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By | February 4, 2020

Paper planners are effective only if you utilize them properly and regularly. Here are some 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 a traditional yet efficient way to keep along with everything that’s to be achieved by providing a robust visual layout and space for jotting notes, to-do lists, and ideas. The sole problem is that no planner can help you get organized if you use it. Establishing that routine is very important and well worth the effort. Here are a few tips on how best to begin with a planner. (See our slideshow on 10 fabulous planners to stop you organized all year.)

1. Have a regular daily planning session.
Take 5 or 10 minutes every evening to go over your tasks for the next day. That refreshes in your mind what needs to be performed, making it not as likely for you to ignore appointments, etc.Organizational expert and blogger Jen from Pretty Neat Living makes a good point by describing it as an important brain dump:

“I used to possess issues drifting off to sleep until I started this nightly practice a few years ago. I no more experience racing thoughts scrambling through my mind of tomorrow’s to-dos since they’re all nicely laid out for me.”
2. Have a regular weekly planning session.
From the beginning of the week, such as for instance Sunday evening (or whatever works best for you), take a few momemts to go over plans for the week ahead. This really is your opportunity to policy for broader tasks that can’t be pegged to a specific day, i.e. catch up with a buddy, send thank-you notes, finish that pile of ironing, weed the garden. You can also transfer any information that may have gone into your phone during the week.

3. Use the monthly section.
Every planner has a monthly spread. I favor designs that place it at the start of each month, even though some planners put all of the month spreads at the start of the book. This really is where you must jot down all the stuff that won’t change – birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, due dates for bills, etc.

4. Use a single planner for everything.
It’s easiest to keep everything in a single place, so you do not have to consult multiple planners or calendars. Try color-coding business and personal tasks for better separation, such as a red pen for anything concerning work. This really is easiest completed with a paper planner.

5. Make your steps concrete.
Write entirely sentences (with verbs!) to clarify the thing you need to do. For example, it’s much more likely you’ll tackle “Call Maria about recipe” quickly than if you just write “Maria.”

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

7. Choose a small passport or regular sized planner.
Small and more compact your planner is, the more inclined you will be to carry it around and use it. Realistically, you’ll need something that could easily fit into a handbag or backpack. Big, hefty desk planners are nice, but not as practical, until you keep track of everything on your phone and transfer it later to your planner, but that’s an additional 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 intend to use it.

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

You’ll have to figure out your personal style, whether you like to write down everything as a sort of brain dump, or if you like to stick to only relevant scheduling stuff. Some individuals like designs with calendars on the left and lined/graph paper on the best, which allows for note-taking. Alternatively, you will get a trim notebook that slips into the back of the planner for writing down issues that don’t fit into particular days.

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