#LiveRi¢h Productivity: Bullet Journaling vs. Panda Planner (Review)
Bitting the Bullet
We're officially a full week into 2018, and I've been really excited to share some of the tools that I'm using to keep me on track with my goals and productivity. I don't know about you, but I always get excited about buying journals and planners. I just LUUURVE cute writing supplies-- like it's a bit of a problem. It has gotten to a point where every time I step into Marshalls I have to make a conscious effort to avoid the home-goods and stationary section because I've already amassed quite a collection of journals. I don't need any more, but I'm just a sucker for pretty compact writing spaces with a cute quotes and fabulous leather binding-- throw in a price tag of $4.99, and I'm immediately sold!
Anyway, I digress. As you can see, I put a lot of love and thought into the materials where I pour out my plans and thoughts. lol So purchasing a new planner every new year is a pretty big deal for me. This year, rather than waiting for the start of the new year to arrive, I started my search before 2017 was over. This way I was ahead of the game and ready to go come January 1, 2018!
My proactive search was prompted by the fact that I'd been bullet journaling since August of 2017, and I started running out of space (with a little more than a month left in the year). So while I was looking for a journal option to finish out the year, I figured I might as well get a jump on searching for my 2018 planner as well.
Self Discovery Through Planners
At the beginning of 2017 I'd purchased a beautiful black leather bound planner. It was literally the largest planner I've ever owned in my life, and I thought would be perfect to hold out my thoughts and plans (since its dimensions boasted a full 8"x11")! Throughout the year, I realized that I wasn't really utilizing the planner on a daily basis because I was annoyed by the layout.
There was never enough space to fit all of my tasks for the day and there weren't any lines; in addition to this, many of my tasks didn't fit in the allotted boxes so I would have to write things in the margins and draw arrows to the respective location. Not only did the inside of my planner look a mess, it caused my thoughts and planning process to become a mess. Jotting down my plans and ideas became more of a frustration than an exciting time for me-- so I just stopped doing it all together. That is, until I began watching youtuber @WithWendy's video series on Bullet Journaling. Talk about a game changer!
What attracted me to the idea of bullet journaling is the creative aspect that's involved in the planning process. I loved the fact that each bullet journal/planner is completely customizable and made for you, by you! By working in a way that's best for you and the way that your mind works, you're more likely to accomplish more, and feel more accomplished at the end of each day. The bonus: you can give your planner/journal personality by designing it any way that you like! As someone who keeps my planners to document growth and memories, I feel that this is a great way to follow how you as a person (your tastes/business ideas/plans/aspirations) have matured and developed over time. :)
My Panda Planner
After the third or fourth month of bullet journaling I came to terms with the fact that it was a little more time consuming than I'd anticipated. I wanted a pretty planner without having to create it from scratch. With this said, my 5 months bullet journaling did teach me a couple of things about myself, while also confirmed a couple of things I already knew as well:
When completing my daily tasks I need more space to flesh out my ideas- Those little boxes for an entire days-worth planning don't work for me.
When planning things ahead of time (especially if it's weeks ahead) I need a frequent reminder/follow-up system- almost like having multiple alarm settings in order to wake up on time in the morning. I know I'm not the only one who does this, right? I need a reminder on a monthly basis, a weekly basis, and on the day itself. Otherwise, if I'm just relying on writing it down once (the day of), the task or event is bound to be forgotten until then.
The importance of color- I purchased a couple of colorful pen sets when I started bullet journaling. Color not only makes my planner pretty and makes me happy, it also keeps me motivated to see more things get checked off (while simultaneously helping the important details about my tasks stand out so they aren't forgotten).
The most important things should also be added as an alarm in my phone... because hey, I'm human. Besides, it doesn't hurt to have just ooooonnnne more reminder! lol
I like to have all of my thoughts available in one place (for reference) without added scraps of papers/sticky notes all over the place-- so any planner I get needs to have a pocket in the back for the rare instance where I may need to guard a random note/piece of paper for safekeeping.
I found it helpful to assess my goals at the end of the month - I usually tend to bite off a little more than I can chew. It's great for keeping me busy, but not so great for seeing a completed to-do list at the end of day.... My tasks are NEVER ALL completed at the end of the day. With the daily tasking system I implemented while bullet journaling, I was able to track my goals in terms of what I set out to accomplish, versus the reality of what I was actually able to accomplish. This way I learned whether I was being too ambitious in setting my goals/daily tasks, and which tasks I was prioritizing most. This system helped me understand why.
When it came time to purchase my new planner, I made sure to keep these points in mind. There were a couple of planners online that I really liked, but I opted for the Panda Planner because of its blank format which made it customizable as far as writing out days and dates. As a mother (soon to be mother of two!), the idea of gaining a work-life balance is VERY important to me. To this point, the Panda Planner is so much more than a planner-- in a lot of ways it also doubles as a gratitude journal; it's broken down on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis with questions that not only aid in thinking about business/career goals, but overall life goals and happiness!
Potential benefits that are said to be gained from using this planner include:
Developing better time management skills
Achieving a better work-life balance
Living a more fulfilled life
I was SOLD! I figured, "hey, it's worth a try it it can keep this #LiveRi¢h Mommy on track for all I'm planning in 2018, it's worth a try!" lol The only thing I wasn't sold on was the price. The Panda Planner costs $26.97. I've personally never spent more than $8.99 on a planner, so for me this was an investment. lol
Last Thoughts & Things That Could Be Improved
So far I really love this planner system and the way it forces me to think outside of simply completing tasks. The only thing that I've not been pleased with so far, is the fact that I don't think the planner will last through a full 365-day calendar year. As I was writing out the months and weeks, I discovered that the monthly section of the planner only allots for 6 months (Jan-June), the weekly section only allots for 13 weeks (Jan-end of March), and I didn't even bother counting the number of pages in the daily section (by my estimation it looks like 4 months-worth pages).
This means I may have to purchase another planner in a couple of months (probably around May or so). I wouldn't expect all of the months and weeks to be present in this planner, but seeing that I purchased a daily planner I would've expected there to be a full year's-worth pages in the daily section. So I'm a little annoyed at the idea of possibly having to shell out close to $30 dollars on another planner just to complete the year. Especially since I already mentioned earlier in this post that I like to keep all of my thoughts in one place-- now if I ever want to look back at things that happened at earlier in the year I'll then have to go back and locate a completely different planner? Not cool.
So you're probably asking "is the planner worth the $ 26.97 investment?" Only time will tell, but so far so good! Maybe I'll do a follow-up review in a couple months. In the meantime, check out my video review of the Panda Planner compared to my former bullet journal.
Leave a comment below letting me know which tools you're using to keep on track of 2018 goals, as well as what you look for when considering a new planner/daily organizer. PS: If you're interested, you can purchase the Panda Planner here.
Until the next time, #LiveRi¢h and Happy Dream Chasing!
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