Planners are great, but if you don’t know how to use a planner to organize your life, they’re not going to do you much good. Don’t worry; we have the scoop on the best ways to use a planner and make it work for you!
If you are trying to stay on top of things in your life like appointments, school activities, work, and other important dates, a planner is a great way. Having everything written down in one place keeps you from double-booking appointments, but it also gives you a way to organize your day. Successful people are those who stay on top of what needs to be done each day because they have it all in one place.
Types of Planners
There are many types of planners and many ways to use them. Some people prefer a planner that gives them a look at each day in full. Others like a planner that shows the week at a glance. Others don’t need anything that detailed and can use a simple 12 months calendar that only shows a month at a time.
What you use depends on your organizational style, as well as where and how you use your planner. The best way to determine your needs? Try a few different planners until you find one that has everything you’re looking for. Finding the perfect planner is a lot like dating – you have to weed through the not-so-great matches to find the one that makes your life better.
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How to Use A Daily Planner
Using a planner is only beneficial if you actually use the planner. If you only write down half of the things you have to do, you will forget about doing the other half. True story. I’ve had many planners that I started only to discover that they just didn’t work for me. That’s okay! Once you’ve uncovered the perfect planner for you, using it effectively is the best way to make sure you stay organized.
Write Everything Down
One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is, “I don’t have to write it down. I’ll remember.” But usually, we don’t. No matter you have to do, no matter how small it is, write it down. If it doesn’t have a set time or day, write in a scratch pad/notes type area.
The best part about writing everything down (other than actually remembering to do it!), is that you get to cross things off left and right! Shower? Check! Water the plants? Check! Call your aunt for her birthday? Check! There’s great satisfaction in crossing things off your planner to-do list.
Using color coding can help you find what you need faster. Have a color for each family member, and whenever someone has an appointment, sports practice, or anything special, the color will immediately tell you who it is for. Have a color for work or other activities for yourself as well.
I like to use these markers when writing in my planner because there are so many fun color options and the ink doesn’t bleed.
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Keeping lists in your planner is a great way to stay organized. When you see you need something from the store, add it to the shopping list. When you know that there is something you need to do, like schedule an appointment, take the car in for an oil change, or renew a subscription, add it to the appropriate list.
The key here is to make sure that you actually look at the lists to work your way through them. How to remember? Write “Check Lists” on your daily to-do sheet.
I also like to use these little, inexpensive tabs along the pages where I have my lists so I can easily reference them. They’ve been a planner lifesaver!
Budget and Bills
Have a section in the planner for your weekly or monthly budget. Also, have your bills listed with their due dates. It helps to have the bills at a glance and makes paying them and staying on budget a lot easier.
Weekly Meal Plan
Having a meal plan makes cooking easier and cheaper. When you know what you are making, you know what you need to buy, and you know about how long it will take to get it done.
How to Use a Planner Effectively
Now that you have the planner set up, the most important thing to do is use it. Check it every day to know what needs to be accomplished. Cross things off as you complete them.
I recommend checking the planner the night before, filling out the day’s to-do list, and have a plan for the following day.
In the morning, recheck it (no, there’s no such thing as looking at your planner too much). There are a lot of little things that can happen in the morning that need to be completed to have a successful day. A great example is thawing something for dinner or getting that permission slip signed before the kids head out the door.
Using a planner will take a lot of the mental burden and stress out of daily life because there are no last minute issues with forgetting what needs to be done. Hopefully, the ideas above will help you use your planner more effectively and consistently! Good luck!