When we purchase a day planner, we intend to become more focused, organized, and productive. So why do we often lose focus and abandon our planners after only a couple of weeks?
Successfully planning your day involves choosing the right planning style for you and personalizing your notes to meet your needs.
Continue reading to discover the varied types of day planners and which personality types are suited to each, plus a range of tips and tricks for organizing your planner for focus, motivation, goal setting, and time management.
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Make Time For Planning
Set aside time to write your day planner. Ten minutes in the morning can help outline your goals for the day, or ten minutes in the evening can help lay out your plans for the next day.
Try to avoid planning too much in one go as circumstances evolve and things change; plus, this will likely discourage you from using your planner as you’ll feel the need to be perfect and not deviate from what you’ve laid out.
Instead, plan just a week or two in advance to set realistic goals that are adaptable as you go. Sitting down for half an hour on a Sunday evening and planning out the week ahead can be helpful as you can factor in everything for the next week, including coffee dates and gym sessions.
Choose A Planning System That Works For You
We each have a unique way of viewing the world and a unique way of organizing information, so choosing a planning system that works for you is vital if you want to get the most out of your planner. Explore some of the options below to see which one feels right for your style.
Writing things by hand can help us remember them better than when we type them. The problem with writing things down is that they can often be unorganized, with many tasks and ideas mixed incomprehensibly.
A bullet journal is a hybrid of a to-do list, a notebook, a diary, and a journal, and it allows you to organize your thoughts with short and simple bullet points.
You write entries as short bullet points, categorized using different symbols:
- A dot represents a task.
- A circle represents an event.
- A dash represents a thought.
You can add more symbols to highlight priority tasks, such as an asterisk. Bullet journals are often ordered in days, weeks, and months to add future tasks while focusing on your current assignment. Everything is organized into an index system to find what you are looking for quickly.
BuJo (short for bullet journaling) expands traditional bullet journaling that adopts a more aesthetic approach, using illustrations, color, and stickers to create a visual journal that is pleasing to look at.
If you enjoy visual representations of a to-do list, then BuJo may be the right fit for you – check out the #BuJo on Instagram for a wealth of inspiration.
A life planner is more than a task list; it is a place to record your thoughts, ambitions, goals, and celebrations. A life planner contains quotes, pictures, and stickers and is excellent for creative personalities who want to add flair to their day planner.
A life planner generally contains a yearly calendar for viewing important dates, monthly planning to lay out goals and plans for each month, and a daily/weekly planner to break those tasks down into manageable chunks for each day.
A happy planner is perfect for those who want to feel inspired while journaling and enjoying lots of visual accessories to their planning.
A happy planner has a similar layout to a life planner with additional features such as gratitude journaling and a place to list your favorite movie, book, or song or the week. These planners show more of your personality and are great if you enjoy a combined journal and to-do list.
Passion planners are designed for people who want to focus on their dreams and ambitions rather than just their immediate tasks.
A passion planner combines sketchbook, goal setter, motivational quotes, personal and professional to-do lists, appointment calendar, gratitude log, and focus points into one space. At the front of the planner, you will find space to map out your plans for the next five or so years, followed by the area to break these goals down into smaller chunks.
Each page allows you to list your most important focus points so that you can maintain concentration on the steps towards your long-term goals.
This type of planner is perfect for those who want their daily schedule to contribute to long-term goals and who like to focus on future and present planning.
A kanban planner uses an old Japanese planning system to keep track of your workflow in a straightforward design. It is ideal for task-oriented people who want a clean, simple planner to view tasks and manage timeframes.
Using kanban allows you to break a goal down into smaller tasks then monitor the progress of each job in the sequence to monitor your progress promptly. If you like simplicity, structure, and a clear overview of your work, a planner that uses the kanban system could be ideal for you.
A productivity planner is perfect for task-oriented individuals. The planner provides space for task prioritization, allowing you to focus the bulk of your energy on the most crucial task of your day.
Additionally, a productivity planner will allow you to set time goals for yourself and measure your progress against them. This planner is simple, structured, and provides greater discipline and focus.
Write Everything Down In Your Planner
The average short-term memory of a human being is 20-30 seconds, so it’s not hard to understand how we sometimes forget essential tasks or special dates. And that’s where a planner comes in handy.
To get the most out of your planner, make sure you write down every important thing that you want to remember and check it daily so that you never forget your sister-in-law’s birthday or your cousin’s recital ever again.
Things to include in your planner:
- Project Deadlines
- Shopping Lists
- Appointments – doctor, dentist, vet, etc
- Bill due dates
- Car maintenance schedule
Prioritize your tasks
Some tasks are easier to prioritize than others, but what happens when everything is important, and you don’t know how to prioritize your week? Using a planner is a great tool to help lay out the most significant tasks of each day. What’s also important is to master the skill of prioritization.
How To Prioritize:
- List every task you need to complete.
- Mark each one as urgent or important, where urgent represents a task with an upcoming deadline.
- Assess the value of each task to your overall goal, marking them as high, medium, or low priority. High priority means that it is a crucial factor in meeting your goal; medium means that it could help your overall goal, but it’s not essential, and low priority means that it would be nice to complete if you have enough time. Still, it’s not necessary for your overall goal.
- For each category: high, medium, and low priority, estimate how long each task will take.
- Your number one task should be the high-priority task that is the most time-consuming, while the last task on your list is the lowest priority task that is the least time-consuming.
- Cut out the tasks that you don’t have time for. Once you have your estimated timeframes and prioritization, only add jobs to your to-do list that you have time for. Overwhelming your schedule is counter-productive as you set yourself up to fail and are less likely to feel motivated.
Highlight Key Tasks And Events
Whether it’s your child’s first school play or a business meeting with a big client – highlighting the most important events in your schedule can help you focus on the important things. Use different colored pens, stickers, or colored inserts to help key tasks stand out.
Summary: How to organize your day planner
Organizing your day planner can be a fun task when you choose the right style for you. A day planner can structure, motivate, inspire and focus you on meeting your deadlines and achieving your goals.
A critical factor in organizing your day planner is picking the best layout for you. Consider whether you want to focus on immediate goals only or whether you want to see how they slot into your bigger goals?
Ask yourself whether you like a simplistic style or are a visual planner and enjoy lots of color and pictures. An index can be a helpful tool for quickly referencing what you are looking for. Whereas a BuJo or life planner allows you to incorporate your personality to the pages.