Many of my clients come to me needing to get organized. They all say that they know they need to get organized, and sometimes they even have the supplies. Like proud children, they pull out planners and PDA’s and show me what they’ve bought to help them get organized.
Having some type of planner-paper or electronic-is the first step in getting organized. But having a planner does not necessarily mean that you’re using it to your best advantage. Here are some ways to make your planner work for you.
1. Find the right size. This is a matter of personal preference largely, but you should be able to carry your planner around in your bag or briefcase. Some people prefer large, 8×11 paper planners, other prefer a sleek and near-microscopic PDA. Whatever your preference, you should feel comfortable about having it in your bag on a daily basis and you should feel comfortable enough about its size to encourage you to use it on a daily basis. It should also be big enough to fit appointments, to-do lists, and various other notes that you might need to jot down.
2. Color-code it. Color-coding your to-do list, appointments, and other items you write in your planner can make it visually interesting. More than that, though, it can help make you more efficient when you can glance down and quickly pick out appointments or jobs that relate to something. Use broad topics, such as “Work,” “Personal,” “Financial,” “Health,” and “Spiritual.” Choose a color for each topic, and any appointment or item that falls under that topic can be written or highlighted in that color. Buy a pack of multi-colored pens or highlighters, or use the font or highlight function on your PDA.
3. Have many different views. Many planners have monthly, weekly, and/or daily views. Look for a planner that has at least two of those views. By recording long-term projects on a monthly page and daily tasks on a daily page, you can keep tabs of everything. A daily page can be adapted to a weekly page, depending on the number of appointments you regularly have, but a monthly view is a necessity.
4. Use a “Today” tab or bookmark. Keeping a bookmark, paper clip, or other marker on the today page of your planner lets you jump to that page quickly and efficiently. It’s especially handy when you have a planner with many pages on it.
5. Make a “To-Do” list. Make a list of everything that you need to do for the day and keep it in your planner. This lets you quickly see everything that you need to accomplish for the day and lets you flip back over past days to see what has (and has not) been finished. Flipping back through can also provide a quick boost by showing you all you’ve already done.
By using your planner in an efficient way, you can maximize its usefulness and help make you more productive and organized, which in turn will give you more time to spend on pursuits you like and people you love.