You’ve found the perfect planner. You know it’s going to help you because it has a clear and organized structure to help you manage your time and responsibilities. (As a student you have SO many of those.) While you think you can keep much of it in your head or refer to a list on your phone, having everything in a single place where you can see it all at once is proven to help you be more productive and follow through on your plans. Why? It helps take the overwhelm you may be feeling out of your head by laying out everything you have going on which helps you to see where you may have conflicts (and plan around them), helps you to prioritize your tasks, and schedule your time effectively. This helps to reduce stress, stay organized and accomplish your goals. Win, win.
However, getting into the habit of using a planner can be challenging. So here are eight strategies for making planner usage a regular part of your daily life.
1. Choose the right planner
Choose a planner that makes sense to you. It needs to have a weekly layout that reflects your life and helps you keep track of everything you have going on, be the right size (portable if you are going to carry it around with you), have ample space for writing, and any additional features you want to track. For example some planners offer spaces for goal setting, tracking your self-care, planning out your months and laying out your weekly schedule. Also consider whether dated or undated planner (here’s some reasons for each) is better for you.
2. Keep it visible
One best way to make a habit stick is to make whatever you are trying to do obvious. Put your planner in your bag or on your desk where it’s accessible and visible throughout the day. Seeing it frequently will help you remember to use it regularly.
3. Start Small
When forming a new habit, it’s always best to start small. Remember your goal is to use your planner consistently so it shouldn’t be overwhelming at first. Consider writing down a few tasks you need to accomplish each day rather than starting with trying to plan out an entire day or week. Gradually increase how much time and what you include as it becomes a regular part of your routine.
4. Schedule it
Consistency is the key to developing a new habit so set aside a specific time each day to use your planner. The time can vary day to day depending on your schedule, but make a schedule and try to stick to it. It can be helpful to set an alarm to remind you or stack the habit on to another habit.
5. Set goals
Setting goals is a key component to achieving success in your life and your planner is the perfect place to record and track them. Achievement goals can be broken down into smaller more manageable steps that can be tracked on your weekly or monthly planning pages. You can record your habit goals on a daily or weekly basis. When you see your progress, it will help you stay focused and motivated.
6. Make it yours
Grab your favorite pens, colored pencils and sticker packs and add your own personal flare and a bit of fun to your planner. Stickers can highlight important dates or events and color-coding is a great way to keep track of different classes or commitments in your life. Need some tips for how to personalize your planner? Check out this blog post.
7. Review your planner regularly
To form the habit of using a planner, it's important to review it regularly. Take a few minutes each day to look at your planner and update it as needed. At the end of the week, review your planner and reflect on what went well and what you could improve. This will help you stay on track and make the most of your planner.
Don’t forget to take a moment and give yourself a pat on the back as you work on your planning habits. Add a reminder in your planner each month to take a moment to look back at the previous month to see how your planning skills have evolved. Creating a new habit takes work and it’s important to acknowledge your progress to help you stay motivated.
In conclusion, using a planner can be a powerful tool for staying organized and accomplishing your goals. By choosing the right planner, starting small, creating a schedule, using your planner to set goals, keeping it visible, using color-coding and stickers, reviewing it regularly and celebrating your accomplishments, you can develop the habit of using a planner and experience the many benefits that come with it.