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Ready to have the most productive year of your life? Today I'm talking about the best ways to use a planner to help you streamline your goals and prioritize your to-do list! Whether you're a college student, stay at home mom, or business professional, we can all agree that we need a little organization to get everything done in one day.
(This post contains affiliate links. Please read my Disclaimer for more information.)
For reference, I use the Erin Condren Good to Go Life Planner and I have to say that I'm pretty much in love. First of all, the quality is amazing. I've had planners where the pages were thin or ripped easily and that's always annoying. It also has the strongest binding I've ever seen on a planner. I usually tote it around like it's my right hand and constantly spill coffee on it. If it can survive me, it can survive anything!
Second, I need a vertical layout for the daily planner because I look at my obligations as a long to-do list. Do you know how hard it is to find these in stores?! Is it just my local area??
Overall, I keep things real here on the blog and I wouldn't recommend this planner if I didn't think it was awesome. So give yourself a treat and go buy one before the month is over. Oh, and if you use the link from this post you can receive $10 off of your first purchase. You're welcome, friends. :)
4 Ways to Use Your Planner & Be Incredibly Productive
1. Prioritize using the A1, A2, A3 method
I've been using this method for a while and it helps me prioritize like a ninja. I can't remember where I first read about it but I think it was from either Eat That Frog! 21 Ways to Stop Procrastination and Get More Done in Less TimeEat That Frog! 21 Ways to Stop Procrastination and Get More Done by Brian Tracy or Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen.
If you're like me (and everyone else in the world, I would imagine) you add tasks to your planner one at a time and probably not in any order of importance. Ugh, the battle. I hate using pencils so erasing and rearranging isn't an option for me.
This method helps me prioritize everything. Here's how I use it.
Let's pretend my tasks for a certain day include:
Finish book draft (very important)
Email church about Mother's Day Out program (less important)
Write post for Monday (important)
Renew Frugal on the Prairie domain (very important)
Shop around for summer shoes for James (less important) (<---Yes, this is really on my list already. This is the life in Texas. :)
Send nephew his birthday card (very important)
Based on how important these tasks are, I would organize them by A1 (very important) A2 (important) and A3 (less important). I usually look at my tasks early in the morning and prioritize them then. Here's how they would look in the planner.
A1 Finish book draft (very important)
A3 Email church about Mother's Day Out program (less important)
A2 Write post for Monday (important)
A1 Renew Frugal on the Prairie domain (very important)
A3 Shop around for summer shoes for James (less important)
A1 Send nephew his birthday card (very important)
2. Use the Monthly View for large project deadlines
Are you rearranging your living room? Writing a book? I use the monthly section of my planner to give me a bird's eye on deadlines for my large projects. This year I'm writing a book and I'm keeping tabs on everything in the monthly section.
I feel like taking my organization a step further like this helps boost my productivity even more. Yes, I'm a little picky and incredibly overly organized. But it's the only way I get things done around here!
3. Have a place for the mundane, daily tasks
Wash a load of laundry, load the dishwasher, make the beds...these are all things that I do nearly every day in my cleaning schedule. Should they be included in your planner or not?
That's really up to you but I choose not to include them and here's why: they take up valuable space in my planner while letting more important tasks (like dentist appointments and book draft deadlines) get camouflaged in the mix.
The more daily tasks I have in my planner, the less I can really focus on the more important obligations. So I use a simple printout for housecleaning duties and find that it works really great.
4. Create a challenge out of your goals
Right now I'm doing the 4:30am in February Challenge (yeah, it's brutal but also totally amazing) where I'm waking up at 4:30 every morning to work on my biggest yearly goals.
Having a productive year sometimes happens when you make challenges out of even the smallest of tasks. Are you trying to read a chapter a week? Make it a challenge! Are you trying to drink more water every day? Make it a challenge!
I love this Savings Challenge layout from the Monthly Budget Book from Erin Condren. We're using it for our Vacation Savings Account this year because we really want to take a big family vacation next year.
5. Focus on 2-3 projects each day of the week
Chaos is the enemy of your productive year. I have a couple of routine blog/writing tasks that I sort out throughout the week. This "schedule" isn't set in stone but it certainly helps me stay focused.
My schedule used to be very chaotic. I would write for a little bit, then dabble in promotion, then spend a while on old posts, then try to go back to writing. I constantly felt like I wasn't getting enough done in one day.
By concentrating on specific tasks on certain days, I find myself being 10x more productive! I seriously can't recommend it enough.
Clarity is one of the best ways to make sure you have a productive year. If you can combine knowing exactly what you want ("What kind of book do I want to publish this year?") with organization to suit your needs ("When is my first book rough draft due?"), you'll find yourself having the most productive year of your life.
What's your favorite planner? How do you keep yourself inspired to accomplish your goals?
This post was sponsored by Erin Condren but all thoughts and opinions are my own- I keep it real here on Frugal on the Prairie! Please read my Disclaimer for more information.