Is the Panda Planner for you?

I think I must have been living under a rock! I had never heard about the Panda Planner until one of my PhD students arrived in my office for a meeting with her planner under her arm and raving about how much she loved it! After some google searching and reading online reviews it seemed that she was not the only one. People love these things! So I decided that I would get one and try it out for my fall semester ( I purchased my Panda Planner Classic from Amazon but there are other online sites that also sell the planner).

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Now if you have followed my blog in the past, you will know that my team has moved much of our research workflow and communication to the online project management tool Asana. So I was not sure about incorporating a paper planner back into my work routine. I have been using the planner for a couple of weeks now and wanted to let people know how it was going in case you are considering trying the planner out.

1) there are different types of planners with somewhat different layouts and that cover different time periods (more on this later). They all look the same on the outside but make sure you do some research to see which style will best fit your needs. I picked the Classic planner because it is smaller than the pro but to be honest I made my purchase without really doing much research.

2j it turns out that the Pro is a quarterly planner and so if you use it every day it will last 3 months. I was willing to compromise a smaller size planner for the 3 month time period since my use of most planners changes over time. I figured that the planner would last the entire fall semester (Sept to December break) since there are days that I don’t use the planner (like weekends). This works because the planner is undated which is something I really liked. You won’t waste pages if you skip a day.

3) the layout is a bit unusual and it takes some getting use to. It has monthly, weekly, and daily sections that are all separate. I don’t mind the layout and the planner comes with 3 ribbon page markers so you can always easily access the section you need. If you are wondering if this layout is going to be a good fit for you, you might want to join the Panda Lab Facebook group. In the files section of the group you can find some printable examples of the different layouts (they also have great videos on their website) so you can dig a bit deeper and see if you think it might work for you,

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4) lastly, I am surprised by how the pando planner has brought some mindfulness practice into my daily routine that had never really “stuck” before. You can’t read the news these days without hearing about how journaling, setting a daily intention, expressing gratitude etc. is a great mindfulness practice to get into but Ihave never really been able to get into the habit. The Panda Planner layout actually has space for you to identify what you are grateful for that day, what your intention for the day is etc. By integrating it into my planner, and not having it be a separate book or journal in which to write, I have found that I have been consistently doing this. Spending a few minutes to appreciate what is going well in life seems like a given but taking the time to intentionally do so using a prompt in the planner seems to have made it more a part of my routine.

The fall semester is upon us and I am feeling like the Panda Planner will be a good fit for keeping things organized this fall both at work and at home. The true test will be if I become so attached to the process that I purchase another one for the winter semester. I will keep you posted as the semester progresses.