Do you feel like there’s just not enough time in the day? Well, I can’t add actual hours to your day but I can help you use your time more wisely. Let’s talk about how to use a planner effectively.
I used to print out a Google calendar each week and write my to-do list on it. That system was helpful because it let me know what I had to do and what I had scheduled. But, it didn’t help me figure out HOW to get all that shit done.
Enter the BestSelf Journal. I started using this planner in December 2017 and my productivity has skyrocketed! Not only am I able to get more done but my stress level has really gone down because I always know exactly what I need to do and when I should do it.
Using any type of planner really comes down to time management. Everyone has the same amount of time in a day, but if you manage that time well, you can get WAY more done…and have time to relax.
Let me take you on a tour of my journal and show you how to use a planner effectively.
BestSelf Journals are a little different than other planners. Each journal is for a 12-week timeframe. The theory is that humans really can’t multitask effectively. If we’re trying to focus on 12 goals for the year, we’re probably only going to meet a few. But, if we focus our efforts on one to three goals for 12 weeks, we can crush them!
The BestSelf Journal comes beautifully bound and covered in navy fabric. Me being me, I added a monogram to the cover with my Cricut! The journal has three ribbon bookmarks so it’s easy to keep your place. It measures 5.75 inches wide, 8.5 inches tall and is three quarters of an inch thick. The smart people at BestSelf Co. added a yellow elastic band on the back that you can use to secure the book.
This is where you set your goals. Then, you break each goal down into bite-sized pieces so that you can get past the overwhelm of setting a big goal. Most importantly, you think about WHY you’re pursuing this goal. Here’s an example:
RESULT GOAL: Lose 25 pounds
This end result goal is very important to me to achieve because: losing weight will allow me to be more active with my kids.
- Join Weight Watchers
- Start an exercise program
- Cook healthy meals
ACTIONS + TASKS:
- Find out how much Weight Watchers costs
- Budget for that amount
- Join online.
Now losing weight seems more doable, right?
Most of us need deadlines to keep us honest! But what if I don’t complete my goal by the deadline? So what?! Just revamp your goal based on what you have accomplished and give yourself a new deadline. There’s no a goal police! How will achieving this goal improve your life? What will you reward yourself with? What habits can you incorporate so that you will succeed?
If your goal is to stop missing appointments, using a planner might be a habit that would help you. Wouldn’t it feel great to not panic when you get the reminder call about a pediatrician appointment?
There are two-page calendars for three months. This is for big picture stuff. Enter your appointments and obligations, jot down any notes or tasks that you need to get done. You can look at the month as a whole so you can be like, “wow, June is a pretty busy month, I better not take on too much right now.” I add cleaning tasks from my Monthly Deep Cleaning Schedule too.
This two-page spread helps you decide what’s important for the week. It has the following sections:
- Weekly Milestones. List your most important tasks.
- Schedule. List appointments, meetings, etc.
- Habit/Activity. This section is for tracking the habits you’re trying to incorporate (like the ones you listed back on the Commitment page).
- What is the Happiest Event that Happened this Week? This is one of the reasons I love this journal! It really helps you focus on the positive.
- What Were Your 3 Big Wins for the Week? More positive stuff!
- Review your goal and assess your progress. Did you spend your time wisely this week?
- What was the Biggest Lesson Your Learned this Week? What didn’t work that you can learn from?
Now we’re finally to the meat of this journal! This is how you manage your days so that you can be productive. The two most important concepts are time blocking and “no white space” planning.
Remember how I said that humans aren’t good at multitasking? Time blocking allows you to focus on one task for a certain amount of time. During that time, you only work on that thing and you don’t worry about all of the other stuff because you have a plan for that too. For instance, if I’m cleaning my upstairs, I don’t worry about getting my blog post done because I have a block of time scheduled for that task later.
Try not to leave any white space in your schedule. I schedule time to shower, read, work, clean, drop off and pick up from school, make dinner, relax etc. Leave a little bit of wiggle room if you’re not sure how long something will take, but really strive to account for every minute of the day.
You may be thinking that you can’t possibly be “tied down” or that you like to be spontaneous. I don’t feel regimented at all because, like there’s no goal police, there’s no schedule police either. So what if I read for a little longer than I had planned? No biggee. I just move something to the next day or change it around or, heaven forbid, just blow it off. Making a solid plan makes me feel comfortable because I know that I have enough time to do all the things.
Hourly Schedule. Starting at 6:00 am and ending at 9:00 pm, you get an hourly schedule to plot your day.
Notes/Ideas. I use this space for my to-do list.
My Goal. I list my top goal so that I keep it in mind every day.
Today’s Targets. What will make today a win for you?
Lessons Learned. Opportunities for improvement.
Wins. What can you brag about today?
Gratitude. List three things every morning and every evening that you are grateful for. This is my favorite part!
Do I Have to Use the BestSelf Journal?
Nope! You can use a blank journal if you want. You can even print out pages from BestSelf Co for free. Most of these concepts can be applied to just about any planner. The key take-aways are: set goals, no white space planning, time blocking and positive reflection. These things will make you feel more in control and happier. If you need more info on goal setting, check out this post.
If you do want to try the BestSelf Journal, click here. This is my affiliate link and I will make a small commission if you buy, but it won’t cost you any more. Do you use a journal or planner? I would love to hear about it!