A standard daily planner is typically an annual one, dated and broken up into sections per day.
Depending on the type of daily planner you have, you might have a very small box, half of a page, or an entire page to plan your day.
Most people simply jot notes down in the morning or throughout the day to serve as reminders for what needs to get done, and this can be a very effective strategy.
In fact, just the very act of writing your goals down is beneficial — regardless of whether you write them out in detail or make super short notes in bullet list form.
How Writing in a Daily Planner Makes You More Productive
The key here is writing.
Like, actually handwriting your notes in your daily planner.
Here’s what happens to your brain when you handwrite your tasks with pen and paper:
Your learning capabilities are enhanced.
One study found that students who took notes in class by hand ended up learning more compared to students who took their notes by typing them out on a laptop.
Researchers tested the students’ memory of detailed facts, their understanding of the concepts and their ability to generalize and make sense of what was taught.
The students who took notes with their laptops had longer notes, but those who wrote them by hand showed better conceptual understanding of the material compared to the laptop note-takers.
The handwritten note takers also performed better at applying what they learned.
Your mind will stay sharper as you get older.
According to The Wall Street Journal, some physicians recommend handwriting for older individuals as an effective cognitive exercise for keeping their minds functioning well as they age.
Writing essentially activates more parts of the brain than typing does, including the areas that govern regions like thinking, language and working memory.
You’ll remember more of what you wrote down.
Handwriting involves remembering the shapes and lines of letters, and then using your brain’s motor skills to form each letter with your hands.
It’s entirely more complicated than just pushing a key on a keyboard to make a whole letter appear.
In addition to the mind sharpening effects mentioned above, the WSJ also pointed out that adults who are studying new symbols, like those found in Chinese languages, can enhance their recognition of the symbols by actually writing them out.
You’ll be more creative.
Because writing by hand combines visual, motor and cognitive perception, it’s a much slower and involved process compared to typing.
With more regions of both your left and right side of your brain engaged through handwriting, you can enjoy more of a creative boost compared to what a keyboard offers you.
Moreover, the act of writing by hand is an art in and of itself.
It takes skill to improve the way your writing looks, and every individual has their own unique way of forming their letters.
If you use a daily planner, you’re already one big step ahead of anyone else who either uses a to-do list app or nothing at all to plan their day.
Now it’s time to look at some of the best planner organization ideas to take your productivity to the next level!
The 12 Most Effective Planner Organization Ideas for Your Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Goals
The absolute best daily planner I could find out there has to undoubtedly be Panda Planner.
It’s the only one that has dedicated sections for each of the following 12 organization ideas.
Daily Planner Organization
1. Morning Gratitude: What are you grateful for and excited about?
Start your day off on the right foot with a quick morning review.
Gratitude is a powerful way to program your brain for positivity and abundance, which is the first thing you should be doing in the morning.
Check in with yourself and make a few notes about what you’re grateful for — even if it’s just a hot cup of coffee! Then consider what you’re looking forward to doing that day.
Tip: Consider writing down your favourite affirmation, your main focus for the day, and any physical exercise you did or plan to do.
2. Top 3 to 5 Priorities: What matters more than everything else?
You only have so much time in one day to get things done. It’s just unrealistic to list 30 tasks down for the day and expect to check off every one of them!
Instead, think about your top priorities — the things that absolutely must get done today — and write them down. You should have no more than five of them.
Be as detailed as you need to so that you increase your chances of leaving no stone unturned!
3. Daily Schedule & Daily Tasks: How can you break down your day by the hour?
Now it’s time to break down your tasks so that they fit into your schedule.
Make two columns, side by side. In the left column, create your schedule (ideally by marking them with time slots) and in the right column, jot down the tasks you want to complete in those time slots.
You might want to leave a small section at the bottom to have some room for notes as the day goes on.
4. Evening Reflection: What did you accomplish at the end of the day and how can you improve?
At the end of your day, take some time to reflect on how the day went and be sure to make notes about your small wins.
If something didn’t get done, don’t dwell on it. Instead, ask yourself how you can do better tomorrow and write it down.
Weekly Planner Organization
5. Weekly Reflection: What were your top five biggest accomplishments from last week?
Whether it’s a Friday night or a Sunday morning, it’s extremely beneficial to take some time on the same day every week to reflect on the past week and acknowledge some of the things you were happy and proud to accomplish.
Did you stick with a new healthy habit?
Did you finally stop procrastinating on a dreaded task?
Did you make serious progress on a work or personal project?
If so, write it down as a win!
6. Plans for Next Week: How will you plan to stay balanced and focused?
Now it’s time to look ahead to the upcoming week and start planning how you want it to go.
Start by breaking down the planning process in these four main areas:
- Personal (hobbies, self-care, health, etc.)
- Work (anything professional, including side gigs or volunteer opportunities)
- Family/Friends (social gatherings, events, meetups, phone calls, etc.)
- Relationship (date nights, conversations that need to be had, intimate moments, etc.)
You can also add the following underneath the previous section:
- The top three things you’re looking forward to over the upcoming week
- The two two habits you’d like to work on developing this week
- Something new you’d like to learn this week
- A passion project you’d like to work on this week
7. Project Breakdown: What are the main projects you’ll be working on next week?
It’s time to get serious about your top four (or fewer) projects that you plan on working on this week.
I recommend no more than four to avoid overwhelming yourself.
This way, you can focus on one for every area of your life planned out in the previous section (personal, work, friends/family, and relationship).
Try breaking down each project into smaller steps you plan on taking this week.
These will be extremely helpful when you’re planning out your daily list of priorities.
8. Next Week’s Top Goals: What are your top five goals for this upcoming week?
Lastly, try to come up with 3 to 5 goals that you’d like to achieve this week.
They don’t all have to be big.
Try setting just one big goal (if you have one for the week) and leave the rest for small to medium-sized goals.
This way, you’re much more likely to crush them!
Monthly Planner Organization
9. Daily Calendar: What major events or goals do you have in mind for the upcoming month?
It’s always helpful to have a classic daily calendar section in your planner when a new month starts.
You can get a “bigger picture” view of your month and easily mark down holidays, events, appointments, and deadlines.
Using the classic daily calendar will help you out in the daily and weekly planning process.
You’re far less likely to double book yourself or forget about something if you record them all on your monthly calendar and refer to it when planning your day or week!
10. Focus & Main Habit: What’s your main focus for the month and what corresponding habit do you want to work on developing?
Consider what you need to be focusing on every day this month in order to achieve your biggest goal, and the habit that needs to go along with it. Write them at the top of the page.
As you progress through the month, after your daily reflection go back to your monthly calendar and mark an “H” down for every day that you maintain your habit.
11. This Month’s Plan: What’s your plan for this month?
Pick three goals you want to achieve this month.
These can be bigger than your daily and weekly goals since you’ll have more time to achieve them.
In addition to your goals, try to identify three distractions you’d like to avoid or at least working on minimizing.
Watching Netflix and looking at your phone are two good suggestions!
12. End of Month Review: At the end of the month, what did you accomplish and learn?
On the last day or weekend of the month, refer back to your monthly pages reflect on the past 30-31 days. List out your top three wins and the top three insights you were able to take away.
Planner Organization Done the Smart Way
I’ve found that organizing my planner by day, week, and month using these four main sections each (for a total of 12) is the best and most effective way to make use of a planner and become far more productive as a result.
Why not try it out to see how it works for yourself?
Anyone could easily take a blank planner or notebook and create the sections shown above, but if you want something that’s already neatly structured out for you, then I highly recommend getting a Panda Planner. (Or three!)
Panda Planner’s classic planner includes all of the sections mentioned above for daily, weekly, and monthly planning.
Each planner is undated and contains three months worth of planning.
Lucky for you, you can actually save money by purchasing multiple planners and use code GIMME15 to save 15% off.
If you decide to go ahead and give it a try, let me know how it goes by leaving a comment!
And if you have any other planner organization tips or tricks that makes a difference in your productivity, I’d love to hear about them.
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