Before I got my planner, I was running my household and business off a half-sheet sized notepad! I’m so glad I finally bit the bullet and bought myself a planner. It’s helped me be more productive in my daily life, plan out my long-term goals, and juggle all the aspects of my life much more seamlessly. Read on to find out how to use your own planner to be more productive!
You don’t need a fancy, expensive planner to be more productive! I got a weekly layout Day Designer from Target on sale. You can pick up a similar one from Amazon here. I chose a weekly layout instead of daily after a lot of deliberation. Although I like having lots of room, I decided it was more important to be able to see my whole week. And, having less room for a long to-do list would help me spread out my tasks better!
A quick note about how I use my planner: Some people color-code and use beautiful hand-lettering in their planners and bullet journals. I’m not one of them! I did try color-coding, but it was more work than it was worth for me. I don’t even try to write particularly neatly, just legibly. If beauty is what helps you use your planner, that’s great! For me, my planner is just a tool, not an art project. And putting in any extra effort would make it intimidating instead of helpful. These tips will help you use your planner to be more productive, whichever way you want to use it!
Setting Up the Month
When I brought my planner home, I went through the monthly pages and wrote out important dates. Birthdays, anniversaries, product launches, meet-ups, doctor’s appointments… They all got written in right away. I also added Emma’s school schedule and recurring events, like times for holiday dinners.
Now, a few days before the new month begins, I go over the month again and write down anything else. When I’m out and about, I add events into my iCal – so I make sure to write them down in my planner. Then, I transfer those events over to my weekly page.
Every Friday evening, I plan the next week! I start planning my week around the things transferred over from the monthly calendar and Emma’s school schedule. I write in the things that I know will be consistent, like meal times and bedtime. Then, I block up the open slots. Everyone loves time blocking for productivity – me included! It makes it easy to see and plan when and how much free time I’ll have in the day to work. I like to keep Fridays open for playdates and fun!
Some weeks I have a big goal I want to focus on or a special event. So I use one of the pretty gold stickers that came in the front of my planner. It also has a small double-sided folder in the front, so I can put one of my half-sheet notepad papers in there if I need to!
For both my blog and my home, I like to keep task lists that help me make sure nothing falls through the cracks. So I usually know what needs to be done each day of the week and month. So, for each day, I choose up to three top priorities (although I try to keep it to one or two). These are the things I need to really try to get done, even if I have a migraine or Emma is sick. I try to keep a balanced perspective on this and give myself more time than I need for these tasks, just in case!
Make your planner work for you!
I decided to use the ‘tonight’ section as a daily to-do checklist. It’s a good system because I don’t have a whole lot of room for an endless to-do list! It keeps my daily tasks manageable and helps me remember that scheduling a to-do for another day is acceptable. Even if I don’t finish all of a day’s to-dos, I try to get them done by the end of the week. And those unchecked boxes really motivate me!
I also use sticky notes to help me remember the daily recurring chores that will pile up if I’m not careful! The cute little page flags were in the Target One-Spot this summer. My daily chores are split up into three segments: morning, afternoon, and bedtime. I use the sticky notes for the first two to make sure I’m not forgetting anything. That way, I don’t have to re-write my chores every single day, but I also won’t let a step slip my mind.
I use Saturday’s box to keep a running grocery list, since Saturday is our errand day. I also write down anything else I need to do or pick up while we’re out. My husband Keith and Emma go over to Nana’s house on Sunday afternoons. So Sunday’s box is a chore list of things I like to get done while they’re out. I try to get as much done on Sundays as I can to prep for the week ahead.
Life with my Planner
Now that I’ve learned how to use my planner to be more productive, my life is so much more organized! Fewer things are falling through the cracks. I find myself able to think way more long-term, now that I have my whole year in front of me with the turn of a page. And, I’m more accountable to my goals! Because now I can write out the exact steps I need to take to reach them.
Why One Planner?
You may be wondering, why keep one planner for both work and home? Some people do better keeping their business and personal life separate. But for me, as a stay-at-home mom and blogger, there’s just not a clear line between work time and personal time. It’s easier for me to keep one planner with everything I need in one place.
Using Your Planner to Be More Productive
First, figure out what planner layout you’d like. I chose a weekly layout so I could see my whole week at once. If you have a super-long to-do list every day, or want a half-hour blocked schedule, go for a daily layout like this one. Remember, you don’t have to use the planner exactly as it comes. I use the ‘tonight’ section of my planner as a to-do list, so be flexible!
Next, figure out what extras you need. I use the included stickers and some sticky notes from Target, but you might want some colored pens that won’t bleed through the pages, or some special event stickers if you like visuals more than writing!
Figure out your ‘system’.
Decide when and how you’ll sit down and plan your months, weeks, and days. This may take some tweaking over time – and that’s okay! Being flexible is a good thing. But keeping some kind of system will help you be consistent. And consistency is the key to using your planner to be more productive!
UPDATE: Since becoming the Writer Coordinator for Indy Mompreneurs and pursuing my degree, I’ve switched to a daily planner! It helps me keep the many facets of my busy life separate, but not all over the place or chaotic. Check out the daily planner I chose on Amazon here.
How do you use your planner to be more productive? Still have questions about using a planner? Drop a comment below!
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