Ten Planning Myths Debunked

by Ray Blake

Summer 2018

If you spend long in the online planner community you’ll be exposed to lots of helpful tips and information. You’ll also experience a whole collection of myths. Here are some of them.

Myth Number 10: It has to be pretty

Planning isn’t generally a pretty affair. Things change and this is what makes planning necessary. When things change you need to be able to replan quickly whilst incurring as little collateral damage as possible.

Learn to cross things out, squeeze things in – sideways if necessary. In fact a pencil might be a much better tool for this than your expensive fountain pen.

Myth number 9: I need a special page/booklet for that

No, you don’t. A printed daily, weekly or monthly layout is a sensible idea to track your time-bound obligations, but otherwise you can manage perfectly well with blank, lined or grid paper. If you need to track something daily, just use a diary layout, or just keep a plain paper record. You can lay the information out any way that makes sense to you and even change your approach as you go along. Don’t give up that freedom for the tyranny of a form too easily.

Myth number 8: I need a special pouch to prevent scratches

A scratchless planner is like a shiny spanner; it may look lovely but it’s not getting stuff done. A pouch is just another barrier to you getting the thing open and into use. If you’re really worried about damaging your expensive planner, buy a cheap one. As it gets more and more beaten up through use, you’ll come to value it much more than the expensive one you have to save up for and wrap in a soft blanket.

Myth number 7: I do all my planning once a week

So you take on, change and fulfil commitments just during that session? What happens the rest of the week? Unless nothing at all happens, you need to be planning and replanning constantly. That thing you do once a week is not planning.

Myth number 6: I have an organiser now so I am organised

This is very similar to, “I bought a book on that subject so I know all about it.” Most of us realise that absorbing the knowledge from a book requires opening and reading the book, not just owning it. That applies to organisers, too.

Myth number 5: I suffered planner fail

The planner didn’t fail, you failed. You failed to use your planner properly or diligently enough. It didn’t let you down; you let you down.

Myth number 4: I can maintain an electronic calendar and a paper one as well

Yes, you can. It will take an unfeasible amount of time and effort to do so and it will become very tedious very quickly. Think of what else you could be expending all that time and effort on and decide to do that instead.

Myth number 3: I have to stuff my planner with ephemera

Do you have to carry that postcard from ten years ago with you everywhere? What about that recipe for ratatouille – are you planning to cook it alfresco or on the bus? No? This stuff belongs at home rather than weighing down your daily commute and cluttering up your planner.

Myth number 2: I need a new binder/cover

No, you WANT a new binder or cover. No-one ever found their tennis improved when they bought a new racquet bag. Your handwriting will not get better when you buy a new pencil case. Your planning habits will not be magically improved when you have a new holder for the paper. If you still want a new binder or cover when your current one isn’t broken, you’re not buying a tool, you’re buying jewellery.

Myth number 1: I’ll write that down later

You won’t.

Ray Blake makes his home on the Internet at My Life All In One Place, where he offers a metric ton of planner advice and free printable inserts for both ringed planners and traveler’s notebook style planners. He has also authored two books, Journalling School and The Pocket Notebook BookHe best describes his planner usage in his own words here.

10 thoughts on “Ten Planning Myths Debunked

  • August 9, 2018 at 1:41 PM

    So good!! Loved this article.

  • August 10, 2018 at 11:21 PM

    I do maintain an online calendar as well as the one in my Filofax, and it hardly takes any time at all. My Filofax is my main calendar, so everything goes in there first, but it gets copied to my online calendar almost immediately via phone or tablet, and that means I can share that info with family.
    But I agree with everything else – it’s a good list.

  • August 11, 2018 at 5:29 AM

    Well done Ray, couldn’t have said it better myself .
    Good article for a rainy Sat morning here in Glasgow.

  • August 16, 2018 at 1:14 PM

    Great article for getting on with actual planning.

  • September 1, 2018 at 1:02 AM

    Ray is as sharp, direct and awesome as always,!!

  • September 8, 2018 at 1:08 AM

    This is so accurate. I have watched so many YouTube vids on how to make my planner pretty, have to carry around cards with cute sayings, wash tape, stickers everywhere. How anyone can plan anything that way is beyond me. And having so many planner covers that you have to have a sale to make room? It’s making me think these people who have 50 travelers notebook covers or any other brand is bordering on hoarding, and is a disease.

  • October 13, 2018 at 3:16 AM

    Spot on. I do maintain a digital calendar as my family get nothing done unless something dings at them – better the phone than me! However I work from a small, minimal paper planner as I like to look at my week in one go without the need to charge it first!

  • December 4, 2018 at 8:13 PM

    I laughed out loud at number 3. Alfresco on the bus! Great article.

  • December 13, 2018 at 5:15 AM

    #5 is not necessarily true, and comes across as a tad judgmental. You CAN suffer planner fail if the planner you chose doesn’t actually fit your life. If it’s too big and heavy, too small for adequate writing space, doesn’t have enough pockets, is a ring binder when spiral really suits you better…. any number of reasons.


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