Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Perfect Planner

Being a wee bit of a perfectionist, I am undoubtedly in love with planners. I'm pretty sure that ever since elementary school when they gave you the giant cheesy planner at the beginning of the school year, I have been smitten with planners. In the past few years, I've always used Victoria's Secret Pink's student planner. It changes slightly from year to year, but the basic premise is the same. While I've relied on these planners for years, being almost done with college, I figured it was time to move on from the "student" planner. I got a new planner at Target the other day (my favorite store ever, possibly?). I guess this could be considered a student planner still since the dates range from July to June, but it wasn't labeled as a student planner, so it's a big girl planner, right? ;) Anyway, I love the simplicity but modernity of it, the design, and the crisp feel of the new pages. What's not to love?

Besides the sheer joy that I get from paper goods, planners help me actually plan out my life. Understanding how to use my time has been one of the most useful aspects of growing up. It's certainly not easy to get the hang of time management, but once you commit to enough activities in life, you realize it's essential. Below are some of my tips about time management.

Some tips on Time Management from a Perfectionist 

1. Be Real. Firstly, be realistic with the amount of time you have and the amount of activities you can fit into that time period. Too often, I'll sit down with my planner and try to fit a weeks worth of activities into a single day. I think we all hope to accomplish so much and be so productive, but there's a point where my planning can get unrealistic. Making a list of what I actually want to accomplish in a given time period is my favorite place to start because it puts things into perspective. If you realize you have a whole month to do a certain project, there's no use rushing through it in a week just for the sake of getting it done. When it comes down to it, writing out a list of plans, what needs to be done each week, or just a simple to do list is the best way for me to gain perspective about how many activities I'm trying to cram into a given time period. Sometimes after I write it out, I realize it's not that much. Other times, I have to realize that my to do list may take weeks to accomplish because I have to space out the timing of my activities. Either way, perspective is the key to successful planning where I don't get totally overwhelmed.

2. Set a timer. Believe it or not, my phone calendar alarms are sometimes my best friend. This last year, I was finishing my senior year of college online. It was hard to manage my time when I was able to be home in my apartment in my jammies with a cup of coffee all day. I started using a set schedule to start "class" as if it were an appointment. You can do the same thing for when you want to workout or even when you want to be finished with a task. Sometimes I get so caught up in a task that I could do it all day. Setting a timer, whether on the microwave or your phone, can keep you in check to make sure you're utilizing time well.

3. Get a planner...and use it. It's clear that planners work for me, but I've seen too often when people get a planner and never even use it. For me, it's merely a habit. If I have a new task or event coming up, the first thing I think is to put it in my planner or I seriously will forget (and even forget after I write it down sometimes!). Making using your planner a habit is a good step toward utilizing your time. But planners don't work for everyone. If planners aren't your thing, check out all the free printables from other blogs, also commonly found on Pinterest. There are a lot of great ways to write down your plans without the use of an actual planner.

4. Just relax. The hardest part about planning for me is that my plan is just that: only a plan. What I write in my planner or on my weekly schedules are not actually set in stone as much as I'd like them to be. There is so much room for change and variation in life that there's no way that I could ever stick to my original plan - unless I lived in a bubble - and thank goodness I don't! Once I realize all that, I can relax about change in my oh so "perfect" plan and just live life day to day. I always feel it's better to have a plan, but even if I end up completely straying from that plan, it's better in my opinion than not setting goals for my time at all.

Obviously, there is no perfect way to use your time. "Perfect" is different for everyone. Some days I miss the mark on my schedule completely and think where did all the time go?! But other days, I utilize my time doing what matters most, and the results prove it. Whether or not I am always successful, planning gives me joy to know that I have a say in how I use my time.

What are your time management tricks?

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