If you are looking for some top tips on how to get the most out of your planner, you are in the right place!
We all know the importance of having a planner (if not make sure to check out my post all about) but what can you be doing to get the absolute most out of your current planner? There are tons of tips out there that can improve your productivity. And there are even more tips out there on how to use a planner effectively. This post does two in one!
Keep reading to get caught up on some simple tips you can add in conjunction with your planner to get the most out of your planner and live a more organized life!
Top Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Planner
Use your planner what it was intended for… to schedule deadlines, appointments, and events. Make sure you are writing down future events as they come to you.
Did you schedule a dentist appointment for next month? Write it down.
Vacation planned and booked for summer? Write it down.
Do you know you’re going to have a test you will need to study for? Write it down.
Let your planner do the work for you! That is what it’s there for afterall.
If you planner offers both monthly and weekly views, utilize them. I’ve noticed that putting things down twice really helps with my memory. When I have a big event that I need to plan out multiple days for, I not only write it in the weekly/ daily view, but also the monthly view.
Your task lists will essentially be your running to do list. I like to start my week with a running to do list, and then dictate a day to achieve them. The more you organize your task lists, the easier they will be to manage!
Would you rather look at one to do list with 30 things? Or would you prefer multiple groups of tasks at a much more manageable rate?
Create Task Lists: Throughout your day there will be a LOT of things that are fighting for your attention. When you have a task list, you can simply add those things there. Each new task that you take on should be added to this task list.
These can be for the day, week, or even the month! However it works best for you and your lifestyle. When you create a task list, you know that all your to do’s will be in one place, and not scattered in your planner or brain.
Prioritize Your Task Lists: Once you have a running task list, you can further prioritize the tasks on your list. You can mark these with numbers to rank importance or highlighting ones you need to accomplish for the day.
What I do is break my task list into four different categories:
- Important & Urgent: I do these first
- Not Important but Urgent: These get done next unless I need to delegate to someone else so they can get completed in time
- Important but not Urgent: I will do these next and are things that I would ideally get done first, but it’s okay that I don’t
- Not Important or Urgent: These either get done extremely last, or don’t get done at all.
My planning technique sets up realistic goals that I set for myself. I know what I can typically accomplish in a day, so I strategically number my task list accordingly!
When you take your task list down to each task, you are able to organize even more! Here are some ways you can create tasks that you can complete quickly! This is why having a planner is so important. When you have a place to write down each of your tasks, you are getting the most out of your planner.
Let me explain…
Categorize Your Tasks: Just like when I separate my tasks lists by priority, I also like to organize my tasks. I like to create different categories in my life that have their own task lists. These include:
- Work: I have a list for all of the freelance work I do and organize those per day. This is a great way to see what I need to get done, and by what time.
- Family: Birthdays coming up? Graduations? I have a list in my planner where I write down any upcoming tasks that I need to remember for my family.
- Blog: I have (many) task lists in my blog planner. I like to get extremely specific and make sure each aspect of my blog is timed out so I can make the most of my time.
- House: When it comes to laundry, the dishwasher, and cleaning out the litter box, I like to create a task list just for these things. Obviously you want them to get done, but the world won’t end if I wait one more day to wash my sheets.
When I categorize my task lists into particular sections I can see what areas will take up the majority of my time. You can read more about this in my post about the importance of having a planner! Learning how to allocate your time to all areas of your life is the exact point of a planner!
Begin with a Verb: An easy change you can make in your task list to get the most out of your planner is to make sure each of your tasks are actionable. What I mean by this is instead of putting ‘Harry Potter Essay’ in your planner, put “Write Harry Potter Essay.” It’s almost like a psychological trick you can use on yourself to make your tasks seem more manageable.
Not like I would need convincing to write a Harry Potter essay… but I digress.
Make Your Tasks Specific and Small: There will be some tasks that simply can’t be done in one day or one sitting. These are important to mark. If you want to get the most out of your planner, you should pay attention to how you list out your tasks.
Back to my example: If you know that you will have to write an essay on the Story of Harry Potter then it’s obviously not attainable in one sitting. Instead, try to focus in on your to-do list. Write “Research Harry Potter’s birth” or “watch the first movie as research.” This will make bigger tasks seem smaller, and less threatening to finish.
Add Time Assignments to Each Task: Sometimes a really big to do list can be daunting. More often than not you will get anxious about all that you have to do, that you end up doing nothing all day.
(That happens to me at least once a week, so don’t feel bad!)
One way I have found to combat this feeling is to add time assignments to each of the tasks. I use multiple color highlighters that signify the amount of time it takes me to complete something. For example I know a task marked with pink means it will take me about 2 hours. Blue means one hour. And purple means half an hour.
While I get that this can seem obsessive, I typically only do this when I have an extremely busy week. I also did this alot in undergrad and it is a great strategy for students! When you have an hour left to get something done you can simply scan your task list and know what you can accomplish with the time permitted.
Want to learn more about how to Actually get those tasks checked off your to do list? Make sure to check out my free guide that comes with 2 free printables! Tracking, listing, and organizing your tasks just got easier!
I know I mentioned this earlier when I talked about study planners, but color coding can be a simple way to get the most out of your planner. But this isn’t just a hack for students! I have a calendar on my wall that is color coded to keep mine and Brad’s content separate.
- Pink = when my blog posts go live
- Purple = maintenance on my site
- Dark Green = when Brad’s posts go live
- Light Green = maintenance on his site
- Red = all of the important things we have to get done within the month
- Blue = for birthdays (I only have that this month because my baby sister is turning 13)
This can also be great for moms who have multiple kids. When you give each kid their own color in your planner you can visually get an overview of where your attention and time will be spent.
Make sure to pick out a color for yourself! Self care is important too!
Set Time Aside Just for Planning
Something I do at the end of each day is add “Plan tomorrow” to my task list. I have to create a time slot for planning each and every day, or it simply won’t get done. It’s easy to think of filling out your planner as a non essential task for the day, but for me it really does help. So it’s worth it.
It makes sense that to get the most out of your planner, you have to actually find time to plan. Because I LOVE to make lists, I like to make a list of all the things I want to do in my planner each day. This can include: checking off all your tasks for the day, migrating any unfinished tasks, checking my schedule for the next day, and filling in your current trackers.
Not only do I look over my tasks on a daily basis, but I also do what I call a weekly review.
I’ve created a weekly review process overview sheet that can make it easy for those starting out! It’s a way to make sure I am on top of my to-do lists each and every week. Feel free to copy, save, and print as needed! I have mine pinned on my bulletin board so I make sure to do everything, each and every week!
My currently weekly review includes:
- Collecting: Collecting any of the loose papers I’ve collected throughout the week and write down any important information, tasks, and items that I need to remember.
- Reviewing: Reviewing my future task lists for the next few weeks – just to make sure there isn’t something I want to move to my current task list.
- Updating: Taking the time to review my current task list and compare it to my upcoming calendar. This is also the perfect time where I look into my larger projects that I need to complete and start brainstorming how to complete them.
- Finalizing: Finally, I get to planning out the next week. Based on the information I gathered I start to make a plan and fill out my planner the best I can. Doing this gives me a great overview of my upcoming week and tasks!
The 2 Minute Rule
One of my favorite tips to get the most out of your planner is abiding by the 2 minute rule. I simply look at my task lists and see if there is anything that I can complete in 2 minutes or less. If I find something, I DO IT. Right then and there.
It’s a great way to get some things checked off your list, while also leaving you feeling like you accomplished something! And you absolutely did accomplish something – you just did it really fast!
Daily Top 3
For those who may have difficulty focusing on all your tasks for the day, it may help to start creating your Top 3 for your day. It’s the perfect way to know what you absolutely need to focus on for the day!
My current Top 3 for my week are:
- Buying plane tickets
- Send off Medium Story
- Review Affiliate Programs
*Tip: If only three things seem limiting, you can always create additional lists. Your Top 3 will be the first three things you need to get done. From there you can move on to your additional lists!
Those are some of my TOP TIPS to get the most out of your planner. Your planner will only work as hard as you do! So by adding in a few of these techniques, you will notice how organized your life seems!
Keeping a planner is a great way to live an organized life. It can positively affect all areas of your life! Don’t believe me? Read about the reasons I choose to live an organized life! Shit I even organize my phone!
When you have a planner, organization becomes an essential part of your everyday life. When you put systems in place to get the most out of your planner, you’d be surprised how successful you are at getting things done.