9 WAYS TO BE CONSISTENT WITH YOUR PLANNER
It’s all well and good to have a planner or a Bullet Journal. The problem with just “having one” is that you are not effectively using the system in the ways that would benefit you. It’s not just about having a planner, it’s actually utilizing the system you have chosen. This takes patience, and more importantly consistency. A plan is just a dream if you don’t take action. So, how exactly can you stay on track with your planning system; especially if your life can often be hectic and unpredictable? Today, let’s talk about ways to conquer our schedule and master better efficiency.
KNOW YOUR “WHY”
When first starting with a new planning system, whether it be with a Bullet Journal or a preprinted planner like the Erin Condren Life Planner, you should have an idea of why you want to start. Maybe you aren’t as organized as you want to be. You are missing appointments, forgetting to do certain tasks, and slacking on your routines. Or, there are projects and goals you want to finish that, without a planning system, will be hard to do. Either way, your “why” is yours alone. Whatever it is, remind yourself the reasons as the going starts to get tough with your system.
PICK A PLANNER YOU LOVE; AND MAKE IT YOUR OWN
Buying a new planner or journal can be quite exciting. There are so many options out there. Pick a planner that you love—truly love. Whatever it may be, own it. Make it yours. Whether it is with stickers and embellishments, doodling throughout, or staying more minimalist; your planner should represent you. Why settle for a generic, and sometimes even cheap, planner when you could use something you love to its fullest potential? You aren’t going to want to stay consistent with your planner if you hate it. Why would you? So, it’s important you actually love using it, so you will actually use it.
We each have an individual style. Not all of us like using stickers, embellishments such as washi tape and clips; or, can really draw for that matter. If you want to start a Bullet Journal, it’s best to start this sometimes expensive hobby on the cheaper side while still being able to enjoy it. There are plenty of ideas out there for each style of planning: minimal, decorative, and artistic. I suggest browsing through Pinterest or Instagram for style inspiration before you truly commit to something. The great thing about Bullet Journals, and planners in general, is you can always move on. You can get a new notebook; or buy a different planner. The options are endless. Just fall in love.
SCHEDULE YOUR PLANNING SESSIONS
In order to be successful with consistency, you need to make sure you are setting time aside to do it. I usually plan for ten or so minutes in the morning and before I go to bed. This allows me to do daily check-ins where I can see how I progressed during the day, what I’ve accomplished, or still need to accomplish. In the morning, I can set a focus for the day. I will be able to see a quick overview of how my day will look like. However, you can choose any time do check in. If you are busy in the morning with your family, running late, or it’s just hectic in the mornings, bring your planner to work. Your lunch break is the perfect time to use your planner. It’s a time that is more relaxing than as hectic during the morning or not as tiresome at night.
Personally, I bring my Bullet Journal everywhere with me; not just to work. You can often find me out and about with various pens, stickers, and my notebook at a coffee shop. If it’s easier for you to plan out of the house, schedule a planning date with yourself. Maybe you usually get a coffee before work. Why don’t you sit down for ten minutes? If you go out to lunch during your breaks, pack that planner! You get the point. Plan when you can, but make a point to do it everyday.
CREATE SOLID ROUTINES
Having a solid routine is one of the secrets to success. Especially if you want to be consistent with anything. With a strong routine in place, it is easier for us to accomplish even the toughest goal because we know how to keep ourselves accountable, act on the steps that get us closer each day, and focus. A solid routine can be just doing the same five things each more and the same five things each night. And, one of those things should be planning.
When you add planning into your routine, you can see a larger picture of where your life is right now. Maybe you are working on a new side project. By spending just ten minutes in your routine reviewing what you need to do that day for said project can be a game changer. Why? Because you are becoming self aware and can see how to best manage your time. Planning isn’t perfect. There are so many ups and downs. But, if you really want to achieve something, you need to lay out the groundwork. Your planner is your blueprint. So, check it daily; revise when needed; and, stay focused.
KEEP A RUNNING TASKS LIST
Everyday I write a list of ongoing tasks that need to get done for that day, and that day alone. When I am at work, I keep it open on my desk. This helps remind me of what projects I am working on, if there is something time sensitive that needs to get done, and add stuff that comes up. Personally, I enjoy checking everything off my list. And, I mean everything. For larger projects, I list every minute task just so I can feel accomplished when I check even just one thing off. Your running tasks list should be your catchall for each day. Not all of us doing dailies in our Bullet Journal. If you have just a pocket notebook, or maybe a checklist pad, you can update tasks as the day goes on. The great thing about your running tasks list is you don’t have to keep it. Once you have accomplished everything, just get rid of it. There’s no need to hold onto it.
BATCH YOUR TASKS AND TIME BLOCK
Tasking batching is extremely helpful when you are constantly doing the same type of tasks. If you need to run five different errands, do them in the same time block. Let’s say it’s going food shopping, running to the bank, and having a tea break with your friend. If you batch your tasks, you can get more done in less time. If you own your own business, or are starting to, group similar tasks such as admin tasks, content creation, and personal development in separate time blocks.
Time blocking goes hand in hand with batching your work. As you figure out what tasks you can get done together, and approximately how long they will take, you can create a schedule. From 6:00 AM - 7:30 AM, it’s your morning routine. From 9:00 AM-12:00 PM you will do administrative tasks: such as checking and answering emails; and, working on your most pressing to-do’s. I do think blocking your time by similar tasks, rather than by individual tasks, you can be more efficient and intentional with your time. An expert tip, though, don’t continue once that block is over. It’s time to move on. If you constantly overlap blocks, you won’t get as much done. You need to stick to your blocks. This will help you immensely. Both with consistency and hitting your progress goals.
PLAN FOR A PLANNING SLUMP
You are not always going to have time to plan. You may get sick for a week and not use your planner as you recover. Or, as is common, you just get unmotivated and unhappy with your planning system. If this happens to you, planning for it can be really useful. If you know that it can happen then, even though you don’t know when, you will have developed ways to help you prepare to get out of it. Maybe it’s buying a new notebook that encourages you to branch out more creatively. Or, you go easy on yourself. Allow that much needed time to not consume you. Promise yourself that in a week, I will get back to it. Maybe even get an accountability partner where each of you inspire each of you to keep going. Having a planning buddy is great. Especially when you set up time to spend together each week for your hobby.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Your planning shouldn’t take hours each day. It should barely take an hour of your time at most. If you overwhelm yourself, you risk being consistent. You will start to resent your planner. Things can get tricky fast. So, keep it simple. If you are minimal planner, keep to that. Don’t try to constantly change your style. It’s fun to experiment, especially with a Bullet Journal, but it can be a problem if you are constantly going over the top with your spreads. Because of the time complex spreads take, you are essentially wasting time you can spend on other more important areas. I am not saying you can’t spend hours in your planner, just not everyday. It is more important to reach your goals than to just have a pretty planner.
KEEP YOUR PLANNER VISIBLE
Keeping your planning visible, whether it is open on your desk at work, or traveling with you everywhere; it should be easily accessible. If you forgot it at home, how likely will you be able to remember what needs to get done? Or, better yet, take goal setting for example. If you don’t put your planner in a place you know to check every day, how can you possibly track your progress? Think of it like a habit tracker. If you don’t refer to your habit tracker daily, how can you see what habits you struggle with; and, what ones you do so well with? You can’t. So... Keep. It. Visible.