I’m always surprised that one of the most frequently asked questions I receive from my community revolves around how many planners one should use to optimize their productivity. To me, the answer is pretty obvious, but I think within the planner community there are so many options for planners and different uses for planners that many of us begin to suffer from shiny object syndrome and want to use all the planners and have a dedicated planner for different aspects of our lives. The thing is though, we all have the same 24 hours in a day and we all have just this one life right now to plan for, so separating aspects of our lives into multiple different planners seems counterintuitive to me.
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The rule I like to use is one planner, one life! That’s right! I think each of us only needs ONE planner to get the job done, organize our schedule and keep on top of our tasks. Why? Well, I think it’s important to keep all of our information for what we need to do and where we are expected to be in one place. When we separate out our calendar or our tasks into different planners we end up only seeing one portion of our life and obligations at a time, thus missing the big picture. This can cause us to overload our schedule with too many tasks or appointments, since we don’t see a full picture of our days, weeks and months. I think many of us already struggle with putting too much on our to do lists, so streamlining into a single planner system, if you are using multiple planners, should help you get more realistic with the expectations you set for your day.
Now, I do believe their are circumstances where using more than one planner is reasonable. If you are someone who works outside the home and your work stays at work, clearly separate from your personal life, then it makes sense to me to have a second planner for your job that you leave at work! This also stands in the event that you have a job where you keep sensitive information or appointments regularly and may need to keep a separate work planner for legal or privacy reasons. I also believe you can use more than one planner IF you get clear on the difference between a binder and a planner. Now, for example, I use a Filofax binder to house my planning system, but you could use a Filofax binder as a journal or to store reference information- it doesn’t just work as a planner cover! So, if you are using more than one binder and one is dedicated to your schedule and tasks, and the others are being used to house specific information or for other purposes, than using more than one is fine. The point is just that you don’t want to separate out information that pertain to your schedule and tasks because it will ultimately overwhelm you to have that information in more than one place.
I know many people bring up the fact that they use more than one planner because they like to use a smaller, more compact planner to travel with outside the home or work, and they might use a larger desk style planner to stay at home. To me, this scenario is baffling because ultimately you are duplicating information which isn’t optimizing your work, just causing you to do more! If you are someone who needs a smaller planner to travel out and about with, my recommendation would be to then keep your schedule and tasks in the smaller planner, and then use the larger binder for extraneous information that you don’t need away from the home or office. Yes, using a smaller planner may mean you can’t store a full year of inserts at one time, BUT ultimately, I believe it will help you to see the bigger picture on your short term items so that you are keeping on top of your schedule and tasks.
If you are using a single planner system and still struggling to get your schedule and tasks organized, I have a great FREE resource you won’t want to miss. I have created a Functional Planning eCourse that will teach you the ins and outs of my Functional Planning process and how to make the most of the 24 hours in your day with just one single planner! Click here to sign up for the FREE eCourse which will be delivered by email on a weekly basis!
So I hope this gives you some food for thought if you are wondering how many planners to use. Of course, I am not the be all and end all on this matter, so if you are using more than one planner successfully outside of the scenarios I discussed, let me know how you manage it and what systems you are using.