Three Big Tips to Actually Using Your Planner

I'm pretty sure one of the biggest questions when it comes to actually diving in to using a planner is 'well, how will I remember to actually use it?This can cause some hesitation and make you believe that you may not even really need a planner (spoilers: I think everyone can benefit from a planner!)  You may also be thinking 'that is a silly question', but not everyone can easily see how a planner can help them in their daily life.
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I think one of the keys to using, and getting the most out of, your planner is mindfulness.  I talked a lot about mindfulness last year, but the basic gist of mindfulness is being conscious & aware.  We often rush around our lives leaving our lunches on the counters & forgetting important papers on the train.  The easiest way to do more of something is to make it a priority - we must be mindful of what we want in our lives and we must take action to make it so.  Mindfulness can create routine and routine will create habit!  So here are some tips on how to actually use your planner:

Make it a habit

Remember that thing I just said about routine?  If you make using your planner a part of your morning, evening, or daily routine you'll begin to rely on it and eventually that will free up your mind from remembering all the things!

Put your planner in a place you'll see it

Do you have a command center at home?  A main desk you're always working at?  Put your planner in this location so that you'll always know where it is.  Write in important things when you know them either on sticky notes if something is tentative or on your main calendar if it's already become a  plan.  I love using Frixion pens for my planner so just in case something changes I can quickly erase it.  These sticky notes fit perfectly in a lot of different planner systems - from personal size to A5 - with out taking up too much room.  You can also use these page marker style post-it notes for shorter items.

Carry your planner with you

Each day, grab your planner from its designated home and stash it in your bag.  I used to not bring my planner with me because I didn't really use it at my 9-5.  Now I use my lunch break as a social media power hour so having my planner has become a necessity.  If you don't use you're planner as much outside of the house, you may find the more you carry it the more helpful it is.  You won't be double booking yourself on occasion and you'll have everything you need at your fingertips.....just in case.

Schedule planner time

Creating a routine around your planner will increase your chances of using it.  Schedule time to plan out your week on Sunday evenings, schedule time to check in mid week, and then schedule time to celebrate your wins on Fridays!  This can also double as a little self care time if you're getting creative or if you just really feel happy when you're working in your planner.  I love that this little functional habit actually makes me feel creative!

Make it your master plan

There are different schools of thought on what should be in your planner.  There are even debates on whether using multiple planners is necessary.  I'm here to tell you that you should do you boo boo and that my Mini Happy Planner is my master plan....it holds everything!

Vision board

If you planner holds everything, make sure it holds your vision for the year.  Create a mini vision board to store in your planner so when you open it you'll be reminded of what you're working towards this year.  You can also create smaller, actionable lists that you can refer to to make sure you're reaching your goals.  I use the Mini Happy Planner graph fill paper + the pocket pages to create mini vision boards.  Learn more about using graph paper here.

Monthly view as the big picture plan

For your master plan, use the monthly view for the bigger picture.  Create an overview of your month so that you know due dates, appointments, & activities.  This will give you an idea of when things are happening & when you're free.  It will help you schedule your time better.  Personally I have two monthly views in my Mini Happy Planner - one for family stuff (like bills, appointments, gatherings, etc) and one for social media (editorial calendar, sponsored content, etc).  I still house this all in one planner though so I can easily see what time I have.

Weekly view for plans & tasks

Your weekly view will be what you'll look at the most.  This is where you can transfer obligations, due dates and appointments from your monthly view and then outline tasks to reach greater goals.  I use personal size week on one page inserts from the Five Sixteenths shop for menu planning.  This insert also has a weekly habit tracker and two checklists on the back.  The Happy Planner brand makes these little notepads I use as a 'side bar' of sorts to store weekly to-dos that don't have a specific day.  Your weekly view is how you can make progress on your bigger goals!

Make your planner work for you

And finally, the only way you're going to actually use your planner is if that planner works for you.  The key here is not to choose the prettiest or the most popular planner.  The key is to choose a planner that you can make the most of and that fits your lifestyle.  There are a ton of factors that go into finding a planner that works for you and you may find just the right system where you only have to tweak it just a touch.

Create specific areas for specific tasks

If you're going to be in the habit of looking at your planner everyday you'll want to make sure you know where the info you need is stored so you can quickly retrieve it with out flipping all through your planner.  One of the easiest ways to do this is use icon stickers to denote specific tasks.  That way you can easily scan the planner page and then find exactly what you're looking for.  You can also create different sections in your planner for different areas of your life.  I've got a whole video on the routines & sections in my planner here.  Though it's changed over the years, that's still a video I recommend!

Add in other pages

My favorite planner, the Mini Happy Planner, allows for the adding (and removing) of pages very easily.  Six ring binder planners allow for this too.  Part of making your planner work for you is feeling like you've got control over what you do with it!  For me that means the ability to customize - I like to add in graph paper + the other extension packs offered by the Happy Planner brand but there are a ton of printables on Etsy that can help you add in pages or even build the planner of your dreams.  Check out my shop for planner printables for both personal & A5 sizes.

If you follow these three tips you'll be a planner queen in no time.  Life is too short to take everything so serious, so be sure you're having fun with your planner.  If it makes you happy you're more likely to use it, but don't feel pressured to plan a certain way!  You're the only one that will benefit from your planner so make sure it's working for you.

If you'd like to find more planner posts on the blog, click here.  If you'd like to watch more planner videos, check out my YouTube channel here!

xoxo, Moe

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