You’ve probably done it before. You bought a planner and were absolutely convinced that you would use it. You thought that you’d plan out every single portion of your day, week, month, and year, and you’d be a better person for it. Did it happen?
Probably not if you’re reading this post. Planners are great, but they have to be maximized. Just like any other tool, you have to know how to use them best. Luckily, there are organizing tricks and hacks that exist that can help you use a schedule to organize your life to the fullest. Ready to dive in? Keep reading!
This post does contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase Please note that I only share things I have tried or know for a fact are good quality.
Make planning time regular
Let’s face it, using planners effectively comes down to using it consistently. If you’re trying to use it here and there, you probably won’t end up being successful. Not adding stuff to it regularly or checking it regularly you will miss stuff for sure. I try to sit down at least once a day and glance over mine and add stuff and mark off stuff I’ve finished.
The best way to combat this is to make your planning time regular. Schedule a daily and weekly session where you can sit down and get organized. If you feel like the reason you need a schedule, to begin with, is because you barely have any free time, then make this the very first thing you put in there.
There has to be an hour during the week that you watch TV or decompress (perhaps on a Sunday) and get ready for the week. Make this a part of your routine!
You can even add in times to do laundry or certain chores to keep you accountable for them. It’s not just for appointments and activities.
Be specific with your action items
People often have trouble using planners because they aren’t specific enough and then feel like the planner is useless or too much work. Don’t resort to writing “get lunch” down and think you’re done using your schedule. Instead write, “get lunch with Mom and talk about Thanksgiving plans,” so that you have an actionable item to accomplish. You’ll feel much more motivated and productive once you’ve done this!
This is where choosing the right one planner for you can really help. There are hourly planners, weekly planners, or monthly planners. Each planner is different and offers different layouts to help you.
Try adding every weekday a half hour to yourself? Bath night? There are so many things you can do for you!
Don’t overschedule yourself
People often go the opposite route when they have a planner and think that they suddenly need to plan their entire days in and out or they aren’t using their planners enough. Yet, overschedule yourself is frustrating because it means that you’re unlikely to accomplish everything your to-do list. You’ll end up feeling unproductive and upset when, in reality, all you really did was set unrealistic expectations for yourself.
Maybe instead add a tab or extra folder to that week to write down stuff that doesn’t have to be done, a do list or ideas. Then if they don’t get done you won’t feel as guilty.
Use only one planner
Some people like to separate out their planners. One for work and one for personal use, but this can be a great way to get mixed up and to feel like the planning becomes too much. Just stick to using one and put everything in there. Keep it simple.
I have one for work and personal stuff. I use a special blogging planner that keeps track of my social media posts too. They are the very first thing that I tend to ignore or not do. So having it as part of my planner already helps me actually keep up with it. Social media is a pain!
Know what planner accessories can help you
Alright, so maybe this one is just a little on the fun side, but planner accessories can be productive too! Grab some stickers so that you can add exactly what’s most important and you can also jazz it up according to your style.
When your planning sessions get a little dull, stickers are always an easy fix. Click here to see all your farmhouse inspired options. You can even add stickers like work out or water bottles to help you remind to drink your water. Keep track of weather weekly or even food stickers to add to a shopping list at the end of the week. Whatever helps you stay more organized!
The stickers right above and below are from my shop check them out now by clicking.
Think about your planner’s size carefully
Planners come in all shapes and sizes, and it might be tempting to get something huge (think like a Lilly Pulitzer planner). Yet, you need to think about what’s realistic for you.
Do you have a bag or purse that you always carry? Go based off of that. If it doesn’t fit in your bag, then you’re just less likely to use it. That’s kind of an unspoken fact. The size should be just right for you, even if you sacrifice other style elements along the way.
I have so much to write down every week I use the 8.5 x 11 size planner. You can see my planner here from Purple Trail or check out the Youtube video below.
Purple Trail planners are my favorite because you can customize every aspect of the planner. The covers, the inserts, even how your week is laid out. You can do blank boxes like the Happy Planner or you can do vertical or horizontal ones. I do a quad system where its four days per page and love it!
As a designer and photographer, I don’t like having to always just pick the same old designs that happy planner and Erin Coldren offer. I like basic and not colorful and I am very minimalist when it comes to my planner. You can get what works best for you!
You can see my planner above and how this would be perfect for a blogger. On the bottom for every day are places to check off and write ideas for posts on social media I love the lines because I write so sloppy. Purple Trail even allows you to do the black and white font color like mine here or a colorful array.
Stickers above are my black and white farmhouse planner stickers. Download, print, and cut in less than five minutes.
Create a system that works for you
Your planner should have a system, and you should be the primary person that understands that system. For some people, just creating a specific list and crossing or checking those items off is effective.
For others, they need to separate these items into “work” and “personal” categories in order to categorize and understand their day better. Me I just add it all to the same day under one planner. But whatever works for you is key.
If you happen to not finish anything on your list (and believe it or not that may happen from time to time), you can migrate it to the next day or a day that you know you can complete it. Or do something completely different. Make a new system that you’ve never seen used if that’s what makes you most productive and actually makes you use your planner.
At the end of the day, your planner’s system should make sense to you and you should be comfortable with it. If you’re not, change it!
Just because you’re doing something one way, doesn’t mean that you have to do it that way forever. In fact, you’re at liberty to change it whenever you want.
Try a new process out every day for the first week if that what it takes. Get comfortable with your planner, and it’ll become an ingrained habit.
Trying using time assignments
This might not work for everyone, but a lot of people can benefit from a time limit. It’s like a race to the finish that can actually help you get something done. When you list your action items out in your planner, either color code them or use stickers to assign the time you want to dedicate to completing them. Some examples of time spans are the following:
- Less than 10 minutes
- 10-20 minutes
- 20-40 minutes
- 40-60 minutes
- 1-2 hours
- 2 or more hours
These time designations will also help you figure out how much you can actually do in a day so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. And also consider implementing the two-minute rule – if there’s anything that would potentially go on your list that would take less than two minutes then don’t delay it. Just knock it out and skip writing it down (unless you just love to cross items off – no judgment!).
Somehow, someway, planners can sometimes stress people out just a little bit. Don’t allow your planner to become another source of anxiety because it’s supposed to help alleviate it. Use your planner to stress less and you’ll be good to go!
One way I can help with that is happy stickers. I know when my planner looks cute I love using it more. Check out my shop for stickers here. Check out the stickers in the video below too and please comment below and let me know what you think.
If you want access to our planner freebie library head to this page! And check out my recent planner blog posts!
- Bullet Journal Favorites
- See My Favorite Travelers Notebook
- 9 Reasons You Should Fall In Love With Your Planner
- Blogging Planners – Free or Buyable
- Planner Stickers that are Unique & Free