Why You Don’t Need Another Planner, Calendar or Productivity App.


My favorite time of year used to be back-to-school season – okay, it’s totally still my favorite time of year.

I would walk into the school supply aisle, and my parents would basically have to push a leash on me to stop me from going crazy. I would have one thought in mind: I need everything. And after a little begging, and the occasional crocodile tears, I would usually leave with way more than what I actually needed.

School would start, and the same thing would happen almost every time. I’d start off strong – a notebook and folder for every subject, a planner to write down important dates. But then, I would slowly start to introduce all of those other unnecessary purchases into my daily routines. And to make matters worse, I was known for buying extra supplies mid-year. Before I knew it, I had a binder that held some assignments and a notebook containing others, my notes were a mess and I couldn’t focus on the work because I was too distracted by trying to figure out how to work. It was a recipe for organizational disaster.

I had everything I needed to be organized, but I was so far from being truly organized. That’s because I was focusing on organization, but not organizing with intention.

Thankfully, I’ve found a system of organization that makes life easier, and doesn’t drag me to the point of no return. All it takes is a little simplification, intention and time to really nail down an organizational method that will work for you.

Step back and assess the need.

Before you decide to buy a new organizational product, like a planner or calendar, step back and assess what you’re really going to use it for. This will keep you from doing two things – wasting money and adding more clutter to your life.

If you can’t say this is the planner that I will use to keep track of my blog posts and important meetings – or, this is the notebook I will use to write creative ideas and keep lists, put it DOWN!

Subtract before you add.

Have you ever seen someone who has pages and pages of apps on their phone? Or stacks of notebooks that either aren’t being used or are old and outdated? Yep – they are called hoarders and that stuff around them is called clutter. Before you decide to purchase more organizational tools, eliminate the old ones. If you’re getting a new planner, get rid of the old one. If you have one list making application, don’t download another.

If you’re making a mid-season move, like introducing a new planner because the old one wasn’t cutting it – give yourself a week or two to transfer any important dates or notations. But that’s it – a week or two, and then, it’s clutter and needs to be tossed.

Simplify as often as possible.

Don’t stress yourself out by creating one hundred systems that you now have to track. If you don’t really need an app, paper planner and phone alerts to help keep you on track, then don’t implement them all. Look at what really bests helps to meet your needs, and stick with that. Less is definitely more.

Accept your own uniqueness.

Just because your friends all rave about their favorite productivity app or go on about how they couldn’t live without their planner doesn’t mean that their system will be an instant fix for your organizational needs. If you are a more visual person, a moleskin with open space to write and doodle freely may work better than your best friend’s planner ever could.

Before you click download, before you drive to Staples, step back for a second and assess the root of your organizational system. As yourself, am I organizing with intention?  Does everything I use serve to help me meet a need? Are the tools I have just taking up space and prohibiting maximum organization?

Have you been organizing with intention?

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  1. AND YES TO…. this. Haha sorry, couldn’t resist!
    I don’t understand the requirements for all these planners, calendars, etc. I have a simple diary that cost me around 5 euro where I write down my important appointments (dentist, admin stuff, work, etc..) and for my blog I just use the editorial calendar if I feel inspired to write a specific post that can’t go live that day. I say keep it simple!

    • I am so the same way! Simple is best, and too many systems just confuses things and makes you an absolutely mess.

  2. I agree with not having so much. But I def have to have a planner, not one of the crazy expensive ones but something that has dates where I can right due dates and stuff like that. I must say though I was the same way when it came to back to school stuff, I loved it all and then fell off the ‘organizational’ bandwagon soon after school started.

    • One system that works and keeps you going is the perfect way to organize! I love adding things to my phone calendar, so that I get alerts during the day, but nothing beats pen and paper planners!

  3. Nailed it! I could not agree more, as I sit here staring at the daily planner that I HAD to have, but have used twice. It’s way too big and not functional at all. What I do use every day? A small cheap dollar store notebook to jot down ideas and thoughts – works way better for me. Great post!

    • Haha that’s the thing! Planners are designed with great colors and tons of boxes and areas for lists and doodles and it all seems great, until you’re realized you’re way too overwhelmed to even use it! I’m so not shocked that the cheepie notebook worked best – simple usually wins!

  4. I was in a situation like this the other week, when I surprised myself by putting down the journal and leaving the store! All I had to do was picture the other unfinished journals I already owned and were taking up space at home, and I decided that I needed to finish those before I could really justify bringing another one into my house. I can’t say I’m always that good at putting things down, but I agree with all of your steps. Think it through! Most times, it will just add clutter. http://alittleoldfashioned.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/use-what-youve-got/

    • YES TO THAT! I’ve told myself that until I fill my current journal and daily notebook, I can’t even walk NEAR that aisle in the store!

  5. Oh dear Lord you have just described me, I am the queen of orgnisational clutter – thankyou for kicking me up the butt about this problem!
    I am definitely putting some of these tips into action over the next few days when I have some time off – things that are not being used are going out!
    x

    • Best of luck with your organizing! Be sure to stop by and let me know how your efforts are going, or there are any other posts you’d like to see to help you out!

  6. this is so me! But every year I can’t help but buy the same things that I didn’t use last year because they’re just soooo pretty!

    • Haha let it be pretty in the store! Pick your favorites and use them up, then reward yourself with something new without the guilt of just adding to the pile!

  7. Great tips! I’m one of those people who want all of the things. If it organizes, I’ll want it!

  8. These are great tips! I was the same exact way about school supplies and I still feel like I am searching for that perfect method of organization. I will definitely have to say that lately, when I decided to try a new app, I made sure to delete the old ones first and I finally feel like I have my method down, but its still in the perfecting stages. Now, I can reflect on what my intentions are with your help, and improve it some more!

    • So glad that you found the post helpful! It takes a while to find that perfect method, and as you change your method will evolve too. I’ve found that staying simple and being honest about what’s really working is the easiest way to figure out your best methods. Let me know how you progress!

  9. This post really made me sit down and think. As March is being super busy for me, I’ve tried many things to keep myself organized but now I’m considering whether is it all too much. I understand school season supply shopping craze, don’t we all want (and need) all those colorful post it notes, pens, cutesy new notebooks… How does one say no to them? haha

    • Haha I always think: if I say no now, I’ll have more money in my wallet and less clutter in my drawer. Also, when all of those awesome supplies go on sale, it will be around the time when you ACTUALLY need them and you can buy them for a steal. Win-win!

  10. This is a post that SO MANY people need, Amber!!! I just recently became more intentional with my organization techniques and it has made such a difference. Turns out I don’t need a thousand sticky notes, a productivity app, Evernote + my planner.

    • Haha thank you Kaylie! I used to be the QUEEN of over organizing, and becoming intentional and simplifying my methods has made an unbelievable impact in my life!

  11. I’m that kind of person who loves back-to-school season, I still do, and I also love organizing all m stuff, all my projects, all my dates, but you somehow made me open my eyes, I did know about this but I wasn’t conscious about it, I’m sure it will help me now on, thanks!

    xx, herplaceattheuniverse.blogspot.com