How to Effectively Plan , Manage Your Time, and Change Your Life

The importance of writing things down

Do you ever wonder how to plan and organize your time? How do all those super successful people like Oprah and Martha Stewart get so much done in a day?

Well, I’m not sure exactly what they do specifically, but I’ve read enough books about success to know that they don’t keep everything in their head! They write to-do lists, plan, keep a schedule, use calendars, etc. Think about it. How else could they remember everything? Our brain only has so much capacity for information, and the more stress we are under the more likely we will forget something. So yes, it is necessary to write things down and get them out of our heads and onto paper. 

Let’s go way back

In high school, they gave us planners to use. They were called “PSAs”. (What that stands for, I have no idea.)  Yes, I decorated it with stickers and pictures I printed from my computer to showcase my individuality (ha!), and I wrote in it, yes, but did I actually use it? Nope!

I have never been a naturally organized person. But I hit a turning point when I went back to school in 2014 and took my orientation class at Arizona State University. I learned all about scheduling bite-sized tasks on a calendar to get homework done and remember test dates. I was so inspired I actually started doing this for the other aspects of my life. And it worked.

Why I don’t use a planner right now

To plan and organize my time, I just have a calendar and a journal. Nothing fancy. Although I love planners! And if you have one, use it! There are even planners just for specific seasons, like this one:

I don’t use a planner right now because they are a bit pricey but its also because I enjoy the freedom of a blank page. I tend to feel guilty when I don’t fill up every pretty little box in one of those planners from Michael’s.

Can’t I just use my phone?

You can certainly use an app on your phone as well but I prefer pen and paper. Sometimes my phone can frustrate me because it can be slow.

Where I keep my planning notebook and calendar and what I put in them

To make sure I actually use my planner, I keep it readily available on the kitchen counter.

On my wall calendar I put:

  • appointments
  • events
  • birthdays
  • when to buy birthday presents (10 days prior to the event, that way I have time to procrastinate, ha ha)
  • date nights
  • bill due dates
  • finance meetings with my husband
  • coffee dates with friends
  • book club meetings

In my notebook, I put:

Any recurring tasks go on a routine list or are on my daily schedule, but that’s another blog post!

How my life has changed

Since I’ve started planning and keeping track of important dates, I am much more in line with the kind of person I want to be. I am living my values. It is much easier to be intentional. As a result:

  • I get the important things done on time
  • I see people I care about more often
  • I can be a person who keeps their word
  • I am so much less likely to forget something
  • I take better care of myself
  • I take better care of my family
  • I know at a glance if I can take on a new commitment
  • I feel so much less stressed
  • I very rarely double book events (I hate when that happens)
  • I am just happier
  • I am more likely to be on the same page as my husband

When I plan

Every  year I purchase a new calendar and input birthdays, and bill due dates. At the beginning month I input any new events that came up as well as make sure my appointments and date nights are written in and I have babysitting arrangements planned. Each week I take less than an hour to look at the week ahead and see what’s coming and I write a meal plan.

While you might get by keeping “all the things” in your head, try writing them down

Now you know more about the importance of writing things down and getting them out of your head and the monumental impact it has had on my life. So tell me, how do you plan? Do you write everything down on pen and paper or use your phone? Let me know in the comments below!

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