“Let me pencil that in.“
We’ve all either heard or used that phrase before: it usually pertains to scheduling an appointment; and it usually involves a day planner.
I’d like to start off by saying that day planners are amazing! They help us avoid the embarrassment of missing an appointment and upsetting another party involved; and they just help us remember stuff in general.
Using day planners, I find, is very effective in helping me plan my day (since, you know, they’re day planners, after all). I make it a habit to check what I’ve got going on the moment I wake up. I don’t always get to do everything I have listed down (unless it’s an important scheduled appointment), but at least I have an idea of the things I still need to complete in the following days.
(as a side note, if you’re really in a bind for time, you can try the pomodoro technique to help get things moving along.)
Having my errands laid out in front of me has helped to keep me from going insane: I always know what I’m supposed to do and where I’m supposed to go. But be aware: being too organized can also have its ups and downs. That’s a story for another day, however.
Before I get into how day planners can be used effectively, I’d like to point out my dilemma with them.
The Problem With Day Planners
There are so many to choose from! Planners range from academic planners, weekly planners, daily planners, monthly planners, cute, minimal, DIY, digital, bullet journals, and probably a few more that I’m not even aware of. I don’t know about you, but I know that with all these options given, I find it difficult to decide which one works for me the best.
When I was a student, the academic planner worked for me, since it followed the school year calendar (and it was provided free by the institution I attended (yay, free stuff!). But now I prefer the calendar year structure. The hard part now is a matter of choosing the design I go with.
I have a thing for stationery. Pens, decorative paper, cute paper clips and binder clips: I have a collection of these things sitting in a container on my desk, so it’s no surprise that beautifully crafted day planners give me trouble. Whenever I enter a store and I know they have a section for stationery or day planners, I spend a good chunk of my time in those isles looking through all the designs available.
At one point, I had a different planner for different aspects of my life. I had one for school assignments, I had one for work, and one for random life things and errands. Oh, and none of these were digital! This, of course, was counter-intuitive to my goals because I had to figure out a way to keep track of the way I kept track of things. See the dilemma?
Digital, Physical, or DIY
No matter how you choose to plan your day, there is a day planner out there for you. If you rely more on technology, you have plenty of apps available to you. If you’re artistic and have your own style, you can create your own. And if you just want to keep it simple and old school, you can choose a pre-printed one.
Using a digital planner is the most convenient option. The popularity of smartphones has allowed us to carry around a planner without all the bulk. Going digital also gives us the security of back-ups, allowing us to feel confident that our tasks and appointments won’t disappear.
DIY planners are also great; you can make them to cater to all your planning needs. There were many instances when I had wanted to make my own planner because I had a specific design in mind. These designs never made it to fruition however, due to my perfectionist nature and the fact that I had to plan my planner. The whole process was very counterproductive for me.
With all the options available, I’ve found that a combination of going digital and old school is the best for me. Appointments are easy add on to my Google calendar, while more detailed tasks are manually written out in a notebook. This gives me more room for flexibility.
Effective Use of Day Planners
Day planners were created to make life easier. Of course, a variety of designs and digital planners have thrown a twist into this simplicity. Everyone has their own unique ways of using their personal planners: I use a combination of digital and pre-printed planners or blank notebooks.
I make use of my planners five different ways.
1. Digital (Google calendar, iCal, etc.) to recordbirthdays, appointments, and bills.
- These don’t need much detail; a lot of the time, I just need a date, time, location, and amount (if it’s a bill’s due date).
2. Digital for shared calendar events/schedules.
- Not only is a digital planner convenient for its easy access and lack of bulk, it also allows for multiple users to view/add/edit events.
- My best friend and I used to have a shared calendar to track the days we would go to the gym and what we had planned to do for that session (back, legs, etc.). And if one of us decided to skip a session, we kept each other in check by noting it down in the calendar as well.
3. Daily planner for more in depth tasks.
- When I was in school, I used the free (yay!) weekly planners provided; this was useful for me at the time because all I did was jot down what project was assigned and when it was due.
- These days, I prefer a daily planner or a blank notebook because it allows me to jot down more details about each specific project I have going on. I list down the tasks I need to complete, then I break it down into smaller pieces (bullet journal style, woo!). Doing this allows me to put the project into perspective and I can time myself more accurately.
4. Daily planner for more in depth tasks.
- There are times when I’m on the phone with someone (regarding product warranties, for example) and they give me a time frame for receiving a replacement, I would note down when I spoke to them and when they said I would get my item. If I haven’t seen results within two or three days of the given time, I could call back and ask about it. I would be able to confidently tell the person on the line how much time had passed since I last spoke with them.
5. Daily planner or notebook as a notepad.
- I think this speaks for itself (and can also be considered an extension of #4). I find that it’s quicker to write down reminder notes with a pen and paper than pulling out my phone, launching an app, and typing it out. Also, there is a chance that my phone is against my ear, so typing a note on it is inconvenient.
There are plenty of different ways to use day planners. How I use them is just one variety. Do you rely on day planners? How do you use yours? Do you prefer digital? Pre-printed designs? DIY? Cute or simplistic? Let me know in the comments below!