Why Plan?

by Jessica Locke

For many of us planning is in our DNA. We gravitate to pen and paper and need no encouragement to write things down. We log and track details, assign color codes and invest time and energy into capturing the details of our daily lives.

But if that doesn’t sound like you – a little encouragement and education on all the many ways planning can improve and enhance your life might be in order. For non-planners, the assumption that technology has all the answers can be tempting. But I’m here to tell you that paper based planning can be even MORE effective and infinitely more enjoyable and rewarding. I dare say that many smartphone loyalists are experiencing cluttered brains, agitated emotions and sore thumbs – just to name a few of the downsides associated with technology based solutions!

In fact – do any of the symptoms or behaviors below sound familiar?

  • Feeling like you’re always forgetting things
  • Rushing around all day never knowing where the time went
  • Can’t manage to get your workouts in consistently
  • Feel as though you’ve lost touch with friends and even family members
  • Experience anxiety and stressful emotions daily
  • Have more stomach issues than what’s normal for you
  • Snapping at your kiddos and hubby
  • Have a hard time staying positive
  • Eating take-out on the regular
  • Working so hard and still not reaching your goals
  • Can’t even remember what your goals are
  • Feelings of inadequacy? FOMO? Imposter Syndrome?

Whether you’ve never used a paper planner or perhaps you have one you’ve been neglecting after the excitement of the New Year – read on!

You’ll be amazed and motivated at all the impactful ways planning can improve your life.

And because there are indeed so many benefits, I’ve grouped them into a variety of categories. If there’s an area of your life causing you “grief” – feel free to skip ahead to read that section first!

1.Professional Productivity:

Using a planner in the workplace (whether that’s a corporate environment or the cubby you carved out at home for your side hustle) can ramp up your overall effectiveness and efficiency. Paper planners are often used for taking a few minutes each day to recap that day’s tasks and topics and then use that data to make a plan for the next day. This does several positive things – it ensures that no undone items from that day get lost or forgotten, it prevents any confusion or delay the next morning in an effort to “get going” - it also ends the day with a sense of accomplishment for those items you did tick off the list. And bonus!! It allows you to prioritize what you need to tackle the following day.

Paper Planning also serves as a time analysis of sorts – when you log in written format most of your daily tasks and duties it becomes very clear:

  • Which items are repetitive (possibly could be streamlined)
  • Which are most important (and only YOU can do)
  • Which things take the most time (should be scheduled when you’re at your best)
  • Which items routinely get left undone (without consequence and therefore could eliminated or delegated)
  • Those with similarities (could be batched together)
  • Those you actually look forward to (and should be planned for times when you could benefit from a boost)

Those who plan are also goal setters by nature. And while many of us say we set goals – planner users do it more reliably, with more specifics and details. Those with a planning personality like to make future plans, and we like to break things down into bite-size pieces – both of which are key to effective goal setting. They also benefit from the visual reminder of writing goals down - which is known to increase the likelihood of success. Furthermore – accomplishing goals is a self fulfilling prophecy – as the more goals you reach – the more confidence this builds – and that just increases the likelihood that you’ll attain even more the next time around.

2. Mental Health:

While you might not correlate paper planning to mental health… you should. There are many ways in which planning – particularly paper planning - can positively impact your mental well-being.

First of all there is a freedom that comes from mental clarity. One of the best solutions to a racing mind is to stop and do what the planner community calls a brain dump. Write all those tasks, reminders and to-do’s down. Getting it all out of your head and captured on paper often lowers the mental chatter and offers the feeling of space. Obviously, it also ensures none of those marbles rolling around in your brain get forgotten or lost as now you have secured them on all a list!

The act of simply writing can be calming for many, and if what your writing happens to be something like a gratitude list or a journal entry those efforts in particular have been shown to alter the chemicals in your brain to promote happiness.

Additionally, planners are often used as a forced way to disconnect from technology. Getting off smartphones and onto paper eliminates multitasking (proven now to be ineffective and detrimental), it recalibrates us in the present moment, provides a tactile sensation that connects us to our bodies and encourages the use of our right brain, the hemisphere in charge of creativity and the arts.

3.Health and Wellness:

Planners love to track all sorts of data. We’re like engineers who use writing implements, stickers and washi to capture and organize our stats. And all of this tracking provides valuable information we can use to better understand and monitor our health. Paper planners can be used to capture a variety of individualized information that contributes to health and wellness. For example – planners can track meals, macros, exercise, water intake and sleep. They also can be helpful for managing pain, medications and monitoring symptoms. They can be a vital tool for those with chronic illness – offering a routine space for tracking symptoms, therapies, feelings and emotions. By reminding us daily with prompts ranging from meal planning to goal setting; paper planning tools encourage those habits and routines critical to overall health and wellness

4.Creativity

For those with imaginative souls - paper planning offers a way to harness creative energy into a productive resource. Doodlers and scribblers can channel their habits into a framework that encourages productivity and helps them stay better organized. Today’s planners are WAY more than task management systems - and offer a memory-keeping component to their users. Planners aren’t tossed into the bin at years end –rather they are saved so they can be reflected up as a reminder of the prior years events, accomplishment’s, challenges and memories. Those who live primarily in their “right brain” often use life planners to showcase photos, display artwork, reminisce over past experiences, reflect upon and journal their emotions, and literally design what each day looks like for them.

So you see, just like a fresh new pencil – paper planner’s work to sharpen the focus on all the impactful areas of your life. By making planning a routine, daily effort you can reliably expect:

  • To get more done
  • Feel less frazzled
  • Appreciate more daily gratitude
  • Reach more of your goals
  • Reflect back on past experiences and memories
  • Enjoy a better sense of peace and contentment throughout your days

And there’s more good news – you see there is no right or wrong way to plan. It’s only important to do it daily, and in a manner that works for you. While we’ve included some sample photos here there are endless ways to set up your planner. IG, Pinterest and FB all offer thousands of inspirational set ups and layouts. If you’ve not paper planned before – or if you’ve been in a rut as of late – we strongly encourage you to give it a go! We know you’ll be glad you did!