First and foremost, you need to find a perfect planner that works for you. Over the years, I had a few planners that didn’t work for my needs and there is nothing more annoying when you don’t want to waste the planner you already started but don’t feel happy about using the one you have. But this year I finally found the planner that I really love! It’s colorful, it’s simple, and it has all the features I’m looking for.
I’ve been on a hunt for a perfect planner both online and in stores throughout December and who knew that Target would be the place to find my favorite one? Until this day, I’ve never heard of Emily Ley planners and oh boy these are just perfect. Not only my new planner is colorful and cute, but it also comes with the handiest layout. You have an entire month view and then weekly view with a to-do list for each day. Personally, I love such division, so you can separate events and reminders from tasks and projects.
Here are my tips on how to organize your planner:
PROJECT VS TASK
Know the difference between a project and an individual task. A project is a big goal you are working towards, a task is a small chunk of that big project that you are planning on accomplishing each day. At the beginning of each month, revise your projects list and divide them into tasks. I love using the “to do” section on the monthly calendar view for projects and use each day’s “to do” sections for tasks. That way, you still have a bigger picture while reviewing your month and a straightforward plan when it comes to each particular day.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Don’t put absolutely everything in your planner. Remember, you already have Google Calendar for your events and appointments so keep your paper planner for reminders and to-dos only. For instance, if I have a dentist appointment I will put it on my Google Calendar and if I need to submit a draft for approval I will write it down in my planner. That way, you have two separate areas for deadlines and events and don’t have a schedule that looks overwhelming.
LESS IS MORE
When it comes to daily to-do lists, less is more. Meaning, don’t try to write a month of work under one day to do list. Aim for 7 tasks per day at most, ideally under 5. Remember, these to-dos are only a part of the picture as you have events to attend and deadlines to meet in addition to your daily to-dos. From a motivational standpoint, having fewer tasks means higher satisfaction from what you do. Trust me, it feels so much different when you plan on accomplishing 5 things and do it as opposed to plan on accomplishing 20 and feeling frustrated that it was too much to handle in one day.
THE MONTH VIEW
While it’s totally fine to use a monthly layout as an extra reminder of your appointments and deadlines, I prefer using it to keep track of my fitness progress. Not the workout that I plan on doing but only those that were done. That way, I have a whole picture of what is happening each particular week and adjust my schedule accordingly.
NO CODES NEEDED
Finally, similar to Google Calendar I don’t use any fancy color-coding systems for my paper planner. All these creative additions look cute on Pinterest and YouTube when other people are sharing their planner organization strategies, but I don’t find these helpful. For me, the goal of having a planner is to get things done, not being creative – that’s why I value my planner for its convenience and not for its looks.
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These were my strategies for organizing a planner for a year ahead. I wonder if you are using any of these strategies while working on your weekly and monthly goals? Let’s discuss in the comments!