Even though I’ve been using a paper planner for years now, I realize that every once in a while my planner fails. I also get very fidgety and often change up my system, or even my whole planner. When this happens I go through my basic steps and re-evaluate what I’m doing.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is while a planner is meant to keep you on track, sometimes you need to keep track of your planner.
Whether you’ve been using paper planners for years or are a planner newbie, here are some quick tips that have helped me:
- Make a plan: List out all the things you will be using your planner for. Work or personal or both. I can’t have separate books. I’ve tried and failed miserably. I need to have just one.
- Decide on a calendar: Personally, a planner without a calendar is simply useless for me. I need to have dates. So the next thing you need to decide is a format of your calendar depending on how many timed appointments you have. I used to use the calendar to write out my to-dos for the day. I quickly realized that I was re-writing stuff all the time. So now I have deadlines in my calendar and to-do’s on a sticky note that I can move from week to week.
- Keep your to-dos with your calendar: Either try to schedule in time for your to-do’s or put them with your calendar. As I mentioned in the previous point, I now use sticky notes on my weekly lay out.
- Make sections: I always thought project sections that came with the Filofax were for people who did project-based work in the office. I realized over time that anything can turn into a project. For example, if you have a client that has multiple requirements and there’s a number of internal approvals / research required, this can be a project. Something like planning a birthday party can also be a project. I think the person who does this best is Giftie Etcetera. Please check out her website and YouTube channel to learn so much about how to get these things right and plenty more.
- Keep important info/ tel numbers written down in one place
- Make sure you have a place to stuff paper: We all have the burden of printouts and receipts. You have to ensure planning system can carry some scraps of paper until you can process it.
- Don’t make it heavy: While a stuffed planner looks beautiful, it quickly becomes a burden. Not just in terms of weight but also in terms of never actually finding things in your planner. Keep it light, clean out often and keep it functional.
- Don’t be afraid to change: Our lives change constantly and so do our planning needs. There will be periods of time when you need a heavy duty binder and other times when a simple pocket notebook will do. You don’t have to stick to one system. Change is good, change keeps things fresh.
- Have fun: For a planner to be useful, it’s needs to be used. If you think you’re planner is too ugly, too fat, too weird… you won’t use it. You have to love your planner, not be ashamed to pull it out in public. It must be comfortable to write in. If you think decorating will make you love it, by all means do that. But don’t forget, it’s meant to be a tool, not a piece of art.
Once I run through these things, it’s easier for me to decide how to switch up my planner and the flexibility I need.
I hope this is useful. I’d love to hear and learn more so if you have any tips, please do comment. Thanks!