Life is busy. There is just no way to get around it. Whether you’re married, single, have kids, are still in school, working full time or working from home, I’m willing to bet you feel like there’s a lot on your plate. With all that is required out of leading a happy and productive life, it can be easy to feel like you can’t keep up or you will never be able to do it all.
In my experience, life can get overwhelming and get the best of you if you aren’t prepared for it. But by having the right tools at your disposal to make the most out of the time you have, you can truly accomplish all you need to get done and start doing the things you want to get done as well. My number one tool for taking on all the responsibilities and requirements life throws at me is by far my planner.
I have used a planner on and off, in one form or another, since I was in middle school. Since my early days of scheduling I have truly come to understand and appreciate the effectiveness a planner can bring to your daily time management. Having gone through periods of time where I just didn’t feel like keeping up with the “effort” required by a planner, I can without a doubt say my life becomes 10x more chaotic when I’m not putting in the minimal amount of energy required to plan out my days.
So for any of you who have always wanted to be more organized, and to keep a planner, but thought you just don’t have the time to be that organized, let me tell you that you do. Simply because dedicating that limited amount of time to scheduling and planning, even if it’s 10 minutes at the start of each week, you will be giving yourself back so much more freed up time.
By scheduling your time, and knowing what you have to do and when, you eliminate wasted time. You don’t have to worry about figuring out what chores to tackle next when you have 50 things piled up on your to-do list. With a clearly written out plan of action, you will always know which tasks you need to be focusing on currently, to get them all done in the long term.
By making time for your planner, you also reduce the panic that comes with an unstructured day. You eliminate the 5 minute panicked rush to get out the door 10 minutes ago because you forgot about your dentist appointment. You no longer have to cram for that test or work presentation tomorrow, because you were on top of preparing for the last couple of days. You reduce the stress of never having enough time for everything, because you make time for everything when you plan it out.
So now that you know why you should make time for your planner, let’s get into the how a little bit, shall we? When I get into a “planner slump” and stop organizing my time as much as I should be, I sometimes need a little push to get back in the swing of things. These are the tips that have helped me get my planning groove back.
Set a specific time for planning
The first thing you need to do when attempting to organize your time is set aside some time to do some planning. This may seem counterproductive in the beginning, because you are essentially adding one more thing to the to-do list, but it will be so worth it in the long run.
The frequency and the time when you fit in your planning session(s) is completely up to you. I personally like to set aside about 10-15 minutes each Sunday to plan out the week ahead. You can choose to do your planning the same way, and plan a week at a time. Or you may decide daily planning is more up your alley, and take 5-10 minutes each time to plan out the next day. There is no wrong answer here, just do whatever works for you and your life.
Make planning a routine
Along the same lines as the point above, you need to make your planning sessions a routine. This will ensure you don’t fizzle out after a single week being on a planning high. Work your planning into your existing routine, so there’s no chance of it being forgotten. After you get in the routine of regular planning, sitting down with your planner at your scheduled planning time will feel like second nature.
Setup a dedicated planning space
This one may not be for everything, but I find that having a specific spot in my home where I do all my planning is so helpful more me. The space doesn’t have to be only used for planning (I personally use my regular desk in my office), but it will be the main place where you sit down each day or week to get your planning done. This way, when you sit down at your planning space, you’re telling your brain it’s time to get into planning mode!
It is also important that you make sure the spot you choose is conducive to helping you organize your time. If I’m going to think clearly and plan out my week, I need a clear clutter free workspace so I can concentrate. So each Sunday, when I’m getting ready to plan out my week, I will completely clear off my desk so I can spread out and get my planning done with a clear and clutter free head.
Take it a little at a time
The one mistake I find myself making over and over again when trying to get back into a planning routine, is trying to do it ALL right away. I start out full steam ahead, and want to be Ms. Super Planner from the get go. I want to have every second of every day scheduled perfectly. I want beautifully decorated pages like you see on Instagram and Pinterest. I want to follow my scheduled plans to a T throughout the week. Basically I try to be a planner robot.
Unfortunately, that’s a little unrealistic. Especially is this is the first time you’re attempting to get into the routine of planning, make sure you go easy on yourself. Take things one step at a time. Start by writing out your basic schedule (work, school, appointments) into a calendar. Once you have that down, start adding in some errands to your plan. Then maybe start including your chores in your planner. tak things one at a time, and add more in when you feel ready. Otherwise you will just become overwhelmed with your planner and give up, which is the last thing we want!
Have fun with it
This is the most important tip I have for you guys today. As a self-proclaimed planner addict, having fun with my planner and truly enjoying organizing my time is one of the best parts for me. I have found that the more fun I’m having with my planner, the more likely I am to use it, and the more successful my planning actually is.
So if you like decorating your planner pages – because it makes you more likely to open you planner to see your pretty designs – then go for it! If you just know you would use that pretty, pretty planner every single day, go ahead and splurge! At the end of the day, if you make planning fun for yourself, it will only have positive impacts on your time and your life!
Those are my favorite tips for making time for your planner, what are yours? Do you have any magic secret to using your planner on a regular basis? What do you do to make planning fun?