The principle is very simple: Use a pen and a planner to organise your week and write down daily to-do lists. But, this simple action can be truly life changing. I sometimes wonder how I ever navigated life without a planner. Here are the top ten reasons why I think everyone should use one:
1. Be more intentional
In today's busy world, it can often feel like the day is leading us, rather than us leading the day. Between work, laundry and cooking, it is easy to passively roll with the day. Starting each day by writing down your plans allows you to be more intentional and smart with your time.
2. Remove niggling thoughts
If you have 31 tabs open in your head at one time, then you'll probably get the classic 'am I forgetting to do something?' thought. Like an itch that can't be scratched, it can be pretty unsettling when you're trying to relax and switch off. A planner removes this uncertainty, as everything that needs doing is written down in one place. Over time, you learn to trust your to-do list, which clears your mind of doubt and stress.
3. Set long term goals
Dream big! Using a planner allows you to really go for what you want in life. The trick is to break down down your big plans into smaller chunks, so that you take little steps each month towards the goal.
For example, I have big plans for Smooze and where I want to take the business, but I know I can't do it all in one month, or even one year. I have my business plan and monthly goals written down in my yearly planner, ready to look back on every week. It really helps me to stay focussed, but not feel overwhelmed.
4. It's good therapy
By 'telling' your planner your deepest thoughts and feelings, you develop an authentic honesty with yourself in a truly safe space. Write down what bugs you, what you're grateful for and the lessons you've learned throughout the week. I have a space in my planner dedicated to lessons learned, this is the planner I use.
5. It's incredibly satisfying
When you tick off everything you had planned for the day, your brain releases dopamine, the pleasure hormone. Suddenly you feel accomplished, unstoppable & amazing. Of course, this relies on your setting realistic and achievable to-do lists, but with practice, you'll soon learn how much you can do in a day.
6. Push tasks forward
Do you ever get half way through the week and realise all the jobs you wanted to get done are piling up. Rather than stressing out, you can diary ahead and push tasks forward into the next few weeks. This is a powerful stress management tool that can remove feelings of overwhelm.
7. Habit track
Habit tracker sections in your planner are powerful tools to help you to monitor your small daily actions. Things like taking vitamin supplements, making the bed or watering your plants can all be tracked to help you to carrying out these tasks consistently every week. If your planner doesn't have a habit tracker section, you can use habit tracker stickers like these from Smooze.
8. Create a useful record
You may not realise at the time of writing you plans, but your weekly planner is a data-rich source of information that you can look back on. For example, planning a wedding now seems like a blurry memory but if I ever need to help friends or family with planning their own wedding, I can look back at my 2021 planner to remember everything I had to do. Similarly, things like cycle tracking, weight records and other bodily data could all prove very useful if a doctor asked you questions about your past health.
9. It's fun
Who doesn't love decorating their weekly plans and using stickers? Planning has never been so fun, with heaps of gorgeous washi tape and stickers readily available to make your week plans pretty. Your inner child will thank you for making some time for fun and mindfulness as you lay out your planner spread. Need inspiration? Check out the #BeforethePen hashtag on Instagram!
10. Close your planner and sleep easy
With tasks ticked off and the evening drawing in, there is something very therapeutic about physically closing your planner for the day. You get to truly relax into the evening, with a clear mind, ready to tackle tomorrow. Feel the benefits of better sleep too as you no longer have constant thoughts swirling around your brain reminding you of things that need doing.