I'm meticulous about writing everything down in my calendar. From vacation days to dinner plans to interviews scheduled for work, everything's in there, available for me to cross-reference at any time.
But this calendar isn't a color-coded Google page. It's an analog paper planner.
For the past three years, I've shelled out $60 a pop for a LifePlanner from Erin Condren. It's pricier than other paper options and certainly more expensive than the free electronic calendar already attached to my email. But it's an expense I'm more than willing to pay year after year. Here's why.
This planner is fun. It makes me happy to open it, which makes me actually want to use it, which means I'm not letting plans or details fall through the cracks. I've tried several electronic calendars over the years and all of them are cold and utilitarian, which leaves me less than enthused to open them on a daily basis.
Because I'm not the creative type of person who wants to decorate each page herself, I crave the colorful layout and pre-written inspirational quotes that greet me whenever I need to jot something down. It might seem cheesy, but it's a huge plus.
LifePlanners come with one of three weekly layouts, all with different levels of detail. For the past four years, I've chosen the layout that breaks down each day into 30-minute increments. The extreme level of detail allows me to visually process how busy I'll be each day and plan accordingly. The planners I used previously only had one blank box per day, which didn't provide the level of structure I wanted.
In addition to the weekly and monthly overviews, the LifePlanner also features pages for goal-setting, to-do lists, important dates and taking notes. I not only know where and when I'm meeting a friend for lunch on Saturday, but I can also keep track of how many books I've read this year and what I need to buy on my next grocery run all in one place.
Most importantly, finding a planner that works for me — no matter the price — was crucial because physically taking the time to write things down forces me to remember everything. Typing plans into an electronic calendar has never had the same effect of helping me commit details to memory.
Using paper also allows me to visualize my days, weeks and months as I plan them, which gives me a sense of control over my schedule. It keeps me from feeling overwhelmed because I can reference everything in one place.
I know this particular planner isn't perfect for everyone's needs, but it's been a lifesaver for me. And when it comes to investing in something that will make my new year more organized and less stressful, it's worth every penny.
This article was originally published on Dec. 26, 2017 and has been updated.
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