There is no secret that I love using a good physical planner. Something about putting pen to paper that I love. Not only that planners are my favorite productivity tool to help me to stay on track and achieve more in my week. This year, I decided to switch from my Erin Condren Weekly LifePlanner to the Day Designer Day Planner.
I absolutely love both planners and if I had a reason to own both I absolutely would. Starting this year with a daily planner took some adjustment but I really like this layout.
How to Use a Planner as a Productivity Tool
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What is your favorite layout? Do you prefer a monthly, weekly or daily layout?
How do you use your planner?
When I purchase a planner I use it to the fullest extent.
Every Monday I already know 80-90% of what I need to do for the week. It takes so much stress off my week. Planning my week is part of my Sunday night activities, which I complete each week to prepare for the week ahead.
If you don’t have a planner, I suggest you check out the Day Designer Flagship planner for a daily layout of the Erin Condren LifePlanner for a weekly layout. Both are amazing products that help in managing a crazy week. Not quite into purchasing a planner just yet I have just the thing for you! Check out my Free Daily planner printable that you can download here!
In my post How I Organize My Planner, I discussed recording all important events like birthdays, anniversaries and school or work events. So with those out of the way, I am left to plan everything else that comes up.
Plan Appointments and Family Activities
My kids are quickly getting to the age where activities are filling our schedules. If they aren’t already on the calendar, I add them at this time along with any appointments. Here I write down all known events such as:
- Major work events
- Extracurricular activities
Plan top 3 tasks
This is why I love the Day Designer planner. At the very top, there is a section for your top three tasks. These are the three things that must happen that day. I always list them by priority, this way I do not move on to the next until I have completed the one prior.
With each of my tasks, I plan how much time I will devote to them and assign them deadlines. Without deadlines, tasks can drag on much longer than they should.
Write down smaller tasks
So now that I have my top three tasks for the day, I need to break them into smaller achievable tasks. Similar to my systematic plan for reaching my goals, and I apply this method to my daily tasks. Ultimately these smaller tasks work towards one of your top three tasks for the day. Here I will:
- List easily achievable tasks that work towards my overall task
- Make sure these tasks are S.M.A.R.T. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound
- How much time I plan to spend on each task
Again, Day Designer comes in handy because on the right side there is a to-do list!
Plan recurring weekly events
There are a few events that happen every week but not necessarily on the same day each week. Events like:
- Grocery shopping
- Yoga class
- Laundry/Cleaning schedule
- Social events
- Relationship events
- Bill payments
A few last words
Now, all that may seem like a lot but it has truly helped me create a productive week. Understand you might not get to everyone on your list. And that is ok. Life happens, don’t beat yourself up because you didn’t complete something that day, adjust your schedule and move forward.
Like I mentioned in how to organize your planner, you must plan white space. Again, life happens and in order to not beat yourself up, leaving time open can allow for you to catch up later in the day. More importantly over scheduling can leave you tired and stressed. So save some white space to allow for time to relax, read a book, take a walk. Whatever that looks like for you, if you schedule too much you can’t take time out for yourself.
Not ready to purchase a planner, check out my Free Daily Worksheet here! This will give you the tools needed to take charge of your day and implement my planner tips.
I am such a planner. This post was practically made for me. Thank you!
So glad this post was helpful Heather!
Focusing on the top 3 tasks of the day is so much more productive than an overwhelming long list! I’ve been doing this and it helps me really stay focused. I have a Day Designer planner too and love it!
Day Designer is awesome! I was turned on to focusing on top 3 by a mentor of mine about a year ago and that’s how I have lived my life since!
I love the idea of planning white space. I need to do this because I get so discouraged if I don’t get to everything!
OMG Yes! Ensuring I have whitespace in my day is key. I can really over plan my day then get discouraged when I don’t complete all my tasks or I get overwhelmed because there is so much to do.
Hina Siddiqui says
Great tips. Planners are super essential to get the most of our time. I love to use planners. They make life so easy.
They really do make life easy. It is so helpful to have everything in one place and written down.
Disha Smith says
Making sure your tasks are SMART are so important! I’ve now started writing down how long it should take me to complete a task so I don’t get sidetracked doing other things.
I like the idea of assigning a time to each task. It can also help to identify when you spend too much time on one task. Maybe even reevaluate and determine if you are really working on that task.
Jennifer Morrison says
This looks great! I love having a planner, but often find that I put my top 15, instead of top 3 things to get done. Thanks for the idea on prioritizing. I think it will be much more functional.
I was the same way. Just doing 3 tasks per day is so much less overwhelming. I would love to hear how it works for you!
I love the idea of putting my top 3 tasks at the top of my day. I need to start doing that.
Yes, Ayanna! It is much less overwhelming when you just have 3 tasks to complete!