In a day and age where tech comes first, keeping a paper planner probably isn’t all too exciting. But when due dates and events start to pile up, you’re gonna wish that you had a handy planner to keep you on track. Here are a few tips to help you start and keep a planner or journal.

Photo courtesy of CreativePlanners.com

Take your planner everywhere – There’s no point in getting a planner if you aren’t going to use it. Make sure you have your planner on you at all times in case a new event or a new due date pops up. Seeing your week or your month all in one spread can also help you schedule new things – you wouldn’t want to pick up an extra morning shift at work the day after a night out with your friends.

Use your phone – Sometimes you just can’t bring your planner with you or take an extra minute to pencil it in. You can always use your phone to keep track of events in times of need but always make sure to transfer your events do your paper planner. I personally rely heavily on my phone calendar but in my opinion, it just doesn’t do for me what a paper planner can. There’s a ton of more advanced planner apps out there but sometimes the interface can get too cluttered. Phones are great for setting reminders but come up short when giving you an accurate overview of your tasks and event so I suggest that you use your phone to set reminders rather than for planning.

Color code – Using codes for your different tasks and events can help tremendously when you’re looking for the information you need quickly. It also helps important due dates and tasks stand out so that you don’t accidentally miss it. Use different colors for school, work, due dates, bills, and more. 

Use the right materials – Just as important as the actual planner, your materials can make a huge difference in efficiency. For example, there are some events that crop up that aren’t necessarily set in stone. In times like these, you can use sticky notes or tabs to write the event on so that your planner isn’t littered in strikethroughs and scribbles. Another great solution is erasable pens.

One task at a time – Don’t overload yourself with a bunch of to-dos. It’s tempting to fill up every line and every checkbox but you have to set realistic expectations. Planning isn’t supposed to make you feel bad or stress you out over not accomplishing your goals. When you set unrealistic goals you can’t achieve, you’ll less likely want to keep a planner that reminds you of your ‘failures’ in the first place. Be kind to yourself and to your capabilities. 

Divide your workload – To help you with overscheduling yourself, divide out your tasks and events. Use either the Eisenhower Matrix, Covey’s Time Management Grid or both to help you determine the importance and/or urgency of a task. Using this method, you can now divide your tasks and events into your daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly schedules. 

Make time for planning and journaling – We all know that life gets hectic sometimes – especially in the Fall semester with school, a handful of important holidays, and just the end of the year. As mentioned before, you can always use your phone to help with planning but you also have to make time for your paper planner. Make sure you schedule a designated time for planning and journaling. Depending on your needs and your methods this can take anywhere from as little as 5 minutes to 45 minutes.

Explore your needs and different methods that help meet them – Finding the perfect planner can be daunting. There are so many options and layouts to choose from but sometimes too many choices can make the decision even harder. Choose one that fits your needs and wants. If you don’t have a lot of time to spend on planning, choose a minimal layout that gets down to the basics. If you want more a comprehensive lifestyle planner, choose one that has dedicated spaces for those things. When choosing a planner for yourself, also take into account the size that is most comfortable for you to keep on hand at all times whether it’s pocket-style, full size, or even weekly or monthly printables.

Photo courtesy of The Chic Cupcake

Bullet journaling – If traditional planners just don’t cut it for you, you can try your hand at the bullet journaling trend. This method does away with traditional planners altogether and allows you to basically create your own layouts and spreads. The great thing about this method is that it extends beyond just planning and to-do lists and ventures into real complexities of different lifestyles. You can add sections for a mood tracker, weight tracker, seasonal bucket lists, affirmations, and so much more.

Be budget friendly – Planner and bullet journals can get pretty costly. Always keep in mind that you can DIY a great planner. So many brands and lines have create-your-own options where you can buy the sleeve and filler pages separately. Even better than that, there are so many free downloadables and printables online. If bullet journaling is your thing, you can even upgrade regular notebooks, journals, or sketchbooks to avoid paying upwards of $20 – $30 for a dedicated bullet journal. If you need DIY help, there are also tons of videos online like this one from YouTuber SeaLemon.

Personalize it! – Add your own touch by using stickers, washi tape, or even your own doodles and drawings. If you aren’t artsy or satisfied with your handwriting, stickers and washi tape can help a great deal. You can use stickers for your headings – you can either buy journal sticker booklets or print your own on sticker paper. You can use washi tape on page borders to mark important pages or even outline boxes.

 

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