We love technology. It makes life so easy, doesn’t it? You can reply to emails, read books, and create stop-motion Instagram videos of your dog all from the comfort of your phone.
And yet, despite the advances of digital technology—including digital calendars, to-do lists, Evernote, and more—the popularity of paper planners has not gone away. In fact, it’s quite the opposite—more people have been returning to paper planners in recent years! There are several reasons that have been attributed: you are more likely to remember what you write down, paper planners don’t bombard you with distracting (not helpful) notifications—and, oh yeah, they are a lot prettier than a laptop screen! Sure, we’re biased, but we’re also right . . . right? Find your favorite cover style here!
No matter the reason that paper planners have remained a popular alternative to digital calendars, they are only useful if you actually use them. Paper planners like Day Designer were specifically created to help you lead a more productive, fulfilled, happy life of your own design. And today, we’re going to walk you through a few ways to do exactly that.
Here are five of our favorite tips to help you use your Day Designer (or the paper planner of your choice) to better prepare for your day:
1. Pick the one you’ll use.
Listen, we’re Team Day Designer all the way—but we also know how important it is to pick the paper planner that works for you—one that you’ll actually use. We’d like to argue that there’s a Day Designer for everyone, but you have to make that decision for yourself. And here’s how: consider the size, the design, how it inspires you, and more. Will this paper planner help you prepare for and plan out your life—the big, important moments and the vital minutiae? The short-term goals and the long-term vision? The weekly menu plan and the daily gratitude? Consider the life you want to design and choose a planner that best aligns with that—and with you.
2. Create a planner routine.
The whole point of a planner is to help you map out your daily routine—and the various activities that take place around it. But if you’re new to using a paper planner, actually using it might need to become your routine for awhile, too! Make it part of your daily schedule to use and check your planner. Some people schedule time to review and plan for the week ahead on Sunday evenings. Others like to look at their planner and consider the next day’s activities at the end of every workday. Find the routine that works for you—just make sure you’ve made using your planner a priority. And speaking of priorities . . .
3. Pre-plan your priorities.
There’s nothing quite like a fresh, blank, new planner. Often, your first instinct will be to fill it with every appointment, every project task, every far-off dream you’ve ever dreamt that you can finally add to your schedule now that you have a calendar on which to write it. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but it’s helpful to sit down and consider your top priorities before you add everything to your schedule. At Day Designer, we’re all about helping you design and live a life you love; not just showing up for all of the things that have been “assigned” to your life calendar. Take some time to consider what’s most important to you and make sure that has time blocked on your calendar first. Everything else will either find room in your schedule or naturally (and necessarily) fall off your plate. Honor your priorities, and the life you desire will honor you.
4. Schedule blocks of time.
You know those tasks that never go away? The Monday morning staff meeting, the monthly bill-paying, the carpool pick-up? Sure, they’re in your head—but are they in your planner? Write them down now—not only so you won’t forget them, but so you won’t try to schedule anything in their place. Schedule the blocks of time that are unchanging and immovable. These may be moments assigned by other people (like meetings or school commitments), or they may be moments you’ve designated yourself like your daily morning devotional or Friday’s family game night. There are no hard and fast rules to the blocks of time on your schedule—except that you need to make the rules and enforce them in writing in your planner.
5. Add every detail.
You may think you’ll remember it—and maybe you will! But why risk it? As we mentioned before, there’s research that proves that writing things down improves your ability to remember them, so don’t just write down the high-level basics—get into the nitty-gritty. You know you have a conference call at 10am, but do you know the conference call code? You know you have a meeting with your daughter’s teacher at 2:30, but have you reviewed the notes she shared in her email? Set yourself up for success and use your planner as more than just a paper secretary. Add the detail you need to succeed. That’s what those extra lines are there for.