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By | February 4, 2020

Paper planners are effective only if you use them properly and regularly. Here are some ways to get involved with the groove, if you’re not yet an addict!


Perhaps you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to be much more organized. Paper planners are an old-fashioned yet effective way to remain along with everything that has to be achieved by giving a robust visual layout and space for jotting notes, to-do lists, and ideas. The only problem is that no planner will allow you to get organized if you use it. Establishing that routine is very important and worth the effort. Here are a few tips on the best way 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 review your tasks for another day. That refreshes in your thoughts what needs to be done, which makes it less likely for you to just forget about 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 have issues falling asleep until I started this nightly practice a couple of years ago. I no more experience racing thoughts scrambling through my mind of tomorrow’s to-dos since they’re all nicely presented 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 few momemts to review plans for the week ahead. This is your chance to policy for broader tasks that can’t be pegged to a particular day, i.e. catch up with a buddy, send out thank-you notes, finish that pile of ironing, weed the garden. You can even transfer any information that will have gone into your phone during the week.

3. Use the monthly section.
Every planner has a regular spread. I favor designs that place it at the start of every month, even though some planners put most of the month spreads in the beginning of the book. That is where you must 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 single 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 relating to work. This is easiest completed with a report planner.

5. Make your steps concrete.
Write entirely sentences (with verbs!) to clarify things you need to do. For instance, it’s 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 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 your house, just as 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 is to carry it around and use it. Realistically, you need something that could easily fit into a handbag or backpack. Big, hefty desk planners are nice, but never as practical, if you keep track of everything in your phone and transfer it later to your planner, but that’s one more step. On a related note, pick 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 looks 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 lifetime at a specific time. Some weeks will be jam-packed; others empty by comparison.

You will have to determine your own personal style, whether you like to publish down everything as a sort of brain dump, or if you like to stick to only relevant scheduling stuff. Many people like designs with calendars on the left and lined/graph paper on the right, which allows for note-taking. Alternatively, you may get a slender notebook that slips into the rear of the planner for writing down issues that don’t squeeze into particular days.

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