My business planner is one of those simple ring binder journals you can pick up from any stationery supplies store. Blank white paper, ruled lines and dotted pages to cage my venturesome handwriting and doodling. I’m an obsessive note-taker and fill pages to the margins with to do lists, rough sketches, and ideas for blog posts or new designs for my business. As my ideas grow, so does my planner. For some people, keeping all of their thoughts and ideas planned out is difficult. Here’s how I manage mine.
The odd numbers method
Write out 5 things you want to get done this month, 3 things you want to get done this week, and one important thing you want to get done today. I find that breaking your tasks into increments of time can take the pressure off of you if you don’t get everything done exactly when you planned to. This one is definitely my tried and true method. It really helps me believe that I can do this. In my opinion, the weekly tasks are going to be more important tasks because they can be done over time throughout the week, as opposed to the stress of completing the one task of the day. Even if you don’t get something done every single day, you can still have a really successful month. This method is a great way for you to look back and see all of the stuff you have done as opposed to all of the things you feel you didn’t.
The 3,2,1 method
Start with three things you want to get done today, two things that need to get done today, and the one thing that is crucial to get done today. Sometimes, I can only get one thing done each day. It sounds awful, I know. But there are days where so much comes up that gets in the way of me completing my tasks. So I try to break it down by threes. If I end up completing all three, that’s awesome! However, even if I only complete that one crucial thing on my to-do list, I still count my day as being productive. The one crucial thing should be the task that is hardest to complete, here’s why. You may take up more energy and time trying to complete two other tasks that may not be as important, it may not leave any energy for the thing that is most important. Starting with the most difficult and most important task will lead you in the path to success of getting at least one productive task done in your day. The tasks that come after will require less stress, less energy, and less time.
Take all the notes
I’m a frantic note taker. I literally take notes about everything. To any regular person, if they saw my business planner they would think I have gone nuts. I use stickers, highlighters, arrows, and tabs. The funny thing about my notes is that what I write may only make sense to me, and I encourage you to do the same. It’s not atypical to find random words such as “happy” or “dream catcher” and other such words written or drawn into the empty spaces in my planner. It may not make sense to others, but it certainly makes sense to me. Your planner does not need to be pretty, it doesn’t need to be read by anyone other than the person it is intended for. For the longest time I was so focused on my planner looking clean and organized. That got me nowhere! Sure, my planner looked cute, but it didn’t help me accomplish the things I set out to do. Now I take notes upon notes and scribble over those notes too, because a planner is meant for planning and for doing. So take all the notes you want, and scribble as much as your little heart desires. This planner is for you babe.
Count your wins
Instead of beating yourself up over the things you didn’t do, celebrate all the things you did. It’s really easy to get upset at yourself for the things you couldn’t check off your list. I try my best not to sweat it and vow to myself that I will not let it affect what I do or plan in the future. So you didn’t get everything done, that’s ok! Just cross it off today’s list and add it to tomorrow’s. I promise, it will still be there!
Eventually as you build better planning habits, you’ll be able to increase the number of tasks on your to-do list. The most important thing to remember is not to over do it. If what you’re doing feels comfortable, keep doing it! If you’re already struggling, don’t add more to your plate. If you’re doing great and think you can add more to your schedule, go for it. Just do what feels good for you and has shown the most success at keeping you on track.
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