What's in a planner that can help?
There comes a time in your life where you'd need to use some type of productivity tool to help you sort a lot of things out. Your smartphone is one such tool. But a simple pen and paper can do the job too. Other people rely on good planners to help them get organized. How will you know what tool to use amongst all these options?
For the money, we place our trust in planners. Yes, even in the digital age, we resort to using the old-fashioned planner to make sense of everything. Planners, to us, will always be a busy person's ONLY tool of survival. Don't believe us?
We will attempt to sway you in our direction.
We are advocates of personal development achieved through the use of a planner. If you're still having mixed opinions about using one, we believe what you need is to get to know a planner better in order to maximize the benefits you get out of them.
First, we say not all planners are created equal. Some are merely simplified calendars while others resemble to-do lists. All of them have one thing in common - each page provides an opportunity for consistent planning. Planners, when you first get to open one, will look like a notebook. But the misconception most people have is to limit the use of planners as just that - a notebook.
Let us correct that perception.
It may look like an embellished notebook wrapped in leather trappings and other things but those are added features that shouldn't get in the way of what it's essentially for. In the case of your Wordsworth Planner, those pages have been carefully designed through years of research. That planner has a reason for existing even if you take out its aesthetic features. Also, it's a purposeful writing instrument but the uses go far beyond that. Science can back that up.
2. REGULAR SESSIONS
In terms of being a productivity asset, a planner has everything you could ever need. And if used properly and regularly, it will contribute to enhancing your time management skills, developing good habits as well as teach some valuable life lessons along the way.
Planners are nothing if you don't make a habit out of using it. The recommendation of most planner enthusiasts is to assign a specific time of day to make updates on your planner. You have to dedicate this time to sort through your mind and begin to actively plan.
We highly recommend having end-of-day sessions for updating your planner. To be more specific, it should be done right before you tuck in for the night. This approach is mainly for assessing how your day went. You can write down specific evaluations using this method - like a review. And doing this at night, when you're about to end the day, allows ample time to think of plans for the new day ahead. There's an assurance of not having distractions or pressures that could hinder your thoughts during this time.
Approach it as a strategy. This daily, weekly or monthly update to your planner is one way to unburden your brain of many information. If you have to get through meetings and appointments, use the timed schedules to block those times off. If you have many tasks to get done, you can use the priority listing options on your planner. You can even have your own system.
3. VISUAL STIMULATION
If you ask a planner lover why they prefer this system over other alternatives, they would probably say it's for the tangible feel of it. It's not just about listing anything or for appointment setting. It's to create a tangible presentation of what used to be just cluttered thoughts in your head. Or you can simply call it setting down information into paper in order to clear the brain.
Whatever the case may be, planners provide great visual stimulation and a helpful outlet of one's boundless imagination.
Don't take this the wrong way - never pressure yourself into thinking you have to start decorating on your planners to make it useful. If used as a creative outlet, some people do many things on their planners as an imaginative expression of individuality. We've seen some enthusiasts take this aesthetic process to a whole other level as a hobby.
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We've also seen people collect planners in all their color variations. Others use colored pens and other decorations such as washi tapes, stickers and colorful inserts. Many tools have been used to personalize their planners as a mission.
We understand that making their planners as customized as possible is a form of self-expression. However, most planners really don't need them. They come in a complete package already, with or without the extras.
The first thing you'll notice is the individual layout. Note that each one will be different. This layout, however, represents a concept based on psychology. It is a systematized arrangement of lines, dates and numbers that the brain can follow easily in a natural visual process. Simply put, a layout forces the mind to put an organization into things and to follow a mapping process.
Notice that this layout repeats as a pattern throughout your planner. This can lead to cognitive stimulation. Repeating this process paves the way for habit-forming. As you consistently use this pattern, your brain would get used to it. Anything chaotic will no longer be acceptable.
4. WRITING BY HAND
You can thank your brain's capacity to follow strict rules for choosing to use a planner as a productivity tool.
As was previously explained, planners are good sources of mental stimulation - aesthetically or otherwise. When you do something to a planner - either for writing or for decorating, you're basically putting your mental faculties to good use.
But between writing and decorating, writing offers more benefits to you, according to science. There's something about writing things down on paper that works for so many. Research shows that when you pencil in information on a visual plane by hand, your brain can easily digest this information and retain it more effectively.
We find that writing using your hand also forces you to slow down and think. Don't you agree?
A planner, in this case, provides opportunities for memory retention and arousing visual stimulation. After all, a planner is heavily rooted on the visual side of our cognition. You can see everything in one view and that's helpful when you need to quickly browse through the details to find information like time or a name.
Many people can attest to this. The way planners help them is to never miss an appointment or a life event ever again.
5. PRIORITY SETTING
People who aren't used to planners often find it difficult to set particular long-term plans. They get it wrong on their first try. They often find it too taxing to have to think of big goals and then have to break them down into specific ones. It's true. The process can be too much because we have the tendency to create goals that overlap. How do you simplify this process?
Your planner has all the answers. Our best recommendation is to start with the basics. You don't have to write on ALL of those empty spaces. Planners are not built for that purpose alone. You're given that option to start where you like, in case you didn't know.
Majority of planners today contain very helpful methods of letting you set priorities and goals. Some do it better than others. Depending on what you need your planner to do for you in terms of setting goals, your first step will be using the basic day-to-day pages.
For the most part, you have all three options available - there's a daily, weekly or monthly section. You can choose from which point you're most comfortable with. Some people use up the daily section the most because of the way they're timed or blocked off. Seeing the set schedule helps them envision how their day will be like.
Others prefer to use monthly sections for goal setting. This seems to help trigger motivation for self-discipline. You could say, doing monthly reflections aided in making them accountable for all their actions (or lack thereof).
Not all planners are created equal, to reiterate this point. Some will be effective while others will end up collections. Your use of them will depend on your determination to change something in your life. For good measure, we most certainly say that ALL planners are created with the best of intentions - to help you attend to your days with mindfulness and reason.