How to use a Planner to get Organised

Here’s a secret about being organised: it takes effort!

You probably won’t find your ideal planner or inserts your first time out of the gate, and that’s okay, because the biggest tip I can give you for staying organised is not about inserts or tabs or stickers.

The biggest tip for how to use your planner is…

well…

to actually use your planner.

It’s not enough to buy one – having an organiser will not make you organised.

It’s not enough to decorate the pages – pretty pages will not make you productive.

So, what do you have to do? Here is my 3 Step Plan:

Step One: Decide What You Want to Do

Step Two: Write it Down

Step Three: Do it!!

Easy right?

David Allen of Getting Things Done fame, says

“Your mind is for having ideas, not storing them”

And that’s where your planner comes in.

Here’s What I Do

First things first I write everything down.. and I mean everything. If I see an ad for something I think I might like to buy, I write it on my wishlist, if I decide that Juniper is not eating enough spinach I’ll write it in my meal planning section, if I get a notice about a rental inspection it goes into my planner before I even put the notice down.

One of my big planning AHA moments was realising that my brain alone could not be trusted!

My planner is an A5 binder. It’s quite large and not all that portable, so it spends most of the time sitting open on my desk.

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I visit my planner at least 3 times every day to make sure I know what’s coming up, and to ensure that the day is going according to plan.

Filofax Visiting Hours

  • 7AM: First thing in the morning as part of my morning routine, I take a glance at the day and remind myself of what’s ahead.
  • 1PM: While Juniper is napping I take some time to mark off any completed items, check what activity we have scheduled for the day and prepare everything so that we’re ready to get started when she wakes up. \
  • 10PM: At the end of the day, in the last half hour before bed, I go through and make sure I have accomplished everything I had planned for the day. I reschedule anything that wasn’t achieved.

It is also open beside me on my desk whenever I am working through my freelance projects, or paying bills or meal planning, or any of the other million things I do at my desk.. out of sight is out of mind so I keep her in plain sight as much as possible.

Seeing What’s What

Ideally, you need to be able to see at a glance what is already done and what still needs attention.

Personally, I have an indexing code for marking things off. The code includes things like ‘in progress’ ‘rescheduled’ ‘cancelled’ and ‘completed’. It’s on a small piece of paper and is kept in my planner for reference:

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As you can see, items are also colour coded for the person it relates to and the type of activity it is, as well as for how long it will take to complete. So, if I know I have a spare 15 minutes I can quickly see what can be achieved in that time frame. I have that time coding reference on the top of each insert page for quick reference. You can see that, as well as the time coded to-do list in action below.

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In addition to my daily filofax visiting hours, I have time scheduled on Sundays to go through and do a weekly review and to plan the week ahead.. but that’s a post for another time! Subscribe to the blog to make sure you don’t miss out.

Want more tips?

My Top Planner Tools for 2017
Life & Business Planners starting at $10
Personal Growth Planning

Getting Organised in 2016

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28 comments

    1. Thanks Renee. I have to admit it’s taken me about a decade to get my system down pat! And it’s probably still a work in progress! 🙂

  1. Love love love your blog.

    I’m trying to get back into my filofax (and flylady). I have DIyFish in personal. When you “write everything down” do you do it on a dashboard or a paper in the front before you out it in your planner?

    1. Thanks so much!

      I try to put everything into the section where it is relevant (food in the meals section etc) but I also have a ‘notes’ tab which is kind of my brain dump area and anything that doesn’t have a home I write in there.

  2. Like this idea a lot. Makes me think of how I can better enhance my bullet journal. So far I have tons of contexts, mainly as logging of what each note is. Having a color coded signifier or even a number in parenthesis might help in getting certain things done. I like contexts though, where I draw little pictograms of what each task is such as craft, I place little scissors, or if it’s a grocery trip, I place a little shopping cart ^.^ Thanks for sharing!

  3. Your coding for the todo boxes is genius…wish I’d thought of it. I’m a listmaker, but at the end of a day my todo list is so messy from partial marking or symbol use when things are in the process. Coding will hopefully keep my lists neater and decipherable!

  4. Hi there! Where did you get your planner? I am constantly searching for the perfect planner and I cannot seem to ever find one.

    1. Which one Eve? There are a few pics here. The top one is “life is crafted” inserts in a Filofax A5 Sketch and the bottom one is DIYfish Inserts in an A5 Filofax Holborn zip.

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