Thursday 4 June 2020

5 tips for actually using your planner

Inside - school, work, appointments, meeting, how do you keep track of everything? I've got some tips to help you.

I've been using a bullet journal consistently since 2014. If we've ever met in real life, you've seen me humping that journal around, and pulling it out to write anything down that we've talked about that I might need to take an action on.

Because if I don't write it down, there's no way my brain will remember what it was we talked about 10 minutes from now.

My days are BUSY. Work, 3 volunteer roles, mum-life, kids, teams of people.

And I stay on top of all of it.

By using my planner.

Now, I get how simple that sounds. It took me a long time to actually feel like my life was in order, but I've even managed to stay on track during the school holidays, only losing a day around Christmas!

Here are my 5 biggest tips to help you actually use your planner.

Tip 1 - make it a habit to use your planner.

Look at it regularly. Daily is the best way to build a habit, but if that feels overwhelming to start, schedule a time every Sunday to sit down with your planner and sort out the week ahead.

Once you can manage weekly, lock in a daily time to look at your planner. Evenings work best, so you can plan for tomorrow, and start the new day ready to go, but some people prefer first thing in the morning. I do a mix of both, depending on whether tomorrow is a work day or home day.

Tip 2 - use a monthly calendar view in your planner.

Using a monthly calendar view means you can see everything happening this month all at the same time. In my bullet journal, I write everything on the calendar if it's for this month, otherwise it goes straight into the future log under the correct month.

You might like this post - The Unexpected Benefits of Reset Days

Tip 3 - write and rewrite each activity in your planner.

I like calendars that have a monthly view, followed by weekly or daily views best. It took me a  long time to understand why this works best for me - it's the repetition of writing things in multiple spots that helps my brain remember.

Tip 4 - review weekly. And monthly.

Reviewing successes and challenges helps plan for better next time.

Ask these questions (you can write out the answers in a journal to keep track, or just think deeply on them)

1) What was good this week?

2) What was challenging this week?

3) What could I do differently next week?

Change the words to "month" if you'd prefer.

The other review I do each month is to summarise the events of the month, similar to the month in numbers project some of my blogging friends participated in a few years back.

This helps me be aware of the good and challenging in a more literal way.

Tip 5 - it's only a bad day, not a bad life.

One of the reasons I love using a bullet journal is because there aren't any blank spaces staring back at me. If I miss writing something down, there's no gap in the pages, just space waiting for the next thing to be written.

If you forget to look at your planner, just start today.

I often use the example of missing a birthday meetup with school mums a couple of years ago as my reminder that it's totally normal to stuff things up.

You can start again where you left off if you miss an appointment, or forget to write things down.

Go back to tip 1, and work on making it a regular habit to spend time with your planner, and you'll soon start to feel as if you've got everything under control.

Do you use a planner?

What's your number 1 tip for keeping track of life?


1 comment

  1. Tip 4 reminds me of something they used to use at the school where I used to work - 'WWW' and 'EBI' - 'what went well' and 'even better if ...' '
    There's no use in beating yourself up about forgetting something or missing something, once that time has passed you can just draw a line under it, learn from it and move on. Trust me, I've found that if it isn't written down, it rarely gets done!


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