Decorative planning is an amazing outlet to bake creativity into your productivity. Every week you’ll be full of ideas and things you can’t wait to try. Until you’re not. There comes a time in every planner’s life when you run out of planner inspiration.
I’m here to tell you today that this is totally normal. The planner world has grown into an amazing community, but it often gives us a false impression about the cycle of creativity. It can also leave us with no recourse for the valleys in that cycle. Here are three ways I have learned to cope with planner ruts and dig my way out.
The best way to frustrate yourself is to force something that just isn’t there. This is true of many situations in life, and your planner is no exception. Part of the fun of decorative planning is the outpouring of creativity onto the page. It’s supposed to be a fun, safe place just for YOU. Today’s social media world has taken some of that intimacy away (more on that later), causing planning to inadvertently become purely performative for some.
Social media is also a good place to get your joy stolen – by comparison. I follow some AMAZING planner peeps on Instagram and Pinterest. Their planner spreads are whole works of art, often across multiple planners. EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK. Learning from them makes me want to step my planner game up and keep up. But is that realistic? For me, it is not.
My IG isn’t necessarily a “planner-gram” but many of my followers are planner nerds like me. When I realized there was interest in my little planner spreads, I started incorporating them into my feed on a regular basis. I felt pressure to make sure I had a decorated spread every single week to show – until one day I didn’t. My life got to a point where I could only do the most bare-bones functional plan. As a matter of fact, June and August are completely blank in my planner. So, I unburdened myself and went with it. Most weeks, I do manage to get a spread done in my catch-all planner. But if I don’t, I just don’t. And it’s totally ok. As I mentioned before, you have to do what works for your lifestyle and adjust accordingly.
Visit Instagram and Pinterest – for community, not comparison
I know I just went on a mini-rant about keeping up with the Planner Joneses on the internet, but I promise social media isn’t all bad – when used properly. Even though my lifestyle doesn’t allow me to always put on the razzle-dazzle that my planner peers do, I find their spreads so valuable for inspiration.
Checking out other people’s layouts opens a world of possibilities. You aren’t just accessing their work, you’re tapping into their knowledge. You can learn so much about new techniques, how to use tools, and so much more. And guess what? Most folks in the planner community are friendly enough to answer your questions if you ask.
Planner challenges also abound on social media. You can get involved with Facebook groups like Big Happy Planner Babes or search hashtags on Instagram to find challenges to participate in.
The key here is to use social media for community, not comparison. If seeing all the fancy spreads makes you want to quit planning, step away for a while until you can find your planning style and be confident. Otherwise, the online planner community can be a wonderful place to broaden your horizons.
Make a theme list for planner inspiration.
Themes have gotten me through many a hard time on my planner journey this year. I personally think planner ruts are more common the longer you plan because it’s harder to find things you haven’t done already. So, this year, to make my life easier, I decided to theme most of my months. Instead of planning 52 totally unique spreads a week at a time, I try to sit down at the top of the month, pick a theme and use that as the springboard for my spreads that month. Mind blown. I can totally tell the difference in the months where I do this and the months I don’t, in that I am 10 times more consistent. My planning sessions don’t take as long either. Now, some may worry about losing the spontaneity of creativity. No biggie; it’s just paper. I can always pivot to something else if I have spur-of-the-moment inspiration.
One practical way to facilitate this is with a planner theme list. On a day when you aren’t suffering from a planner rut, sit down and do a brain dump of all the themes you may potentially want to try.
I recommend separating them into categories (ex., nature, hobbies, colors, favorite things, etc.). When you find yourself lacking inspiration, you can revisit and draw from this list.
No matter where you are in the cycle of planner inspiration, I want you to remember to be kind to yourself, ALWAYS. Unlike others, you know what you’re going through. Just like life, your planning life is a constant evolution. It’s okay to go with it, knowing that everything is temporary, even your planning rut.
How do you find creativity when inspiration is hard to find? Share with us below in the comments!