Keeping a successful planner isn’t so difficult when your goal is to be more productive, organized, and manage time effectively.
We all love to get things done faster and having a planner to organized every minute of our day while also ensuring we plan ahead for future goals and task, is one of the best things about using a planner or journal.
However, if you’ve either failed at using a planner before or would like to know how to make planning more organized, there here’s a guide that will answer all your questions.
You’ll find epic ways to learn how to use your planner successfully while making sure you get everything that it has to offer.
Reasons Why Using A Planner Is Beneficial
Knowing how a planner can benefit you will help ease your worries and doubts if planning is actually worthwhile.
In fact, once you’re assured that planning can change your life for the better, you’ll feel more motivated to continue:
There are multiple benefits to planners that you will eventually experience with time and practice but the most important ones are right here:
You’ll Be More Organized and Productive – Planners are there to ensure you are organized in setting up effective schedules, making sure you meet deadlines, and always know what you need to do next.
It Makes You Less Stressed – When you have everything you need to do well in advance, the anxiety and worry about getting those tasks done will be reduced.
You can easily allocate specific dates and times to ensure that you’re ahead of schedule whether that’s to do with work or personal tasks.
Increased Creativity – A planner is a great way to review previous tasks and find new ways to accomplish something in a different way.
You’ll also be able to gain new ideas and solutions to problems and figure out what you can do differently in the future.
Increases Motivation – When you plan for a long period of time and keep track of your goals, habits, and tasks consistently, you’ll always feel this sense of accomplishment and when you look back, you’ll feel revived and motivated to continue down this positive path.
Increased Self Improvement – As mentioned before, you can use your planner to track many things such as your habits like exercising, reading, journaling, being grateful, and more.
It will be easy to notice the change in your when you first started planning out your life and being more organized.
Easy Future Planning – Using a planner will allow a new perspective on everything and be able to handle responsibilities effectively.
One of the best things about planners is that you can single out the important tasks and appointments so you’ll never be behind.
Important Things To Remember When Planning
Using a planner doesn’t have to be a stressful process and you may use your planner differently from others.
But before that, here’s three rules you need to know on how to be a better planner:
1. Commit To Goals and Finish What You Start
2. Find systems that work
Sounds pretty easy, right? Well, it is. You just have to be willing to give it a shot with full determination to make it work.
Here’s a few tips that will help you feel better and enjoy the process of planning even if you’re not good at it yet:
Find What Works Best For You
There are many different planners to try and you may have come across bullet journaling which the only difference from an ordinary planner is that it’s pages are dot grid.
Planners come in all different sizes and there are those that are predated or blank journals. If you’re the kind of person who does not like to design pages or layouts to plan, then opt for a predesigned planner
This will save you time from having to come up with ideas on what to include in your planner since everything is already done for you.
However, there is an attractive charm to creating your own personal layouts filled with everything you need.
Blank journals give you an opportunity to custom design pages to fit your life.
Another option you could try is using printable planners. There are many free and paid planners that you can pick from and customise it.
Whichever option you choose to go for, test a few of these different planners to really know what you like best.
This is really important when it comes to scheduling or planning in your journal and that’s making mistakes is something that’s going to keep happening.
So, if you aim to have a picture perfect planner, it’s time to stop. Instead, think of your mistakes as ‘happy accidents’ but if an error in your journal is driving you nuts, just know that there are plenty of ways to fix journal mistakes.
With a handy white marker or a sticker, it will be like it’s never there.
Don’t Quit If You Take Days Off
I have a bad habit of quitting things that I start and often when I take a few days off from using my planner, it sort of feels like a waste and I end up not using the journal at all until the next shiny cover of a brand new planner captures my attention.
Instead of completely quitting your current journal, just jump right back in where you left off. It’s not the end of the world if you haven’t checked out a few dates or tasks that you’ve already completed but think of this chance as starting fresh so you can try a new system that works.
If you want to keep a journaling schedule, allocate a specific amount of time every day (for instance 10 minutes in the morning or at night before bed to plan for the next day) and this way you’ll be able to make sure you’re actually using your planner.
Make Your Planner Interesting By Including Things That Inspire You
Look for new ways to make planning more fun and enjoyable that will make sure planning in a journal stays interesting.
It can become boring when all you’re doing is writing down the next meeting or task you have to do and this can make us feel demotivated to actually want to journal.
Include fun pictures, quotes, or sayings that will make you feel joy when you open up your planner.
Have pages that make you actively journal like gratitude logs, affirmations, or morning pages and this will make sure you’re excited to use your planner at least once each day.
Tips For Creating A Successful Planner
Use Your Planner For Everything
Your planner is designed to be used in a way that works for you and you don’t necessarily have to keep it categorized for one specific thing (work or personal) but it can be a combination of both.
In addition to keeping track of your daily to-do’s and work schedule, use your planner to schedule your meals in the form of meal planning, cleaning tasks, chores, paying bills, or just something to discover more about yourself.
Here are a few additional ways you can use your planner to keep track of specific things:
- Goal Setting
- Yearly plans
- Household Tasks (Grocery Buying, Pantry, Laundry, Meal Prep)
- Spring Cleaning
- Work Tasks
- Study Plans
- Bucket Lists
- Vacation Plans and Budget
- Fitness Tracking (Weight, Calories, Meals, Workout Routines)
- Inspiring Quotes and Stories
This way, your entire day is well planned out and it’s fantastic if you have lots to juggle in your home and life.
Try Color Coding Tasks
When it comes to having a successful planner, color coding is something that gets me really excited about planning.
It’s a great way to highlight and separate specific tasks from each other but it also makes your planner look really great aesthetic wise.
However, the main point of color coding is to ensure you give priority to specific things by organizing different tasks and deadlines.
For examples, for any meetings with clients you could use a blue and deadlines could be the color red.
For recreational activities you could use green and household chores like cleaning the color blue would be great.
You don’t need to use these exact colors as I’ve chosen. Pick those that you love the most and color code accordingly.
This can be done with a lightlighter, midliner, or even color pens to indicate each task. Totally up to you!
Organize By Using A Key
If you don’t prefer to color code, then another way to mark specific tasks would be to use a key.
These are particular symbols that are used to indicate a specific task or event. You’ll want to have a page right at the front of your planner so that you can always reference this page in case you forget what a specific key indicates.
This is also useful if you have a change of date for your meetings and deadlines where these keys can be used to indicate whether the date has been moved forward or later with a specific symbol.
Here’s an example of the type of key you can use in your planner:
Idea by Diemmybujo on Instagram
Make The Planner Look Pretty
This is an easy one to do and sometimes a planner can look boring when only using a black pen.
Try using highlighters, different colored pens, markers, sticky notes, stickers, or even drawing cute doodles and fancy fonts for the headers.
This will make a huge change in the way your planner looks.
Schedule Meetings, Appointments, Deadlines
Weekly and monthly calendars (or to do lists) are great for planning ahead.
You can use these to write down the time for each meeting, appointment or deadline, and time allocation for each that you are giving yourself to finish that task.
One of the first things you need to do when planning in your planner, is to make sure you have written down the important dates.
Be specific when you’re going to plan a certain task or deadline and create an action plan on how you would accomplish that goal.
Be actionable when writing down specific tasks that you need to do for instance when you’re taking note of something that needs to be down, you could use specific words like ‘write this’ or ‘create that’.
You want to be specific enough to not allow any confusion or doubt to get in the way when you’re planning ahead for something.
Keep A Priority Task List
Rather than overloading yourself with everything you need to do in one place, try making a priority list of the most urgent tasks you need to complete.
This way, you can tackle and knock off these tasks rather than prolonging it only to find you have more things you need to do.
When you procrastinate, it becomes harder to work on what needs to get done and the resistance for that particular last increase.
Seperate the urgent and leave those lasts that can wait into separate categories. Once you have finished these tasks, you feel much better and more organized.
Organize Your Tasks (Dedicate Time Specific Allocations)
As mentioned before, allocating a specific amount of time for each task will cut down on procrastination and resistance.
When you tell yourself you only have a certain amount of time, you’ll find yourself moving along at a surprising rate and ultimately, you’ll be getting a lot more work done.
This also applies to time allocation for household chores. For example, give yourself 10 – 30 minutes to quickly clean the house before work so that you come home to a clean home or do it when you come back so that the house is neat.
Even if you’re at work, mark down in your planner when you would like to clean your office or organize certain files.
Use your planner to schedule these work and household cleaning tasks and be specific on the time and days you will do these activities.
Have A Daily, Weekly, and Monthly To Do Lists
Like in any planner, it’s necessary to have a list of all the things you need to do.
On those days when you don’t have much to do, you don’t necessarily need to use a daily planner but it’s helpful to also have a weekly planner and set a day where you can plan the entire week ahead.
When you have a good idea of how your upcoming week looks, it definitely helps you feel less anxious and your mind also feels less cluttered.
Focusing on tasks is definitely something that’s crucial for getting things done so when you plan your day, week, and month, you’ll focus better on things that matter.
Include a Monthly Overview To Check Your Progress and Make Adjustments
At the end of each month, I love to keep a section in my planner to review the tasks completed and those that weren’t.
If there’s a new system that I tried, then I try to make comparisons to the previous ones and pick up on any details that didn’t work for this specific month.
You can also use this monthly overview to review your work performance and suggest ways to improve for the next month.
In addition, you can find new ways to get more things down and cut out the negatives.
Also, it’s incredibly motivating to see that you’re making progress every month and knowing that you did a specific amount of work can help you feel great about yourself.
You can also use this section or create a new one to keep track of your goals and ask yourself a few questions:
- What are your plans for the next few weeks?
- How do you plan to accomplish these tasks?
- What specific steps do you need to take?
- Can this task be completed sooner rather than later?
Have A Brain Dump List
Brain dumps are a separate page that is used to write down any thought or information that comes to your mind.
It’s a place for you to ‘dump’ anything that is on your mind whether that’s about not completing a specific task or something you have to do in the upcoming days.
These are absolutely fantastic if you often feel stressed or anxious and it can help you figure out many things.
Since these are quick thoughts that come to your mind, you can use your physical planner or keep a note-taking app on your phone, so that when a thought pops up, you can quickly take note of it no matter the time of day or where you are at that moment.
Brain dumps can be used for just about anything in your life and you can make specific brain dumps whether that’s for work or to just explore your thoughts and feelings.
You can always include them in one and categorize them later when you’re ready to tackle the list.
Try Using Printables and Freebies To Save Time
In the case of bullet journals and blank planners, it does require you to design the pages yourself and this is not for everyone.
Sometimes, store-bought planners aren’t exactly what you need and most of the time, a lot of pages go to waste.
There are many printables online that others have created that might align with what you are looking for in all kinds of designs (simple, minimalistic or creative) and there’s definitely something for everyone.
If you never liked designing your own planner pages, look into trying custom designed printables since this will save a lot of time and effort.
Be Consistent But Not Hard On Yourself
Keeping a successful planner depends on how you make use of it.
As long as you consistently make use of your planner to keep track of the tasks you need to do whether it’s a big or small and insignificant task like running an errand, use your journal.
The main purpose is to have fun while planning but making sure your life is well organized and planned. This is how you know you have a successful planner.
Just remember that you can definitely make any planner work for you. As long as you have the important things scheduled, there’s really nothing to be concerned about.
With continuous use of your planner, you’ll definitely reap the benefits when you notice how much more you’re getting done.