The short and simple answer? Use a planner!
As for the more detailed answer, it’ll help you to think of learning to use a planner as an art rather than a science. This might sound contradictory to the nature of planning itself — which is all about attention to detail, consistency, and timeliness — but the thing about finding a planner that works for you is that it’ll feel like a fun ongoing project, and not at all like a tiresome chore.
The keyword here is finding a planner that works for “you.”
Modern planners allow you to decide on what to write in them, how much personalization you want, and even what kinds of accessorizing you want to use. In other words, a planner is yours and yours to make your own, which means there’s a planner for every kind of person!
And when you’re able to make it what you want it to be, it becomes so much easier to commit to using it on a regular basis so you reap the benefits of having one within reach at all times.
Now to get to the meat of things.
So, you’ve purchased your planner and you’re super excited about filling out all the blank pages that’ll track your organizational skills’ improvement. Here’s how you can jumpstart the process:
Make it part of your routine
Choose a time when you can sit down and list down your to-dos for the day, or perhaps for the week. It can help to schedule it with an existing routine so you don’t forget. Try this: When you’re at your desk having your AM coffee, why not also go through what needs to be done and write that down? This helps using a planner to become habitual.
Be specific, especially when tackling larger tasks that require several smaller tasks to complete. For example, don’t stop at “pack for beach trip.” Break big activities down into a sequence or into categories so that way, you reduce chances of forgetting even the smallest of tasks.
Check your timeline/ deadline
A technique in using planners for managing time efficiently is to work backwards. This means that when you have a deadline, mark this first. From your deadline, see how much time you have between then and the current day. It’ll give you the bird’s eye view you need to pace yourself so that you don’t cram and leave enough room for any back work.
Simplify with just one planner
Resist the temptation of reaching out for random scraps of paper or having several notebooks at once to log tasks. Have only one planner and practice using it religiously so it becomes your automatic tool for jotting down reminders.
Finally, use complementary tools!
Post-its, colored pens, bookmarks, and so many accessories exist to make using a planner engaging. If you want your planner to be a hybrid between an organizer and a scrapbook, go for it. If you prefer it neat and straightforward, by all means, stick to that look.
In summary, even if you suck at planning right now, you certainly don’t have to in the future. Help yourself improve your planning prowess — and ultimately, your chances of living your best life — by buying a planner, making it reflective of your style, and practicing our planning 101 tips shared here. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to see that these simple tricks of the trade universally apply no matter your age, what you do, and what your goals are.
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