Functional Planning with Multiple Planners

In the planner community, there two types of plannernerds: those that use one planner, and those that use multiple planners. It’s a friendly debate that strives to keep us focused on productivity without getting distracted by all the wonderful things we love: organizer covers, notebooks, papers, and pens! 🙂 With all the beautifully crafted products on the market, some may think plannernerds use multiple planners simply to find an excuse to use everything in their growing collections. However, I’ve come to learn over the last few years that there are circumstances that might warrant using an additional planner—or two, or three!–to help me plan more effectively. So what are some functional uses for multiple planners?

My planner journey began in the early 1990s with a single pocket-size Day-Timer organizer comprised of booklets containing a day-on-2-pages. This simple, functional system served me well for many years, with the occasional ‘pause’ when I abandoned it to experiment with the latest digital organizers (pre-smartphone)—read more about it here and here.

My very first functional planner!

Back then, one planner binder was all you needed. In the last few years, all of that has changed. No longer did you have to choose between Day-Timer or Franklin Covey (aka Franklin Quest as it was known back then)—these were the two main choices available in the USA—have to choose between a black or brown binder cover, or whether you wanted a day-on-2-pages or week-on-2-pages (inserts were very similar between brands so not much of a choice there). Now planner covers are available in a variety of materials, colors, styles, and types like ring-bound, disc-bound, book bound, or with straps and there’s a vast selection of inserts, all of which many plannernerds find hard to resist—myself included!

So, yes, my collection has grown and at first I would swap out planner covers like I swapped out purses but then I realized I could also use them to separate and manage different life areas more effectively. My life has gotten significantly more complicated than my earlier planner days when I was a single college student. Now it involves keeping track of not only myself but also a family of 4 (or 8 if you count the pets!), a full-time highly technical job where I juggle multiple projects, a growing multi-faceted creative ‘side hustle’, and all the other mundane things that come with life (e.g. paying bills, managing health, taking care of a home, etc.).

The number of schedules and amount of notes, tasks, and information I now have to keep track of has become overwhelming. I just couldn’t find a planner layout or binder size that could contain it all. So, I decided to spread out my system across multiple planners so I could focus and manage each life areas more carefully and effectively. For more information, check out the video below.

While at first it felt excessive to me to use multiple planners, I realized it was the most effective solution to my overwhelming problem. My productivity has not suffered from this multi-part setup but rather improved immensely from my ability to effectively ‘divide and conquer’. Sure, I wish I could have a small pocket-size planner, with letter-size writing space, that can fit in my back pocket and carry every conceivable piece of information from every life area but we all know that’s a planner dream. Trust me, this is the next best thing! 😉

What about you? Do you use multiple planners? What is each planner setup to track? Does it work well for you or do you struggle with keeping track of everything on your plate? Do you have any other tips or hacks for using multiple planners effectively? I’d love to know, so please share in the comments below and don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe!

Until next time, 🙂

♥ LilD ♥

8 thoughts on “Functional Planning with Multiple Planners

  1. Hi – enjoyed reading this and I hope your system is working nicely for you! I’m most definitely in the separate planners camp, although it’s not for everyone. Either way, it’s amazing how helpful and stress-relieving the system that’s right for ourselves makes us feel. Thank you for sharing 🙂

    Heather at vanilla folders

    • Hi Heather,
      Yes, the choice to use multiple planners is not one we take lightly and it’s not for everyone. However, when done right–right for you–it definitely helps to relieve stress.
      Thanks for reading! 🙂

  2. When I started my job (new career to boot) one year ago, I was using my personal Filofax for work stuff because I carry that planner with me everywhere. After a month I had to face the hard fact that the size was not working for me. I am a medical coder/auditor at a DoD military hospital coding upwards of 22 specialty clinics. I have to reference a lot of guidelines, procedures, and other boring tidbits as well as keep track of training dates, inspections, and project due dates.

    Enter the A5. My husband had given it to me at Christmas, and at that time I had no idea what I would do with it. It’s now my work planner/reference tool. The A5 comes home on Friday to get a once over for the next week. I rotate out references, pages I will not be using and those go into a Clipbook that stays at work. The A5 really is a File of Facts.

    It seems kind of complicated and was a little overwhelming at first, but it works for me. Both the personal and the A5 have a horizontal year calendar that I can cross-reference any overlapping appointments or situations i.e. leave days, needing to be aware of a particular meeting, etc.

    My personal does its thing keeping track of my personal life. It’s a system I have used since the early ’90’s and works beautifully for me.

    Tips for multiple planners: use a yearly calendar to track holidays, leave, appointments, etc. and cross-reference. Using the A-Z tabs as a filing system is also very helpful.

    Multiple planners can be a bit of a pain, but I don’t have one life. I keep my work life as separate as possible from my personal life.

    • Hi there!
      You hit the nail on the head. Sometimes life changes require that you make changes to your planning system. As long as you keep an open mind and are willing to make adjustments to adapt to your new circumstances, you can create a system that works. Also, thanks for the tips! I do use the yearly calendar tip and have tried the A-Z tabs but found it was too much for me to carry around. Instead, I leave my A-Z tabs in a planner at home (for reference) and just keep a ‘Reference Notes’ page in my planner with anything I need to keep with me. If it’s too much information, I’ll either take pictures of the reference pages or create a digital file to carry around with me on my phone.
      Thanks again for sharing!

  3. My aha! moment hit after two failed attempts to shoehorn my life into one book for BuJo purposes: grade- thru grad-school, I dedicated one book per subject. The revamp commenced.

    I studied the nuances of every cobwebbed planner on hand, then rifled thru Google Images to study additional planner pages. Speed forward: planner/BuJo nirvana! 🤗 Hobonichi, Jibun, and a couple of same size A5 notebooks, married and living in a Roterfaden condo. I loathe the tedium of drawing, now banished thanks to the intense flexibility inherent in these Japanese planners. Because I sketched out what would go where FIRST, no overlap, no dupes.

    Saw this as I was checking out * handle multiple planners * back in early March. Now that the revamp has been in place several weeks, had to come back to say Thx!

    • Good for you and thank you! Don’t you love it when a planner system finally comes together? I think many of us go thru this ‘trial and error’ and like you, I like to brainstorm and mind map everything going on in my life to figure out how to design a system that works–sometimes I have to do this every couple of years when things in my life change and that’s okay; it’s a necessary process to find what works. And these Japanese planners…they have been truly life changing. ;-D

      Congrats on your tailored system and thanks for reading!

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