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3 Planning Methods For Those of Us Who Hate Planning

A simple infographic of 3 planning methods for those of us who hate planning

You know what, I hate following plans. I love planning, but following through with all the steps that I’ve created for myself — no, thank you!

But I still need to accomplish things. How do I do it?

I use different tools, methods, and techniques. I mix and match them. I invent new.

But in this article, I’ll share three methods I use the most. They have different uses, but I sometimes use all three when planning one event. Here they are:

  • Bullet Journal

  • Mind maps

  • Doodle diary

Bullet Journal

When to use it

I tend to use it when I need to plan something short-term or fun.

For example, I'll use my bullet journal if I need to visualise the month ahead or a few creative ideas. 

A bullet journal is like my control panel — I can see everything that needs to happen. But it’s not an action plan. I never use bullet journals to plan my day. I use simple to-do lists for that.

No, the bullet journal is a starting point. It’s a dashboard; it’s a glimpse into my life.

You cannot rush it either, so don’t create it in a hurry or for projects that need your urgent attention. With bullet journals, you need time to make the spread beautiful and then spend time looking at it, reflecting on thoughts and ideas.

How to use it

Use all your stationery supplies, such as stickers, highlighters, glitter pens, and washi tape, to make sure you get the most out of your bullet journal. 

I hand draw calendars or glue ready-made spreads to my bullet journal. 

There is no hard and fast rule, whatever you feel like. But it does help me see the month ahead with all the dates added. 

I added everything I could think of: birthdays, when my contact lenses are due for renewal, and bills. So I have a good idea of when everything is happening this month.

I sometimes add quotes and affirmations. Whatever inspires me at that moment in time. 

My advice is to make it a place you want to return to. Turn it into your happy planning space. 

Mind maps

When to use it

I use mind maps when I need to plan and visualise something complex. 

Imagine you have a research paper to write. It takes you months and months to do your research. The initial ideas you wrote at the beginning might be outdated by the time you reach the end. That’s when mind maps are life saviours.

Or you might have a birthday party to organise with lots of moving parts, people, food, allergies, etc. You need a big space that helps you connect all the random ideas that come to mind and see the whole picture. 

How to use it

Start with the main idea. Add all the secondary ideas, then all the other ideas, connecting them all as needed. 

Use different coloured pens or pencils, highlighters, and stickers. 

Make important information more prominent, and add dates or time frames if needed. A mind map is a view of your plan from the above. It’s everything that you need to consider. 

After my mind map is complete and I know what I need to do next, I’d create a simple action plan to bring the steps on it to life. 

Doodle diary

When to use it

A Doodle diary might start as a well-intended mind map. But it might turn into something messy with thoughts and ideas that do not fit together. When it happens, I turn it into a doodle diary. 

I also choose a doodle diary when I have lots of random ideas that are not connected to any particular topic. I will write them down, doodle them, or add scribbles, highlights, and random symbols.

Another good use for a doodle diary is when you need to throw down ideas on paper for a particular event, e.g., a job interview, article planning, birthday party ideas, etc. It’s a brain dump, in a way, with the aim of getting the next steps out of it.

Once I felt like I had emptied my brain and added all the random thoughts that were swirling in it, I would read through this incomprehensible mess and move semi-formed ideas onto my to-do list.

How to use it

Go crazy, and don’t restrict yourself. 

Add whatever comes to mind—Egyptian writing and undecipherable symbols—as long as they feel right to you, add them all. 

Sometimes, our mind needs a bit of freewriting space where it’s not expected to come up with perfect outcomes, set plans, smart ideas, etc. Sometimes, we need to let our subconscious communicate with us through images, squiggles and scribbles.

You might not always be able to read what you’ve written. Or you will find an answer amongst those scribbles to the question that’s been bothering you for ages. 

It’s like having insights in the shower — we don’t request them when we are having a wash. On the contrary, because our brain knows it can now have a rest, great ideas pop out as if out of the blue. But they don’t appear out of nowhere — our brain is resting. All those thoughts and ideas have been percolating for ages, and now we’ve given them an opportunity to come out.

Don’t have any expectations from planning using the doodle diary method. Just note down thoughts and ideas that come to mind, and you might be surprised by the answers you find there. 

Or you might free your mind so much that you will generate several planning steps that you will write in the form of a straight-forward to-do list or an action list. 

Final Thoughts on Planning Methods

There are so many planning methods; you don't have to choose one and only and stick with it for the rest of your life.

Not at all.

Try different planning methods. Mid and match them. Discard those that no longer serve your needs. Adapt those that are good enough. Change those that need tweaking.

It's your life, your planning, your methods.


Ark1 1
Ark1 1
May 05

Thanks this is useful I have a journal that consists of thoughts ideas and pictures etc I never thought about mind mapping and bullet points though thanks for the inspiration 😀💛👍🌟

Vic Bowling
May 06
Replying to

I am so glad you’ve found it useful 🥰💕 I struggled a lot with not being able to stay consistent with usual planning tools 🤣🤦‍♀️ then I realised that I needed to create chaos before adding order to it. So by trial and error I’ve learnt that doodles and mind maps could be used for planning 🥳

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