Ten Tips For (Wanna Be) Planner People

by Dawn Paoletta

Febraury 2017

1. There Can Be Only One: I know some of you are gonna stomp off and pout. The number one tip for keeping a planner and doing well with using it is to have one. Only one. I could give you enough reasons to justify this in a whole other post. But let me say this only: If you want to succeed with using a planner, choose one and make it your number one. When you make an appointment, plan or confirm, make it your business and habit to go to this planner only. This in itself will minimize, if not eliminate, your forgetting important commitments. I understand there are exceptions to the rule, but generally speaking unless you are truly a planning aficionado, One planner for you… NEXT! {Said in Seinfeld soup episode voice}

2. Check your planner daily: This sounds obvious, but in order to create the habit you have to Just Do It! Some days will happen AT you before you have a chance to breathe. Ideally your Planner serves as a partner in your day, but there are times when you will be a body in motion most of the day. This is why a morning and evening check in, minimum, are required. Obviously there are days which will be spent living more than planning. Good. But, beware being overly confident of your memory. This is when you need to trust the good planning practices you have established. One of those practices is to open that planner- no matter what, check in and check out what is coming, and what needs to get done. That way if something comes up (which inevitable will happen) you have more of a chance of toggling your memory.

3. Keep it Simple: What’s good advice for working out is good for planning. Too many people make the mistake of going for elaborate exercises and training regimens when they have yet to master the basics. As a Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor, I’d see it again and again. The best athletes master the basics, then add on. Adding on before establishing a solid routine will do more to get you injured, burnt out or out and out discouraged than anything else -especially when you are new to the routine. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the possibilities of all you CAN do, but just because something is an option does not mean it is a good option for YOU! Keep your planner (and fitness routine) simple for success, and add as needed. Don’t give yourself extra busy work to do. Who needs that?

4. Master Your Tasks: Or at least make a weekly master task list. There are a number of ways to do this but one way is to just let loose with one giant brain dump…or PURGE ( my alternative word choice). Then use that list to pull into scheduled tasks or tasks to do after the scheduled items for the day.

5. Schedule “Renewal” Time:  Scheduling daily renewal to me means that I make an effort  to include myself in my To Do list, in the way of planning at least one renewing activity for the day. What does Daily Renewal look like? Well, it can look like a lot of different things on different days. Let me ask you this- what is the most neglected part of yourself? Is it physical, spiritual, mental, intellectual, creative, emotional? My advice for you is stop looking for other people to fulfill you in these areas, and be pro-active about planning for them daily, weekly , monthly and yearly! One area I tend to be very neglectful in is my pampered self. I get busy, and my outer girly girl longs for some attention. I need to be more pro active in making time for a few things I love (I used to do these all the time before marriage, life and child). A day of night of nail care, bubble bath, facial treatments does wonders for me. BUT I have to purpose to do it. How about you? Stephen Covey calls it sharpening the saw. I don’t call it me time, because I believe as women, we sometimes feel guilty taking care of ourselves. So we put ourselves last…and end up a little less for it. Less loving, available, slightly diminished. Don’t be guilty of that, friends. Make time for yourself. It is needful. Renewal time will help you SHINE!

6. Don’t Plan to Eat an Elephant:  Planner people can be guilty of biting off more than they can chew. Consider you have 168 hours in a week. This breaks down into 120 hours Monday through Friday and 48 hours on weekends. Time for work, recreation and rest all need to happen. When planning try to leave some white-space in that calendar. Rome wasn’t built in a day…but it may have been destroyed in one…don’t be Rome! Seek balance and plan realistically. Give yourself wiggle room and make sure that your One Thing gets done…Weekly Master Task Lists help allow for flexibility in this way.

7. Try, Try Again (It’s OK To Fall Off the Wagon) – Just like with any activity that is done regularly, there are times when we get off track. Sometimes it’s when we are busy, other times one too many curve balls are thrown our way and the planner gets left by the wayside. Here is the thing, if you get off track, getting on track can be hard- BUT it’s better than staying off track. When you feel like you have gone astray, don’t bail on yourself. Chase after that wagon, climb back aboard and try, try again! The one thing one must never do is QUIT. It’s OK to fall off the wagon, so long is you get back on the wagon. Heeya! Saddle back up on that planner and ride!

8.   If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It – Another common pitfall I see with both exercising peeps and planner peeps is this: looking at other people’s ideas and activities and thinking they need to try something different EVEN THOUGH they are doing fine with what they have. There is a time to experiment, explore and try different approaches, but I think sometimes people need to give things a bit more time to truly assess accurately one way or the other. Also, just because someone else uses, post its, sticky notes, a Color Coding system, etc. does not mean you necessarily need to. Habits and routines take time to be established. I know I have said this before, but keeping things simple will help you focus on doing what matters most and spare you from being distracted by what matters least. (I am expert at being distracted, so trust me on this one!)

9. Dreams Need Deadlines to Come True- OK, so guess what? Your big dreams can only be realized when they find a way into your real life. Your planner needs to reflect real life. Your real life is where you need to live out your big dreams. What is your big dream? Or what big dreams do you have that need to be scheduled? You want to go back to college, learn how to belly dance, be a professional singer, write the great American novel? Well, that will take some planning. That’s what planners are for, my friend. If you don’t make time to meet up with your dream on paper, in your planner, how can your dream meet up with you in real life? Dreams need to have deadlines. Dream on…

10. Plan to Live , Don’t Live to Plan – You can spend a lot of time, planning, gussying up your planner, and planning to plan, but to what end? If you spend more time planning than living, how can that be good? The planner should facilitate living life on purpose, not be an end unto itself. Be careful of spinning your wheels by getting sidetracked with playing with planners more than living life. Balance in all things, yes?

 Dawn Paoletta is a life enthusiast who loves to juggle words, chug coffee, and journal excessively. You can find her gathering stones on the beach most mornings. She enjoys hanging out with her hubby, daughter and family pets close to home in the smallest state in the US: Rhode Island. She blogs and shares her passion, poetry and prose at Enthusiastically Dawn.

7 thoughts on “Ten Tips For (Wanna Be) Planner People

  • February 15, 2017 at 11:28 PM

    Amen sistah! Well said. ☺

  • February 16, 2017 at 10:18 AM

    #8: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    I’m pretty sure not listening to this is why I’ve spent that last two year buying and selling various types of planners and planner accessories. Falling down the planner rabbit hole has been an expensive lesson at times.

  • February 16, 2017 at 8:16 PM

    I absolutely loved this article! I look forward to seeing more from you in future issues.

  • February 18, 2017 at 2:54 PM

    Great post. I am of the “one planner” school, cannot imagine what would happen if I tried using more! Sometimes I even struggle with more than one section in mine!!!
    Thank you

  • February 19, 2017 at 11:13 PM

    I love this! Really great thoughts!

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