New Year’s resolutions–no matter how they vary from person to person, usually include a commitment to exercise or a promise to be more organized. It’s not uncommon to see people subscribing to a gym membership at the beginning of the year, only to never set foot in the gym again after a few months. The same goes with wanting to be more organized. There’s just something about the new year that makes us feel like we can magically fix our lives by writing it down on paper, so we spend our money on fancy planners, sometimes even going through lengths to obtain the elusive Starbucks planner, only to write on the first few pages before leaving it to collect dust on the shelf for the rest of the year. Now, I can’t really help you with the first point because I too have the tendency to not follow through with my fitness goals, but as someone who has consistently used a planner for 4 years, I have a few tips that could help you commit to using your planner.
1. Choose the right planner
One of the mistakes that most people make is getting a popular or “hyped” planner like the limited edition Starbucks ones. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but if you’re a beginner who isn’t sure if you’ll make a habit of using your planner every day, it’s best not to splurge on one right off the bat because you’ll only feel like you’ve wasted your money if you don’t end up using it. Instead, get a planner that preferably doesn’t go over PHP1000 (or a planner that doesn’t involve 18 different coffee trips), and if you’ve managed to commit to that planner for the whole year, that’s the time you can spend on the more expensive ones. You can also get a planner that’s undated (PHP375), so you won’t feel pressured if you skip a few weeks.
2. The layout of your planner matters
Most planners have different layouts, but the standard is the weekly and daily layouts. As a student, the hybrid weekly/daily planner works the best for me. It has a weekly calendar on one side and a blank space on the other that allows you to write a daily to-do list. A particular planner that has this layout is the Hobonichi Weeks, which is on the pricier side, but there are plenty of similar versions like the Annami Weeks (PHP 301) and the NAVI Planner (PHP599) that are more budget-friendly. However, I’m not saying this is the best layout, so be sure to evaluate the nature of your work before getting a specific planner. If you have a lot of tasks that need to be completed within a day, then it’s best to use a daily (PHP300) planner, but if your work has more long-term deadlines, then you can use a weekly (PHP599) or monthly (PHP102) planner.
3. Don’t abandon your planner after skipping a few weeks
This is the main reason why it’s best to get an undated planner. If you stop writing in it in February, then you can always in March. I once used an undated planner on and off for two years and still managed to fill it up. However, if you really can’t find an undated planner that suits your needs, then you can always use a dated planner sporadically. One of the main reasons why people stop using planners is because they missed a few weeks, but don’t be discouraged if this happens because it takes a while to develop a habit. Besides, having a few blank pages in your planner is better than abandoning it completely after January.
4. Your planner doesn’t have to be strictly for work
Your planner can double as a tool for documenting your life. If you’re bothered by the blank spaces, you can always write down an eventful thing that happened that day, a quote that you like, your favorite songs at that time, or even a short review of a movie you just watched. Filling your planner with special memories is a great way to make your days less monotonous, and it also gives you something to reminisce about when you flip through it in the future.
5. You can also decorate your planner
Part of the appeal to bullet journaling is the fact that you can customize the layout and decorate the pages however you want, but even if you have a premade planner, you can still take a few minutes to add decorations to the pages. Something as simple as using highlighters to color-code your tasks can make your planner look both lively and well-organized. You could also add washi tape or photos to fill in the blank spaces, or even write a title that summarizes your week (e.g. Lord of the Rings: Return of the Back Pains). This makes your planner much more fun to use and even turns it into a personal memoir instead of just something to write your to-do list on.
6. You can use both physical and digital planners
You might be wondering why you should even keep a physical planner when you can always list down all your tasks in the notes app, but there’s evidence that writing things down helps you remember things better and be more mindful of the things you plan to do for the day. However, there are also tasks that are repetitive, such as weekly meetings, and you wouldn’t want to keep writing it down every time you flip to a new page. In this case, you can use a digital calendar to keep track of your recurring events and reserve your physical planner for to-do lists and deadlines. If you find it tedious to maintain two planners at once, you can use digital planners like Notion. Whichever method you may choose, it still counts as being organized.