You intended to use your new planner to stay organized and crush your goals. But you aren’t. These tips will help you can overcome those obstacles for good!
You intended to use your new planner to stay organized and crush your goals. So why aren’t you using it? Here are some reasons why you aren’t using your planner, and how you can overcome those obstacles for good!
“I wish I could be better about actually using my planner. Every time I try to use one, something seems to get in my way, and then I quit.”
“I didn’t even dare take my planner out of the box because I was so afraid to mess it up.”
“My life is so crazy that I don’t even have time to use a planner right now. Maybe when things slow down….”
Believe me, when it comes to hearing why people don’t use a planner, we have heard it ALL! And whether it’s our own Living Well Planner® or another brand that you’ve tried in the past, it seems that #plannerfails are everywhere. Maybe it was the wrong planner altogether, maybe you just got too busy or overwhelmed to keep it up, maybe you were afraid of messing it up, or maybe you just weren’t sure how to use it.
Whatever the reason, it just sat there, unused and unloved.
And rather than being the essential tool that helped you take back control of your time and conquer your goals, it became a source of shame, a reminder of another way you’ve fallen short.
So…what went wrong? You had such good intentions in the beginning. You totally meant for this to be the tool that kept you on track. So why couldn’t you get it to work for you?
Chances are, if you’ve failed at using a planner in the past, it was for one (or more) of the following reasons. But the good news is that this doesn’t make you a failure, it makes you NORMAL! And the even better news is that each of these issues CAN be overcome–in fact, we see it happen every single day.
3 Big Reasons You Can’t Stick to a Planner (and How to Fix Them)
Here are the top 3 reasons why people stop using their planner:
1. You’re afraid of messing it up.
Your beautiful planner arrives in its pretty box, looking completely pristine and absolutely perfect. It’s so lovely, and in your mind, your planner should somehow look just like all those amazing images you see on Instagram.
But your real life doesn’t look quite as pretty as Instagram, and suddenly you are terrified to start writing, terrified that you might get it wrong and mess something up. After all, it’s better to have a blank planner that’s still perfect than a messed up one, right?
Here’s the thing…when it comes to planning, perfection will not serve you! There’s actually NO WAY you can ever have a perfect plan, every single week, because life doesn’t actually work that way. Planners are MEANT to be messy!
A messy planner is the sign that you are actually doing something right, so don’t be afraid to dog-ear it, to smudge it, smear it, and even rip it. In fact, sometimes it is better to just get it messy on the very first day, because that way you can stop being afraid of making a mistake.
Living Well Planner User Hillary H. says, “it’s a mess but I’m still using it!” Rena S. says, “My daughter Shauna and I try to encourage and work on our planners together, sharing ideas and whatnot. We agreed that we should find sayings that are inspiring. Mine is DO IT MESSY!”
PRO TIP: If making a mess of your planner is your biggest fear, try using our favorite erasable pens–Pilot Frixion, which erase cleaner than a pencil and come in all sorts of colors! They even make erasable markers!
Photo: Living Well Planner user Mary G.
2. You don’t have time to plan
“Using a planner seems like a pointless waste of time to me honestly. With 8 home-schooled kiddos, my life is utter chaos. I try to keep focus on goals and a list of tasks I’m working on, but planning out my time beyond the necessary events others schedule never works out.”–Emily S.
We can all relate to Emily! The thing is, our lives are busy, and it’s so easy to get overwhelmed by ALL THE THINGS–soccer practices, work events, family gatherings, friends’ birthday parties, church activities, getting dinner on the table, making sure all your bills are paid…the list goes on and on! But did you know that taking time to plan actually will save you time in the long run?
Author Brian Tracy says, “Every minute you spend in planning saves 10 minutes in execution; this gives you a 1,000 percent Return on Energy!”
You may feel like your life is utter chaos because you feel like planning is a waste of time. But when you take the time to plan, you’ll be able to prioritize all those daily tornadoes and focus on the most important tasks (and maybe sneak in some “me” time in the process). We recommend time blocking, or scheduling focused blocks of 60-90 minutes for your most important tasks. There is an ample amount of research on time management that has shown that people tend to be most productive when they can work in focused blocks of 60-90 minutes before taking a quick 5-10 minute break to stretch and refresh.
PRO TIP: Set aside 30 minutes on Fridays to map out your next week. What are the most important things you have to do?
Once you’ve broken down those big goals, start by planning out your week. Prioritize your time into must do, should do, and would like to do items.
The Living Well Planner® is the perfect tool to help you break down your big goals into actionable tasks. I also start each week off by using my Weekly Wizard™ sticky notes. This page helps me identify the ONE big thing that is most important this week. I like to call it the “big focus”. It also helps me identify my top three tasks, starting with the “A” tasks, or the ones that absolutely must get done this week to get me closer to my goals.
Once you’ve filled out your Weekly Wizard™, block out time on your schedule to make it happen. This is a process of making an appointment or meeting with yourself. Take this time as seriously as you would any other appointment. It is your focus time to complete your “big goal” task for that day. You can learn how to break down your big goals into a plan that works in more detail here.
3. You’re trying too hard to be balanced
Does it ever feel like you are trying to be everything to everyone? You feel the pressure to be the best employee, spouse, parent, church member, and there is never a shortage of people needing something from you at all times. You crave balance–that sweet spot where you excel at everything and never get burnt out or tired.
If it sounds like a fantasy, that’s because it totally is. Here at Living Well Spending Less, we say “Balance is overrated,” and with good reason! Nobody has time to do it all. In order to focus on one part of your life, you have to turn your attention away from something else. It’s simple math: there are only 24 hours in a day.
And guess what? That means you have to make hard choices. But it doesn’t make you a bad person or a failure or a disappointment. It just makes you human. You might feel selfish whenever you take the time to care for yourself, pursue one of your passions, or focus on your career, but sometimes we have to be selfish to get stuff done. These tips will help you say no to that “Mom Guilt” you are feeling once and for all!
In Episode 9 of the Do It Scared® podcast, Living Well Planner founder Ruth Soukup talks all about the idea of balance and why it’s totally WRONG. We’ve got a few tricks for silencing that voice telling you that you should always be doing more, and you’ll find that it’s all a matter of stepping back to see the big picture.
That’s also why we’ve designed a planner with that in mind–there simply isn’t enough time to be everything to everyone. Once you learn to prioritize and systematize, you’ll be on your way to living a life you truly love.
PRO TIP: Take 10 minutes and complete a brain dump. Jot down ALL those tornadoes spinning around in your head, both big and small. Cross off the items that you can eliminate or delegate to someone else. Then give each remaining list item a number in order of importance. Once you have reorganized your list, you can begin systematically focusing on one item at a time, starting with what matters most, instead of constantly feeling like you’re spinning in circles.
The Power of Habit
Chances are, if you’ve failed at using a planner in the past, it was because of one of these three reasons. Congratulations–you are a human being! The good news is that you can overcome these issues,if you just give it time and develop a habit. Keep in mind that most changes happen gradually, so creating habits can take time to become routine. There have been times where I’ve tried to make too many sweeping changes right off the bat, and then ended up super frustrated and disheartened when all my changes didn’t stick. Or, I tried to pick up habits that made me miserable or weren’t important. Guess what? Yup, those didn’t stick either!
Instead, try to focus on just one or two new routines at a time until they become automatic, then incorporate a few more when you’re ready. Focus only on habits that make you feel good and really help make your life easier. Pretty soon, blocking out time to plan your week or focus on your big projects will feel as natural and automatic to you as brushing your teeth.
SO…WHAT IF YOU REALLY COULD CREATE A LIFE YOU LOVE?
Not a life that is perfect, because perfection doesn’t exist, but a life that fills you up and makes you feel whole.
What if you could be the wife and the mom and the friend you want to be, the one you know you are inside? What if you could do the work you’ve always wanted to do, the work that sparks your passion and allows you to live in your sweet spot?
What if you were finally able to manage and keep track of all those details that so often get you off track and make you feel like you are failing? What if getting dinner on the table was effortless, a natural extension of your day, or you were finally able to get a handle on your finances and begin making your money work for you instead of the other way around?
What if you dared to give yourself permission to go after your goals and dreams? To stop putting them off for fear of failure and instead had the courage to do it scared?
This is what the Living Well Planner® is all about. It’s the practical tool that can help you harness the power of WHAT IF.
IT’S YOUR DAILY REMINDER THAT ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.
We all feel like failures sometimes. The thing is, the Living Well Planner® offers a tangible solution to the chaos of a busy life, and it will empower, enable, and inspire you to take back your time and manage your schedule, allowing you to focus on your BIG goals while still navigating the daily, weekly, and monthly responsibilities of running your home.
It’s designed to help you become the best version of yourself—the mom and wife and friend and person you want to be—while giving you permission to make your biggest goals and dreams a reality.
In other words?
It may just be the #plannerWIN you’ve been waiting for!
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