As a busy mom, we are always looking for ways to find more time to do the things we need to do as well as make time to do the things we want to do.
Learning how to use a planner successfully has been one of the most impactful steps in time management and more balance for my life. A planner is a simple tool that has helped me to you stay organized and plan my day.
You can use it for personal or business purposes, but the most common type of planners are used by people who want to have a better sense of control over their lives (code word mamas). There are many different types of planners available; three popular options include traditional paper-based planners, digital calendars, and bullet journaling. Regardless of which option you choose, this guide is going to walk you through several tips that will make using your planner much easier!
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Why should we use planners?
There are many benefits to using a planner. They can help you stay more organized, improve your productivity and sense of control over life events, be less stressed out because you have clearer expectations for the day/week ahead, set goals and make plans without feeling overwhelmed.
Planning is an important step in setting ourselves up for success; it enables us to see what is coming up in the future. It also allows us to create space in our days to make time for the things we enjoy.
If we are looking to build more balance into our lives, then a planner helps you to keep all of the many responsibilities that you have organized so that they all work in harmony with one another.
Tips for how to use a planner
Now lets jump right into some tips that can help you plan more effectively. These tips have helped me to really be super successful with my planning, and I hope that you can use them to find more time and balance in your busy day!
#1 Understand your reasons for using a planner
Why do you want to use a planner? To plan ahead for the next week so you can relax on Friday evening and not worry about what’s coming up this weekend? Or, to create a better work/life balance by learning how to prioritize your time more effectively?
It is important first to understand why we want or need a planner in our life before we start deciding on what type of planner to use. A few questions to ask yourself are:
* Do you need help prioritizing tasks?
* Have you been feeling stressed out lately by the lack of control in your life?
* Are there too many balls in the air and not enough hands to catch them all, or do you just want some peace of mind about what is coming up next week/month/
You really want to get to the point of understanding why do you need the help from the planner? Whether it is to feel more organized, balanced with priorities in both work and home life, etc, knowing this is key to helping you maintain the habit when you get bored with it. And trust me, you will get bored with it.
#2 Determine the type of planner you want to use
There are a few things you want to know when determining the type of planner you are wanting to use.
As mentioned before there are a few different types of planners that you can use. They are broken up into two different categories. The first category of planners is the method of planning(the media used).
This includes your traditional paper based planners, digital planners and calendars, and bullet journals.
With traditional planners you will have planner in book form. This could be spiral bound or hard/soft back. These planners usually have a set order for how you plan. They are guided and help direct the planning that you do. Many people like the added tactile feel of paper planners and the act of actually checking off items can be psychologically
Digital planners have a bit more flexibility and the added bonus of being readily available all the time. Because these planners are digital you can keep them on your phone or tablet for ready use. With several different apps and styles, you can find a digital planner that tracks literally anything, or use several for all your needs.
Lastly, the media of using a planner that offers the most creativity is the bullet journal. With bullet journal planning, the act of planning becomes more of a creative adventure and the free form allows you to make each planning session whatever you want it to be. There are many different types of planners, but the most common type is an academic one that has a weekly spread on two pages with text for notes and tasks on the left page and blank space for schedules or appointments on the right page.
The next category of planners is based on the time it tracks. Usually defined as either daily planners or weekly planners. Both usually give you the option for monthly tracking.
Daily planners are great for those who want to have the most up-to-date version of their day available at a quick glance. A daily planner typically features one page per day with columns for tasks, events, and notes. Daily planners are often seen as to do lists!
Weekly planners are great for those who need time management and organization skills and want to set up their days based on weekly goals. A weekly planner features one to two pages dedicated to each week with columns for tasks, events, and notes. Some of our favorite weekly planners can be found here!
Our favorite planners include a mix of both of these planning styles. They allow you to see the week as a whole but also offer space for daily task planning!
#3 Select a planner
After you have figured out the type of planner to use. You can select a planner considering the following criteria:
- Will you keep the planner with you at all times? If so, a smaller size may be more valuable.
- Do you want a lot of space to write in?
- How do you feel about strictly guided planners?
Once you have done this just go ahead and move on to the next step in planning
*Keep in mind: Many of us go through several different planners before we land on the best one for us.
#4 Plan a consistent daily planning session
Another tip for planning effectively is to plan a consistent time to do your planning each day that works best for you! Some people prefer to plan in the mornings, while others find it more productive to do so after work or before bed.
The benefits of using a planner in the morning are that you will be more aware of how to best use your time and can plan for any distractions or interruptions. Morning planning can also help you to set your intention for the day.
The benefits of using planners at night are that when we are more relaxed, we can think through our day and plan for the next. Night planning also allows us to wind down as we think about what went well and what didn’t today.
We’re all different and have our own individual likes and dislikes when it comes to planning, but regardless of when you plan consistency is key. Setting a consistent planning session is important because it can help you more easily to make room in our schedules as you see patterns in your habits and routines.
#5 Create time for weekly planning
In addition to daily planning sessions you want to incorporate weekly sessions. This doesn’t need to be for a long period of time, just enough to set goals for the week and figure out how to prioritize your tasks.
The best way to make sure you plan for the week is by setting a time on Sunday night before bed. This will allow your goals to be fresh in your mind when you wake up Monday morning and will give us an opportunity to see any changes that need to happen during the course of the day as they come.
This also allows you to practice gratitude for your week past.
Looking for more tips on time management? Check out all of our productivity resources
#6 Have a daily routine so planning is easily incorporated
An important tip for planning is to create daily routines and stick to them. That way, planning is incorporated into your schedule and it doesn’t feel like work or a waste of time.
What you plan each day will vary depending on what you have going on in the coming days but many planners include things such as: breakfast, lunch, dinner, housework tasks for the week ahead, as well as appointments, workouts, and plans for the evening.
Planning in advance is key to better manage time and daily routines makes this process that much easier.
#7 Write everything down
How many times have you agreed to something and then hours later realized you forgot all about it? Planning is key to remembering the things you need to do.
Planning should be an ongoing process so adding tasks and events as they come up means less stress when you’re trying to remember them!
Write everything down- this includes daily routines, weekly goals, errands, messages from friends and quiet time!
#8 Keep your planner with you
The last tip for using a planner is to keep your planner with you! It is impossible to plan consistently if your planner is sitting on the coffee table waiting for you to open it up.
Keeping your planner in a bag or at home means that you’ll have to take time out of your day to find a planner substitute (usually sticky notes) and then you have to keep up with those items to transfer to your planner later. This may be the hardest initially but eventually keeping your planner handy will be as easy as remembering your phone!
Using a planner is an important key to balancing life
If you’re like me and feel lost without a planner, it may be time to find more balance in your life. There are many different types of planners available for purchase or download online but the most important step is finding one that works best for you and your needs. Try incorporating these tips into your planning sessions so that they become more successful! Not sure where to start? Check out our free journal pages on this blog post here. They can help get things going if you’re feeling stuck with what type of plan will work best for you!