How to use a planner to keep your life organised
Give a busy mum a job and she’ll get it done… at least, she will if her never-ending to-do list doesn’t bury her in the process!
Mums are amazing. We somehow remember exactly when all the things need to be done. We manage a complex maze of commitments like family, work or personal life logistics, all while never seeming to drop a ball.
Until we drop one… and everything comes crashing down.
The answer to your ball-juggling woes could be using a planner to keep all the things you need to do in one place. And thankfully, it’s probably easier to get started with a work-life balance planner than you think!
The reality of mental load
Even if you haven’t heard of ‘mental load’, you’ve almost certainly experienced it. It’s all the thinking, planning and organising you do to keep your family ticking.
Mental load incorporates:
- remembering to change your yoga session time, while at the same time
- planning what to cook for dinner, plus
- finding that permission slip for the school excursion, but also
- making a note to call your energy provider to negotiate a better rate…
Of course, mental load isn’t exclusively a mum issue – people without kids also have to juggle multiple areas of their lives. But if you’re nodding along, then mental load is obviously an issue you’re dealing with. And this applies equally to any parent who bears the lion’s share of domestic duties!
The challenge with mental load is that it contains layers. There’s all the family stuff. Then you pile on work, and it suddenly feels so much heavier. But what about having a social life? Or squeezing in time for self-care routines?
It can all seem like a little too much!
The benefits of using a work-life balance planner
The good news is that it’s not all grim – there is hope! And for many mums, it comes in the form of a work-life balance planner.
There are a few reasons that a planner can help.
- You can’t possibly remember everything that needs to be done. No doubt your mental filing systems and scrap paper to-do lists are good… but you need something more foolproof.
- It’s OK to drop a ball occasionally – we all do. But some balls are more important than others. A planner can help you see the big picture, so when something has to give, you don’t miss anything important.
- Constantly switching between the different roles in your life is exhausting. Combining all your roles and tasks into a single planner can make the transition between ‘mum you’, ‘work you’ and ‘you you’ much more seamless.
- Planning feels good. If you’re a fan of to-do lists, you’ll love planning. Getting all those tasks out of your head and into a system clears your mind for other things.
Ultimately, using a work-life balance planner takes all those tasks and ideas that swirl around your busy mind, and puts them into a system that works for you.
There’s no right way to plan
Different people plan in different ways. That means there’s no right way to plan… only a right way for you.
There are many, many different diaries and planners to choose from. Some people like to use a daily planner diary while others prefer to plan weekly. You can also choose between a digital planner or a life planner notebook. You may even settle on a combination of the two. Perhaps try a daily paper planner to stay on top of tasks, and a digital weekly planner to manage your meetings and events.
Not sure about the best planner for a beginner? Before you choose, think about how you’ll use it and what you want to get out of it. If you enjoy the physical act of writing out to-do lists, a paper planner is probably a good choice. Meanwhile, going digital is a good option if you want to be more eco-friendly and save money – some digital options are even free. A whiteboard in the kitchen or home office is a more visible alternative if you want to see what is on at a glance. It also works well for big families with lots of activities.
Do your research on Instagram, Pinterest or YouTube to see how other people use the planners you’re considering.
Planner organisation tips
Before you dive into your chosen work-life balance planner, here are a few tips to set you up for success.
1. Start by organising your page
Whether you decide on a daily or a weekly planner, start by working out how you’ll organise your tasks. It might be helpful to divide your page or spread into sections: perhaps one for work, one for family and one for yourself.
You can then divide this up even further. Perhaps create subsections in your work area for different clients, and subsections in your family area for each child.
2. Use a pencil or erasable pen
Priorities change and meetings get shifted, so if you’re using a paper planner, it can quickly get messy! If you use a pencil or an erasable pen, you can easily make changes and keep everything up to date.
3. Set time aside every week to plan
Planning is a conscious choice that takes effort to master. Create a planning ritual, such as setting aside 30 minutes every Sunday night to prepare for the week ahead, to quickly develop a rhythm and flow.
4. Use your planner to track everything
Remember – there’s no right way to plan! So just find what works for you, and stick with it.
Plan to succeed
The goal of planning is simple - to keep your life organised so you have the best chance at success. And since planning is basically a habit, you may also be interested in reading about how to create habits you can actually stick to (for good this time).
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Reviewed by the healthylife Advisory Board June 2021