Recently a reader emailed me asking if I could write a post to help folks who are "unorganized" to use planners.
First, let me clarify. "Unorganized" is not the same as "Disorganized," in my opinion. "Disorganized," to me, sounds completely scattered with no order. "Unorganized" has the potential to become organized.
Second, a disclaimer: I am not organized. My house is not tidy. (In fact, I like it cluttered. That's just me.) I never know where I should put things. I have piles on my desk because I'm out of sight, out of mind and if I put things away I forget about them. Just about the only place I AM organized is in my planner, and that's because I have to be. If I don't write it down, it's gone. I have to write everything down.
So with that in mind, let me talk about whether I can help you or not.
There are three types of people, I think. Some I can help, and some I can't. Which one are you?
1. You need to write things down to remember them. You rely on paper, lists, your phone or whatever planning tool works for you. You work best if you plan ahead and write your tasks down so you can work through them. (This is me.) If you fall into this category and want ideas on how to use a planner, or how to use one more effectively, I can definitely help you. Read on.
2. You keep it all in your head, more or less. These are the folks who never use a planner and really do keep it all in their head, or at least it seems that way. For these people, writing things into a planner is just a redundant extra step and the effort of remembering to write it, remembering where your planner is and remembering to look at it is more trouble than just remembering your stuff to do. My husband is like this. He never uses a planner. But, not actually. He uses Outlook at work to schedule meetings and appointments. He uses project-tracking software and budget software at work. I keep track of all our personal stuff and our kids' schedules, so he doesn't have to remember any of that. This system works for him and a planner isn't necessary.
If you are the type of person for whom writing it down is more of a hindrance than a help, I'm sorry but I won't be able to help you. Unless you fall into the third category:
3. You don't write things down, but you really ought to. These are folks whose lives previously were simpler and never needed a planner before, but as things get more complicated in your life you really do need some way to keep track of things. Maybe you've just started university and find you're missing exams and deadlines. Maybe you've had kids or started a new job where suddenly you have more to keep track of. If you're not used to writing things down, but you need to, I can definitely help you but only with effort from you.
If you aren't used to writing things down, but you need to, it will take effort to make it a habit to write everything into your planner, carry it with you everywhere, and look at it often. You'll have to look at it first thing in the morning, in the middle of the day at again in the evening AT MINIMUM. You'll need to write everything into it, everything. You'll need to plan your day the day before so you know what you're supposed to do each day and can prepare for anything you'll need to do or take with you that day.
I have written some posts already on using your planner that will be useful. My Using Weekly Planners post has the basics on how to effectively use your planner. That post is part of my How To Find Your Perfect Planner series.
Patty at Homemaker's Daily has written several posts on effectively using your planner, you should definitely check them out. Her post How To Avoid Planner Overwhelm will help you figure out the basics of what you need, and you can build up your planner usage from there. Use Your Planner! will help you get into the habit. Strategies For Making Your Planner Work Well For You will help you take the next step. And definitely don't miss Advance Planning Prevents Unpleasant Surprises and 5 Examples of Planning As You Go to learn how to use your planner to really plan, not just react.
The posts linked above have a lot of information and tips on effectively using your planner. Is there anything else you would like me to cover, more generally or more specifically? I'd be happy to do a post on anything you think would be useful. Either post a comment or send me an email: Laurie at Plannerisms dot com.
What are your tips on effectively using a planner?