With so many endless ways to create a more productive life, using a planner to stay organized can seem all but simple.
It gets even more complex when you step into the realm of decorative planning and wonder if that is what you should do as well. From all things color coded, stickered up, and creatively crafted within a dot grid journal, it can get pretty overwhelming.
But using your planner to stay organized should not have to be this complicated. And no, thirty thousand sticker books are NOT blocking you from creating a more productive and efficient life (even though it sometimes can feel that way).
Everybody take a deep breath. haaaaaaa!
I’ve compiled a few basic tips that can help you use your planner to stay organized. Here we go!
Using Your Planner To Stay Organized
Determine the PURPOSE of your planner.
What I like about planners is that they can be anything you want them to be about!
But sometimes, that can be the issue. So before your planner can really help guide you to whatever goal you want to reach, first make sure you understand the purpose of your planner.
Understanding what you want to get out of using your planner whether daily/weekly/or monthly will really help set the tone for your overall consistency and routine.
What would you like to accomplish? Why is that goal important to you? What would be the repercussions of not staying consistent with it?
The answers don’t have to be anything dramatic either. For instance, maybe the purpose of your planner is to help you remember everything better (usually that’s why we keep a planner right?). Maybe you want to start memory keeping because you want to have a little album of your own to look back and read through. Maybe you want to get your finances in order or you’re planning a big purchase down the road, like a new car or a house!
When those questions are answered to the best of your ability, then it makes deciding on your smaller goals and action steps much easier.
Only use the parts of the planner you REALLY need.
It is quite exciting to be able to customize all those blank planner pages with your own creative ideas! But don’t let that distract you from the REAL goal which is using a planner to stay ORGANIZED.
This is my own personal experience as well, so I know what I’m talking about when I say, it’s absolutely useless to force an idea just to fill a planner page when you end up not even using it.
It’s okay to allow yourself to grow organically in your planner. Every single page does NOT have to be filled as soon as you get it off the shelves.
You will usually have at least a year with this planner. A lot of things can change and you may need room for new areas of your life.
If at this point in time, all you really care to use are your weekly spreads, then just use that. As time goes on, you’ll see what you do and don’t need in your planner.
Remember, planning is functionality FIRST. Overthinking what specific pages you want to add in your planner, and then trying to keep up with those pages, can cause you to fall into the trap of planning more than you act.
And if your planning is keeping you from acting on your goals, then it is no longer a functioning support for you.
Get mentally unblocked by BRAINSTORMING before you plan.
Being mentally blocked is actually pretty normal.
It’s hard to be on your A-game 24/7 for your whole life. And if you’ve managed to do that consistently since birth, my hat is off to you!
But being mentally blocked in planning can mean a lot of things. It could just be a stressful time in your life. Or it could be the way the planner was created that’s just not working for you. Or a combination of both.
Whatever it is, when you find yourself mentally blocked while planning, just stop for a moment. Take a scrap sheet of paper and spend a few moments just brainstorming.
Write down everything that comes to mind. Everything you have to do, want to do, need to do, dream about doing.
Think about your long-term goals, short-term goals, deadlines, or irregular occurrences. Think about what is worrying you, irritating you, exciting you, whatever.
When you have everything written down, begin to organize the most important things into your week. I like to continue this process on a scrap sheet of paper, and work off of that when I go in to plan daily.
And remember, everything that you brainstormed does not have to end up in your plans for that week. Don’t stress yourself out trying to crowd everything in. It’s okay for some things to fall by the wayside or get pushed to next week.
Give yourself enough time and space to get everything done.
And also give yourself time for some spontaneity in your day. Not everything in life is perfectly planned out, ya know. 🙂
Build WILLPOWER by developing a routine with your planner.
If you are not a motivated person, you’re probably going to find maintaining a planner tedious.
Using a planner to stay organized will mean USING IT.
This is your chance to build consistency and dedication. And not to your planner. But to the goals your planner is helping you commit to.
Schedule a date and time to use your planner. Leave your planner in an open place where you can see and remember to check in with it daily.
Don’t feel defeated if you happen to miss a few days, or weeks. Maybe even a month! Remember that if you are trying to create and build on a new habit, there WILL be resistance.
Your planner is to help guide you and to help you maintain your focus.
Think about it this way: If you were able to reach your goals with a clear shot and never had any bumps or bruises during your journey, why would you need a planner?
It’s okay to slip up and miss it a couple of times. But jump back on it and continue to build your willpower!
PRACTICE what you PLAN.
That’s it. Enough said.
This also goes along with the previous point of building your willpower, but I just thought it was catchy so I gave it it’s own headline. 😛
My Step-By-Step For Using Your Planner To Stay Organized
Buying a pre-planner planner was no doubt a great purchase.
Depending upon how minimal your overall planning style is, a pre-planner planner can either be an accessory or your only form of planning.
Using a pre-planner planner to stay organized allows me to brainstorm literally ANY and EVERYTHING that comes to mind.
There is really no particular way to do this either. You can either sit down and give yourself time to think everything through or jot down your thoughts as they come to you.
I use this as an on-the-go planner since I tend to remember things at random as opposed to one long session.
Rough Draft My Week
Since I use a planner for my brainstorm, this step is pretty much meshed in with the first point.
If you are not using an extra planner to brainstorm, you may find it effective to write down a rough draft of your ideal week before you write it down in your actual planner.
In doing this, it’s much easier to see which days are task-heavy and how you can try to better manage your time.
Plan My Weekly Spread
And by this, I do mean planning your weekly spread, not decorating it (although that IS a part of my process).
From my pre-planner planner, I transfer all of my “I-know-I-will-do-this-on-this-day” tasks onto my weekly spread in my catch all planner.
For me, a lot of times that is pretty minimal since I am more of a “spontaneous” sort when planning. I like to plan based off of my energy levels, and I can only judge that when going day by day.
Planning daily is generally how i get the most benefit in using my planner to stay organized.
It is the epitome of living life “one day at a time“.
Your life doesn’t have to include a bunch of meetings and buzzing around all day running errands for you to need plan on a daily basis.
For awhile, I stayed away from planning daily because I didn’t feel busy enough. But I realized that planning daily was to help me ride the waves of my own internal emotional rollercoaster.
It wasn’t about being mega productive every single day. But more so about staying focused and on track.
Planning mainly day by day allows me to better assess how much I feel like doing the next day as opposed to judging how motivated I’ll feel for the entire week.
There have been times where I’ve missed a few days, even a week, and ended up back planning a bit. But overall, it has helped me to build more willpower and consistency over time.
Planning should become a HABIT. Not a trend.
Now Get To Planning!
It shouldn’t be as nerve-wrecking as I can imagine it is. I actually started my planning journey with a budget planner only because I was such a shallow and non-committal person.
It was hard for me to stick to ANYTHING. I was forever a dreamer, but it was hard to stand by any of those dreams long enough to reap the results.
I CAN say that using a planner to stay organized has proved very beneficial to MY life.
Will it be for yours? Well, that’s on you.
Now get to planning my planning pals!
Do you have any tips on how you use a planner to stay organized? Share in the comments below!