Using Multiple Planners? Then You Need This!

If you’re an avid planner user, you may understand the thrill of smelling a fine crafted leather planner, the appeal of starting a new blank page, or writing with a freshly inked pen. It is the lure of a plannernerd. 🙂 As a result, some will choose to be faithful to one planner while others will compartmentalize areas of their life and dedicate a special planner to each area (yes, we’re always looking for reasons to use all the beautiful planners in our collection!). As a multi-planner user, I’ve recently introduced one more tool into my rotation to manage the flow of information throughout all my planners. So what’s my secret?

In the beginning of this year, I wrote a 4-part blogpost series titled ‘New Year Planner Setups’ (check out these links for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4) describing my work (letter-size), blog (A5 size), on-the-go (personal size), and primary (A5 size) planner setups. While this works well for me, sometimes an idea or thought would come to mind while working in one planner that belongs in another planner. When this happens, I have to stop, locate the other planner, and log the information as quickly as possible hoping I don’t forget or get distracted along the way! That’s when the concept of having a planner ‘inbox’ occurred to me. My goal was to have a small, portable tool to capture all this information swirling in my head throughout the day—my mind is constantly in overdrive and very hard to shut off!—that could be sorted out into the appropriate planners at the end of the day.

planner, planners, junior size, pocket size, van der spek, vds

Junior size Van der Spek

My ‘inbox’ planner is a junior size (equivalent to a Filofax pocket size) Van der Spek binder that I won in a Philofaxy contest (yay!). Those familiar with VDS planners know of the impeccable quality of their handmade leather binders so I was excited to add this gorgeous little guy to my rotation. I set up three divider sections: the first with unused 2015 Filofax weekly pages, the second with lined, graph, and blank sheets, and the last with a ‘brain dump’ prompt list to help me identify any other items I might’ve forgotten.

planner, planners, van der spek, bella pilar, vds, pilot hi-tech maica

Simple setup of just 3 dividers: (1) inbox/daily plan, (2) Notes, (3) Brain Dump prompts list

With a small planner in hand, stocked with plenty of blank pages, I decided to let this ‘inbox’ system evolve organically. So far, I’ve been using the first section as my inbox, to capture those thoughts and ideas that pop-up throughout the day. Since the first section is stocked with old 2015 weekly pages, I consider it ‘scrap paper’—a ‘one time use’ page that gets thrown away at the end of the day. I start off by crossing out the old date range pre-printed on the sheet to write in the current day of the week and date at the top of the page. This helps me remember what day I captured the notes in case I don’t get a chance to transfer them to the appropriate planner in the evening. This process eventually evolved to my thinking how convenient it would be to also have the day’s schedule—or daily plan—handy in this portable package. So I started including the appointments, top 3 tasks, and any other ‘must do’ tasks for the day from my primary and blog planners. Throughout the day, I refer to this page, checking off items as they are completed and making sure I don’t miss any appointments in addition to capturing notes or thoughts that come to mind in a bullet journal fashion (a simple planning method where all items are captured in a checklist format and categorized using letters or symbols). At the end of the day, I review the information, transfer it to the appropriate planner, then tear up the page and prepare a new one for the next day.

planner, planners, van der spek, vds, chic sparrow, carie harling violet, jendori, a5, touch me manager, blog planner, personal planner

Front-to-back: Inbox planner, Blog planner, Primary planner

planner, planners, van der spek, vds, filofax, inbox planner

Inbox/Daily Plan (one time use)

I’ve found that this has been a great way to use up old planner pages and stay focused throughout the day. I don’t do any planning in this planner—it’s just a capture tool—and keeping an eye on the day’s plan is a welcome bonus! The second section I’ve reserved for capturing long notes if I don’t have the appropriate planner handy—e.g. if I’m on a webinar or conference calls—and to brainstorm ideas. The last section, as mentioned, above is just for reference.

Now you might be thinking, ‘But don’t you have an on-the-go planner for that?’. My on-the-go planner is for when I leave the house and that planner stays in my purse and only has monthly pages so I can refer to them if I’m out and need to schedule an appointment. I work from home so using two A5 planners (blog and primary) isn’t much of a problem because they stay in my home office if I need to refer to them throughout the day but carrying them around along with my letter-size work planner can get to be a bit much! My planner ‘inbox’, on the other hand, is extremely portable so it’s easy to carry around the house and has eliminated the problem of having to stop mid-thought to switch over to another planner to log new information. It’s nicer than capturing random notes on a stack of Post-its and has become the ‘glue’ of my multi-planner system. 🙂

Are you a multi-planner user? How do you handle managing information across planners? Please share in the comments below!

If you found this post helpful or know someone it could help, please like, subscribe, and share on social media!

Until next time,

♥ LilD ♥

10 thoughts on “Using Multiple Planners? Then You Need This!

  1. I read this post twice and don’t understand. It seems like a lot of redundancy – having a separate planner just to plan your other planners. Wouldn’t having a small, pocket notebook to capture stuff for all your planners be easier to carry and less work? This just doesn’t make sense and seems like a lot of flipping back and forth between planners. I know when you have a lot of nice planners you want to be able to use them all at once, but it sounds very confusing. If it works for you, fine. I just don’t see it. A simple little notebook seems like less hassle then a fully setup planner to act as an in box

    • Hey there!

      Thanks for your comment. I agree it can sound confusing to some–it all depends how a person processes information. Like I mentioned, this is only an experiment so it’s something I’m trying out. To clarify, I’m not using the planner inbox to ‘plan’, I’m using it to capture information ‘on the fly’ throughout the day and including the day’s schedule was just a bonus (I realized this wasn’t clear in my post so I updated it to clear up any confusion). Some folks prefer to separate areas of their life into ‘buckets’ (work, personal, school, blog, etc.) to deal with them individually because combining everything together makes it confusing and overwhelming (especially if the area has a lot of moving parts, sub-projects, tasks, etc.). I’ve tried doing everything in one planner and found that information was quickly ‘lost’ in the pages because I couldn’t remember which day had the information I was looking for and with all the ‘buckets’ blended together, it made it even harder to find. I’ve also tried using a simple notebook with a table of contents but related information was spread across books. Keeping related information in one planner works for me because everything related to the topic is together and helps me focus on one area at a time. The problem arises when I’m in one book and I need to jot something down that belongs in another book—and that happens a lot because my mind is always going 100 miles an hour, lol! That’s the problem I’m hoping the planner inbox will solve (and why it’s only filled with scrap paper—to jot it down quickly, transfer it to where it belongs, then throw it away).

      If you have any ideas or tips, I’d love to hear them! I’ve been using planners for over 20 years and have learned and tried a lot of different setups and techniques over the years to see what works for me so I’m always open to learning something new. Thanks again!

  2. Carla says:

    Hi there, this sounds like it’ll work. I have a 3 planner system. 1) FC Classic with 1.5 inch rings for a “Life Maintenance” place, 2) FF Personal in which I do all my planning and tracking. This can get heavy, and even when it goes on a diet, it’s still too much to carry around. About a month ago, #3 joined the group, a FF Pocket size as my wallet and capture space. I used to keep a separate wallet and a small notebook but having separate pieces drove me nuts. Having them together, I no longer have to remember to grab a small notebook and pen. I’ve got them with my wallet. Now I can just grab my wallet/capture device, phone, and keys, stuff them into a crossbody bag, and I’m off.

    Good luck with your plan. I like your idea of using up old inserts for capture pages. I’ll try this using the day sections as an errand docket. I could also use another set for “snippet” journaling.

    • Hey Carla,
      Yeah, having multiple planners sometimes helps break things up to make them more manageable but you can’t help where or when a thought or brilliant idea strikes. Plus, sometimes you want an ‘overview’ of your day if you planned things in each of those areas and depending on the size of the planners, you may not always want to carry them around. I like your idea of a pocket/wallet combo–I’ll have to give it a try!
      So far it’s working but we’ll see. As you know, it’s a process that takes a lot of trial and error and evolves over time. 😉

  3. For me this makes sense. I have 2 A5 (main and work), a business planner (preprinted), I have the monthly view in a separate booklet, a social media planner, a compact as wallet and now a pocket. First I had everything together, but separating things helps me. The daily plan is in the main planner, even for work. The compact stays in my bag, I cannot write in it, it holds only a monthly calendar, only with events that I have to know outside if I make an appointment (I want to write contacts also here, but I didn’t done yet). I love that, when I’m planning, I don’t have to flip here and there in my planner. First I copy the appointments from the monthly to my daily. Then I make the weekly review in the business planner, and add the tasks to my dailies. I need my work planner when I make monthly/yearly planning, or when I’m working on a project. Same as when I write blog/FB post, I take out my social media planner. The main planner is open the whole day at the daily page, and I grab any other planners I need. I started to use the pocket only the last week, and I bring it wherever I go in the flat. I want to copy also lists here, lot of list is too small to keep in an A5 binder 😀

    • That’s quite a setup! The number of planners is another thing I’ve struggled with–not having so many that it becomes too much to keep track of. My work planner stays in my home office, my primary planner manages personal/family/fitness stuff, and my blog planner is both blog and social media (these two A5s used to move around with me at home before I introduced the pocket ‘inbox’–call me lazy, lol!). When I leave the house, I use a personal size planner with monthlies and note paper just so I have something portable but big enough to capture notes on the go. So far, so good!

  4. I used a personal for 20 years. The setup was great, one section for everything, until this year. This year, work expanded and needed its own space, so I picked up an A5 planner. I work from home, so the A5 stays home, and the personal with everything else comes with me.

  5. serina says:

    I just had a thought on having a small inbox planner n was wondering if it’s gonna work for my needs when I came across your blog post discussing this. This is exactly the system that I’m about to apply. My idea of this inbox planner is much similar to yours except that I’m gonna use a monthly layout to capture all important events scheduled and appointments.
    I had been using a personal Finsbury as my on-the-go planner. I work in academic field so I’m out a lot. The Finsbury was always with me for a while before I decided it’s heavy (not bulky but quite an addition to the weight of my purse) for me to carry around. Sometimes I have a small purse with me which the planner is way bigger. Eventually it stays at home and I lost track of my schedule and my life becomes disorganised. Hence the idea of having this small planner (that you call ‘inbox’) that can fit in my all purse sizes.
    Thanks for sharing the way you use this. I love it. I’ll definitely be doing the same 🙂

    • Hi Serina,

      I’m glad you found this helpful! I’ve struggled with this problem for a long time and couldn’t get away from using multiple planners so I really needed to find a way to make it work. I’ve taken this concept and have been able to use it with various tools–i.e. planners of various sizes/formats as well as smartphone apps–to maintain a balance of always having the information I need while still having something portable. If you have any other tips or hacks, I’d love to hear how you’ve made it work for you!

      Thanks for reading. 🙂

Share your thoughts and tips below!