had to pull it out a couple of times to pull information, say, out of the back pages of the planner.

But at the beginning of this month, I contemplated pulling this planner out to put it back into my planner rotation, but in the end, I decided to wait and see what else was going to happen in my planning system.

I have to look at my planning system as a fluid and evolving thing. Maybe I will pick up my GGGC planner in two years. The spreads will all be ready for me to fill with whatever I need to.

Planner jumping, using one journal for a week or a month or whatever at a time, is a form of imperfect planning. There is no reason to be upset over empty spreads.

I bought a 2023 Jibun Techo First Kit, which is a Jibun Techo with monthly and weekly spreads, as well as a book to fill out called Life (with pre-printed spreads about, you guessed it, your life) and another book called Ideas, which is a blank grid-spaced book for you to catalog any ideas or thoughts you may have. I bought the kit (in B6 slim size) because it was on sale and I figured I would try it.

I received the planner in late March, maybe? So, I have weeks of the year empty. I have two or three months that are empty. What do I do with them?

For some pages, I put stickers on some to liven up my planner. Or to make it more my own. I also use ephemera that I glue into the pages as well.

The Jibun does not have back pages. That is what the Ideas books are for. But, when I am brainstorming, I use old spreads that are blank. I use empty spreads to plan out my monthly goals.

My Passion Planner for last year was bought in March as well (I do believe). Last year, I didn’t do anything with the empty spreads. I simply paper-clipped them together so I wouldn’t be flipping through them as I worked through the planner during the rest of the year.

I have a stack of partially used notebooks in my office. I pulled out a notebook and started using it for morning pages, but after a week or two, I decided I did not like working/writing in this journal. So, I set it aside. I started using a completely different notebook, without having any guilt about the set-aside notebook.

I allow myself the gift of having permission to make mistakes in my planners.

If I write something incorrectly on cream-colored planner pages, I will still use white white-out to cover it up.

I give myself permission to not freak out when my markers streak or smear while I am using them. Or when my ruler drags wet ink across the page.

I give myself permission to use a planner as minimally as is necessary while I experiment with it while I decide what I want to do with that planner and other planners within my system.

I use stickers, paint, glue, ephemera, and whatever else tickles my fancy in all of my planners. Sometimes the stickers go in before the planning. Sometimes those pre-place stickers drive me nuts when I go in to plan or to write something. Sometimes I will let go of planning for a week or a month in a particular planner/notebook if I end up irking myself over the stickers or something else.

I have no issues allowing myself space and the grace to set a journal or planner aside for a week.

Not long ago, as I transitioned away from Bullet Journaling and as I awaited choosing a new planner or whatever I was going to do, I used my daily diary journal as a step-gap planner, where I kept my appointments, to-do lists, and things of that nature.

I am still seeking planner peace. I am still using a variety of planners until I find what makes me happy.

Even if I find happiness in my planners now, that does not mean that next year will bring the same joy.

Planning is an ever-evolving ever-shifting activity.

Do not think that the one way you do things has to be the only way you do things for the rest of your life. You can change any and every little thing about your planning set-up.

Allow yourself to have empty pages in your planners. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Allow yourself to be imperfect.