If I didn’t have my planner, I would never be able to remember my schedule on a daily basis. I have always counted on my planner to help me keep track of things, but even more so today do I find myself dependent on it to remind me of all the things I have going on in a day, week, month.
I’m still mastering how to be the most effective at using my planner, a skill I develop every time I pick up my pen. I learn what works what doesn’t. Here are some of my best tips for helping me organize my planner and (consequently, my life) in hopes that they will help you organize your planner. These tips have kept me afloat when my responsibilities and obligations sometimes makes me feel like I’m barely keeping my head above water.
1. Write It Down
I have used my computer calendar and Google Docs. to organize my schedule for a few years, but ended up gravitating to physical planners because I could more concretely remember my schedule that way. This method actually goes back to the Renaissance, but I won’t go into details about that. When I write down everything that I need to do, everywhere I need to be, and all of the other little details I need to remember during a week, I am more confident that my week will go smoothly.
If you want to organize your planner, take a pen to paper and write down your schedule. Plus, if you’re anything like me, you love the tangible quality of using a pen and paper, and having something that you can see in front of you. Yes, you can see a phone calendar and easily keep it in your pocket for whenever you need to check it, but there’s just something about a planner that, at least in my mind, helps me truly feel organized. I loved when my planner looks pretty, but I also loved seeing the lines I scratched out or the plans I cancelled to make more time for myself. I find joy in seeing my life tangibly before me.
My secondary tip to this that will actually allow you to organize your planner and successfully use it is to write everything down and then look at it often. Before I really got into planning, I wrote everything down and then forgot about it. That’s not going to help you at all. Make a conscious effort to see what you’ve written down and make this effort often. You’ll be surprised to see how effective this can be.
2. Colour Coding and Highlighting
Colour coding and highlighting your schedule, using different colours for various headings or categories, is a great way to organize your planner. I’m a very visual learner and need to be able to see everything laid out in front of me. Colour coding and highlighting really helps with this.
Use different colours for your timetable (pictured below), highlight various categories to help you compartmentalize your responsibilities or goals, maybe even use different colours to actually write out your responsibilities.
Have fun with it! Don’t take it too seriously and enjoy the process as much as the result.
3. Put Everything In One Place
The only way I have been able to become successful organizing my planner and actually using it is by putting everything in one place, one planner. For years I would buy cute planners, one after another, but the problem with that is that I’ll use them but only for the time it takes me to find another cute one.
Not having the consistency with one planner made me feel even more overwhelmed. I would have one week in one planner, another week in another and did I end up look at either of the planners? Of course not! To actually make sure you use your planner, you need the consistency of putting everything in one place.
4. Plan Ahead
Don’t just simply write down your daily events, reminders, and responsibilities in your planner but also those that will occur in the coming weeks and months. Doing so will ensure that you start to create a larger picture of what your year will look like and continue to keep you organized.
For instance, I know I have a concert to attend at the beginning of November. By writing it down in my agenda and also writing down reminders for myself to book time off work several weeks in advance, I will actually book off that time. A friend once said a phrase that, I believe, you can apply to this concept: “I slow down to speed up.” In other words, take your time to plan ahead because, in the long run, you’ll be more organized and efficient when you need to be.
5. Take Advantage of Blank Pages/Space
When you start getting more familiar with organizing your planner, you can really start having fun with it. I would recommend this is when you can gravitate away from entirely templated planners and move towards creating an entirely customized planner that has everything you need to keep everything on track and organized.
Bullet journaling for one is a good starting point. This type of journaling is defined as a minimalistic kind of journaling (hence, the bullet points), but people have always taken their creativity with bullet journaling to whole new levels, with elaborate drawings and categories.
You can most definitely go down the rabbit hole of bullet journaling, but don’t get overwhelmed by it. Use these ideas as a tool to show you that blank pages can help you create and organize the planner of your dreams. Use them to create headers for your own personal goals, bright ideas, progressions.
6. Track Your Goals and Progress
Tracking your goals and progress in fun, creative ways is an excellent way to organize your planner and keep yourself accountable.
In the below photo, the individual who created this bullet journal did so to keep track of their bills each month. Doing so will allow you to see the larger picture of whatever you are tracking, rather than merely moment by moment. Whatever you decide to track, be it your habits, your meal plan, your fitness goals, or all of the above, this tip will help you organize your planner on the page and keep you motivated off the page.