I thought I had mastered using a planner a long time ago. I had successfully developed the habit of recording schedules, events and appointments into my planner. But, I was missing out on the real value of a planner. Sure, you can track your dentist appointment in a planner, but you can also use it to create the life you want. Start with some new planner ideas that get the process rolling.
A planner can be a resource that steers you toward the change you are bringing into your life. Instead of simply tracking where you are supposed to be and do, a planner can help you move toward what you want, to give you the tools and support to make a changes in your life.
The act of writing new ideas and goals in a planner signals your subconscious to look for for ways to put mere ideas into action, to bring them into your reality. Writing becomes the first step in creating change you want.
Planner Ideas for Goal-Setting
Let’s look at goal-setting with a planner. If I could only track one thing in my planner besides my schedule, it would be the goals I’m setting for myself and the small steps toward accomplishing them. The psychology behind this is sound; one of the best ways you can make meaningful progress toward a goal is through tracking your action toward progress. We all struggle to manifest at least some of the goals we set for ourselves and keeping track of the steps you take can help you see that your small efforts move you toward the end result. If you trust the process and take action, even in the smallest way, your goals eventually become accomplishments.
On the worst days, it can be hard to remember how far you’ve come toward achieving your goals, which can make it hard to continue the effort. Having your progress laid out in your planner can give you a boost when you need it most. On good days, your planner gives you information about how you are achieving your goals, and if they need to be adjusted. Tracking your efforts and your progress in your planner becomes a tool for change.
If you aren’t familiar with micro habits, get ready for one of the most powerful planner ideas yet. Micro habits are small-scale actions we take to create a long term change in our lives. Because a micro habit takes all most no time, you easily over come your resistance to the activity.
For example, a micro habit could be meditating for one minute. You’ve got one minute, right? Once you meditate for a minute, you receive the reward of having meditated, but also the reward of having done what you intended. These rewards reinforce the habit. As time passes, those minutes add up and meditating becomes part of your natural routine. And one minute turns into two minutes, which might turn into five minutes. After a few months, you have a meditation practice.
The same technique can be used to develop other habits that you want to include in your life. How about doing five pushups before you step in the shower? Or committing one percent of your income to savings with the intention to increase another one percent the next month. Or maybe you want to set firmer boundaries with some people in your life. You can start the micro habit of saying “no” to requests more frequently, even if it just begins with the break room donut.
Microhabits are baby steps on the way to a goal. Try taking on one or two at a time and marking down your progress in your planner. You don’t need to turn your planner into a full-on jounal (although having one of those is great too) but keeping track of how well your micro habit is developing can help you fine-tune your process.
Upcoming Workshops and Conferences
With the world opening back up, we cant’t be far from returning to in-person workshops and conferences. While Zoom makes the world accessible from your laptop, the energy of an in-person event can’t be replicated on a screen.
Workshops, conferences, seminars and symposiums are a great way for you to either expand on knowledge you already have or learn something new. These events are not just for professionals in their field, there are hundreds of learning opportunities available to professionals and non-professionals alike. Sites like Conference Monkey list tons of upcoming conferences and workshops that are open for everyone.
Scope out a few conferences that you’d love to attend and put them in you planner, if only to save the date on the chance you can make the conference happen, even at the last minute. By seeing the time blocked in your planner for the event you want to attend, you’re more likely to make it happen. By writing it down and holding space in you schedule for something that’s just for your own development, you’re more likely to find a way to make it happen.
With as hectic as life is, it can be almost impossible to sneak away with a good book. Nevertheless, reading is one of the best ways to keep your mind sharp and to expose yourself to new ideas, people and cultures. I’ve always found that my personal self-care revolves heavily around giving myself some time alone with a book, but it’s still a struggle. Even if you are good at setting your self-care boundaries, keeping a to-read list is a great planner idea that can help you keep on top of your literary goals. You can get a good sense of your reading priorities, and you have your reading list handy when you receive impromptu recommendations or come across a potential must-read when going about your day.
If you don’t yet have a reading list that leans toward simple living, start with Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana White, which is full of helpful suggestions and encouragement toward reaching minimalist goals. An organized reading list works just as well for audiobooks too, if that’s your thing. Try Living the Simply Luxurious Life if listening is your preferred way to tackle a book. Whichever way you read, keeping track of your reading priorities is a great way to make sure new perspectives and ideas are coming into your life as you move toward your goals.
It’s easy to get caught up in our practical goals, like becoming more organized or eating in a healthier way. It is harder to prioritize the fun stuff. Dream trips and experiences are too often pushed to the side as we work hard to be better for our families and ourselves. However, the fun stuff and new experiences are just as important as your more serious goals. One of the most effective planner ideas for ensuring you follow through on vacation dreams is to keep a section of your planner dedicated to travel plans and goals. Vacations and travel goals are no different from any other: you make a plan, and you make it happen.
Start by deciding what kind of vacation is important to you. Are tropical vacations your kind of thing? Or maybe communing with nature is more your style. Sketch out your goals for the vacation: what you want to do, how you want to get around, anything you can think of. Planning vacations can be overwhelming, and one of the best ways to make sure that the stress of the vacation doesn’t interfere with the fun of the trip is to get your details sketched out in advance.
The best planner ideas circulate around good planning, who would’ve guessed? When it comes to increasing minimalism, decreasing clutter is a priority. Whether you need to organize your car or your closet, forming a manageable declutter plan is absolutely guaranteed to make the process quicker and easier. Start by getting your end goal in mind and laying it out in your planner. Use this information to decide how to proceed with managing the clutter; how do you know what to get rid of and what to keep?
Use your planner to determine if you will need to think of any special considerations during your declutter session. For example, if you are doing a massive decluttering operation make sure there is somewhere for your unwanted stuff to go, moving clutter from place to place in your home is just pushing the problem around. Once you have a plan laid out, set a time to follow through on it. You’ll find that the job isn’t nearly as overwhelming as it may have been thanks to your advanced preparation.
Self Care Menu
Good planning is the first step of good self-care. Self-care can be hard for everyone to manage, and sometimes it can be easy to forget what’s required for it. Self-care includes both the fun stuff like bubble baths, exciting trips and hanging out with your faves, as well as the hard stuff like working out, controlling spending or setting boundaries. Self-care can also range from very complicated tasks to simple things that are easy and quick to accomplish. No two people have the same self-care needs, and even if you have self-care mastered, you’ll find it worthwhile to jot down some easy self-care ideas in your planner.
There is no shortage of self-care ideas, but you want to make sure that your self-care menu is full of things that you can do easily and quickly. For example, you might want to put something like “call my best friend” on your self-care menu as opposed to something like “love myself more.” Well, I mean you should definitely love yourself more, that’s always true, but simple, easily accomplished tasks will be more useful when you need self-care most. Building a self-care menu gives you time to think about what self-care you can prioritize, and what might be more difficult to accomplish in the moment.
Planner Ideas for Your Absolute Yes-List
Even if you have a good understanding of your wants and needs, writing out an absolute yes-list is an empowering use of your planner. This planner idea is pretty simple: you write out the things in life that are non-negotiable to your happiness. Maybe this is an experience, like a class or travel opportunity, or maybe its something less tangible, like a boundary or goal you’ve achieved that you don’t want to give up. Whatever the case, making an absolute yes-list and carrying it with you serves as a reminder of your needs for fun, love, respect and appreciation. You have a right to absolutes when it comes to your happiness, and your planner is an excellent place to record the absolute yeses that you’ve already discovered about yourself, as well as the new ones you come across as you grow and move through life.
We all sometimes need help from the people in our circle. When you get a planner, find one of the blank pages and list some of your top contacts in a few different categories. For example, you could have a “Professionals” list with the number of your doctor, hairstylist, or therapist. Put your ride-or-die’s information in your planner so you have it when you need it. . Whoever is on your team, put their information into your planner and be sure you take notes about when and how you can get ahold of them.
Hopefully you’ve now got a few new ideas for how you can use your planner to improve yourself, live simply and achieve your goals. A planner isn’t just a place for dates and appointments, it is a place for goals, aspirations, progress, self-care, dreams, and (surprise!) plans. Whatever your life goals, using a planner to its full potential gives you the power to manifest change and bring clarity to your process.