Let’s get planning!

Published: November 22, 2018

I’m not sure whether you’ve noticed, but it’s November. NOVEMBER! Christmas is rushing towards us at terrifying speed and 2019 is just around the corner, and the shops are packed to the rafters with… 2019 Diaries and Planners (and Christmas decorations, obviously).

As an avid stationery fan, it’s a dangerous time of year.  The promise of the crisp, clean pages of a brand new planner often proves far too tempting, and it’s difficult to refrain from buying more than one!

So why are planners so popular? There are a number of reasons why people like to use a diary or planner for their personal or professional lives – here are a few:

Productivity – Whether you run your own business or are an employee, the likelihood is that you have a multitude of tasks that you need to carry out on a daily basis to ensure that your job is carried out efficiently and effectively.  If you have a particular and specific role in your business, it can be relatively straightforward to keep track of these tasks as you fall into a daily routine, but if you run a small business, it could be that you are the marketing team, the sales team, the finance and HR departments, etc., so keeping track of the plethora of day-to-day tasks required to keep your business afloat can be a little trickier! If you find that you are missing important tasks, or just aren’t able to find time in your week for things that are lower down on your priority list (i.e. social media marketing, networking, etc.), blocking them out in your diary and building them into your weekly or monthly routine can help you to find precious minutes for these activities, and help you to achieve the variety of goals you set for your business.

Time Management – Do tasks that should take you 5 minutes take you hours to complete? Do clients call and ask you for a ‘quick job’ that in reality is anything but? Keeping track of the time you are spending on particular tasks can help to ensure that you are charging (and being paid!) an appropriate amount for the work that you carry out.  It’s okay to go above and beyond occasionally, but it’s just not cost-effective to dedicate huge swathes of time to elements of your work that provide very little in the way of financial compensation.

Organisation – constantly missing appointments? Double booking events or not leaving yourself appropriate travel time between meetings and/or events? WRITE THEM DOWN as soon as they are booked, it’s as simple as that! Whether you’re popping them into an online calendar or collating everything in a paper diary, as long as you’ve got all of your events in one place it’s much easier to stay on top of your pre-planned activities and reduce the amount of time you are running around like a lunatic from one event to another.

Stress release – struggling to sleep at night thanks to the 101 tasks circling around in your head like deranged sheep? Many planners have space for you to make lists of the tasks that you need to do, a simple process that can help make your monstrosity of a mental to-do list seem a lot more manageable! Attributing levels of priority to the tasks, as well as the amount of time you estimate each task will take and making note of any deadlines imposed (either by you or the client) can help you to re-gain control when it first appears as though work is controlling you!

Creativity – how often do you have a brilliant idea in the shower, or on the train, or in the middle of the night? Admittedly, in the cold light of day some of these ‘eureka!’ moments aren’t quite as ground-breaking as you anticipated, but collating your ideas in a central location can help you to keep track of them before they evaporate into the ether.  Even if you’re not verbalising abstract ideas, the very process of doodling or sketching in a dedicated planner or notebook can help to promote creativity and aid in relaxation too, and who wouldn’t want that?

A personal or business record – want to see how far you have come personally or professionally? Want to keep track of what you have done and the things that you have achieved? Keeping a brief diary describing what you have done each day makes it much easier to remember.  If you find it easy to forget the positive work that you are doing, keeping an account of all the things that you have achieved can help shine a light on your achievements in the darker moments of business; why not keep track of one thing (at least!) each day that you have completed and are proud of?

Planners and diaries can make an incredibly positive difference to your life, but though it’s easy to get swept away by the sheer volume of planners on the market, you don’t actually need an all-singing, all-dancing planner with separate sections (and stickers) for ‘The twenty wines to try in 2019’ and a reference section that provides a list of all of the holidays celebrated in Ancient Egypt.  A plain exercise book or simple ‘week to view’ A5 calendar can prove just as effective, particularly once you know exactly what you want to keep track of in the new year!  And if the thought of lengthy, ‘Dear Diary…’ entries leaves you feeling more like an uncomfortable teenager than a business professional, why not try keeping a bullet journal? Create daily and weekly bullet points of things that you want to achieve, things that are on your business ‘wish’ list, and things that you have completed on a daily/weekly/monthly basis.  It’s a great and simple entry point for the diary keeping novice, and there really are few things comparable to the joy felt when you can vigorously cross an activity off of your to-do list!