5 ways a good planner works to support organisation

A good planner should be a tool that reduces stress, provides focus, and removes the cognitive load of life admin. Here’s 5 big things we think a good planner, whether paper or digital, should do.

Support physical health

If a planner is meant to organise your life and make it better, then it should also support your physical health.

A good planner should have space for a physical activity tracker, or enough blank pages to record a fitness plan, like a couch to 10K running plan. Writing it down helps remind you and keep you accountable and organised so physical exercise doesn’t fall off the to-do list.

You might also want space daily to track other physical health qualities such as sleep quality, or mood, or pain/symptom records daily. Over time you can work out patterns and change your weekly routines around times you know you need more care for your physical needs to stay healthy. For example, you might make sure no late night work meetings are scheduled in the first week of your cycle. Or that kid’s toileting struggles towards the end of every term so you need to reinforce timed toileting when they’re tired. Or maybe you don’t schedule long runs when you haven’t slept much because of a partner’s shift work.

Promote wellness

If a planner can support physical health, then it can also support your mental health and wellness. A planner should have space to regularly engage in scientifically proven wellness activities, such as those listed in Berkley’s Greater Good in Action toolkit. One activity from Greater Good is practicing gratitude. Recording three good things is one way to tune into positive events in your life. A gratitude journal is another way to promote better mental health and positivity. Having a planner that reminds you at least weekly to engage in an activity that promotes positive psychology is good for your wellness!

Encourage productivity

Accomplishment is another feature of Martin Seligman’s Positive Psychology model. There are specific productivity planners out there that solely aim to promote productivity. But you should be careful that filling in all the boxes and pages in a productivity planner actually encourages action, not just busy work!

A good planner should encourage productivity daily, and on longer time scales.

Daily, a to-do list is a must-have feature in a planner. Setting up daily tasks and being able to tick them off is key to productivity and getting things done. Knowing when you are most alert (such as in the mornings) can help you focus your important tasks in deep-work blocks at those times.

Longer term, being goal orientated is a helpful feature to organise and align yourself to be productive. Setting yearly goals and recording them gives you a bigger picture to work towards. Coming back to them regularly is a way to continually align yourself to your big dream goals. Breaking these big goals into smaller targets, such as weekly or monthly sub-goals is part of habit forming. Focus on the behaviours you need to enact now, for the goals to be met down the track. Remember, you don’t achieve what you don’t plan for.

Take away the cognitive load of life admin

Life admin, the administrative demands of everyday life, can suck up lots of your thinking space in your head and leave you exhausted.

A good planner should remove as much from your memory and put the reminders in your planner.

For example, a planner should have space for reminders, help you manage time on different scales from daily to yearly. And help manage meals and finances so it’s not stored in your brain.

Reminders for special events

A good planner will have space for reminders of special events and birthdays. If you know when they are coming up, then you don’t forget to buy a card or send a text. Or even remind you to dress the kids in casual clothes for a school non-uniform day.

Time management at different scales

A planner should

  • have different levels of time management, including a yearly planner. A yearly planner can be used to remind you to check on annual subscriptions, or cancel credit cards at particular times if you’re churning. It can remind you to do annual house maintenance, book dental appointments, book pet vaccinations or, set regular decluttering and other non-weekly tasks. Releasing the heat pump value every 6 months, ordering bulk toilet paper every 8 months, spring cleaning day, and booking dental appointments annually is something that is recorded in our annual planner.
  • include space for to-do lists for removing daily remembering of tasks.
  • have sections to record appointments, dates and scheduled social events so you always know what’s coming up each week and don’t forget.

Meal Planning

I also really like having a meal planner. Thinking about what to cook after coming home from a busy day at work is really exhausting. I don’t have the energy or creativity to look through the cupboards and come up with a meal. Using a meal planner reduces my cognitive load when I get home from work. It also reduces food waste, encourages healthy eating and provides a predictable food routine for kids.

Track finances

In addition, I like using a planner to stay on top of my finances. I use it to remember to pay bills every week, and compare insurance quotes each year. I also track financial goals like investing and saving every month. A good planner should have space to record money details regularly, in a way that works for your goals.

Have space for the random

Life is always going to be a little bit random. I love a planner that is part organisation, and part commonplace book. A commonplace book was popular during the Renaissance. Treated like a personal scrapbook, they were places to record quotes, notes, and letters. They also recorded recipes, tables of measures, prayers, poems and drawings. Different to a journal, commonplace books were used to remember important facts or concepts as a private collection of information.

A modern commonplace section might be used for

  • documenting travel packing lists for camping several times a year
  • planning out a garden design and logging what plants were put where and how they grow
  • designing a capsule wardrobe
  • recording notes from professional reading, podcasts or webinars for reference
  • writing down notes from therapy appointments
  • recording popular and successful recipes in your household each season
  • recording lists of books you’ve read, movies, holiday plans, spring cleaning lists of chores, or wish lists of presents for birthdays/holidays
  • making a bucket list, 10 year dreaming, or vision boards

Having a commonplace section at the back of the planner allows everything in that year to be in one place. Much more organised than than scattered across multiple notebooks.

2024 Balance Planner Pre-Order Now

The 2024 Balance Planners are now available for pre-order, with 20% off for those that pre-order before the end of September 2023.

Check them out to get a head start on your 2024 organisation.

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