Let’s be honest: we are all guilty of making New Year resolutions in January and some of them never really get to take off. The consoling news, however, is that we’re not alone and it is okay to lose motivation.
Time can be quite the complicated medium to manage, and over the years, I have come to learn that planners are great tools to organise my life. The trick, though, is finding the most efficient ways to maximise it. Here are 10 ways to maximise your personal planner and increase your productivity.
1) Write down everything you feel is important. EVERYTHING.
Ever had that nagging feeling of knowing that you’ve forgotten something, but can’t quite put your finger on what it is? Chances are it probably is something important, and having them written down as reminders can help reduce those anxiety-inducing episodes.
Quick Tip: There are many different types of planners out there, it’s best to narrow down your options and choose the right one for you. For instance, bullet journals are best for the practical minimalists, while blank journals are great for those who have the habit of sketching in their planners.
2) Set aside a time every night to chart out a To-Do list
All you need is 10 to 15 minutes, ideally, before bedtime, to is reflect and plan for the following day. When planning for the month or week ahead, you should consider allocating more time to plan – the extra few minutes is a worthy investment.
Quick-Tip: Investing in different coloured pens for varied purposes and reminders can be visually pleasing on the eye.
3) Make a monthly task list
Now that we have planned for the day, what of month ahead? Charting down important dates (anniversaries, birthdays, parties, date nights, meetings or “me-only” time) can help you visualise more distinctively what lies ahead.
Quick-Tip: When planning, don’t be overly ambitious. Take baby steps, and forgive yourself when you slip up every now and then.
4) Prioritise tasks for the week
With the task list of the month, it should be obvious what needs to be done within the week. Highlight the top five most important tasks for the week, then plan the days according to keep focus razor-sharp.
Quick-Tip: You’ll find post-its exceptionally helpful in this regard. Jot down your passing thoughts and note it in your planner later.
5) Add a section for tracking your goals.
Remember – you have your New Year resolutions to work on! Dedicate space in your planner each day to include time for your goals and include a section at the back of your planner to track your progress. These can include milestones or a ‘Don’t Break the Chain’ tracker.
6) Improvise and breathe life to redundant pages!
For most of us, contact pages are obsolete now. There are many creative ways to ‘hack’ the extra space. Turning them into meal planners, bullet journals or motivation boosters can maximise the utility from your planner. If you’re drawing blanks on what to do, here’s more than 130 ideas to give you inspiration.
One of the best uses for those pages is a ‘brain dump’. For those having too many thoughts whizzing through their minds, catching those fleeting thoughts have always been a challenge. Brain dumps could range from random observations and insights at the moment to quick doodles and mind-maps. You can declutter your mind at the moment, and have something to refer to later in the day.
Quick-Tip: If you are into astrology and spirituality apps, you may have heard of the “Co-Star” app. It’s worth penning down some interesting insights from the notification into your book too!
7) Language matters! Phrase Things Positively
Language can have a huge impact on how we interpret things and mustering the art of using manipulative language can be a tool to trick your brain. Case-in-point: between the phrase “meeting notes” and “do meeting notes”, the latter has a verb that spurs more action and immediacy. In another instance, between “do meeting notes” and “compile meeting notes”, the latter is more specific and it gives you a clearer idea of what needs to be done.
8) Don’t try to fill it completely
Blank spaces in your planner doesn’t have to be filled – some lull-time can be beneficial too. Take this time to work on your side hobbies, or to relax and reflect on the day.
9) Accessorise your planner
We’ve all been there: Trying to keep all the name cards neatly following networking event. I have come to realise that by adding a sticky pocket to your journal, I have found an ingenious (but temporary) solution to store them too! There are many other ways to accessories, you just do you!
Quick-Tip: Laminate frequently used pages and can help preserve its shelf life!
10) Don’t throw away used planners – use them as archives of your life
If you use your planner effectively, they can serve as libraries of your thoughts and feelings for the year. Flipping through the old pages of planners of yesteryears is akin to a walk down memory lane. I’m sure you would come to realise how much you have grown and this is something worth celebrating.
Using a planner may seem like an old-fashioned practice, but there are tons of benefits to reap from using one. Time management, increasing productivity, and adding more meaning to your life by achieving goals are just a few of the many improvements using a planner effectively can bring.
By Lua Ker Hian