These tips will help you learn how to use your planner for staying organized at work and at home, to track important tasks, improve your time management, develop daily routines, and much more. Don’t miss 10 ways to make your planner work for you!
10 Ways to Make Your Planner Work for You
Planners are a necessary part of our busy lives. But actually making one work can be tricky. By following a few tips you can make your planner work for you and reap the benefits of being better organized, improving your time management, and much more!
Here are 10 ways to make your planner work for you!
Benefits of Using a Planner
Before we jump into the tips, let’s take a quick look at some of the benefits of using a planner.
Planners can help you:
- Improve your organization: all the important life details together in one place
- Increase productivity: know exactly what you need to do at any given time
- Free up valuable space in your mind: no more trying to remember every little thing
- With the big picture point of view: understand what is coming up in the future and be prepared
- Be intentional about how you’re spending your time: learn how you’re spending your time and make any necessary changes
- Decrease stress: no more forgetting appointments or parties or other important events
- Hold yourself accountable: written reminders and trackers help to keep you focused
- Improve your motivation: by helping you to discover the why’s behind what you’re doing (or not doing) and plan the changes you want to make
- Learn more about yourself: a planner can provide insight into good habits and bad and show you things that are working and not working
- Put a pop of pretty in your day: planners are available in a rainbow of colors, patterns, and style, oh my!
The benefits of using a planner can be far-reaching, and it’s always amazing to me how the intentional use of a planner can positively impact your life!
Now, let’s jump into the tips and discover 10 ways to make your planner work for you!
#1 Find the One for You
It’s important to discover your preferences and the features you want and need in a planner, so you can find the one for you.
To get you started, here are some questions to consider:
Do you like a monthly, weekly, or daily layout? Or a combination?
Big blocks or little ones on the calendars? Do you prefer a vertical layout or a horizontal one?
What other features would you like in your planner: to-do lists, expense trackers, call logs, a notes section, the ability to add and remove pages, etc.?
Do you want more direction in your planner, so you know what information to put where? Or would you prefer complete freedom for your own interpretation?
Pre-printed planner, a bullet journal, or somewhere in between?
Answer these questions if you can, then try a few different planners to further refine what you like and don’t like and what your planner needs are.
Also keep in mind that your planner preferences and needs will likely shift over time, so it’s important to always continue evaluating.
#2 Information Central Station
Get in the habit of reaching for your planner first to record important information. It’s worth the time and effort to write it in your planner instead of on a scrap of paper, the back of an envelope, or on whatever paper is most readily available.
Be sure to include:
- contact information
- tasks to complete
- larger projects & action steps
- goals & action steps
By putting everything into your planner, you never have to waste valuable time and energy searching for information. It’s always at your fingertips in your planner!
#3 Include a Master Task List
Keeping a master task list in your planner is one of the most effective ways to free up mental space, time, and energy.
This list is an ongoing compilation of all things to do, big and small. You’ll categorize tasks based on urgency and importance then transfer them to your daily and weekly plan.
By keeping this list updated, you’ll clear space in your mind and have a good reminder of the progress you’ve made!
#4 Include Actionable Daily and/or Weekly Plans
What gets scheduled gets done!
Creating a daily or weekly plan of attack helps you to hold yourself accountable and to improve your productivity.
But this isn’t about cramming as many tasks as you possibly can into a specific time frame.
It’s about completing must-do’s, making progress on goals and projects, and scheduling time for fun, family, and yourself.
Learn how to draft a to-do list that works in this post: How to Write a Better To-Do List and Actually get Your To-Do’s DONE!
#5 Make Your Planner Your Constant Companion
You can’t use your planner if you don’t have it with you.
This is one area where my planner habit used to break down. But after choosing a small planner that fits in my purse and sits out of the way on the corner of my desk, I was able to be much more consistent about using and referring to my planner (this is where the constant evaluation mentioned in tip #1 is so important).
This tip, along with the one below, completely revolutionized my planner use and as a result I enjoyed many of the benefits of using a planner effectively!
#6 Work Planner Time into Your Regular Routine
By adding time to check in with your planner into your regular schedule, your task lists, schedule, and focus areas stay in the forefront of your mind.
I like to check mine:
- On Sunday evenings as part of my weekly prep time
- In the mornings before my husband and kids leave for the day (to make sure we’re all on the same page schedule-wise) and again after they leave (to check in with my goals and plan for the day)
- After lunch to see how my day is progressing
- And before I leave my office, so that I can make a plan for the following day and to see what family or household tasks I want to complete during the evening
As you work with your planner, you’ll develop your own schedule for checking it. But when you’re just getting started, check it morning, noon, and night at the very least.
Want some help creating solid routines? Check out this post: How to Build Strong and Lasting Business Routines (psst, it’s not just about business)!
#7 Color Code…Or Don’t
If it feels right to you, color code your planner.
If black and white is more your style, go with it.
And if you’re just not sure, experiment until you find what works for you.
I’m very visual, and I like to see things at a glance. This makes color coding a good fit for me.
Play around and discover your preferences (as mentioned above). After all, this is all about ways to make your planner work for YOU!
#8 Mark It Up, Fill It In, Make It Your Own
To increase your ownership and investment in your planner spend some time marking it up, filling it in, and making it your own!
- Color (or not; see above)
- Washi tape
- Absolutely anything YOU want
Your planner isn’t just a way to track tasks and schedule items. It’s a reflection of your personality. Add your personal touch!
#9 Make It Interactive
Don’t just look at your planner….
Interact with it!
- Check boxes
- Blanks to fill in
- Progress bars to color
- Things to record
- Systems to denote important tasks (ie, symbols)
- Lists to complete
Interacting with your planner is another way to increase your ownership of it. Plus, it’s a way to make tasks and action steps more fun!
#10 Don’t Be Afraid To Try Different Things
Your imagination and creativity are the only limit when it comes to using your planner.
Experiment with layouts, lists, colors, boxes, and organization until you find what works for you!
And if something isn’t working? Let it go and find something better.
The planner police won’t arrest you for leaving something unfinished or abandoning it halfway. 😉
Bonus Tip: Go with the Flow
Some weeks you might be more creative in your planner than other weeks.
And there might be weeks where you’re lucky to even write your to-do’s down.
That’s okay! It’s part of the ebb and flow of your life and your planner habit. No guilt! And no expectation beyond what works for you at any given time!
10 Ways to Make Your Planner Work for You
Sometimes just remembering to look at your planner can be challenging, but you can make a planner work for you!
These simple tricks will help you learn how to use your planner and how to make it work for you, so that you can build a supportive and long-term planner routine that will improve your productivity and organization, help you reach your goals, and meet your commitments!
Don’t forget to pin it!
If you enjoyed today’s post, you might find these related posts helpful:
- Add Hours to Your Day with One Simple Tool
- 9 Things I Learned in My First Year of Bullet Journaling
- How to Meet Your Goals Every Time
Thanks for joining me today!
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