A busy life often consists of an overwhelming schedule. Thoughts of to-do’s and unfinished projects can clutter the mind while notes and lists might be scattered about. As a result, the day ends without feelings of progress. We know how frustrating it can be to be pulled in a million directions.
Over the years since creating Day Designer, we’ve learned that in order to find focus and get on the right path to achieving your goals, it’s essential to have a planning system in place that fits you and your own personal needs. By this, we mean an organized collection of information and directives stored in both a physical and digital capacity built on who you are.
We believe that everyone needs a personal planning system. The components will be different for each unique individual, but most importantly, your personal planning system just needs to work for you.
Today, we’re going to talk about the characteristics of an effective personal planning system. What does it look like? What does it do for you? We’re also going to talk about the components of a personal planning system. What goes into it? What kind of information and directives do you need? Where are you going to store this? Let’s get started.
Characteristics of an Effective Personal Planning System
We believe a personal planning system needs to be resourceful. This goes back to one of our favorite pieces of advice: “Start with who you are, use what you’ve got, do what you can.” In other words, we don’t want you to feel like you have to go out and order a bunch of new organizational items. Although a planner would ideally be a part of your personal planning system, if buying one isn’t a possibility right now, download our daily planning page for free.
We want your personal planning system to be realistic for you. We want it to set you up for success and not failure. It should help you do what you can. We want you to feel like you’re making progress and not to get caught up in creating to do’s that might not matter, might not be possible, or might not get you where you’re trying to go.
A personal planning system needs to flexible. Your system may need to be a combination of paper and digital. Many people are using a hybrid of things. Your system is there to motivate you but definitely should not box you in.
A personal planning system needs to be intuitive. It just needs to work! Once you get all the components in place, you’ll simply start using them, you’ll quickly realize where everything is stored, and it will just work. Little by little, if you commit to this, you’ll start to see your life come together.
A personal planning system needs to be intentional. It’s not arbitrary; it’s not surface. Many people are willing to dive deep in order to learn more about themselves. You’ll want to use the foundation of who you are to help develop your system.
A personal planning system needs to be motivational. We believe that anything you use ought to be beautiful and inspiring in order to help motivate you. We want you to feel inspired to get up every morning and take action in your life.
A personal planning system needs to be “big picture.” It should be goal-oriented. We want your personal planning system to help you see the big picture, and to track it as you move forward.
Now that you understand the purpose of a planning system and what it needs to do for you, you might be wondering where to start and what to include. A personal planning system consists of multiple components. You’ll want to make decisions about how and where to store each one.
Components of a Personal Planning System
1. Daily Schedule – The first thing you’ll need to decide is where you’ll keep your daily schedule. This can be on paper or it can be digital. You might keep your daily schedule on a daily planning page or you might keep it in a weekly planner. It’s simply a matter of what works best for you!
2. Monthly Calendar
3. Contact Information – This consists of your phone numbers, addresses, and birthdays.
4. Project List
5. Notes and Information – Watch out! Without a plan, this category can get out of control – especially if you’re the type to gravitate towards loose note paper, spiral notebooks, journals, legal pads, sticky notes, etc! Determine set places for the notes and information in your life.
6. To Do’s
7. Weekly Routine – Map out what you have to do everyday. In the 2017 Day Designer, we’ve included an ideal week worksheet. We encourage you to sit down and jot down what an ideal week looks like, putting the most important things in first.
8. Yearly Goals – Refer back to these regularly to ensure that you’re staying on track. We are big fans of Day Designer founder Whitney English’s method of balanced goals called HEART goals.
9. Journal or Record – Not everybody journals, but most people keep a record of things in some way.
10. Core – This component is about the things that matter most to you. This includes your passions, values, and strengths. We offer a free set of worksheets to guide you through the process of defining your core. The values, passions, and strengths worksheets can be found here and other worksheets can be found in front of the 2017 Day Designer. Once you use these to get to know yourself a little better, it’s important to refer to them. Look back at them to re-center yourself and to turn your day around!
11. Finances – This includes your budget, your expenses, etc.
Fortunately, these items do not all need to be stored together in one spot. The idea behind a personal planning system is instead about just knowing where to find each piece. It does help if you can keep your information in as few spots as possible, but most importantly, you just need to know where each planning segment belongs and how to access it easily.
Here on our team, several of us rely heavily on paper planning tools, such as our Day Designer. Others use a combination of digital methods with their paper planner. For example, a project list might be stored in Evernote while contact info is typed into the Contacts app on our Apple devices, and our daily schedule and to do’s are stored in our Day Designer. Whatever the method, it just needs to be at your fingertips and work effectively for YOU!
Are you ready to get started? We’ve created a worksheet to help you outline your own components of a personal planning system. Download it here and assign a spot for your information and directives.
How would a personal planning system make a difference in your life? Tell us below!