Why use a planner and how to choose the right one? With FREE full planner!
Planning is very important, especially when you have a busy lifestyle. However, when life is busy, I can personally say that I don’t take enough time to do it. It is a vicious circle that keeps coming back.
Now, if you are anything like me, you’ve already tried to become the most organized person ever and you failed at it, time and time again. The positive thing is however, that every time, some habits stuck with me and I have gotten a little less hopeless doing it. I’d like to share some tips that work for me and hopefully, it will give you a step in the right direction as well.
The first thing I really liked is using actual paper. I do have an online calendar on my phone and I use it to put appointments in right when I make them, so I won’t forget, but every Sunday evening or Monday morning in the train to work, I translate the online calendar to my planner. Why, you ask? Because it gives me a clear overview of the week to come and I revisit my schedule. Color coding is a really important step in this, because I can see within one look whether there is enough pink (fun, relaxing activities) in my week and whether I have time to work ahead or that I will have to do with living in the moment. Another thing I like about my paper planner is that I put effort in writing everything down nicely, which makes me cherish my planner, it is something I try to make look pretty, which also gives me a little creative outlet. This dedication also makes it harder for me to skip appointments, because then I have to scratch in my planner and that is ugly.
Plan to plan
Really make time to plan and choose a fixed time to do it (for me Sunday evening or Monday morning to kickstart my week). That way it is easier to commit to it. You can even set an alarm on your phone on Sunday evening to remind yourself.
Keep room for change
The rule of thumb for me is to have 2/5 spare days for work and 2 free evenings a week. They don’t have to be at the same day, but is does keep you from planning to much or not being able to have spontaneous plans. The workdays are for being able to do the less fun, but also important administration and long-term projects. The free evenings are for you to decide whether you want to clean, relax or go out with friends. Do whatever you feel like and don’t worry about the musts that life can throw at you. These days, you don’t have to go to your family in law if you don’t want to and you don’t have to do the dishes or meal prep, only if you feel like you have energy to do so. It also gives you the room to be more flexible if something unexpected happens, like going to a friend that needs an evening of tea and television because she broke up with her boyfriend. Just keep in mind that that doesn’t happen every week.
For me, this is the hardest one and I am still practicing, but it is a very important one. Yes, you can move that dinner party because of this one big client, but 9 out of 10 times, you shouldn’t. Sure, sometimes, you have to, but that doesn’t mean you have to throw the towel in the ring every time your boss asks you to work extra. You can at least explain that you have plans and whether he can ask someone else instead. If that is not possible, than you will have to change your schedule, but at least you will have tried. It is also important that you don’t have to tell him or her why you can’t. I get that it feels a big awkward to say that you can’t work for that big client, because you had an evening of facial masks and Netflix planned, but you also don’t have to say that right away. ‘I am very sorry, but I have plans. Is there anyone else you can ask?’ is also a sufficient answer.
Since I also use a planner to look back, I hate it when it is not an accurate overview of the week that past, so that could also be a mental reason why you can try to be firm in your plans. It is very depressing to look back and see 3 fun activities scratched through, just to see it being changed to ‘working late’.
Use planning not only as a plan for the future, but also as a means of looking back.
Put those cinema or festival tickets in your planner after you went or make a nice photo collage to remember the day by. So much happens in a year and chances are that if you don’t have time to plan, you also don’t have time to keep a diary, but it’s a shame! Life passes so quickly and why skip on remembering the good days if it is so easy to keep track with the planner you already use! That way your planner works both ways and it makes your planner a little more personal, which also makes it a little more fun to plan.
Some planners, like the Passion Planner or the Happiness planner, already have these little tricks worked into them to remind you to do so, so definitely take a look on their websites!
Different types of planners for different purposes, but how much?
I have two planners: an online one and a paper one. At the end of my planner, I also have a few blank pages to write down lists that are more general: books I like to read that year and films I’d like to watch. My passion planner also has a section at every week for to do lists and for bigger projects, I like to block times to work on them. That way, my online planner is more general and quick, while my paper planner is more detailed and focused only on the week I’m in. I tried using a different to do list as well, but I am to lazy for using 3 different kinds of planners. I do also have a meal planner separately in a bullet journal in which I can also write down recipes, but I only use that when I have the emotional room to also plan my meals. Because I know many recipes out of the top of my head, I don’t need to meal plan to eat healthy (although it does help me perfect my eating habits).
Choose a planner that suits you
Before buying a planner, make a plan what you want to do with it. Do you want to use it for work only, or do you want to incorporate personal plans as well? Do you want to make it a brief overview of appointments or does it also need to contain to do lists? Are you going to take it with you, or only use it at home/at your workplace? Are you using it as a creative outlet or just for planning the week ahead of you?
I want everything in one book, so I needed a very flexible one. The Passion Planner is very good for that, because you have a lot of free space, a lot of timeslots and you can also skip weeks without losing valuable pages (like on holidays). The Bullet Journal is also a very good thing if you like the flexibility, but because it is that free, it does take a little more time to make the schedules and stuff (for which I am to lazy on a weekly basis).
However, some people prefer more structure and that is fine as well, but then the Passion Planner probably is not suitable for you (or you can choose the dated one). Also size is an important factor. Because I have a planner in my phone as well, I am fine with having a big planner, but if you use it everyday and everywhere, a smaller one could be better for you.
Taking time to think and find out what suits you can pay you back in time eventually, because choosing the wrong planner can stop you from planning and not using your time optimally. Read reviews, browse for ideas and possibilities (for instance on Pinterest) and write down your needs for a planner. It will be worth it in the end!
Do you want a free practice journal? I have made a draft that you can download. It also lets you reflect and elevate your life, one week at the time, next to planning ahead! The only thing you need to do is to sign-up to my mailing list and send me a message through my contact page. That way you can also make sure you don’t miss any new messages!
I hope this helps you a little in keeping a clear head and not losing yourself in everything you have to do. Good luck and if you have any tips, please comment below! And what planner do you use and why?