My Top 10 Planning Tips!

I didn’t want this to sound like a Buzzfeed article but I knew I needed to give myself a number to stop this post becoming stupidly long.

Given enough time I could list a lot of planning tips thanks to my years of doing it. Instead, I’m going to force myself to cut it down to just what I think are the best ones. I guess this is kind of aimed at newbies to the planning world, but I think a few would still resonate with even seasoned planners.

1. Before you buy a planner, figure out what you want it for.

This may seem pretty obvious. However, it’s really easy to get caught up in the latest ‘planner fad’ and quickly realise it’s the wrong planner for them. I’ve seen so many Hobonichi Weeks out for sale in planning groups recently where people have quickly bought one and even more quickly realise that it’s way too small for their planning.

Some questions to ask:

  1. How many plans do I have/how much will I be planning? Will I want to carry this everywhere? This will help you decide on size.
  2. How much detail do I want to go into with my planning? Do I need it at a daily level or just the weeks at a glance. This will help with the format of the planner.
  3. Do I want to get artistic or do some journaling? Some planners are more suited to being creative with them, particularly if you want to go down the route of using stickers.
  4. Do I just want to do some planning, or do I want to hold information in the planner too? Particularly if you run a business or have lots of hobbies you might want space within your planner to keep logs or useful info about them.

This list isn’t exhaustive but will hopefully help you figure out what kind of planner you need. My big planner comparison post will also help in giving you an overview of what’s out there.

2. Don’t buy everything immediately!

It’s so easy to get drawn into buying all the pretty things that are out there. I haven’t bought a post it note in over two years, yet I’m still working through a huge stash that I bought when I first got into planning. I must have about fifty rolls of washi tape that I barely use and don’t even get me started on pens…

Anyway, the point is, take the time to figure out how you want to plan and what you want to use. That doesn’t mean to say don’t try new things but just keep in mind that all you really need to plan is paper and pen!

3. Dedicate the time to plan.

There’s no point having a beautiful planner, all the gear and no time to sit and actually use it. If you spend all your free time making it look pretty and don’t have enough time to then go back and use the pages, it’s not serving its purpose. If you can, leave it out in a prominent place so you can always see it and review it. My main planner lives on my desk meaning I have no excuse not to keep it updated and keep on track with my to do list.

4. Evaluate your planning regularly.

There’s no point buying a planner and then getting to the end of the year, only to realise you didn’t really use it. Equally, if you find you’re always forgetting things because your planner is too big to take out of the house, make the decision to downsize the planner. Don’t stick with a system that isn’t working for you. You’ll only get the best out of your planning if you regularly review your planning and whether it’s working for you.

5. Sell on what you don’t use.

Related to the above, if you find a planner isn’t working for you, sell it on! There’s no point hoarding it to the end of the year on a shelf being unloved. There’s probably someone out there who wants to try that planner so you can help them out by selling it onto them. Facebook planning groups are perfect places to sell on your unwanted items (and pick up some bargains too).

6. Get involved in the community.

Speaking of Facebook groups, they’re the only reason I use Facebook now. There’s loads of planning groups out there, no matter your planner or style. I find the bullet journal groups particularly helpful for hacks and tips to get the most out of my planner. Instagram is also great for finding layout inspiration. Start with the #planner hashtag and then have a look around at the related ones to find some really awesome planning set ups.

7. Don’t be afraid to go back to basics sometimes.

Every once in a while life goes a bit nuts. It might be a busy work week, or illness wiping me out for a few days. Either way, I find I don’t have the time or inclination to properly plan. However, I know that I can’t ditch it completely and so go back to basics with a notebook and pen. I take a look at my monthly spread to make sure there’s no appointments or plans I need to know about and then I just do a brain dump of everything going on in my head. It’s very rough bullet journaling but sometimes that basic to do list gets me through a bad week.

8. Have fun planning!

Don’t let it become a chore. Yes, it’s probably necessary for you to keep on top of your commitments. However, the more fun you can make it, the more likely you are to enjoy planning. The more you enjoy it, the more you’ll do it. You can do this through a bit of decoration or you can do a bit of journaling in it, adding in pictures or comments about great things that happened.

9. Don’t pay too much attention to how other people plan.

This might sound like the complete opposite to what I said above. However, hear me out here. Getting inspiration online is really handy when you’re first starting out. I’ve found some great tips and layouts online. But for the longest time I used to get annoyed because my planner didn’t look as good as everyone else’s. I spent a lot of time trying to make my planner look pretty by trying to make it looks like other’s.

That’s not the way to do it and only unhappiness (and sometimes putting down your planner) comes from it. You have to find your style. Experiment and find out what works for you. Just remember that each weekly spread doesn’t have to look like an art piece. It doesn’t matter how it looks as long as it works for you.

10. Don’t forget about digital planning.

This isn’t something I personally often do, but I know others have found ‘planner peace’ by combining analogue and digital planning. Particularly if you don’t like carrying a planner around with you, or need a shared calendar for work or with a partner.

There’s plenty of phone apps that can help (or iPad if you want to do full digital planning). I’ve found Google calendar ideal for syncing events with others (the plans were written in my paper planner too). I also use the ‘Reminder’ app on my iPhone sometimes if I’m without my planner and need to do a quick brain dump of things on my mind. I’ll then transfer it to my planner once I’m with it.

What are your top planning tips? Let me know in the comments!