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By | February 4, 2020

Paper planners are effective only if you utilize them properly and regularly. Here are a few ways to get into the groove, if you’re not even an addict!


Perhaps you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to be more organized. Paper planners are an old-fashioned yet effective way to keep on top of everything that’s to be performed by giving a robust visual layout and space for jotting notes, to-do lists, and ideas. The only real problem is that no planner will allow you to get organized unless you use it. Establishing that routine is important and well worth the effort. Here are some tips on how to get started with a planner. (See our slideshow on 10 fabulous planners to keep you organized all year.)

1. Have a regular daily planning session.
Take 5 or 10 minutes every evening to review your tasks for the next day. That refreshes in your mind what needs to be achieved, which makes it less likely for you to forget about appointments, etc.Organizational expert and blogger Jen from Pretty Neat Living makes an excellent point by describing it being an important brain dump:

“I used to possess issues drifting off to sleep until I started this nightly practice many years ago. I no longer experience racing thoughts scrambling through my mind of tomorrow’s to-dos since they’re all nicely organized for me.”
2. Have a regular weekly planning session.
In the beginning of the week, such as for instance Sunday evening (or whatever is best suited for you), take a couple of minutes to review plans for the week ahead. That is your chance to policy for broader tasks that can’t be pegged to a specific day, i.e. meet up with a friend, send thank-you notes, finish that pile of ironing, weed the garden. You can even transfer any information that may have gone into your phone throughout the week.

3. Use the monthly section.
Every planner has a monthly spread. I favor designs that stick it at the start of monthly, although some planners put all of the month spreads at the beginning of the book. This really is where you ought to write down all the things that won’t change – birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, due dates for bills, etc.

4. Use a single planner for everything.
It’s easiest to keep it all in one place, so you don’t have to consult multiple planners or calendars. Try color-coding business and personal tasks for better separation, such as a red pen for anything associated with work. That is easiest done with a report planner.

5. Make your steps concrete.
Write completely sentences (with verbs!) to clarify what you need to do. As an example, it’s much more likely you’ll tackle “Call Maria about recipe” quickly than if you simply write “Maria.”

6. Check your planner a lot.
Check it frequently and leave it somewhere obvious when you’re in the home, a desk or table, ready for use. Don’t stuff it away on a corner as it will get forgotten. Pop it into your bag whenever you leave the house, in the same way you take your wallet and phone.

7. Choose a small passport or regular sized planner.
The smaller and smaller sized your planner is, the more inclined you is to carry it around and use it. Realistically, you need something that could fit in a handbag or backpack. Big, hefty desk planners are nice, but never as practical, until you record everything in your phone and transfer it later to your planner, but that’s yet another step. On a related note, choose a planner that draws your eye – something colorful and decorative – because that can help you to remember it and make you wish to use it.

8. Don’t stress about filling it up.
Sometimes the look of empty space makes people think they need to fill it up. Don’t go there because you’ll burn out and weary in your planner. Rather, allow your planner to be reflective of your daily life at a certain time. Some weeks will be jam-packed; others empty by comparison.

You will have to determine your personal style, whether you like to write down everything as a kind of brain dump, or if you prefer to stick with only relevant scheduling stuff. Some individuals like designs with calendars on the left and lined/graph paper on the proper, allowing for note-taking. Alternatively, you will get a slender notebook that slips into the trunk of the planner for writing down items that don’t match particular days.

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