“We will be more successful in all our endeavors if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, and take little pauses to relax and re-center ourselves. And we'll also have a lot more joy in living.” - Thích Nhất Hạnh
When I first considered starting a planning routine, I thought it may be restrictive, and I feared falling off track. (I was no stranger to recipes hastily written in my phone’s notes, sticky notes lost to the void, and a partially-filled hanging calendar, somewhere, still open to June while I was in the middle of Christmas). I soon realized that making planning a habit allowed the time and space to relax and re-center myself—goals, thoughts, and other important habits. This week we’ll be exploring valuable nuggets of planning advice so that you can finally stick to your planning routine (for good this time).
Make It a (Visible) Habit
The most effective way to stick to a habit is to make it visible and to schedule aspecific day or time to use it. Start by setting a reminder for a certain day of the week or a certain time every day to write in your planner. It may be best to schedule this as part of your morning routine, evening routine, during your breaks, or even scheduling a “time block” ahead of time. I like to schedule my Sunday evenings as a specific time to look ahead and fill out necessary tasks or reminders for the week ahead.
Then, ensure that your planner is in a visible, frequented space. Personally, I keep mine within arm’s reach in my workspace. Bedside tables, living rooms, and work totes (such as the Leather Vanity Cases) are also great places to keep your planner! This way, your planner itself serves as a reminder to plan as needed.
I know that when I first started planning, I was excited to plan everything and decorate the entirety of my planner! However, this can sometimes become intimidating instead of inspiring, especially when first getting comfortable with a routine. The key is to start simple. This may look like only using a monthly calendar and checklist in your planner, as these are more manageable and take less time to maintain daily. The 2022 Spiral Bound Planner and Beginner Planning Bundle | Half Letter are highly recommended for starting a simple routine. As you grow and adapt to your planning style (and stick to your planning schedule), it’ll be more comfortable and seamless to add more inserts and decorations to your planner. Minimalistic symbols such as the Mini Icon Stickers | Lifestyle are great for keeping a simple, functional layout.
A number of those in the planning community have expressed their worry in creating a “perfect” spread, which at times has halted efforts in their planning routine. This is your reminder that your planner doesn’t need to be perfect; instead, give yourself permission to get messy! I recommend getting messy on purpose—just once. This will relieve your expectation for perfection, and make your next mistakes less troubling. It may also help to use a separate planner or notebook to host your “untidy” on-the-go plans, and the other for your more artistic layouts. Vision Board Inserts, Mental Download Inserts, and Duo Notes Inserts | Blank + Graph are my go-to for creative planning with a personal touch. (For colorful additions, try the Uni Emott Ever Fine Sets!) Remember: What works for you, works for you. Your balance of neat planning and messy planning will look different from others (I know mine is!). What’s most important is that your planner helps elevate and organize your daily life.
So: you’ve set a reminder for planning, you keep your planner in a visible space, and are prepared to be realistic in your expectations. The next step is to be intentional in using your planner. Your planner doesn’t achieve tasks—you do. A tip on sticking to this is by writing down the details of your tasks, and only note a goal if you fully expect to follow through. If you’ve reached the scheduled time and don’t feel like sticking with it, give an intentional try and push yourself to follow through anyway. This method always makes me feel accomplished and productive. After sticking to your plans regularly, you’ll find that soon regular planner usage comes naturally!
If you find that many of your plans fall to the wayside, it might be a sign to dig deeper. Consider why you aren’t able to follow through, how some tasks may be broken into smaller, more attainable tasks, and how you may need to adjust the content that you add to your plans. An example of this may look like: After assigning the task “Clean the attic” for the weekend, you find that you always push it aside for other weekend activities. Perhaps this can be adjusted to assigning smaller tasks through the week, such as “Donate books” on Monday, “Remove junk” on Tuesday, and “Organize storage” on Wednesday—and so on. These will be easier tasks to mark off throughout the week instead of tackling a large project within one day. To keep your chores organized and cohesive, it may be helpful to add the Cleaning Inserts.
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