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Have you ever bought a planner and then completely forgotten about it a week later? Yeah, me too. But don’t worry! I am going to share my 8 best tips for how to get the most out of your planner. After learning about these, you will SUPER prepared to plan like a pro!
This post is all about how to get the most out of your planner.
As someone who is extremely forgetful (like, seriously… I would forget my head if it wasn’t attached to my body) but also extremely anxious about forgetting something, a solid planner routine is a MUST. My entire life is written down in my planner and I like it that way.
My planner helps me:
If you are not a planner, trust me, I FEEL YOU.
For years, I would buy these expensive, beautiful planners, take them home, excitedly litter the first week with everything I could think to fill it with, and then let it sit in my desk drawer until the next year when I replaced it with a new one and repeated the cycle.
Now, I can’t imagine NOT having my planner…
I start each week by scheduling some one-on-one time with my planner, start my day by looking over my planner, and end each day by checking my planner once more and jotting down anything new and important.
Over the past few years, I have been evolving and finding new strategies for how I can BEST use my planner. I want to save you the trial and error that I went through developing these tips by sharing them with you today!
8 Tips: How to Get the Most Out of Your Planner
1: Buy the Right Planner for You
This seems the most obvious but is also, in my opinion, the most important. I have solid requirements for my planner that I am NOT willing to compromise.
For me, my must-haves include:
Some of this comes down to personal preference but it is essential that you buy a planner that’s conducive to all your planning needs.
Here are two planners that I found that I LOVE and that meet my requirements:
2: Set Aside Some “Plan Time”
Whether it be at the start of each month, week, or day, set aside some time to really sit and focus on laying out things you need/want to accomplish.
Personally, I do a mix of all of these…
At the start of each month, I will lay out the set-in-stone things that I know ahead of time. However, there are some things that develop as the month goes on that I can not know at the start. For example, I don’t usually know my work schedule a whole month in advance. That’s where the weekly and monthly planning comes in…
Weekly (typically Sunday or Monday!) I will plan the week and add anything I need to on to the monthly page, as well. At this time, I focus mainly on the daily planning pages and fill out all the important things that I need to remember for that week.
Something pop up that you didn’t expect? No worries!
This is where daily planning comes in handy. Daily planning can fit into your schedule whenever you need it to. I, personally, like to start my day with a little planner review and plot my day then. But, if it is better for you, you can do this at any point in your day! No set schedule here… do whatever works!
3: Color Code
Most planners have room for “notes” on the side of the full monthly spread that I treat as my color-coding key. I assign each major point of my life a color.
For example, in the month of November, my main color-coded sections included:
- Assignment due dates for class I am taking (highlighted)
- Corresponding colors for the times of each class (regular ink pen)
- Important days/dates/events to remember
- FUN THINGS!
This helps me make the most of my monthly calendar page (and it makes it brighter and cuter, too!)
4: Divide Monthly and Daily Tasks
This one is big for me. At the start, I would clutter my monthly calendar page with every tiny thing I had to do that month. At that point, the month just got overwhelming to look at and hard to understand.
Not to mention, then I was repeating the exact same things on my daily planning sections… It was a waste of time, energy, and held me back from really utilizing my planner elements the best way I could.
Now I divide my tasks/events into monthly vs. daily. Bigger events get a spot on my monthly planning page while others fall only on an individual day.
Here are some examples…
- Major Due Dates
- Work Shifts
- Pay Days
- Go grocery shopping
- Call *insert person you have to call*
- Do Laundry
- Return Library Book
- Change Sheets
The smaller, day-to-day tasks do not need to clutter my month page… This just causes me unnecessary overwhelm and stress. Save yourself the time and energy and just jot those things on your daily plan and tackle them one day at a time! You got this!
5: Plan Some “Look-Forward-To”s
No one said planning had to be strictly business… All work and no play is no way to live.
PLAN THE HECK OUT OF THE FUN THINGS IN YOUR LIFE!
I always remember my sister telling me that a solid “look-forward-to” is extremely helpful in keeping your day-to-day life exciting! This isn’t to say that you can’t be enjoying your everyday tasks or having fun with your responsibilities… by all means, if you are thrilled about paying that bill, BE THRILLED ABOUT PAYING THAT BILL! 😉
But, if you’re anything like me, sometimes it feels nice to have something non-task-related on the schedule. I include some of these on my monthly calendar page to brighten it up a bit! 🙂
Some examples of my recent “fun” activities in my planner have included:
- Bachelorette Nights! (my sister and her fiancé come over for every episode and watch with me and my mom… I look forward to this night all week)
- Family Dinner
- Visiting My Grandma
- Shopping Days
- Froyo Dates with Friends/Family
- Sleepovers at my Sister’s House
These don’t have to be expensive or extravagant at all. Heck, every Monday my family gets Chick-Fil-A take-out and my mom and I watch Dancing with the Stars. Sometimes that’s a high point in my week. So simple but so special. I love to plan things that make me smile!
6: Use Planner Stickers
This is a whole new world that my sister introduced me to with a Christmas gift last year. Now I’m OBSESSED. I was definitely that child that collected stickers and put them on EVERYTHING in the house when I was younger. Well… that is still me now with my planner. Haha!
This is such a simple (and cheap!) way to make your planner more fun, cute, and colorful! There’s a ton of different sticker packs you can get on Amazon. I will link below the ones that I currently am using in my own planner.
The biggest selling point for me with these (aside from how cute they are) was that include fun holiday/event stickers as well as “business-y” type stickers (“meeting”, “pay day”, “doctor”, etc.). There’s a huge variety and I love how they look!
7: Check Things Off as You Go
There is nothing more gratifying than checking something off a list, am I right?
This is exactly what I do when planning! I check off things as soon as they’re complete. This not only gives me a sense of accomplishment but it helps me stay on track, too.
I put a checkmark next to my tasks on my monthly and daily planning page once they are complete. I also cross off the date in the top corner of the calendar spread once it is over. That way it is easy for me to orient myself when I look at the page and recognize what is done, where I am at, and what is coming up!
So simple and so helpful!
8: Embrace the White Out
You are cruising along, happily planning the month away and you reach for that pink pen, confidently writing out an assignment due date for the class that you actually color-coded in BLUE… GASP!
Trust me, this is going to happen… no matter how focused you are or how “final” something seems, there will be a time where something in your planner is no longer accurate.
The perfectionist in me HATES this and I fought it for so long… but life is all about rolling with the punches, right? Plans are bound to change and mistakes are bound to happen. No biggie!
Cross it out, make adjustments, or, when all else fails, reach for your trusty white out.
As you might see in the picture below, I even goofed this morning when writing my school schedule… On the 18th, you can tell that I wrote my purple class in BLUE. Ah! The horror!
Instead of being frustrated, I just grabbed my purple pen and went over it the best I could. It’s whatever… at the end of the day, it still gets the job done.
Your planner is meant to help reduce your stress, not cause more of it! Don’t fret these little things!
Now that you know how to get the most out of your planner, let’s get to planning!
Now that you have all the main tips that I have developed over my years of planner successes and failures, you can get to planning your own!
If you’re not a planner, you may think I am crazy for loving this so much. I used to be that way too… But now, I seriously find planning fun. It is my hope that with these tips, I help make the process of beginning a new planner a bit easier and less daunting for any newbies or anti-planners! If you are already a planner like me, I hope these tips help add to your routine!
Let me know your own tips and anything else you could contribute to this list in the comments! I am always looking for more ways to better my planner!
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