Between the multiple roles you play and the numerous responsibilities attached to them, it has become too easy to be disorganized. For some, relying on technology 100% to keep them in line is the most convenient method, but for others, who aren’t attached to their devices, a good old-fashioned planner is a lifesaver.

When you first begin using a planner, having visual cues as to what’s on the agenda is a must.

Color Code

First, categorize your responsibilities. There may be some areas of your life that overlap, but try to divvy them up as cleanly as possible. Then decide on a color for each category, such as health, family, work, fun, etc.

Don’t try to fit your responsibilities into a general category, either. For example, if there’s a work event you’d like to attend but are not required to, then this event wouldn’t be labeled as work but instead fun. Distinguishing between those details will give you a better understanding of your obligations.

Also, make sure that the colored pens/markers/pencils you are using are legible. At times, bright colors are hard to read.

For a quick reference, keep a list of what each color means at the back of the planner.

Highlight Special Days

After you have decided on your color system, highlight birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and any other momentous occasion you want to celebrate.

Marking these days first does two things. First, it ensures you don’t overlook any special dates, which can easily happen when you’re in the middle of life. And second, it allows you to build your schedule around those days. Meaning, you are less likely to make conflicting plans.

A big misconception is that all planners are designed to start on January 1st. However, there are non-dated planners for freedom lovers that allow you to start on whichever day you choose. The caveat is you now have the responsibility of inputting holidays into your calendar. So, try not to forget anything major.

Notes Section

Depending on the type of planner you need, there may be several sections designated for note-taking, or just one section of blank pages you can use however you want. Utilize this space.

Write down all of the tasks you have to accomplish. You will want to be as specific as possible without being too wordy. Essentially, be concise.

A general note about the task you have to accomplish doesn’t give a clear understanding of what needs to get done, and you may waste time trying to decipher what to do.

Experts suggest using action verbs at the beginning of your tasks. This psychological trick gives your brain a cue to physically act upon the task at hand.

The notes section is the ideal place to jot down any tasks, events, or ideas that come to mind when you don’t have time to schedule it in the calendar right away.

Cross Out Tasks

And speaking of the brain here’s another trick to keep you motivated.

Once a task is complete, make sure to cross it off the list. Not only does this give you a visual idea of what is still left to do, but completing a task registers somewhere in the feel-good sector of the brain.

From that point on, each time you see how much you’ve done, the brain mimics that sense of accomplishment.

Using The Planner Effectively

Once you’ve solidified how you’re going to get organized, it’s time to start effectively using your planner.

Keep It Visible

If you’re not used to having a planner, odds are you’ll forget to carry it with you. So, leave it somewhere that’s always visible. It could be by your bedside where you can look it over after waking up. Or, it can be with your house keys so you’re sure to grab it before heading out the door. The key is to be strategic about it.

Also, have fun with it. Getlifeyoudesire has a range of products with cool funky designs as well as one-toned covers. It’s very easy to find a planner that suits your style.

Schedule Organization

The best way to continue the momentum of being organized is by scheduling it. Designate a specific time in the week when you can clean up the planner of completed tasks and add new ones.

Most people prefer Sunday evenings so they can start the week fresh. Yet, do what works best for you. The most important thing is that you have an adequate amount of time and focus.

Also, make sure to double-check that you properly inputted all important dates or events that may have popped up recently.

Time It

Some planners come with pre-designed time slots on the daily page. Yet, this may not work for everyone so keep that in mind when buying a planner.

Either way, make sure to allot yourself finite blocks of time to get things done. Without a deadline, you could end up pushing the task to another day.

Goal Setting

The reason for using a planner is not to keep all of your tasks in one place. It is to complete all of the tasks you have. If you want to use your planner effectively, create goals.

Start by thinking about what needs to be accomplished for that week. Based on that goal, you can then begin to prioritize your day.

Jot down the number one thing that needs to be taken care of to meet your weekly goal. Don’t add more than three priorities to each day. Not only is this visually overwhelming, but the list then transforms into another to-do list, which is not effective.

Repeat this process for any special dates or events you need to prepare for. Begin by thinking of what the end-goal will be, and then work backward, creating a list of actionable steps with a due date.

Lastly, in your notes section, look over those unorganized tasks that you jotted down previously. Figure out when these things need to be completed and pop them into the planner