How to Change Your Life with a Planner (When You’ve Failed in the Past)

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Using a planner to organize your life sounds like (and is!) a wonderful thing.  Wistfully, you dream of having your deadlines, appointments, and important tasks in a single location for reference. Plus, you’re finally ready to live a more productive and low-stress life.

But once reality sets in, you find planning overwhelming or too difficult to keep up with for more than a week. You may have great intentions, and even buy a sparkling new planner with lots of fun pens and stickers. (I am a sucker for cute planner accessories!) 

Then real life swoops in, and the the task of planning gets pushed aside. One month later, when you’ve finally caught your breath, you remember your new planner and wonder how use it effectively. Can you really thrive and change your life by using your planner consistently? 

Friend, I understand!  Most years I would feel like a complete planner failure and think there was not a way to make a planner work for me.

But I promise, it is possible to learn to rock a planner, even when you’ve failed in the past! Here’s a few secrets that finally led to my own planner success and helped me achieve many dreams last year!

Are you wondering how to use a planner as a beginner or someone who's struggled with time management tips in the past? Here's how to choose a planner that's right for you and make new daily habits. I planner ideas I planner organization I planner tips I time management for moms I time management I Faith Along the Way I #plannerlove I #timemanagement I #timemanagementtips

Find a planner that works for you

When I first started looking at planners, I was almost overwhelmed by the options.  Before I could choose a planner, I had to evaluate what I really needed out of one.  These questions helped me process and think through my choices:

  • What would I mainly use it for? (homemaking, family life, business, or all of the above)
  • Which layout do I prefer?
  • What feature is most important to me (lots of writing space, goal setting pages, etc…)?
  • How much do I want to spend?

Choose what features are most important to you and find a planner that meets your needs. Here’s a few of my favorites that offer space to write and dream, while keeping you focused on your goals! (affiliate link- please visit our disclosure policy for more details.)

Erin Condren 2018 Hardbound LifePlanner- Painted Petals, 8x10Erin Condren 2018 Hardbound LifePlanner- Painted Petals, 8×102018 Agenda Planner - Gold and Blue Stripes2018 Agenda Planner – Gold and Blue StripesCreate365 The Deluxe Classic Happy Planner Faith Edition, Grace Upon Grace, 12 Month January-December 2018Create365 The Deluxe Classic Happy Planner Faith Edition, Grace Upon Grace, 12 Month January-December 2018bloom daily planners 2018 Calendar Year Daily Planner - Passion/Goal Organizer - Monthly and Weekly Datebook Agenda Diary - January 2018 - December 2018 - 6bloom daily planners 2018 Calendar Year Daily Planner – Passion/Goal Organizer – Monthly and Weekly Datebook Agenda Diary – January 2018 – December 2018 – 6

Start Slow

It’s not necessary to go from never using a planner to expecting your life to be completely organized in a week. Take your new planning adventure slow. Start by filling in your planner with one area of your life at a time. Maybe you’d like to start planning out your meals each week, or use it as a way to track your finances.

Over time, you’ll learn the most productive ways to use your planner and can start to incorporate more aspects of your life.

Buy Only the Necessities

When you are beginning to use a planner, you really only need the book and a pen. Forego all the coloring pencils, stickers, washi tape, and other decorative elements in the beginning. Having too much “stuff” can push you into overwhelm before you have your planning routine really figured out.

After you’ve mastered using your planner, here are few accessories you may wish to incorporate.

AGU Foil Gold Skinny Washi Tape DIY Japanese Masking Tape Supplies Set Of 16AGU Foil Gold Skinny Washi Tape DIY Japanese Masking Tape Supplies Set Of 16me & my BIG ideas PPSV-09-2048 Create 365 The Happy Planner Sticker Value Pack Planner, Productivityme & my BIG ideas PPSV-09-2048 Create 365 The Happy Planner Sticker Value Pack Planner, ProductivityRedi-Tag Divider Sticky Notes 60 Ruled Notes, 4 x 6 Inches, Assorted Neon Colors (29500)Redi-Tag Divider Sticky Notes 60 Ruled Notes, 4 x 6 Inches, Assorted Neon Colors (29500)MyLifeUNIT Fineliner Color Pen Set, 0.4mm Colored Fine Liner Sketch Drawing Pen, Pack of 10 Assorted ColorsMyLifeUNIT Fineliner Color Pen Set, 0.4mm Colored Fine Liner Sketch Drawing Pen, Pack of 10 Assorted Colors

Don’t Compare your Planner to Others

Don’t expect to become a planning rockstar overnight. Those beautiful, organized layouts you see on Instagram took weeks, months – maybe even years of practice for the experienced planners to perfect.

Avoid overwhelming yourself with the idea that your planner must be a masterpiece. Experiment with different ways of doing your layouts. Hold off on the heavy decorations and sticker usage until you are more comfortable using your planner.

Take Planning One Day at a Time

You eventually want to get to where you check your planner a few times each day. However, while you are still developing the habit of organizing your life, you may go 2-3 days without opening the book at all.

Don’t beat yourself up about that. Every day is a new opportunity to use your planner to increase your productivity and make your life easier. When you miss a day or two, let it go and move forward with your planner. Just don’t give up on the habit altogether if you want your planning journey to be a success!

Schedule in Time to Plan

It’s vital that you treat your planner as an important part of your daily schedule, if you’d like to be successful at being more organized. You don’t have to spend but about 10 minutes with your planner, reflecting on your day and taking a look at your to-do list for tomorrow.

Many people find it best to open their planners first thing in the morning and before bed each night. In the morning, you can see what you need to do for the day, so nothing is forgotten. At night, you can review and move around any tasks that weren’t completed.

Hopefully these tips for using a planner will help you in your quest to become more organized in your life. Like any new hobby, you should practice your planning skills and don’t be afraid to fail a little along the way. Eventually, you will have a planning routine that works for you!

About Sarah Ann

Welcome to Faith Along the Way! I am a redeemed child of God and perfectly imperfect in every area of my life. Wife to Hubs, we've battled the storms of Cancer, infertility, adoption & Autism together the past 10 years and praise God for his continued guidance. I hope you'll join us on this journey through life as we trust God with faith along the way.

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