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How to Use a Planner – Just Like in School


One thing about adult life that is different than school is that no one tells you specifically what your “homework” or “tasks” are. And, you don’t get reminders, and you can’t call your friend from class if you forget what you need to get done. Lame. Unfortunately, that doesn’t also mean that there aren’t things to get done- BECAUSE THERE ALWAYS ARE!

There is always dry cleaning to drop off or pick up, plane tickets to buy, budgets to update (ahhem…), car/hair/eye appointments to make, checks to deposit, volunteer work to coordinate, presents to buy and wrap, and chores to do- and that’s all WITHOUT kids in the picture!

I find that in order to not let a birthday pass without me sending a present or a card or not let my car go three months past when I need an oil change, I need a list. A list that I can update each day or week and a list that travels around with me. I’ll be honest- I’m a paper person so the “Reminders” App or “Notes” App on my iPhone just don’t cut it – but if the tech stuff works for you then keep up with it! You always have your phone with you so it should be easy to pull it out and add an item when it pops into your head! Plus you get the same “checking-something-off-my-list” satisfaction with that App!

Being the paper person that I am, I always carry my planner in my purse with me – everywhere (okay- not out on date nights when I shouldn’t be thinking about tasks I need to get done BUT everywhere else). To and from work, during errands, and just generally all the time. I started this habit when I was in law school, so I already had a school planner. In law school, if I didn’t write down and check off even the most meaningless tasks (i.e. make lunch for tomorrow), I would forget about it in the sea of homework and papers and it wouldn’t get done.

Since law school, I have found that the grown up world is the same way. If I don’t write something down, then there is a significantly smaller chance it will get done.

Here’s my planner advice. Take it or leave it:

1. Get a planner that you like. Something that is cute (or manly) that you will want to carry around with you and use. The one I have right now is pictured above and can be bought here.  But I found some other cute ones here and here! Don’t be afraid to invest in a nice planner – you will have it for at least a year, and you want it to be both durable and look nice.

2. Make it something permanent – not a post-it note or a pad of paper that can get lost on your desk.

3. Carry it everywhere. You never know when you will be standing in line at the grocery store, and you will remember ten things you want to get done. If you have your planner with you, you can immediately write things down and then they will be on your list until they are done rather than rattling around in your brain.

I can’t tell you how much this system has helped me keep my life in order and get things done. I don’t miss birthdays or send wedding presents late, and I am always on top of my appointments and other tasks. It makes a world of a difference to feel like your life is being controlled by you and that you are getting things done. I don’t know about you but I love feeling in control and productive!

Do you already have a planner? Are you going to try this system?

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