I've been searching for the perfect planner for years. The hidden hope is that somehow the right system will help me stay on top of things better. One result of this is that I am on the mailing list for various planner outfits. Over the years I have used Daytimer (my first love), Prenote from QuoVadis, Priority Management, DayRunner (only a brief fling), Franklin Covey, and Levenger. And like a lot of planner junkies, I have also created my own pages when I couldn't find what I wanted. (Yes, I was looking for something more customized to my needs.)
It's a good way to have a look at the whole notion of customization, a trend which continues to pick up speed, thanks to information technologies.
The paper planner business hangs on, I believe, because some of us just are not linear enough to deal with an electronic calendar. Or we just like the fluidity of paper and pencil. Electronic calendars have relatively little in the way of customization ability -- you pretty much have to deal with the interface the way the software designers planned.
The Old Way
Proprietary systems, special binders, expanding layout options support the drive to differentiate
Some systems have almost no customization options, such as Priority Management's paper planner system, below:
You can buy fancier binders, but that's about the extent of it.
Quo Vadis has pretty standard guts as well, but offers a great selection of good looking covers.
Daytimer, one of the granddads of this category, has a massive selection of binder options. And they also have quite a wide variety of page formats as well as a few colorful themes:
Franklin Covey goes much further on the theme options, as you can see in this shot below from a recent e-mail advert:
The New Way
Custom printing lets people create their own unique style
Sadly, the planner that you can design yourself doesn't really quite exist yet, unless you are a do-it-yourself kind of person. But it can't be far off.
I can print business cards at MOO with a different picture on the back of each one. Pictures that I upload, or pictures that MOO has.
I can print custom sneakers for myself, again, using my own designs that I upload, or using a set of patterns and colors the company makes available to me. Yup, there's a hefty price premium. But why not? I haven't been able to decide what I really want, or I'd be sporting my own pair already.
If I really want to build my own planner, there is a web-site for me and my community where I can download templates -- or upload my own designs! DIY Planner has templates and designs you can use to build your own planner. Users upload images of their planning and calendaring systems, share tips, and demonstrate a zestful commitment to meeting their own needs instead of being forced into a template that's not-quite-right.
This is what customization looks like. Options built for one person. Not a pre-printed theme -- a me-theme.