how to use a planner An open planner with pens

How Can I Use My Planner Consistently?

     You have a beautiful planner.  You also have a bag full of stickers – enough to decorate your planners for years.  Maybe you even have all the fancy pens, washi tape, bookmarks, and sticky notes.  Oh, and even with all of this, you still can’t resist picking up that cute package of stickers you see on clearance for only $1.  In spite of all the beautiful planner supplies you own, you have a problem.  Your planner is only half used.  It sits on a shelf for days at a time, staring at you to remind you that you need to pick it up.  And you want to use it.  But somehow, it just doesn’t seem to work out.  You need some fresh inspiration and a way to make your planner work for your unique life.  Let’s jump right into 8 tips on how to use your planner.  Yes, actually use it!  At the bottom of the post, I’ll answer a few questions you may have. 

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

Ephesians 5:16-17

 

1. Seek the Lord’s Strength

     The most important step is to ask the Lord for His help and strength.  After all, what is our goal for wanting to use a planner?  Our goal should be to use our time more wisely for the glory of God.  And (like everything else), that’s something we can only do with the help of the Lord.

     The good news is that the Lord wants to help us!  He wants us to use our time wisely.  One reason that we struggle so much with using our planners could be that we are trying to make changes in our own strength.  And, we can’t do it.  We have an enemy who doesn’t want us to use our time wisely.  Let’s come before the Lord and seek His strength in using our planners for His glory!

Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.

1 Chronicles 16:11

2. Use a Simple Planner

     Have you ever bought a planner only to get it home and find that it has a lot of sections that don’t really apply to your life?  Not only that, it seems like a lot of planners have so many categories that it makes your head spin to think about keeping up with all of them.  This is not a good start.  A planner is supposed to simplify your life and help you get things done, not be a burden and just one more thing to keep up with.

     When you are choosing a planner, I recommend choosing a simple one.  One that has a limited number of categories, and that has categories that adapt to your life right now.  If you already have a planner and just want to use what you have, how about not using it all at once?  You could use the categories that are useful to you and either take out the others or ignore them.  If you aren’t overwhelmed by too many categories, then you can sit down and write when you have a few spare minutes.

Get the pictured Simplicity Planner here!

3. Make it Pretty

    One of the biggest draws for me is the beauty of a planner.  I like using a planner that looks pretty.  Since my planner is ornamental, it helps me to want to pick it up.  Not only that, but I want to keep it as a beautiful keepsake, and one of the last things I want is for that keepsake to be full of empty pages.

     If your planner is not decorated, you could add a few stickers or embellishments.  It doesn’t have to be fancy.  Just add in a few things that you think are pretty and that would make you want to pick up the planner and look at them.

4. Keep Your Embellishments Simple

     I highly recommend making your planner beautiful. At the same time, I recommend not going overboard.  If you spend all of your time decorating, it could hinder you from actually starting planning and using your planner for what it was made for.  Also, too many things on your pages may become visual clutter and a distraction.

     My first planner I only used for a few weeks because it was too small.  The second method I tried was a notebook.  I would cut out all kinds of beautiful embellishments, as well as my weekly layout, and glue them in.  There is a major problem with this method.  If you have not made your layout, then you can’t start planning your week.

     Based on my own experience, I recommend having any decorating be extra.  Your planning system should not be dependent on the decorations.  At any time, you should be able to pick up your planner and write.  Even on next week’s or next month’s layout.

 

5. Keep To-Do List Small

     You get your new planner and are all excited.  You think to yourself, “Finally I’m going to be able to keep up with everything I need to get done.  I have a planner, and it is going to solve my problems and make me a motivated person.”  With these happy thoughts floating through your mind, you crack open your planner and write a giant to-do list. 

     The first day you are so excited that you get everything done.  After a couple of days, you find that you are having several things left on your list that aren’t getting done.  A week passes.  Then two.  By this point, your planner is feeling quite at home on the shelf, since it seldom leaves it.  When you see it you think, “I thought a planner was the solution.  Maybe I just need a different one.”

     What went wrong?  Well, I think one major problem was that long to-do list.  Writing a giant to-do list is a good way to overwhelm and discourage yourself before you even get started.  You know it’s going to be really hard, if not impossible, to get all that done.  So, you don’t feel motivated to start. 

     It’s best to start out with a small to-do list, and then add more later if you have time and are motivated by all that you got done.  If you need to write down a lot of things so that you don’t forget them, write them on an extra to-do list, not your daily to-do list.

6. Have a Weekly Setup

     Pick a day to set up your planner for the week.  You don’t have to do everything at one time, but it does help to take a few minutes and start brainstorming.  You might want to begin your weekly to-do list, fill in your habit tracker, and set up other pages.  This is also a good time to review the past week and see what changes you need to make to your schedule.

     If you start the week with a plan in motion, it will give you more incentive to pick up that planner and see where you are at.  After all, you may have something important written on your to-do list that you will forget if you don’t check it.

7. Habit Track Your Planner Use

     This tip can be very helpful if you like using a habit tracker.  Habit track your planner use!  In your habit tracker write, Use Planner.  If you want, you could even set a certain number of times per day that you want to use it.  

     Habit trackers help to motivate me a lot.  If they do you too, then that’s the second place (second to prayer) you should start when you are trying to be consistent with your planner.  After all, you can benefit from a lot of other aspects of your planner if you actually pick it up and use it!

8. Give Up Your Perfectionism

     This one is hard for me.  I tend to be a perfectionist, especially when it comes to my planner.  If I get behind, I feel like I need to catch up filling in my habit tracker and to-do list before I continue going.  Because of this, I get further behind, and it gets even more overwhelming the further behind I get.

     Don’t you think it is a much better idea to pick back up where you are and keep going instead of trying to do it perfectly and never getting it done?  Your perfectionism may come in a different form.  It could be that you want your pages decorated just so or you want to have perfect handwriting.  Maybe you try to keep your pages looking perfect, and that hinders their functionality.

     Whatever your perfectionist tendency is when it comes to your planner, let go of it.  Know that everything in this fallen world we live in is not going to be perfect and be okay with that!  Instead of trying to do things perfectly, do your best in the Lord’s strength and enjoy your imperfect planner to the fullest!

 

A Few Tips on How to Use A Planner

     Do you need a few practical tips to get you started using your planner?  It’s really not that hard.  Hopefully, these simple tips will give you a little boost!

Where Do I Start with a Planner?

     I recommend starting with just 2 aspects: habit tracking and your to-do list.  Using a habit tracker and making using your planner one of the habits is good accountability.  And, we all have things that need to be done, so a to-do list is helpful to all of us.  Plus, it’s a simple concept that you’ve probably already used at some point outside of your planner.

How Do I Start Planning?

     Start where you are!  You don’t have to wait for a new year to get started.  You can start right now by planning your to-do list for the week, or even just for today.  Planning doesn’t have to be a huge task.  At some point you will probably want to write out some long-term goals, but start with the things that you already know you need to be working on.

What Are Good Things to Put in Your Planner?

  • To-do lists
  • Habit Trackers
  • Gratitude tracking
  • Calendars
  • Sticky notes
  • Stickers
  • Bookmarks
  • Washi tape
  • Bible verses
  • Quotes
  • Goals

What Do You Use a Planner For?

     In its most basic form, a planner is for planning.  But it’s more than that.  It’s to help give you peace of mind so that you aren’t wondering if you are forgetting something.  It’s for direction so that you know what you need to be doing in your day.  A planner can also be used to write down things you are grateful for and to journal snippets of your life.  It is your friend who helps to hold you accountable to get things accomplished.

What Should I Track Daily?

     This is completely up to you!  I enjoy keeping a weekly habit tracker.  That way, at the start of the week I can look at what I have going and see what I have time to track that week.  You don’t have to track the same things every day or week.  A few of the things I track at times are getting dressed, devotions, bedtime routine, journaling, playing piano, Scripture memory, and straightening my spaces.  Maybe that gives you a few ideas!

 

Simple Takeaway

  1. Seek the Lord’s help and start small and simple.
  2. Use a pretty planner, but keep your embellishments from taking over.
  3. Habit track your planner use, write short to-do lists, and give up perfectionism.

Are You Looking for a Simple Planner?

     Do you want a planner that covers these features in this post?  I have created a simple, Christian planner that you can print out and start using today.  It has beautiful pictures and unique weekly spreads as you see illustrated below.

Go to Planner!

picture of Christian simplicity planner

Let’s Chat!

     Do you have a planner?  What do you think is one obstacle that keeps you from using it sometimes?  Have you thought of any solutions to help you get past that obstacle?

     Until next time, ask the Lord for His help, dust off your planner, and put it to use!

In Christ,

Bethany

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2 Comments

  1. Spark {Sara} Abbott says:

    looking forward to more!!

    1. Thank you, Sara! I look forward to having you!

      It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High: To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night. Psalm 92:1-2

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