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Wrinkle & Crease 2021

Planner Tips for beginners

Feeling overwhelmed? Using a planner can help you reduce stress, become more organized and more productive. We’ve all been there, the New Year is approaching and we suddenly have the urge to organize, goal set and take charge of our chaotic schedule. We pick up a shiny new planner and with the best of intentions, we set to work.

But...let’s be honest, sometimes getting started with a planner can be daunting in itself. Read on for planner tips and tricks and how to use your planner so you can glide into the New Year feeling calm, efficient and ready to tackle anything!

Planner Tips and Tricks - Plan like a Pro- How to Start Planning

Choosing a Planner:

Analyze your needs: Think about your day to day life. Always on the go and need something that you can carry around with you? Or do you work from the comfort of your own home? (2020 - who isn’t these days!?) A planner that’s more compact and streamline is perfect for running around, otherwise, you may opt for something a little more substantial that will stay put on your desk.

Planner layout: Do you want more of a day to day layout? Or something broad like a monthly planner? With lots of options out there, choose the best one that will suit your needs.

Style and aesthetic: Are you more of a minimalist or do you love colour and crazy patterns? Make sure your planner is something you’ll want to look at again and again to ensure success.

How do I get started with a planner?

IIn the beginning, it’s easy to feel a bit intimidated by working with a planner. But, remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect! Life is busy and your planner is here to help. Here are a few handy tips for getting started:

Keep your planner visible. Leave it in the same spot every day so that you always know where to find it. Perhaps this is at your desk or in a basket on your kitchen counter next to your coffee maker - somewhere handy and convenient.

Planning to plan is crucial to your success. Schedule your planning time in your planner. In the beginning, it might be helpful to set a phone reminder for when it’s time to plan each day so that you don’t forget.

Be consistent. Your planning time should become routine so it’s important to make it the same time every day. Some people like to do this the evening before or others prefer to with their morning coffee. The choice is up to you! Heading 2 - How do beginners use planners? As a beginner, using your planner should be productive, efficient and fun, so keep it simple with these basic guidelines:

How do beginners use planners?

As a beginner, using your planner should be productive, efficient and fun, so keep it simple with these basic guidelines:

  • Yearly: Set aside some time for a ‘Year at a Glance’ planning session. Cozy up with a nice cup of hot coffee (or a big glass of wine) and get cracking. Consider any major events, birthdays, anniversaries and add these to the monthly spread sections of your planner. You may choose to break this down even further on a month to month basis once you have a clearer scope of what’s coming up.  
  • Weekly: Each week, carve out some time to think about the week ahead and keep the day consistent. First, refer back to your monthly page spread and add in any appointments or events for the week. Is there a birthday coming up at the end of the month? Schedule a time a few weeks prior to the day to buy a gift or mail a card. Think about any errands you need to run and add those in. If you can’t quite commit to a specific day that week, just jot it down under the ‘task list’ section or a blank side column so that you don’t forget to schedule it in when doing daily planning.
  • Daily: Whether this happens the night before or the morning of - it should really only take you about 10 to 15 minutes to plan out your day. Perhaps you need to schedule a last-minute yoga class or kids’ playdate for later in the day. Take a look at your ‘unscheduled’ tasks and decide if you can fit any of them in for the day ahead. Carryover any tasks from the previous day. If something pops up that is a ‘next week’ task - jot it into the next week’s task list section so that you can remember to schedule during your next weekly planning.

How can I organize my planner?

Keeping your planner organized will set you up for the future but remember to keep your systems simple!  Here are some planner tips to get your started. 

  • Try not to over-plan your time - no one needs to be checking their planner every 6 minutes to make sure they’re on track. Write down your highest priority tasks for each day - but don’t feel the need to assign them a time. Perhaps try blocking them out by morning, afternoon and evening. 
  • Colour coding with pens or highlighters for different categories (Personal/ Work/ Family & Friends) is a great way to quickly get a visual for what your day or week consists of but keep it broad and stick to only a few categories for optimal productivity.
  • Work on keeping your handwriting small - it doesn’t have to be perfect, but you do want to make sure it’s legible and that you have room to add in tasks or events as they come up!
  • Use the blank ‘Notes’ section (if you have one) as a place to quickly jot things down when you’re in a hurry. Refer back to this section when doing your daily planning so you don’t miss anything!  You can also use washi tape to help organize these sections. 
  • Abbreviations or codes for repeated tasks (think meal planning, grocery shopping, laundry day) take up less room and less time. However, if the idea of your daily tasks cluttering up your planner seems redundant - then skip it!  

Planner Tips on How to Start Planner Decorating?

Decorating your planner begins to make it feel like your own.  Here are a few tips to get you started.  

  • Start your decorating before you write anything down.  You can definitely continue with decorating after you start planning, but it is best to get the big decorations down first.  If you have already started planning, it's really ok.  You can now just add in some decorations.  
  • Use some Washi Tape.  Washi tape is a simple design trick that helps give colour and texture to your planning pages.  Washi tape is also inexpensive and easy to remove.  
  • A happy planner makes for happy planning. Keep your colours bright and your theme uplifting. This will keep you planning year round, as you will look forward to working with your planner.
  • A new planner is best for decorations and setting up a theme.  
  • Add quotes to fill up the whitespace.  If your planner has a lot of empty space on the pages you  can fill it with inspirational quotes and thoughts.  

How do you use a planner effectively?

Once you’ve mastered the basics, think about how to take your planner to the next level to be even more effective. Are you a morning or a night person? Keep this in mind when scheduling tasks that may require more of your energy. Want to add in some pizazz? Decorating with stickers, doodles and washi tape can be a lot of fun - but remember not to get too carried away or this could hinder your momentum and you may abandon your planner altogether! Begin incorporating things like habit tracking, meal planning, grocery lists, cleaning routines and finances. Get creative and customize pages in your notes with lists or trackers. Incorporate yearly or quarterly goals into your planner. As you begin to use your planner more consistently, then you can start to break this down even further to monthly and then weekly. Remember, using a planner is personal, so do so in a way that works for you. And most of all - have fun with it - planners are a wonderful tool to keep you calm, cool and collected all through the year so go ahead and get started! Happy planning!

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