Last week we tackled the first five tips for using your planner more efficiently! Today, we’re diving into five more top tips.
More than anything, I hope you’re encouraged to try some new tactics and figure out what works best for you. Planning is not a one-size-fits-all enterprise. What works for me might not work for you. And what works for me now, may change throughout the year. As Whitney says, different seasons call for different systems.
Here’s a quick bonus suggestion I’ll add before we dive in! Keep a list of what’s working for you right now. Not a mental list a physical, written down list. My “what’s working for me now” list is on Evernote and I update it often. If you track what’s working, you’ll also discover what’s not working. And that information is a powerful tool!
Alright, let’s jump into the next five times for using your planner more efficiently!
6. Prioritize your daily tasks by setting realistic expectations.
We often overestimate how much we can get done in a day. In the morning, review the list you’ve made the night before. Does it take up the entire page? If so, it’s time to prioritize the list. You’ll likely add to the list throughout the day. Today’s meetings will produce action items. Work “emergencies” will come up! Things will change! Star or highlight the most important tasks of the day.
Whitney always says to start with the easy things first to build momentum. I don’t disagree! That’s a powerful mindset shift that helps you get things done. But, you also need to be realistic with yourself. If you’re starring at a never-ending to-do list, remind yourself that it can’t and won’t all get done today.
7. Utilize time blocking.
Ahhhh, the wonderful power of time-blocking! It takes energy to switch from various types of tasks. Have you ever tried to jump back and forth between working on a project and answering emails? Did your brain start to feel a little fuzzy? Multi-tasking isn’t always the best approach. Batch similar tasks – like answering emails, writing, meetings, running errands — and then slot time in your calendar for each. You likely get more done. More importantly, you’ll be more present within each task.
8. Color coding can help you visually keep track of various projects and tasks.
Decorating your planner is not only fun, it can provide helpful visual clues! Use specific colored pens for areas of your life. Washi tape can help indicate multi-day trips or projects. Stickers or doodles are a cute way to signify a special day or event!
9. Leave white space in your calendar!
Remember when we looked at our daily to-do list and had an honest conversation with ourselves about how much we could get done in a day? Leave white space in your calendar. Don’t over-schedule yourself. You don’t need to have every moment of your day or your week planned out.
The unplanned space is where the magic happens. An unplanned afternoon could turn into a playdate with your kids. A free morning could turn into a chance to deep dive into a creative project you’ve wanted to start. An open evening might turn into date night. Filling up every single moment of every single day is a fast and easy way to burn out. Planning is great, but leave room for yourself to breathe!
10. Save your planner as an archive!
Your planners are a wonderful record of the life you lived. Save your planner to reference important information or look back on the years past. As I mentioned in the previous post, I have every planner I’ve ever used since high school. Every once in a while, I’ll take a peek into what high school or college Emily was doing. Store your planners in a safe spot and you’ll be able to take a trip down memory lane whenever you’d like. In fact, all Whitney English planners come with a book-bound box to store your planner after it’s used!