Dream Bigger Tip #17: Use a Planner
I was having a chat with a friend last Friday when she mentioned to me how hard it is for her...
I was having a chat with a friend last Friday when she mentioned to me how hard it is for her to stay on track with her goals. It’s a “right brain thing” she told me, I’m build this way and I only thrive in chaos. She continued by telling me that – like everyone else – she has a planner, and write things in it. And that’s precisely the issue: she just writes things in it. She doesn’t use it.
That’s why I decided to call this tip “Use a Planner” instead of buy a planner, invest in a planner, or even have a planner. Those are all really great things that you need in order to USE your planner, but that’s also really where the greatness stops.
I used to be a planner hoarder. (Still am, to be honest)
Every time I came across a planner that I loved, either because of its color (pink, please), bling (you had me at sparkle) or content (give me those pages darlin’!), I’d buy it. Once home I’d put it on top of the pile of other wonderful planners I’d “invested” in. Sometimes – if they were bubble wrapped – they would stay that way for weeks, months, sometimes even the entire year.
Planners were really unhappy around me.
I never gave them the love they deserved, and the attention they needed. Instead, come every Sunday night, I would *think* about prepping for the week ahead and writing all the amazing things down that I was going to achieve, but then the TV called, or a friend, or both.
Before I knew it, it was bedtime. Ah well, I’d do it tomorrow or next week. It didn’t really matter – so I told myself – I had the planner. Uhum – I had PLENTY of them. I wasn’t making any decent progress on my goals, so what was the deal though?
The truth is, a gazillion planners won’t change anything.
If you want to achieve your goals you need to USE your planner – not just look at it, however pretty it may be (starts to sweat knowing she’ll need to part with most of her sparkling babies soon).
Left brain or right brain, we can all use a planner. Yes it’s certainly true it comes easier to some than others. But that’s just more reason to do it. It helps you organize your thoughts, and get clear on what it is you need to work on. When I started using one – for something more than keeping grocery lists that is – everything changed. I got more done in less time, i was able to stay focused on my daily tasks better, and because of this shift I wasn’t losing sight of my big dreams and goals anymore – a chronic illness I’d been battling for years without success.
What follows are three of my best tips when it comes to using a planner, taking right from the tranchees where little guinea pig called moi tried and tested them out first. (You’re welcome :))
How to use a planner?
- Take time to plan things out
If you want to take full advantage of your planner, you’ll need to take time to plan things out, and write them down in it. There’s simply no way around it. For your planner to be an effective goal-slaying companion, you need to give it the right stuff to eat: tasks. Planners are crazy about those little finger-licking sweets. They can eat them by the thousand. The more you feed it to them, the happier they get. But the problem is, planners count on YOU to get them. So make a habit of sitting down with your planner once a week (or every other regular interval that works for you) and write out the tasks you’ll take on together in the next period (that would be a week for me, but could vary depending on your chosen interval).
- Keep your planner on your desk
Writing down tasks in your planner is only half the job. Once they’re in there, you’ve got to review them, focus on them, and make them happen. That’s why I love to keep my planner on my desk. I open it to today’s date and work my way through the tasks I’ve set. When I’m done with one, I cross it out (greatest feeling in the world). When possible I start with the big, important ones and work my way down to the smaller, easier ones. So make sure to check in with your planner every day and keep it on your desk.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment
Every year I publish a round-up of my favourite planners. I do this because I’m always on the lookout for the ultimate planner – the one that will be absolutely PERFECT for me. That planner, unfortunately, doesn’t exist yet (I’m still working on putting it together), so what I’ve learned to do instead is to experiment, and tweak my planner so that it works best for me. If you’re planner doesn’t have a habit tracker for instance, why not add it in yourself? Or if you need a space for gratitude, why not use sticky notes? Whatever it is you’re missing in your planner, there’s always a way to add it in. Remember that you’re planner is supposed to work for you, not the other way around.
If you want more Dream Bigger Tips, I’ve got great news for you! This tip is part of a series, you can find all entries here.