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I put together a list of my top 15 planner tips and hacks, and split them up into three categories.
The first five tips are to help your planning be more effective and productive.
The second five tips are for us neat freaks who like to keep our planners neat and tidy.
The last five tips are some favorite planning hacks that I’ve pick up along the way.
PRODUCTIVITY PLANNER TIPS
The five ideas are my very top planner tips. Each of these have truly made my planning more effective and productive.
In the front of my planner I keep monthly, weekly and daily planning routines. These pages list the steps I follow when planning, as well as recurring tasks that need to get done regularly. Click here to check out a detailed post on how I set up my routines.
Following routines not only helps my planning go quicker and smoother, it ensures that important tasks don’t fall through the cracks.
Even if you have a good memory, it is a good practice to write things down. Since I have a horrible memory, I have four places I brain dump.
- Planner – I have a spot on the back of my daily page to jot down things that come up throughout the day.
- Notes app – If for some reason I am not able to write in my planner, then I have a brain dump in the Notes app on my phone.
- Voice Memo app – I use voice memos when I need to take note of something while driving.
- Photos app – I take screen shots while online or I take photos of things while I’m out and about.
The key, of course, is to remember to check all these brain dumps. That’s why “check brain dumps” is part of my daily planning routine.
I use task cards to list recurring tasks that I do every week. This way, when planning my day, I just have to write “admin” on my to do list, then reference my handy “admin” task card, which lists the various admin tasks I do each week.
Task cards are also handy for saving space if you’re time blocking on your hourly agenda.
I started using a daily dashboard about a year ago and I find it so helpful to keep important things at the forefront of my mind. Since I keep my planner on my desk and always opened to my daily spread, a daily dashboard is a great place to place things to remind you of your priorities.
I keep a monthly overview for a quick reference of upcoming important dates, as well as a monthly tracker of habits I’m trying to form.
My daily dashboard is also where I keep my task cards.
One of the biggest game changers for my planning is time batching. I like to split up my day with natural breaks for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner, plus a couple of spots for downtime.
I then batch similar tasks together between those breaks. So in the morning I do content, after lunch I do admin tasks, in the late afternoon I do misc biz tasks, after dinner I do personal tasks.
Experts always say that batching similar tasks together keeps you in the zone and boosts productivity. Then the breaks are a time to rest and reset before the next batch of work.
NEAT FREAK PLANNER TIPS
Disclaimer: I know these tips are going to make me look like a freak, hence the title. But I also know there are some of you who will totally get it. These next five tips are how I keep my planner as neat as I like it.
Pre-planning is a great way to get your plans and layout exactly how you want it before committing it all to pen in your planner. This allows you to avoid scribbles or the yellow tint of correction tape messing up your pages.
Sometimes I use a different planner for pre-planning, because I love playing with different planner styles. Sometimes I use my iPad for the convenience of easily erasing and moving things around.
Frixion Erasable Pens
I discovered Frixion pen a couple of years ago and have never used another pen in my planner ever since. I seriously don’t know how anyone uses anything else. Frixion pens make my neat freak heart happy.
Not only do Frixion pens erase very well, but the ink flows nicely so your writing is smooth and dark.
White Out Stickers / Tape
There are times when I can’t make corrections with my Frixion pen. In those cases I like to use what I call white out stickers. These are really just thin matte white stickers that you use to cover text to either “erase” it or to rewrite something on top.
I like white out stickers better than correction tape because 1) they’re easier to write on, 2) they blend better with white paper, and 3) they are more portable – you can slip them into your planner pockets for on the go planning.
An alternative to white out stickers is cover up tape. Cover up tape is also easier to write on than correction tape, but it does still have a off white tint and isn’t as portable as white out stickers.
Undu Adhesive Remover
I don’t know what kind of witchcraft they use to make this solution, but Undu magically removes stickers while keeping both the stickers and paper in tact.
Undu is perfect for removing larger stickers so you don’t rip your paper and the adhesive still works so you can reuse the sticker!
I don’t use Undu often, but I definitely always keep it on hand in case I need to.
This planner tip is especially helpful for book bound and spiral planners. If I mess up on a page, I simply cut a piece from another page in the planner that I don’t need, then glue it over the mess up. I call it planner surgery. And if you do it right, you can’t even tell that a new piece was glued over.
MISC PLANNER TIPS
These are a few miscellaneous planner tips that didn’t fit in the other categories but I definitely wanted to share with you.
Slits In Hole Punches
Are the rings always getting in the way or are the bumps from the sticky notes and paper clips layered throughout making it challenging to write in your planner? I prefer taking the pages out of my planner to write, but I don’t like having to open and close the ring every time I want to jot something down real quick.
Many years back I learned the trick of cutting slits in the hole punches of my inserts. Doing this allows you to quickly and easily pop inserts in and out of your planner, kind of like how disc bound planners work.
Not only does this make writing on your inserts easier, but it’s less wear and tear on your rings!
My favorite stickers are our transparent dots. A dot marker will never replace my transparent dots. BUT, when I have to make a ton of dots, like the 21 dots I make on my weekly inserts every single week to track my water intake, a dot marker gets the job done and doesn’t use up all my pretty transparent dots.
Highlighter strips are transparent stickers you can use when you don’t have a highlighter on hand. Some ways I use them are:
- Use them dividers to make sections when planning
- Place them over text you want to highlight
- Write on them to use as headers
Extra bonus: they are more portable than highlighter markers.
I often use the back of my planner as a wallet, but I really don’t like how my debit cards look sticking out of the pockets. So I designed some card skins to cover the part of the card sticking out of my planner pockets, while keeping the chip and important info uncovered at the bottom of the card.
I know, so extra.
Backlight for Trimming Inserts
When trimming inserts, I always found it challenging to cut on the crop marks accurately. So I had the idea to start using a little backlight to see better where to align the crop marks with where the blade would cut. Works like a charm!
PLANNING TIPS VIDEO
And that’s it! Those are my 15 favorite planner tips / ideas / hacks. I also have a video (above) you can check out to see everything in action.
I hope that you found a few that will help you in your own planning. If you have any favorite planner tips, please share them in the comments below.