Are Pretty Planners Silly?
When you look around Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by a sea of pretty planners. Beautiful pages filled with bullet journal doodles, gorgeous lettering, and intricate layouts can be found in every corner of the planner community. Some people look at these pretty planners and scoff, saying that no one who is truly busy could possibly spend so much time on such a frivolity. Others look on with envy, thinking that such lovely designs are beyond reach. Well, I’d like to challenge that. As someone who does spend lots of time beautifying my planner, I can offer some insight that might help explain what this artsy planning thing is all about and why it can actually be beneficial for you.
A Little History
Before we begin, I want to explain myself a little bit. I have always struggled with procrastination. Throughout school, I tried a million different approaches to planning – pre-printed planners, scattered notebooks for every possible thing, Post-It notes, apps… nothing worked. I still struggled and I felt hopeless. It was a horribly frustrating place to be.
During that same time of my life, I also was an avid art student. Shortly after graduating high school, however, I dropped art as a hobby. I suddenly felt unsure of myself and I was afraid of making bad art. Mostly, though, it was an enormous guilt any time I tried to make art because I felt like I should be doing something else, something more adult. This mentality and fear led me to abandoning art for years.
When I started using the bullet journal over three years ago, I knew it had potential. But for two years, I used it and still couldn’t find the X factor to make the planner click. I was trying to follow Ryder Carroll’s system, and it was still sorta… flat. Then enter Boho Berry. When I discovered her site, I had a realization that hit me like a bolt of lightning.
I can make my planner fun.
The reason I could never find a planning system for me is because they were always so painfully boring. I long held onto the belief that an organization system had to be cold. Efficient. Utilitarian. I tried to build a habit around something that was less interesting than watching paint dry. It’s like trying to eat healthier by eating the same gross, bland cereal every morning. Of course I’m going to squirm out of it!
It never occurred to me that a planner could be enjoyable. That it could be a hobby. If you tried telling that to 20 year old Shelby, she would have laughed in your face. It’s a frankly absurd thought. But here I am! I’ve been happily using my bullet journal daily for a year and a half, and my life has gotten 100x better because of this one little epiphany.
The Fun Planner
The reason it is vital for me to have pretty planners is because I won’t use it if it’s not interesting. If I don’t use bold colors, create crazy lettering, draw out silly banners, or slap down insane amounts of watercolor, then I simply will stop using my planner. It will become boring if it’s anything less than over the top, and it will lose it’s appeal. The day I stop treating my bullet journal like a playground is the day it loses its magic.
And I’m not alone in this! Many creatives have discovered the possibilities of marrying their passions to their planners. It’s a great way to have a daily outlet. In fact, my planner is one of the biggest reasons that I have been able to get past my artistic fears and try painting again. Once I started using art in the mundane, every day world of planning, then the pressure to create “high art” eased its hold over me. I was able to let go of my ego and just play around without any fear of failure. If I screw up in my planner, I can just turn the page and start fresh tomorrow! No harm done. It’s been a wildly cathartic tool for me, as I’m sure it has been for other blocked creatives.
But Doesn’t It Take a Lot of Time?
Sometimes people look at my over the top spreads and crazy decorations and think I spent hours pouring over the pages. Some people think that the level of detail I put into my pretty planners is just proof that I have nothing better to do. Goodness, I wish that were the case.
I run my own business. I work harder for this blog than I have ever worked on anything in my entire life. Rarely do I have free weekends. My work days often run into the evenings. I’m actually crazy busy about 95% of the time. But you know what? I make the time to sit down and decorate my planner. I don’t find the time – I make the time. Because having an organization system that works is important to me, and the time I put into decorating my planner is an investment. Like I said earlier – if I don’t put in the time to make pretty planners, the planners stop working for me.
You Get Faster Over Time
And surprising as it sounds, this level of decor really doesn’t take that much time. You’d be surprised how quickly you can blast through a spread if you’ve already done it a million times. Because really, it isn’t about being talented. Just like anything else, using your planner (or painting, or lettering) is a skill that you develop over time with repetition and practice.
One of my weekly spreads, with watercolors and lettering and all, only takes about 15 minutes.
My monthly spreads, which I make especially over the top, take about three hours total. That includes all the trackers, logs, and everything – all 9 pages. For something that lasts all month, that really isn’t a lot of time.
My point is, creating a beautiful bullet journal doesn’t take as much time as you might think. It might be slow at first, when you’re trying something new or playing with new materials. But after a few times, you’ll speed through it twice as fast as when you first began.
It’s Not About Looks
In the end, it doesn’t come down to looks. It comes down to fun. If you are struggling to use your planner every day, then you are probably lacking a hefty dose of enjoyment. For me, a fun planner means art, doodles, lettering, and watercolors. That isn’t the same for everyone! Your fun planner might be all about baseball, or dogs, or heavy metal bands for all I care. Take a passion you already have and integrate it into your planner, and you will find yourself drawn to it more each day. You’ll spring out of bed in the morning, excited to open your planner and write in it.
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And if your idea of a fun planner is one with clean lines and a minimalist vibe, then more power to you! It’s not up to me to decide how you use your planning system. Have an armada of pretty planners or one bulky, scrappy one. I don’t care. Just don’t be afraid to make your planner enjoyable for you. Because your planner isn’t for anyone else. If someone tries to shame you for “doing it wrong”, then they clearly haven’t grasped the concept that you operate differently from him or her. There is no right or wrong as long as it works for you.
Besides, who exactly said that planning and organizing can’t be fun? Where is that written? Don’t worry about anyone else and find your own style, your own fun. You’ll be amazed at how much more effective your planning becomes when you stop dreading it and start enjoying it.