Recently I’ve had friends reach out about how I stay so organised and all the planning I do to make sure it stays that way so I thought I’d share a few secrets. Everything starts with finding the right planner for you, do you need a weekly planner, just a quick glance monthly or maybe you need a daily one to plan every hour of the day. Whichever style you prefer you need to figure it out before you move forward.
STEP ONE: FIND THE RIGHT PLANNER
I personally have never understood the monthly planner, we have a calendar that we put big dates on like birthdays, date night, family events, travel plans etc but that is really the only thing that goes on it; one for space and two if I tried to put all my reminders in those little squares I would go crazy. During my undergrad I used a weekly planner, which I loved, it was just the right enough of space to track my assignments and that’s really all I needed to plan. When I started my Masters and juggling work, lectures and blogging I found that a weekly view simply wasn’t cutting it anymore and I switched to daily planning.
Daily allows me to organise all the different parts of my day as efficiently as possible and The Day Designer takes it to a new level. When I first started at Westminster I had no job so planning was simple but as I started working more for temp agencies and my schedule changed daily both when and where I was working my planner became a lifesaver. I suddenly went from having one thing to keep track of to a handful of moving parts, add in vet appointments, exercise plans, meal planners and everything else I stuff into my filofax, it became hectic.
STEP TWO: CREATE A ROUTINE
Fortunately enough I found a way to make my planner work for me and take (part of) the crazy out of my day to day life. So how exactly do I design my day? Every morning I take about 5-10 minutes to sit with my planner and get all the big stuff down in writing for the day. This usually resolves me writing a handful of things in my “To Do” column and then I move onto the “icons.”
One of the things I love about my inserts is the simplicity of the design, each icon is self explanatory but flexible enough for personal changes. Here’s what I do next: write down what type of exercise I’m doing for the day (half hour only), what’s for dinner/anything that needs prepping, remembers for the day, urgent things (hello, deadlines) for today. After the icons I transfer anything from the “To Do” to the hourly column that needs to be completed at a set time: lectures, temping job, library with friends, etc. Days that had a lot of time sensitive tasks I would colour code to differentiate between Uni/work/personal. Additionally anything that required large travel times also gets indicted (for example, if a lecture started at 10am I would remind myself I needed to leave by 9:20 as to not double book).
Next I fill in all my food for the day at the bottom of the page and write what it was for 21 day fix to keep myself accountable. I then write any important time sensitive information, this section is vital with multiple jobs and school. Once I can see everything I need to accomplish for the day I pick my “Top Three” and get to work. All of this takes me about 5-10 minutes on any given day and it’s simple enough to do while I’m having my morning coffee. And because I’m such a planner addict, it comes with me everywhere I go for quick reference and notes. I’ll also tick off my food and water as I go throughout the day to remind myself to stop and take little breaks.
STEP THREE: REMEMBER, IT TAKES PATIENCE
One misconception about planning is that if you write everything down you’ll be more efficient because you’re organised or you’ll be more motivated to stay on track. This can be true but it takes time, you need to put the work in and remember at the end of the day a planner is just a planner, it’s not a miracle worker. Just because you write something down and organise your day beautifully on paper doesn’t mean it will transition flawlessly. Planning and designing a life that works for you takes time and patience.
Read this post and other stories on Staci’s personal blog