People love to buy planners, which is great for our business – but I often hear from customers around April/ May each year that they have barely used their planners. This weekend I was at a hui and met 2 women who had their Tuhi Planners with them and they had barely used them. Why? - it was too pretty and they didn’t want to mess it up! News flash, they are meant to be messy, and they will only get messy when you start using them. So, its never too late, no matter what time of the year it is, if you have stopped using your planners for whatever reason – its time to start again!
Select the right planner for your needs
Planners are great at helping you stay organized and focused, but if you have not been using it daily, first ask yourself - have I picked the right planner for me? Check out our other blog about the differences between our monthly/ daily/ weekly planners and see if maybe there is a better option for you next year that fits your planning style and ways of working. Or try our planner quiz here.
We also get feedback that people don’t know how to start or set up their planner. I know all that blank space can be a bit intimidating, but there are a lot of hacks to help get you started. Over the years I have seen people set up and use our planners so differently, it makes me so happy to see the multi-functional uses that I often did not even think of when creating!
This is how I set up my planner.
- Contact Details: Frist things first I add in all my contact details – silly little thing I know, but then it really feels like mine!
- Important Dates: I go through each month and start adding important personal dates – birthdays, anniversaries, family reunions, weddings etc.
- Reflection: Next I spend some time reflecting on the year that has passed. We have a series of reflection prompts in all our planners to work you through your highlights, learnings, challenges, and gratitude. I find once I have spent a good amount of time reflecting on the year that was, I feel a lot more focused on setting my goals for the year ahead. Some maybe new, some maybe a continuance of the previous year, and some maybe ones that never got off the ground last year for whatever reason.
- Big Goals: I then work on all my big goals for the year. I like to break mine into sections (similar to the wheel of life) and also thinking of whare tapa wha (4 corner posts within the Maori model of health) and on the empty space I like to add headings of all the areas of my life I wish to set goals for, and then list them under each heading.
- Action Steps: Next I break those goals down into monthly/ weekly activities that are going to see me achieving those goals over the year. I use a mixture of the SMART and SPECIFY techniques so I can have some measurable activities, but also mindful of Be +Do = Have so I know what I need to be and do to achieve the goals I set, and how I will feel in doing so.
- Daily/Weekly Activities: Then I follow the layout in our planners, depending on which one I’m using, to block my activities in each week, focus and prioritise activities, and review these each week.
Now, that’s just the system I use – you can do something completely different. But whatever you do, just start, and learn as you go. Planning doesn't have to be a drag, and should definitely not feel like a chore.
I’m always excited about setting up my planner for the year ahead – but if the thought is overwhelming, then just start with one thing at a time -one reflection, one goal, one action step – and then just go from there. Don’t try to do everything in one sitting – start some, take a break, come back to it, and soon the pages wont feel blank and overwhelming – more likely it will feel like there’s not enough space to fill up all the things going on in your life!
Its meant to be messy
Back to the statements I heard this weekend – that its too pretty and people don’t want to mess their planners up. News flash……your planner is meant to be messy! When I see messy planners I feel so happy because I know the owner of that planner is really using it and making the most of it.
A planner is personal – okay, not all the ones we see on beautiful Instagram feeds where the handwriting is perfect and stickers are colour coordinated. Don’t be daunted, those reels are to give ideas and inspiration, you don’t have to set up your planner like that just to use it!. But if it helps, then check out some highlighters, coloured pencils, stickers, washi tape – there’s lots of things you can add into your planner. But you really don’t have to. A planner is a tool, and if your tool is messy black ink pen with lots of post it notes stuck on pages, with bits of paper jammed in the back, and a scuffed cover – then you have got the sharpest tool in the shed, because you are USING it – and that’s what matters, not how it looks, but that its being used.
So, its not too late to start using your planner again and ticking off those goals for the rest of the year.