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Plan For Success: How to Expertly Use a Planner

Have you ever seen a stylish planner in a store and thought to yourself "I need this, it'll definitely help me get my life together and be more organized" but then proceed to leave said planner in a pile on your desk never to be touched again? Unfortunately, this is the experience of far too many people. That's why we've decided to outline some fool-proof tips to help you master the planner and never waste your money or hopes again.

But first, let's explore why you should be using a planner in the first place!

Why Should You Use A Planner?

As convenient as sticky notes or the notes app on your phone are, they can be difficult to organize, format and keep track of. Our thoughts, responsibilities and looming to-dos fill our brains on a daily basis and can often cause us to become overwhelmed, stressed and ultimately unproductive. Studies suggest that writing things down is a simple way to turn chaos into order, help sort through our thoughts and allow us to clear our minds. Since writing is more time consuming than typing, our thought process is forced to slow down and this allows us to fully focus on one idea at a time. Having a visual representation of our thoughts and responsibilities helps to clarify our goals, reflect on any surrounding details and prioritize adequately. Prioritization and time management are common areas in which many people struggle to control. Planners have sections for you to break up your day, week, month and year in a way that allows you to always remain aware of due dates and deadlines, and can act as a point of accountability to ensure that you keep moving forward onto the next task. In addition, planners are helpful for keeping records of past tasks and can help you plan accordingly for the future. For example, having a log of your last doctor's appointment will let you know the next time you're due for a check-up. There are so many benefits that come along with the usage of a planner, stress-relief, record keeping, productivity levels and time management are just a few of the most notorious!

Now that we've established why planners are great tools, here's how you can set yourself up for success and get the most out of your planner:

Choose The Right Planner For You

No single planning system works for everyone. That's why it's so important to select the best one for your lifestyle and needs. Luckily, there is no shortage of designs and styles to choose from with the plethora of department stores, online retailers and book stores that offer planners (interested in a free downloadable & printable planner? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and receive a completely free weekly planner next month!). Decide if you prefer a daily planner that breaks down each day into manageable segments to keep you on track with daily tasks, a weekly planner to help you get an overview of your entire week or a monthly planner for more simplistic but important details such as birthdays and appointments. Make sure to choose a planner with a design that will inspire and compel you to write and experiment with it without the pressure of wanting to keep it pristine and thus, afraid to use it. Too many pretentiously gorgeous planners go to waste for this exact reason, each page should be viewed as a new opportunity for you to seize! Planners also come in varying sizes which can be great if you plan on having it with you on the go or keeping it at home as a sort of life manual.

Dedicate Time To Planning

The most important tip of all (and perhaps the most daunting) to guarantee success: implementing the daily habit of writing and filling in your planner! Choose the time of day that works best for you. Taking 5 or 10 minutes during the evening to plan out the next day or in the morning shortly after you wake up are optimal options. For some, planning their day the evening before helps quiet their brain from the racing thoughts of tomorrow's to-dos and allows for a better sleep, while others enjoy the morning ritual of creating the day they are about to experience. Doing this everyday can seem overwhelming at first, but it's imperative to remember that you deserve to invest this time in yourself and 10 minutes of your day is completely do-able (even if that means sacrificing some screen-time).

Get Creative

There is nothing wrong with being logically-inclined and preferring a more minimalistic approach, but planners don't have to be based solely around your responsibilities. Many people create space in their planners to include daily habits they would like to implement, life goals, inspirational quotes, thoughts of the day, daily affirmations, and the list goes on. The possibilities of what you can include in your planner is only limited by your own imagination, so make it as fun or as practical as you would like.

In addition to adding unconventional aspects to your planner, you can also express creativity through colour-coding, using stickers, doodling, including photos, creating graphs, and so much more. Getting creative with your planner is a great way to keep yourself invested and have some fun along the way!

We hope you decide to give these tips a try next time you find your eye wandering over to the planner section of your local bookstore, or if you've already found the planner of your dreams and need some inspiration to get started!

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