Even if you have a fantastic memory, you might get confused if you’re juggling too many balls at once. I know I do! And there’s nothing quite like that chill of terror that comes with suddenly waking up at 3am and saying “I forgot to do ___________!” That’s why I’ve taken to writing down my day-to-day tasks in a day planner. It works for me and it may work for you as well!
A Glimpse at my Private Life: A Day in the Planner
All right, all right… I’m not exactly the most private person there is. Many of you have come here from my Personal Blog (which updates every Monday with a blow-by-blow of my personal life); however, no one but my guy and me has seen the inner workings of my day planner. Not so anymore! Here is a peek at a page out of one of my most precious work tools:
That’s actually only a small section of one of my planner’s pages (my planner is 10×8″). And that first entry had a lot more tasks than what’s shown there! Looking at my planner, you probably noticed a few things:
- I write down menial tasks as well as “important” ones – I have two reasons for this. One reason is that I sometimes get so busy, I sometimes forget to do simple things. The other reason is explained in the section below (“given” tasks).
- The entries are highlighted – They didn’t start out that way! I only highlight the tasks that I complete successfully.
- My planner has advice on it – that particular week it was “Compromising your principles is never a good choice” (which is absolutely true!). On that same page it also has encouragement (“Think win-win!”) and a fun fact (“There are twice as many chickens as humans in the world”). And it also has a slot to write down what book you’re reading that week! I try to read two books per week. That particular week, I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (gotta refresh my memory for the last movie!) and The Bedwetter: Tales of Courage, Redemption, and Pee by Sarah Silverman (if you liked her show, you’ll love her book!). Anyway, the point is: my planner suits me perfectly. Find a planner that suits your personality and not only will you use it, you will love using it.
My Patented Tips for Day Planner Success
Everyone has their own way of doing things. As you get used to having a day planner, you’ll probably come up with your own methods for using it efficiently; however, here are a few things that I do that may help to get you off on the right foot:
- Choose the right planner for you – I suggest one without too many bells & whistles. For instance, I’ve seen planners with Velcro tabs and/or zippers… Personally, I wouldn’t use one of these. If your planner isn’t easy to access, you probably won’t use it very often.
- Write down a few “given” tasks. I always write down a few super easy tasks that I know I’m going to complete successfully that day. Like cooking dinner or scooping out the cat litter box. It’s a “given” that I’m going to do these things, but having them written down in my planner gives me a.) something easy to do when the rest of my tasks are “too hard” or unappealing and, b.) gives me that same sense of getting-things-done satisfaction when I cross it off my list as successfully completed. For me, if my planner were composed of nothing but super hard or un-fun tasks, I would feel defeated before the day even started! Having a few “given” tasks can be a great way to “warm up” to the bigger, more important, stuff.
- Remind yourself of due dates ahead of time! If you have something important due, don’t just mark it down on the date it’s due (though you should do that too), give yourself a reminder in advance. You don’t want to turn the page in your planner and get a nasty surprise!
- Write it down as soon as you think of it. Or at least try to! Your planner can’t help you to not forget if you forget to use your planner!
- Leave some space for fun. “All work and no play…” Well, you know the rest. Make time for yourself!