Think of you daily planner like a safety blanket.
When a friend asks when I’m free, I check my planner. When my boss quickly passes on a task to me, I write it in my planner. When I go to book in an appointment, I once again consult my trusty planner.
This isn’t a new practice for me either. I’ve been using a daily planner since back in high-school when my schedule was a lot less full. And even back then, I relied heavily on it.
As the world rapidly moves to an all-digital space, I enjoy keeping this little piece of old-fashioned tradition, because it’s a space where I have complete control. Besides, planning apps have just never stuck with me, and while I always have my phone on me, there’s nothing more reliable than the old pen-and-paper method (it doesn’t just die on you unexpectedly too).
It’s my own personal meditative pleasure, and it seems to be catching on with millennials, as there are more and more Instagram and social media accounts popping up that are solely dedicated to posting pictures and videos of how people organize and decorate their own daily planners.
With that being said, I’ve gone through my fair share of planners, and am still improving the way I use them every day. For me, they aren’t just a pretty desk accessory (although it does double as that), but a trusty companion that is almost always by my side. So as I continue to learn how to make the most out of a planner, I’ve listed a few tips learned along the way, whether you are a newbie or long-time daily planner user.
1. Choose the right one for you
There are SO many planners out there to choose from, and picking one perfect for your lifestyle is vital to ensure you continue to use it.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t just mean picking the one you find the prettiest (although I find myself tempted every year!), but one tailored to your individual needs.
If you are mainly home-based, then a bulkier diary won’t be too much of a problem, but if you are constantly on the go then something more compact is definitely needed. Perhaps you need a day to a page to track everything, or are happy with half a page instead.
For those of you who haven’t bought a planner before, don’t put too much pressure on yourself! It’s almost impossible to pick the perfect one for you the first time, but over time you will uncover your own specific wants and needs.
2. Always keep it by your side
What’s the point of owning a planner if it’s not always with you, right?
Even when I don’t think I will need to use it, I usually just pop it in my handbag anyway because you never know when an important call is going to come through or when you’re going to run into a friend and want to book in a time to catch up.
While it sounds like a basic tip, it’s one that many people often miss. Once your planner becomes essential to you, you can fully commit and trust it as your main organization system.
3. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize!
When I’m writing down even the smallest of tasks in my journal, it’s easy for the most important tasks to get lost in the lists.
I use an easy color-coordinated system to stay on top of prioritizing tasks, simply highlighting the tasks I should focus most of my attention on for the day. It’s super important to re-evaluate what you have going on each day, as tasks that pop up last-minute could be the ones that need to be done first.
Prioritizing not only helps you complete the most important tasks first, but is also a good way to manage the time you spend on each task.
4. Track EVERYTHING
Who said you just have to track your work and appointments? These aren’t the only things you achieve in a day, so why not write down everything else?
Things such as workouts, food, housework, self-care practices etc. are just as important as everything else. Plus, writing these down is a good reminder to actually maintain things like exercise, self-care and healthy eating habits, things that generally take the backseat when life gets too busy.
And the beauty of having things written down is that when you feel either really great or not so crash hot, you can consult your planner and see what you may be doing differently. Were you working out less and feeling the effects? Or meditating every night and reaping the benefits?
5. Pre-plan your week
Pre-planning your week is the easiest way to see an entire overview of what’s to come. You can get an idea of what is expected of you for the week and can prioritize the most important things you have each day — I usually use highlighters initially when picking the most important tasks for the week, but leave room for change.
My Sunday night tradition includes sitting down for 15-minutes roughly planning out the week, as I find putting pen to paper helps me remember everything much more than just typing something in my phone.
And the best part of a physical planner is the ability to look back over the past week and see everything you accomplished and everything you didn’t, so you can better prepare for the next week.
6. But make a new list every day
Even though you have pre-planned your entire week in advance, things will come up and you won’t always achieve everything you set out to do each day, so making a new list per day is a great way to start fresh.
On your everyday lists, you should include everything, even the really small tasks because ultimately these will lead you to achieve the bigger tasks and ensure you’re staying productive. I like to think that there is no task too small not to track!
If you liked this story, read more like it on A Girl In Progress:
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