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The thought of being organized is something that appeals to a lot of people. However, achieving that goal can be a lot harder than imagined. One thing you might consider using to keep yourself on track and aware of all the things that need to be done includes using a planner. That might have you wondering how to use a day planner effectively.

It doesn’t matter if you’re asking how to use a planner for work or how to use a planner for college, using a planner seems simple, but it’s not as straightforward as you might think.

If you’re looking for some advice when it comes to how to use a day planner effectively, check out our list of suggestions below.

How to Use a Day Planner Effectively

Day planners are amazing tools that can help you stay organized and remind you of important tasks that need to be done — if you use it correctly. If not, your planner will just become another notebook that gets lost in the shuffle on your desk. When it comes to wondering how to use a planner for beginners, here are some things you should consider:

1. Actually Use Your Planner

When wondering how to use a planner for work or any other aspect of your life, this seems like a no-brainer. However, many people neglect to do this task. They might forget they have it, or they might forget to bring it with them when they leave the house.

Your planner needs to become an extension of you. Like your phone, it should go with you everywhere.

To ensure this occurs, when asking how to use a planner for life, find one that works for you. With many different types of planners to choose from, you get to decide which one works best for you.

2. Set Aside Time Each Day to Fill it Out

When learning how to use a day planner effectively, after you have gotten into the habit of actually using your planner, the next thing that you should do is make time each day to fill it out.

Take at least five minutes each morning to see what you have marked for the day, then prioritize the most important tasks. You might also consider taking some time right before bed to make sure your planner is up to date. This will give you the chance to mark things off that were completed and move unfinished tasks to other days.

When wondering how to use a planner for life, not only should you be focusing on day-to-day tasks, but you’ll also need to take some time to look at weekly and monthly goals as well. You don’t have to spend a ton of time doing this, but you need to spend some.

3. Use Every Part of Your Planner

Most planners, even the smaller ones, are broken down into sections, including daily, weekly, and monthly. If you get a really big planner, these may even be broken down into hours for each day.

No matter what type of planner you get, when learning how to use a planner for beginners, make sure to use every part of your planner.

In each section, write down exactly what needs to be done. You may be writing the same items in each section, but that’s okay. That will ensure that you remember what needs to be done and find the time to take care of every task on your list.

4. Be Specific with Your Tasks

Depending on the size of your planner, you may not have a ton of space to write the details of each task. However, when writing what needs to be done on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, be as specific as possible.

This means using full sentences when you can. The last thing you want to do is abbreviate something and then not remember what your shorthand meant — and it happens. You’ll jot something down super quick so that you don’t forget, and then come back to it and not recall what it meant.

Being specific saves you stress and frustration by letting you know exactly what needs to be done and when. Remember, your planner is supposed to help you get through your day, and you’re the one filling it out, so be kind to your current and future self.

5. Use Only One Planner

If you are asking how to use a planner for beginners, it may be tempting to have more than one. Perhaps you think that you’ll need one for work, school, and life. This is going to make things super confusing — and you may forget to add important tasks to your planner.

Using only one planner for every aspect of your life will ensure that you know exactly what is going on. It will ensure that you don’t overbook or double book yourself, as well as give you a better idea of how busy you are each day.

6. Consult Your Planner Often

After taking the time out of your day to fill out your planner, you want to make sure you consult your planner often. It’s one thing to write items down, it’s another to make sure you follow through with what you have to do.

Leaving your planner open on your desk is beneficial, and it gives you the chance to look at it often. When learning how to use a day planner effectively, having it right next to you and easy to access will also make it easier to add new tasks or mark off those that you’ve already completed.

7. Use Pencil

For many, writing in pen makes the tasks seem more concrete and reminds them that they have to be done. There is something to be said about knowing you can’t quickly and easily erase a task from your planner.

However, life can change quickly, and the priority you have one day (or even one hour) might change the next.

When learning how to use a planner for beginners, writing your tasks in pencil is recommended. That way, if things change and you need to move things from one day to the next, you can easily erase it and move it.

Pencil will keep your planner neat and organized, as well as easy to read.

8. Color Code Your Planner

You may be using a pencil to write to-do items in your planner, but you can find a wide array of colored pencils to use for this task.

If you are wondering how to organize a planner for school, work, and life, use different colors for each aspect. This way, when you glance at your planner, you’ll be able to quickly determine what needs to be done and when.

You get to decide which color code works best for you, but you might consider putting important tasks in red so that they stand out.

9. Always Know What Day You’re On

You may be keeping your planner open on your desk while working, but when you close it to transport it from one place to another, it’s easy to lose your place.

Knowing what day (or week) you’re on ensures that you can quickly and easily access your planner information when you need to.

Many planners come with a bookmark that can be moved. If it doesn’t, consider using paperclips or sticky notes to mark the page you’re working on.

This is also beneficial when adding tasks for the weeks or months ahead. You’ll be able to quickly navigate back to the present to take care of any assignments that need to be completed that day.

10. Cross off Tasks Once They Are Completed

There is nothing more satisfying than crossing off a task once you have completed it. When learning how to use a day planner effectively, you will feel a sense of accomplishment and pride when you make that mark.

Drawing a single line through the completed task is all you need to do. That way, you’ll know that it’s done, but you’ll also be able to read it later down the road (if necessary). This could be important if you need to double-check to make sure you finished something.

If you don’t want to mark items out with a line, put a checkmark next to them.

No matter which option you decide, make sure you know which tasks have been completed and which ones still need your attention. This can help reduce feelings of stress and overwhelm as you go through your day.

11. Don’t Fear the White Space

As a beginner, when you first start filling in your planner, you might feel guilty that there’s white space. You may think that every day should be filled with some tasks, but that’s not true.

In fact, if you try to fill everything up, this may cause more stress than you anticipated. There’s nothing wrong with having white space in your planner. It can actually help you feel like you’re getting your work done.

If you find that you don’t have a lot of white space, don’t freak out about that either. You have your planner in place to ensure you get your stuff done, so use it to your advantage. Work methodically through each task and cross them out when you’re done.

12. Keep Planners from the Past

At the end of the year, it may be tempting to get rid of your old planner, but it’s in your best interest to keep it — at least for a little while. You can go back and consult it to figure out what worked for you and what didn’t. You can then use those lessons to refine how you fill out your new planner.

Sometimes, it’s also fun to go back and see how busy you were (or weren’t) and look at how many tasks you were able to cross off your list. Looking back may give you a sense of accomplishment and encourage you to keep going with your new organizational skills.

Being Organized Takes Time and Effort

The reason many people fail when it comes to getting organized is because they don’t realize it takes time and effort. People often have good intentions when it comes to using their planner, but when they are first starting out, it can feel overwhelming. However, once you get into the habit, filling out your planner gets easier. If you’re wondering how to use a day planner effectively, here’s some advice you should consider:

  • Actually, Use Your Planner
  • Set Aside Time Each Day to Fill it Out
  • Use Every Part of Your Planner
  • Be Specific with Your Tasks
  • Use Only One Planner
  • Consult Your Planner Often
  • Use Pencil
  • Color Code Your Planner
  • Always Know What Day You’re On
  • Cross off Tasks Once They Are Completed
  • Don’t Fear the White Space
  • Keep Planners from the Past

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