8 Ways to Use Your Planner More Consistently

I’ve heard women say this so many times: “I start planning well at the beginning of the year, and after a few weeks I just give up.” So many women no longer buy a diary because they believe that they aren’t planners. They think a planner doesn’t work for them. And this is a tragedy, because using a planner has SO many benefits!

In this blog post, I will explain 8 ways in which you can use more planner more consistently. The first tip is related to your planning mindset while the other 7 tips are more practical. When you implement these different tips, you will realise just how valuable the habit of planning can be in your life.

Are you ready to overcome overwhelm in your life and start planning consistently and joyfully? Then you’ve come to the right place!

1. Acknowledge Perfectionism and an All-Or-Nothing Mindset

I know that heading sounds like a mouthful, but it’s definitely worth diving into this topic a little deeper.

One of the main reasons why women don’t use planners consistently is because they believe that they have to do it perfectly. And they might not even be aware of this thought-pattern!

You might feel as if you have to fill in every feature of every page of your planner to do it correctly. This is an all-or-nothing mindset. You think that if you don’t always plan, you should never plan, because what’s the point?

It took me years to recognise this thinking in myself! Once I did, my life changed.

You have to become aware of this mindset. Once you know that you’re thinking in an all-or-nothing way, you can stop yourself from going in that direction when thinking about planning.

You can tell yourself, “I’m going to plan my week. If I don’t manage to do it next week, that’s OK. That’s not going to stop me from doing it now.”

Practice a growth mindset, where you let yourself slip up. Let yourself have weeks where you don’t plan (I have these too!), and still get back into it.

Your brain doesn’t want you to take risks, so you will come up with reasons why you don’t plan. You tell yourself, “I’m not a planner.” Or you simply procrastinate and never actually sit down to plan. This is self-sabotage.

Recognise Self-Sabotage

Another mindset reason why you might not be planning is because you’re self-sabotaging.

Our brains don’t like failure. Failure makes us feel shame, and like we’re not good enough. That’s not a nice feeling. To avoid this feeling, our brains try to stop us from taking risks and doing something that might lead to failure.

This could be happening subconsciously and if it is, it’s important that you recognise this thinking!

Basically, your brain tries to create “excuses” for you not to try something new or something that could end in failure.

Let’s consider the planning example:

You might want to start planning to become more organised. You might want to plan your use of time better to start a new business, or to study something, or to spend more time with your children.

All of these things could, technically, lead to failure. (I’m not saying that they will lead to failure – I’m saying they are a “risk” for your brain). You could plan your week and your business could still not be successful. You could use a planner and you might still fail a test. You could use a planner and still not make the time to spend more time with your kids.

Your brain doesn’t want you to take risks, so you will come up with reasons why you don’t plan. You tell yourself, “I’m not a planner.” Or you simply procrastinate and never actually sit down to plan. This is self-sabotage.

These avoidance tactics let you create excuses like, “Well, if I had planned, I wouldn’t have failed my test.” Your brain avoids the feeling of shame of failure by creating a reason that makes it “not your fault.”

Start paying attention to your thought patterns and if you find yourself avoiding or procrastinating on planning, ask yourself: “What am I secretly afraid of?”

When you identify what you fear, you can acknowledge this fear. The fear might still be there, but you can work through it and use your planner despite being afraid.

2. Include Planning in your Routine

One of the best ways to make sure that you plan consistently is to “stack” your planning habit onto another habit you already have.

For example, if you make yourself a cup of tea before bed each evening, start sitting down to plan the next day while the kettle is boiling.

If you read your Bible every morning, place your planner underneath your Bible so that you can look through it before starting your day.

By linking a planning habit to an already existing habit, you’ll be more likely to make it stick.

3. Make Your Planning Appealing

To make yourself plan consistently, you should make the planning process as enjoyable and attractive as possible.

This is especially important if you don’t actually like writing in a planner. You have to add other attractions to your planning routine so that you enjoy it more.

If you’re creative and like drawing and other forms of art, allow yourself to really enjoy making your planner pretty. Buy cute stickers, use your favourite pens, add little drawings – this will help you associate your planner with joy.

You can also make yourself a delicious, hot cup of coffee (or tea, if that’s your thing) for your planning session.

Adding a scented candle or essential oils to the mix can be helpful too! If you always use the same scent, your brain will learn to associate that smell with planning.

4. Make Your Planner Visible

You won’t use your planner if it’s stuck in your bag. And you won’t remember to use it if you don’t see it.

If you work from home, it’s best to keep your planner open on your desk at all times.

If you travel to and from work and take your planner along, make a habit of taking it out when you get home.

I actually have a small desk in my office in front of my window (the lighting is gorgeous!) which is just for my planner and a potplant. It works really well!

5. Start with a Title or Heading

Sometimes, the picture of a blank page in front of you can be overwhelming. If you find that you don’t know where to start when planning, I recommend taking a minute to write a title or heading.

It can be something like, “Things To Do Today,” or “Shopping List,” or “Things to Remember.”

You can use a pretty font or simply capital letters to let the heading stand out.

Once the heading is written, it will be easier to plan underneath it.

You can also make yourself a delicious, hot cup of coffee (or tea, if that’s your thing) for your planning session. Adding a scented candle or essential oils to the mix can be helpful too! If you always use the same scent, your brain will learn to associate that smell with planning..

6. Reward Yourself

Do not underestimate the dopamine hit you get when ticking something off your to-do list, or crossing a goal off your goals list.

Such a seemingly small action can motivate you to carry on and plan ahead again in the future.

I’m not joking when I say, “Put ‘write to-do list’ at the top of your to-do list!” You can cross off the first thing on your list as soon as your list is written. This will motivate you to complete the other things on your list as well.

7. Break Big Tasks Into Small Steps

If you have huge tasks that take days, weeks or even months to complete, it can be difficult to stay motivated. Especially if you keep writing these tasks on your to-do list every week without getting to cross them off.

Try to break a big task down into smaller tasks. Here’s an example:

Let’s say I want to write the blog post you are currently reading. It could take me a few days to write, especially with my unpredictable routine. If I only write, “Write blog post about planning consistently” onto my to-do list for the week, I might get discouraged.

Here’s how I could break this task down into smaller tasks:

  • Create blog post outline using ChatGPT
  • Create blog post in WordPress and fill in all headings and subheadings
  • Write paragraphs for each subheading (I can even break this down and write down each subheading in my planner)
  • Add photographs to blog post
  • Publish blog post
  • Write email to email list to tell them about the blog post
  • Create 5 Pinterest pins leading to this blog post

Now, I have an actionable plan that I can follow. After each small task, I can tick it off (boosting my dopamine) and stay motivated throughout the week.

8. Set A Reminder on Your Phone

If you want to have a weekly planning session (I highly recommend doing this sometime during your weekend), it can be harder to remember. This is because it’s not as easy to stack this to a daily habit.

If you find yourself forgetting to pull out your planner over the weekend, set a reminder on your phone for a specific time and day (Sunday evenings works great!).

When the alarm goes off, you’ll be reminded to plan your week and you’ll feel much more confident when your week starts!

Want More Planning Tips?

I love sharing tips to help women use planners more effectively. If you’d like to make sure that you don’t miss any of these tips, you can follow me on Instagram (@deardiary_za) or subscribe to my newsletter below.