I have always been obsessed with office supplies. I remember the unadulterated joy I would experience in September, going with my mom to Staples to get all my new school supplies. I remember ogling the thick, heavy Five Star brand notebooks… the sturdy and colorful mechanical pencils… and all of the planners I was too young to need. I still have an obsession with buying notebooks that I end up not using.
Now, as an “adult”, I do have use for a planner. But ever since starting my business, funds have been tight so I haven’t splurged. I’ve been using mobile and desktop apps to try and keep organized. But I couldn’t get away from the fact that there is something incredibly satisfying about writing things down by hand, crossing them off, and feeling the pages turn under your fingers.
But finally, a few weeks ago, my boyfriend bought me a gorgeous planner as a gift. It’s my pride and joy, my new favorite thing. It has big clean pages, on page side per week, that I use to log all the things I need to do, big and small. And it has surprised me how much my planner has changed my workflow. It doesn’t just keep me organized, remind me to do things, etc. But it’s actually changed the way I work and the way I look at my time.
My Planner Changed My Workflow By Motivating Me
My planner encourages me to stay motivated and keeps me inspired. First of all, it’s so pretty. Using something pretty and clean and fairly expensive makes me feel pretty and clean and expensive… does that make sense? It’s like the old saying, “Dress for the job you want to have, not the job you have now.” By using a tool that is professional and sleek, I hold myself to a slightly higher standard.
I’m also more motivated purely because I can see what I have to do every day, every week, every month. I write everything down in this planner, but only give each task one line. This way, at a glance, I can see how much I have to do on a given day. Before, I would make a to-do list for the next day at the end of each work day. I would keep big deadlines in my digital calendar. That gave me a general sense of what I had to be doing, but never before have I seen my time laid out so plainly before me. Seeing that I have things to do, knowing that I am busy encourages me to work hard. And yet because I don’t include too much detail, even a full day of work doesn’t seem daunting.
My Planner Changed My Workflow By Making Me Try New Things
Before my planner, I would get the idea to do something – like re-do a webpage, organize my photo files differently, take a course – but I didn’t have a way to hold myself accountable to do it. That, or I would see my full to-do list and decide I was too busy to take on a project that could help my business grow.
Now, I can write it down in my planner for a week or two from now – “Audit web design page and redesign”. As I fill up each day, I can easily work these tasks into my workflow and make sure they get done. Even if I have to move them around to account for larger deadlines, writing them down, having them exist in pen-and-ink form makes them much more real and therefore, they get done!
My Planner Changed My Workflow By Making Me Schedule “Regular” Activities
As a business owner/freelancer/entrepreneur/whatever, there are things you have to do on a regular basis. Some of my “regular” tasks include:
- Sending my monthly newsletter
- Scheduling my next month worth of social media
- Updating the WordPress plugins for my websites
- Checking the backups on my sites to make sure they are working
- Creating a monthly freebie
- Sending reminders to clients who have weekly or monthly payments
We would like to think that we can wake up in the morning and remember – oh hey, it’s about time for me to schedule my next batch of Facebook posts! Not the case. With my planner I can go in a few months into the future and write in all my regular tasks ahead of time. After a few months, I put a reminder to write the rest of them in for the next few months.
My Planner Changed My Workflow By Helping Me Get More Done
Having to-do lists scribbled in a small notebook or on a post it is better than no to-do list at all. I’m not saying to go out and buy a designer planner and it will instantly make you successful and more productive. However, if you’re like me and have an insatiable desire to make and complete lists, you would seriously benefit from a planner.
If I come to the end of a day without completing all my tasks, I move the unfinished tasks to the next day. I don’t finish a week unless everything for that week is crossed off. Keeping track this way makes sure that nothing falls through the cracks and nothing gets overlooked.
My Planner Changed My Workflow By Helping Me Remember the Little Things
Nothing is too small to add to my planner. Not only do I add deadlines and tasks for large projects, but reminders to follow up on an invoice, reminders to post a behind-the-scenes Instagram post, reminders to read a newsletter that came into my inbox. I include all activities, big and small. I’ve found that before my planner, little things would pile up and pile up and keep getting pushed back until it became a problem. While I don’t prioritize them the same as large, paying tasks, making them real in my mind by making them real in my planner has made my business richer and has made it look like I have a whole team working for me.
My Planner Changed My Workflow By With Admin Day
When I first got my planner, I dove into a planning frenzy. When I say my planner changed my workflow, I mean it totally revolutionized it and allowed me to grow. I did research on good things for business owners to do on a regular basis to maintain and grow the business. I found some interesting things, but none as interesting to me as Admin Day.
Admin Day is the one day a month you don’t work, you detox from social media, and you take care of all the crappy administrative tasks that you’d rather contract out to a virtual assistant. This includes billing, cleaning, filing, invoicing, etc. For example, my Admin Day consists of:
- Organizing my computer files and deleting anything I don’t need any longer
- Emptying my email inbox and unsubscribing from nonsense
- Compiling a small report of my expenses and income for the month
- Compiling a small report of my social media marketing
- Compiling a small report of my email marketing
- Compiling a small report of my time tracking to see where I’m spending most of my time
- Doing an SEO audit of my site and troubleshooting any weak areas
- Physically cleaning my computer
- Reading any articles I may have Pinned or saved in my inbox to look at “when I have the time”
- Sending invoices to any outstanding accounts
I’ve decided that the 1st of the month will be my Admin Day. It will allow me to get things organized as well as evaluate my own performance. The reports I will do won’t be hyper-detailed, but will be there so that when I need to check out some analytics, the data is all right there for me.
Do you have a planner? How do you use it to stay organized?