If there’s one phrase we hear quite often, it’s “I’m busy”. But there’s a big difference between using “busy” as an excuse and actually being intentional with our time.
I’ve always been a planner and my life usually involves a mixture of schedules, plans and organisation. That’s not to say I don’t like being spontaneous or that I won’t drop my plans if Tom and I decide to do something. It just means that I’m the type of person who likes structure and routine. I like knowing what’s going on.
When you’re younger and you’re at school or college, your routine is easy to identify. You knew there were certain times you were in lessons, certain times you could eat and certain times you could do what you wanted.
But when it comes to managing your own schedule, there’s quite a lot to learn.
There was a time when I really started slacking with my planning. I never used to write anything down. I used to keep it all in my head. This made me feel completely overwhelmed. It made me less motivated, less productive and definitely more lazy. I didn't set specific times to do things, and some tasks I even forgot completely.
When it came to a point that I forgot a big deadline, that’s when I knew it needed to change. That’s when I knew I needed to create a strong routine for myself and improve my productivity. And I did. Right now I’m in the process of planning my bullet journal, because I feel this is going to be the best system for me.
But I’m not here to tell you how to plan your life. I’m here to tell you why it’s important. So if you don’t really class yourself as a planner, here’s why you should start.
#1 | You can see everything at a glance
Birthday’s, appointments, important tasks, meetings, free time - you’ll be able to see everything you’ve got going on if you plan. I’ve found that keeping things in my head is a recipe for disaster. I’ll either forget it or double book myself, which never turns out well. Planning everything lets you see exactly what’s going on at all times. That way, when you need to schedule something in your diary, it’s not a case of trying to get your mind to remember it. It’s a case of opening up your planner and glancing at your week to see where you’re going to fit it in.
This is key to being organised. Not only do you get to see what’s going on right now, but you can also look weeks and months ahead into the future. Being an organised person is a very intentional thing. But putting everything into your planner means you’ll never miss a beat.
#2 | It’ll save you time
This is why being organised is so important. Time doesn't just run away with us - usually we find our time is just wasted by the many distractions around us, so much so that we start living our lives according to those, rather than our actual priorities. Instead, if you’re intentional with your time, you’ll actually find that you start to have more of it.
This something I’ve really had to learn through balancing blogging with a full-time job. If I just thought to myself that I need to spend time on my blog after work, I’d never do it. But when I actively set a specific amount of time to work on it, I find that I get a hell of a lot more done and I don’t waste time doing other things.
#3 | You can see what you’re spending the most time on
For me, this was a game-changer. Once I saw everything at a glance, it made me realise that I was spending too much time on certain things and not enough time on others.
I remember during January, when it was my first month of publishing content everyday with the Blogging Breakthrough challenge - looking back, I was spending all my free time on my blog and it wasn't healthy. It made me see that I’d hardly had any time to do things for myself, with my family or with Tom too.
That’s when you can make a change and you do that by evaluating. When you plan things, you can go back and see what you’re spending the most time on. Then if you see that one task is taking up more time than it should, that’s how you can change it. But if you don’t plan things, then you’ll never know.
#4 | It allows you to see what you really need
Take a look at an average weekly schedule for yourself and see what’s missing. What isn't included in there that you’d like to do?
Ever since 2016 started, I was spending the entire of my Sunday working on my blog. From when I woke up to when I stopped for the evening, it was all blog blog blog. After talking to Tom and my mum, I realised this isn't what I wanted my Sunday’s to be like. I wanted to do some blogging, but I didn't want the entire day to be defined by it - though when I looked in my planner, that’s exactly what I saw.
So I changed it, based on seeing what I needed more of. We all need time to switch off, spend time with our loved ones and really enjoy it. That’s exactly what Sunday morning’s are going to become for me. I really encourage you to try this one out especially - your life will be much more fulfilling if you do.
#5 | You’ll be more productive
It’s true! Yes, you might not get everything done that you wanted to, and yes, you might leave the odd task to the last minute. That’s just a part of life. But planning will definitely help you be more productive, more motivated and get you on your way to achieving your goals.
It might take time to get into the planning mindset, but once you're there - I swear you'll never look back.
Are you a planner? What are your tips for scheduling and planning ahead?