The use of a paper planner is becoming increasingly popular for good reason, it's a good way to manage your time and be productive. And yet it happens, "you're falling behind", the planner becomes an obligation. Instead of a bullet journal helping you, it's stressful. Is this how you experience it or do you recognize it?
When we surf the internet for planner or journaling ideas, we are flooded with an enormous amount of spreads, terms and other designs. How easy it is to lose yourself in the world of planners and journaling. It's very simple.
Empty planners in your drawer
My friend saw my planner lying on the table and was immediately interested. She asked questions like 'how does it work' and 'where do you get your things from', but also placed comments like 'do you draw all that yourself?' and 'what a job'. Still, she decided to start with a Journal as well.
She immediately ordered two Leuchtturm1917 bullet journals at La Couronne Du Comté, which is my favorite store in Tilburg, because she couldn't choose which color she liked the most. She bought a bright yellow and a blue one. We are now 10 month further, two beautiful brand new notebooks and a bin full of washitapes are still in the cellophane in the drawer.
When I ask her why she didn't start her bullet journal, she doesn't really have an answer. She avoids it a little with statements like 'I haven't had time yet' (10 months on!!!) or 'I'm waiting until January 1st so my notebook actually starts on the first day of the year'. Why wait so long to get an agenda, tasks and thoughts in order in your head?
Uncertainty and anxiety
Between the lines, I hear uncertainty and anxiety and meanwhile, her stock of the most beautiful pens and washitapes is growing steadily. Where does the anxiety to start journaling come from? We're talking about some paper, it's not like you have to perform an operation or write in gold or anything like that. Rather, you want to use a method so that you will get things done. So that's "something" that helps you! And if, during this process of organizing and structuring, you can give it a creative twist if you like, so that you can relax and enjoy, that's a bonus.
What if I make a mistake
Do you identify with this? You're really not the only one! Just like my friend, she is certainly not the only one who feels a barrier to start on a blank page in an empty book with the thought 'what if I ruin it' or 'what if I make a mistake'.
Actually, I understand that reaction, too. Because when we surf the net in the world of planners and journaling, we come across the most beautiful designs. They can be real works of art or super original ideas. I can imagine that this feels overwhelming, especially if you look at the basic journaling and don't really know how to do it.
Overwhelming amount of terms
And not to mention all the terms that fly around your ears. Because the largest group within the planner world has English as their main language, English terms are mostly used. I have made a glossary for you in which I have explained more than 55 terms. You can download this here for free. This might make finding your way around the planning world a bit easier.
I can't draw or write beautifully
Thoughts such as 'I can't draw', 'I don't have a nice handwriting', 'I don't have the right material', etc. may arise. In 2017, when I started my planner, journals were already becoming a hype in the Netherlands, but it has taken off in the past few years. I now come across pages of which I think 'wow' ... how beautiful. But because I've been using a bullet journal for a number of years now in a way that works for me, I can immediately switch to 'wow, how beautiful' and that's where my thought stops.
The benefit of all planner ideas available online
I don't lose confidence in myself because I see a nice spread. I can sincerely enjoy it, just like a beautiful photo or painting, but I also zoom out right away and understand that it has nothing to do with my way of journaling anymore.
The nice thing about all the information and examples available online is that when I come across something I think 'that's useful' or 'that's fun', I try to find out if it fits my way of journaling. If not, I have learned that as well. And believe me, there have been a lot of things that didn't suit me.
The way you work
You're going to develop your way of planning, so you can be productive. All you need is a pen and paper. Of course you can browse the web for other artistic ideas, but you want to get your stuff done by using your planner.
When you're playing around with it for a while, you'll make changes. Things that didn't work or that you didn't like, you let go. This way you will find a system that works for you. Whether you keep it very minimalistic or use all the colors of the rainbow, just keep using your planner, bullet journal, notebook or whatever you use, to organize your busy days and full schedule and enjoy the things you do get done.
If you want to see examples of minimalistic planners, go to this Pinterest board. A pen and paper is all you need.
Perfection is the enemy of the good
Or as the original phrase of the French philosopher Montesquieu (1698-1755) reads: 'Le mieux est le mortel ennemi du bien' - 'the best is the mortal enemy of good'.
"The better is the enemy of the good" is actually a warning against perfectionism. It does nothing for you to look for the best, because this 'best' is unattainable anyway. There will always be something to improve, so 'the best' will never be the best. By sticking to wanting to do something perfect or, in other words, not daring to make mistakes, there is a good chance that you won't do or perform anything at all and the beautiful planners lie unused in the drawer.
Good is good!
Stress is the achiever's word for fear
Tony Robbins summarizes it nicely in one sentence: Stress is the achiever’s word for fear. This statement hit me quite a bit a few years ago. I think he's right. Why do I want my planner to look perfect instead of being useful to me? Because at first I too wanted such a beautiful, flawless, colorful planner. Surprise ... flawless and perfect did not succeed 😉
So are you feeling planner stress?
Then take a good look in the mirror and see if these gentlemen are right. Why do you choose perfect over useful?
Have fun and just start, it doesn't have to be perfect! It's not perfect with anyone. Not even with those beautiful journals with illustrations where you will feast your eyes. A page ruined ... hey, that's convenient, you can just turn it over and start all over again 😉 I have journals in which I've taped pages together with washi tape, because I'm so annoyed by the failed setup or drawing. Some mistakes I solved with a joke. For example I created a nice spread for the new year, but didn't realize at the time I designed the page that 2020 is a leap year. I solved it with a doodle.
Of course my bullet journal for me is primarily about managing my time and being productive. Having a to-do list of all the tasks on one page helps me plan a day better and more productive. Plus, writing down a task makes me remember it more easily and help me think of more efficient ways to complete it.
Every day I see the tasks I haven't done and I must move them to the next day. Moving it may happen once, but if the same task has already been passed three times, it makes me think. How important is this task and why don't I finish it? This kind of small analysis helps me to complete more tasks and not waste time on something that isn't really important. Get started! Make mistakes, it's a learning process. This way you will find your own style and a functional planner that provides you the support you need. That is what a planner is meant for. Helping you and not adding more stress.