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Using a Planner
One of my good friends has twins. And she works full time + husband + household + family members with health issues, etc.
Just like you, she has a lot on her plate.
I would look at her busy life and ask her “how on earth do you survive without a planner?”
She would laugh at me and my planners and tell me that she didn’t have time to plan.
Then one day she went out and bought a planner.
And we still laugh about it since’s always saying to me, “How did I EVER survive without a planner?”
So my first tip to you, my friend, is to use a planner!
Tip #1: Use A Planner.
Using a planner is so important because without a planner, everything’s in your head and/or in various locations. You may have paper lists scattered around the house. Other lists are in the notes app on your phone, or who knows where. Appointments are scattered between your work calendar, personal google calendar, and perhaps a wall calendar. Other things aren’t written down at all.
How can you feel balanced with all that chatter in your head?
Having a planner if you’re a busy person is truly a sanity saver.
Getting everything out of your mind and into one place will help save your sanity.
Digital or Paper?
If you don’t have a planner already, you may be wondering if you should go digital or have a paper planner.
For me, I’m a paper girl. I find it so much more relaxing to be off my computer
I also find that if I plan on the computer, I’ll get distracted.
I’ll go in to look at my to-do list and an hour later I’ll wonder why I was on Instragram. Someone else must have taken over my body during that time, since I have no idea how that happens.
I personally use a paper planner as my primary planning tool. I may use google calendar or other apps in conjunction with my paper planner, but the paper planner is the MASTER.
Tip #2: Use Paper, at Least for Your Daily To-Dos
Whether you chose to use a digital planner or a paper planner, my next tip to be more balanced is to use paper, at least for your daily to-do’s.
My daughter likes Remember the Milk.
There are so many more wonderful online apps.
And the online apps are great for your master to-do list. But they’re not so great for your daily to-do list.
Your daily to-do list is like gold. You don’t want that gold buried deep in a mine.
If you have to go on your phone to find that gold, the gold mine may collapse and burry you. You know it’s going to happen.
So whether you use a digital planner or a paper planner, I recommend that you put your daily to-do on paper.
As you plow through your to-do list (I’m being ambitious, aren’t I? I hope you do plow through it!) if you have it written down on paper, you’re less likely to get distracted and fall into the mine.
So I recommend that at least for your daily to-do, you write it down the old fashioned way on a piece of paper.
Give yourself a break from the digital world.
Tip #3: Combine Your Work & Personal Life into One Calendar
Tip #3 will really help you with balancing your life.
Combine work and personal in one calendar. Do not split up your life.
I resisted this advice for the longest time since when I’m home, I don’t want to think about my work commitments.
But I eventually decided to try it and it helped SO MUCH having everything in one place.
When I have all my work appointments and meetings and all my personal appointments in one place, I can see if there’s an imbalance.
I can be careful not to schedule an appointment when I have a doctor’s appointment. I can make an easier dinner when I know I have a busy work day.
This lets me actually have more balance.
Tip #4. Use a Planner that Shows Your Daily Schedule
For years I played with different layouts on my planner. Should I use one that has a to-do list or a daily schedule?
I really like both but my tip for you if you tend to get overwhelmed, is to use a planner that shows your daily schedule.
The advantage of using this type of layout is:
- You can see if you’re overscheduled (and you probably are!! LOL. Who isn’t?)
- Instead of having a random to-do list of things that never get done, you’re more likely to actually do something from your list if it’s in a specific time slot.
Here’s how I do it:
I put in my work meetings and my personal appointments in the calendar and then I highlight them in blue highlighter. This shows me at a glance what’s going on in my day.
Then in between the highlighted items, I’ll write in my to-do list what I want to do during specific time-slots. I do this using friction pens, which are erasable.
For example, On Sunday morning I’ll put down YOGA between 8am-9am, but I won’t highlight it since it’s not an appointment. If I get up by 8am on Sunday (a miracle!) I’ll know I’m supposed to do yoga.
If I don’t get to it, I’ll reschedule it for later in the day or erase it and it never happened. I didn’t miss yoga today!!
The Best Laid Plans
I want to acknowledge that in the season of life you’re in, you’ll never get everything done that’s on your list. At least I’ve never met a working mom who did. 🙂
As you lean in to some of these ideas, remind yourself that whatever you do is enough.
If you finish only 1 out of 5 things on your daily to-do list, celebrate that one thing.
When you celebrate your accomplishments instead of beating yourself up for the 4 things you didn’t get to, you create space in your life to accomplish even more.
The things on your list that are important will eventually get done. But when you’re proud of what did accomplish and you feel good about yourself, that’s when you’re balanced.