Happy New Year my friends! 2020 is here and I have a feeling it’s going to be a GREAT year. Since a big part of adulting is being organized, making plans and staying on top of your schedule, planners can be a very useful tool for adults… if you know how to properly utilize it! They can give you some peace of mind in seeing upcoming plans in one place. Personally, I found that when my planner is properly utilized, I do a better job of prioritizing my health, setting boundaries and becoming more organized in other aspects of my life too. So, as part of my new adulting series, I’m sharing tips to make the most out of your 2020 planner, and ultimately your new year.
One of my favorite things about a new year is getting a new planner. For me, it’s not just a physical representation of the blank slate for the year ahead. My planner has become a self-care tool, a way to track my thoughts, make self-improvement goals, document all the happenings and find peace in seeing the things that are headed my way. But, it hasn’t always been this way. Just a few years ago, planners totally overwhelmed me, and while I gravitated towards them, I never felt like I was making the most of mine. In the past year, the relationship with my planner changed for the better and I got more out of planning than I ever have. Here are the things I did that changed the game.
Spoiler alert: there’s no “right way” to use a planner!
#1 – Choose three purposes for your 2020 planner.
Perhaps the most important step, it’s important to think about the main reasons you’re using a planner. To avoid getting overwhelmed, start small and think through the top three ways your 2020 planner will serve you.
For example, the purposes my planner serves are: #1 – tracking work meetings and deadlines; #2 – outlining plans for the blog; #3 – tracking everyday life commitments (appointments, parties, dinners, etc.). If you’re new to using a planner, remind yourself of these purposes each time you use your planner. With them in mind, you’ll be focused and know where to begin when it’s time to use it.
#2 – Invest in a functional planner that you like.
This may seem like a no-brainer for some of you, but this is important. Don’t overlook the two parts of this tip too! Pick a planner that is designed in a way that will functionally work for you and that you like the look of aesthetically.
Things to think about . . .
Do you want extra pages for journal entries or quotes? Do you want something more minimal? Will the style of the planner you like work for all aspects of your life?
For example, if one of the main purposes of your planner is to use it for work, a wild design that makes you hesitant to whip it out in front of coworkers won’t work for you.
#3 – Dedicate time to your planner.
You may think it’s silly to think about “establishing a relationship” with your planner, but if you want to make the most of your year and establish a new habit of using a planner, this is key. Like most things in life – the more time you put into something, the more you’ll get out of it.
As you start using your 2020 planner, begin by setting aside 20 minutes each Sunday to write out your week ahead, and then dedicate time each week day to look at it. You can slowly increase the time you spend with you planner as you get more out of it.
#4 – Don’t be afraid to write things down.
It’s actually scientifically proven that the act of writing down a goal makes you much more likely to achieve it. As someone with perfectionist tendencies, I often hesitated to write things down unless I was certain it would happen. But here’s a secret (that I am still coming to terms with) – nothing is ever 100% certain until it’s over! Ha! It’s frustrating (for me at least) but it’s true. Life is messy and it is completely OK for your planner to be messy too!
For example, if you’re hoping to go on a run on Tuesday but you’re feeling unsure you’ll be able to fit it in, write it down! When you write it down, you set the intention and that’s the most important step!
Related: 6 Tips to Crush Your Goals!
How my planner works for me.
Note: I thought if might be helpful for you to hear how I use my planner, but this is definitely not meant to be a one-size fits all approach. As I said at the beginning, there’s no wrong way to use a planner. This is just what works for me.
I’ve used the same planner for the past few years and as I mentioned, I think I’ve become much more skilled at utilizing it. It’s fun to see the progression from years past! My planner has grown from being a practical tool into a multi-functional form of self-care, creativity and reflection. Sunday afternoons have become my designated time to light a candle and focus on the week ahead – What do I want to accomplish? What do I have scheduled? What to dos were on my list last week that didn’t get done? In the late afternoon or evening on weekdays, I like to reflect on the day, jot down little memories and wins from the day, and then make a to do list for the upcoming day. I love these little moments of time to reflect on how I’m doing and how I’m taking care of myself. I also like to buy pens, markers and stickers especially for my planner. They encourage me to doodle and have fun while being creative.
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The Erin Condren LifePlanner that I use includes a weekly layout, monthly calendar and monthly goals spread, in addition to a notes section and year overview/goal section. You can pick from a ton of cover designs and there are multiple ways to customize the internal layout. There is also a monthly 2020 planner available, if you don’t want to do daily entries. Also worth pointing out are the dual-tip markers I got this year! One end has a fine point, perfect for notes, and the other end has a thicker point that’s great for headings and doodles.
So, those are the tips for making the most of your 2020 planner and a look at how I utilize my planner. If you’ve struggled to use a planner, I hope these tips give you guidance and confidence to try again this year!