I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t use my planner every day – heck, sometimes I don’t even use it every week. It can be overwhelming at times, especially amongst the washi tape, stickers, stamps, pens and everything else. Every now and then I need a planner refresh so I can get back in the groove. There’s definitely a difference in the weeks I use my planner vs. the weeks I don’t. I’m less likely to forget things, our meals are actually planned, and I feel like I have my shit together.
I also can’t help but LOL at people who tell me, “Isn’t there an app for that?” or “Do people really use paper planners anymore?” Do yourself a favor and go look up #PlannerAddict, #ECLP, #Filofax or #PGW and then ask me if people use paper planners. SO many people use paper planners there’s a GIANT conference in NOLA coming up just for crazy planner addicts like myself.
Anyways, if you’re overwhelmed by your planner, new to paper planning, or consider yourself a planner pro – here are my top 5 tips for planning effectively.
1. Tackle BIG things by the month.
Most planners have a monthly view and this is where I put my big things for the month like my bills and pay days. I’ll keep holidays, birthdays and big events like conferences in my monthly view. I don’t keep small day-to-day items here because I like having a quick glance to see if I’m busy or not.
2. Tackle smaller things by the week.
Typically on Saturday or Sunday, I start planning out the next week, I never try to plan more than a week in advance because things change and when I do, I usually get overwhelmed. So, when I start planning my week I mark when my favorite TV shows are, what homework I have due, what we’re having for dinner, important events/meetings and things that I know have to be done on certain days. I try not to break down daily to-dos for the week because even those change day-by-day.
3. Tackle minor things each day.
Each morning is when I list out my to-do’s for the day and smaller meetings. I can never really plan out to-do’s more than a day or so in advance because what I’m able to finish (or not finish) one day will affect what I’m doing the next day. This all helps me to check my planner every morning if I’m using it to list my to-do’s.
4. You don’t have to track everything.
Trying to capture everything in your planner will make you stress out. I use to feel like I had to fill my planner or I wasn’t using it to its full advantage. Now I fully embrace empty white space, it means I have time for myself and I’m not micromanaging myself. For me, I don’t see the point or a need to track how much water I drink (I used to) or write down every little thing I do, sometimes even after I did it. You don’t want your planner to become a burden – it’s supposed to help you.
5. Make your own routine and stick to it.
Everyone plans differently and using different things to plan. If you need a push notification on your phone to remind you when your dentist appointment is – then it’s probably important that you keep appointments on your phone. If you can’t plan out a week at once, try planning Sunday – Wednesday and then on Wednesday, plan out Thursday – Saturday. Find a schedule/time that works for you and then stick with it. Speaking of “stick”, don’t feel like you have to use stickers if they’re not your thing. I love functional stickers, but I’m not big on decorating. Now, I have some friends who LOVE to decorate and their planners are gorgeous, but I’m not good at it and it doesn’t work for me.
The main thing is, don’t make it too complicated or you won’t stick with it. Some people like planning each day, other’s like to use a week or a month at a glance. It all depends on what works best for YOU. So just keep calm and plan on. =)