Want to get more done in less time? Learn how to start planning and making the most of the hours in your day.
You probably already know that if you start planning that you will get more done…but getting starting to plan as a total beginner can be very overwhelming.
How do you choose what planner is best for you? What do you make a priority in your plan? And how do you organize everything so you are more productive?
Trying to figure out all the answers to these questions can stop you from even beginning your planning.
The great news is that it isn’t as hard as it all seems. And there are small steps you can take to get your planning started without being overwhelmed.
Keep reading to find some great planner tips for beginners that will have you planning like a pro in no time.
Tips for planning
The first thing that you need to know about planning is that it will look very different for each of us. Not one of us is living the same life or has the same needs. It is great to get ideas and tips from others but for planning to really work for YOU, you will have to take the time to learn, review and experiment with your planning.
It is okay if you try some of the planning tips below and they just don’t work for you. Tweak your process until you find the planning methods that really make a difference to your productivity and life.
It’s also okay if you decide to only try a couple of the tips as you start planning. In fact, it is a great idea to go slowly when you first begin to plan and gradually bring more into your planning as your systems start to show progress and you can get more achieved in your days, weeks, and months.
But why even bother to plan anyway?
Benefits of Learning How To Start Planning
We all get the same amount of hours in our days…but some people just manage to get it all done, right? While others spend most of their time chasing their tails, feeling stressed and anxious.
Here are a few planning benefits you may start to notice when you begin planning:
- You get more done. No planning won’t magically give you more hours in your day. But as you become more organized you become more productive.
- Planning makes you feel much more in control of your time. This has some fantastic health benefits such as reduced stress and anxiety as well as better sleep. You may also find that you have more time for exercise and feel-good hobbies which are all great for your mental and physical wellness.
- You can start working towards your big goals. Every day we get distracted by small tasks that may seem urgent at the time but really are just distractions as we work towards our big goals and dreams. Planning helps you learn how to prioritize important tasks and those that don’t need to be done urgently.
Let’s take a look at the best daily planning hacks to make the most of each day.
How To Start Digital Planning
1. Get A Planner That Is Right For You
To start planning you need a planner.
Sounds simple, but finding the right planner can be the hardest part of planning. Everyone will need something a little different from their planner and it is a great idea to take time to think about what your personal planning needs are before you get a planner.
Think about what you need help getting organized, what parts of your life you struggle with being productive in, and what sort of tasks you need to plan, over which time periods, days, weeks, months.
Some planner must-haves are:
- Something you have easy access to throughout your day. Using a digital planner is great as you can have your planner on your device, making it so easy to refer to as you go along with your day.
- A useable Layout. Although the layout of your planner may differ from others it needs to be quick and simple to use. It can make you happy having a gorgeously aesthetic planner but if this hinders the useability of your layout it is counterproductive.
2. Plan To Plan
For planning to work in your life…you need to plan.
Consistency is the secret to successful planning. The perfect planner is not going to change your life if you don’t use it, or only use it sporadically.
Make an appointment with yourself to plan each day, and set your phone alarm to remind you. You may plan best first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Either way, be sure that you have at least 10-15 minutes where you won’t be interrupted to use your planner.
You may also like: How To Set Intentions
3. Chose Planner Pages That Will Make The Biggest Impact
Most planners come with lots of planner pages that can help you plan all parts of your life.
Once you have mastered planning then these are all wonderful for helping you really make the most of life and increasing your productivity. But as a planning beginner, they can be overwhelming.
The good news is that you don’t need to use every page in your planning to start seeing the difference planning can make to your productivity.
It is a great idea, to begin with just a few key planner pages. Calendar pages ( daily, weekly, and monthly pages) are a great place to start.
4. Brain Dump
At a loss with what you need to plan?
When you are new to planning, staring at a blank planner can be very overwhelming.
Doing a brain dump is a great way to see everything that you need to.
Grab a piece of paper and a pen. Then ‘dump’ down everything that’s in your thoughts. Don’t censor or edit anything as it can stop the flow of your brain dump. You will do this later.
Once you have finished you will have lots of things that you need to plan and organize. Some will be short term and some will be more long-term. And some may just need deleting ( but you will feel better for having dumped them).
It is a great idea to do a few brain dumps throughout your year. Some people love to do them weekly, monthly, or even daily. Find out what works best for you.
5. Set Your Goals
You may find that you wrote your goals in your brain dump but if not then take a moment before you start planning to think about your goals.
Be sure to include your BIG goals and smaller goals too. 5-3 goals is a good number to start with. Having too many goals can be too much to handle and lead to you giving up or failing. Having too few can mean you are not pushing yourself to grow.
Once you have these goals you can break them down into small and manageable tasks that you can fit into your planning.
6. Fill In Your Calendar Pages
Now you can start to use your planner!
A great planning tip is to work backward in your calendar pages. Start with the longest time periods such as yearly overview or monthly pages.
Creating the big picture of your plan is great when you need to quickly overview what needs to be done and can help you plan your weeks and days successfully.
Here’s how to fill in your Yearly/Monthly Pages:
- Add all the important dates ( such as birthdays), events and appointments you have in this time period
- Take a look at your brain dump. Do you need to write any tasks from this into your pages? Remember to space tasks out so you don’t give yourself too much to do.
- What action steps can you take in these periods to work towards your goals? These action steps can be broken down into even more manageable steps once you get to your weekly/daily pages.
7. Plan Your Day/Week
Choosing if you need a weekly or Daily planner page will be a personal choice. Personally, we find our weekly pages big enough to fit into our daily plans. But if you are super busy then you may need separate daily pages. It is okay to experiment with this until you see what works best for you.
In your planning time take a look at your yearly/monthly pages and work out what tasks can be placed into your daily/weekly pages. Don’t place too much into each day, and be okay with there being a bit of a learning curve as you work out how much you can get done each day.
8. Check Your Planner Regular
It is a really good habit to check your planner throughout your day.
It can be easy to let a day run away with you. There are always unexpected interruptions and new tasks to fit into a day.
By taking a minute to check your planner at regular intervals during the day you can make sure you are staying on track with your plans. It is also great to remind you to do things that may have slipped your mind during the business of the day.
Just like with your initial planning time, you may want to set timers on your phone to remind you to check how you are going with your plan.
How often should you check your planner?
This will be different for each person, and also different daily, depending on your day. For example, you will probably not have to check as often on a day you aren’t working, or maybe near a busy time of the year such as the Holiday season you need to check more often.
It can be a fine balance between checking enough and over-checking ( which can make you unproductive). Experiment with different intervals until you find the one that works best for you.
9. Review Your Planning
When you do your planning time it is a good habit to review your progress.
This habit helps productivity in a few ways:
- You can check if your plans are realistic and adjust them accordingly. When you start planning it can be difficult to gauge how much you can do in a certain time period. Reviewing what you managed to do in your plan means you can either add or reduce tasks till you find what is your most productive point.
- Keeps you motivated. Seeing what you have achieved and how you are working towards your goals is a great way to keep your planning.
- You can migrate tasks that did not get done on your plan, or delete ones that you have realized were not important.
10. Step Up Your Planning Gradually
Although it is great to start with the basics when planning, once you feel more confident and see improvements in your time management you should start to integrate more planning into your life.
For example, once you have your calendar pages planned to perfection why not start on things like Habit Trackers or other planner pages that can really help with personal growth?
Just remember to add new things gradually so that you do not overwhelm yourself.
11. Keep It Up
It’s okay that some days just don’t run to plan. Or to fall off the planning bandwagon sometimes.
No person or system is perfect.
The secret to planning success is to keep going.
If you are finding it too hard to plan then take some time to simplify your planning to basics until you feel more confident and in control. If life just got in the way then remind yourself how much of a difference planning has made in your life and set a deadline to start your planning habit again.
We hope that you enjoy your planning and that you see real progress in your life as you create your new planning habit.
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