Whenever I ask you all what your biggest struggle is when it comes to using your planner it’s as simple as this – how to remember to use a planner in the first place!
It’s how to start and stick to the habit of using it.
You understand the benefits of using a planner and you want the outcome of being more organised, but either you:
- don’t know where to start with it
- forget to use it regularly
- just can’t seem to make using a planner work for you
Like most habits, you need to practice it frequently before it becomes natural – so using your planner is going to take some effort in the beginning. But there’s more you can do to be consistent with using a planner.
Here are some really practical ideas you can start right now to be better at remembering to use your planner.
Affiliate links below.
How to Use a Planner Consistently
1. Choose the right one
But it’s what’s inside that counts when it comes to planning.
Before you purchase, flip through the inside pages and determine if that planner is going to work for you.
For example, list-makers might benefit from vertical boxes to write in and bullet journalers may prefer wide-open white spaces.
Why will you use your planner? Is it big enough to store everything you need to plan for work, your family, you? Or is there too much room and is your planner unnecessarily bulky and heavy.
If it isn’t working for you, you won’t use it. To be more consistent planning, you’ll need a planner that makes an impact on your life quickly and learn how to use planner effectively to make your life easier.
Related: 15 Best Planners for Beginners
Related: Best Planners for Moms
2. Find a time and place to plan and stick to it
I’ve written a whole post on how to choose the best day and time to plan and you can read it here.
For me, it’s at around 3pm on a Friday, just before the kids get home from school. I spend about 20 minutes decorating my planner and writing in it for the next week. It’s my ‘me time’ to reflect on the week I’ve had and ensure there’s nothing outstanding to do before I ‘clock off’.
But then I can also go into the weekend knowing that when I’m getting up on Monday morning, I know exactly what I need to do and can get started asap.
Related: How to Plan your Week + Free Planner
I use my planner for work, family and me and I’m pretty organised. Do you know when I forget to do something? It’s when I haven’t remembered to put it in my planner – eek! We’re all human, we all sometimes forget stuff.
At the end of each day, I’ll spend a few moments ensuring I’ve ticked everything off that I’ve done and moving over outstanding tasks to the next day I have time to tackle them.
Essentially, you need to choose a day and time when you’re feeling calm and clear-headed. Experiment with planning the whole week ahead or just a day – or you might be more organised by doing a combination of both.
3. Give your planner a home
This is easy for me. I work from home and sit at the same desk every day so my planner has its own desk space within reach to read and write in it. It’s always there and never moves.
In fact, I don’t even take my planner away with me these days so I never risk losing it.
At the same time, it’s literally in my face and having it there reminds me to check it and use it.
Where will you use your planner the most? Your desk? The kitchen counter? On the go? Even if you’re taking it out with you, it needs a permanent home that reminds you of its existence. A place that you always return it to and is in a recognisable spot you won’t miss.
4. Train the habit
A book I read and adored recently was James Clear’s “Atomic Habits” – it’s amazing and I highly recommend it.
James teaches a method called ‘habit stacking’ and I’ve been testing it out in a few ways. Habit stacking is when you take a good habit you’ve already mastered and added something else you want to become a habit next to it.
Here’s are examples of how you can add using your planner to some other routines you have:
Example 1: when you start work in the morning, is opening your Inbox the first thing you do? Perhaps you can start a rule where you’re not allowed to open your emails until you’ve checked your planner first.
Example 2: do you load the dishwasher and pack your work bag every night before bed? Perhaps opening your planner to the following day’s page can be added to this habit stack. Then when you wake up, it’s one of the first things you see before you start your day.
What habits have you already created that you’re sticking to? Add using your planner to the start, end or in the middle of that chain of good habits until it becomes a permanent part of them.
5. Remind yourself how to remember to use a planner – often!
If all else fails and you just don’t remember to use your planner each day, set yourself an alarm clock reminder to do so! I know, this seems way overkill but in the first week or so, if that’s what it takes to solidify the habit for you to use it, give it a try.
Over time, when you’ve gotten a planner that works for your life, you’ve set a routine that’s easy to stick to and you’re seeing the benefits of using your planner, you’ll continue to use it more.
The daily habit will grow and it will become second nature.
However, if that habit is just not kicking it, it’s probably because the planner you’re using isn’t working for you. If you’re still feeling a little lost about getting into the world of using your planner, I’m here to help!
- 5 To Do List Mistakes (And How To Stop Them!)
- Organise your Daily To Do List for Ultimate Productivity
- 49 Things to do with a Notebook + Free Planner
- How to Make Planner Stickers
- How to Make Planner Stickers at Home
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Originally published on July 3rd 2019 and updated on May 28th 2020.
Disclosure: some links are affiliate links meaning if you click through and make a purchase, I may get a little bit of commission. This doesn’t affect the price you pay though.