Finding time for planning can sometimes seem harder than actually making plans. If your Bullet Journal or planner is gathering dust, give these tips a try so you’ll always have time for planning. You’ll be smashing those goals in no time!
10 Strategies to Ensure You Always Have Time for Planning
The cycle goes something like this:
You decide you need to get your busy life in order —>So, you start using a planning system—>You fill it with all your lofty goals, and things get even busier—>And BUSIER!—> You lose track of your planner, miss an appointment, and realize you need to get your busy life in order—>So, you decide to get serious about your planning system. And the cycle continues!
“Finding the time to do it!”
I totally get the struggle. Planning takes time, but we’re all so busy!
Using a planning system is one of the best ways to improve your time management. But I don’t need to tell you that! You already know that planning helps you approach your days with focus and intention.
So, how can you break the cycle? Today I’m sharing my top 10 tips for making sure you always have time for planning. Not just any planning, either. Intentional, mindful planning that will propel you toward your goals.
How do I manage my time better?
Time is a limited resource. We all have the same number of hours in the day, but we spend them very differently. Whether you want to get in shape, take on a big project, volunteer, or spend more time making fun collections in your journal, the time has to come from somewhere.
The good news is that planning gives you a bird’s eye view of your schedule. You’ll be able to allocate time in a proactive way, rather than reacting to the demands others place on your time. Reactive cycles leave us at the mercy of others. By planning ahead of time, you can deflect distractions and stay ahead of the game.
Here are my top 10 tips to ensure you always have time for planning…
1. Schedule your planning time
Set an appointment with your planner. Treat it like an important client, or your very best friend. You wouldn’t stand up your best friend, would you?
Start by examining your work or class schedule and find a natural break. For many people this is in the morning, before anything has happened to derail their plans. For others, it’s lunch or the lull right after dinner. Whatever time works for you, make it a set appointment.
Inevitably, something (or someone) will try to interrupt that time. Protect your planning time! You can say something like, “I can’t meet during that time because I have another appointment,” and suggest an alternate time. It might seem like you can do your planning any old time, but that unravels quickly into no time.
2. Use routine to your advantage
Habit is one of the most powerful tools humans possess. We love routine! It makes us better at everyday tasks and gives our lives predictability. Building a new habit takes time, but once you have it, you can put it to work for you!
For example, my best time to plan major projects is right after I drop my kids at school. The house is quiet and I can really focus. My brain is used to this, so it kicks into planning mode before I even get out of the car. It’s such a strong habit that I can’t focus on anything else until I’ve had my time for planning.
Be patient. It might take you a couple of weeks to adjust. Now, take a look at how this affects your new routine. Try using time blocking or task batching rhythms to make your time even more efficient.
3. Take 5
Let’s be real for a minute. Most of us had the time for planning…we just spent it on something else, like Facebook or Netflix. Amaright?
But if time is really the issue, set a timer for five minutes. Everyone has 5 minutes. Dump as much on the page as you can in that time. This is NOT your final to-do list.
When the timer goes off, take a minute or two to examine your list with a critical eye and prioritize the tasks that produce big results toward your goals.
Limiting yourself to 5 minutes also removes the pressure to make your pages Instagram perfect. I’ve seen too many people crumble under the pressure to make every page museum-worthy. If plain pages bum you out, don’t worry! You can always add fun artwork during your spare time.
4. Limit distractions
Seriously. Leave your phone in the other room. If you’re anything like me, journaling is your “me time.” It’s a fantastic opportunity to close off the world and think about what your best life would look like.
Retreat to a quiet space, away from social media, family members (*cough* my kids *cough*), television, and other distractions. Being able to focus without interruptions will also help you power through your planning in no time.
5. Learn to plan on the go
Don’t be afraid to take your planning with you when you leave the house. That’s what it’s for! In my experience, people who use a creative journal or BuJo are big offenders in this area.
You leave your journal at home with all the pretty pens, washi tape, and planning supplies. Having a beautiful journal should not take precedence over mindful planning. I’m the last person in the world to criticize artistic planning spreads (you guys know how much I love them!). But there’s also a measure of common sense that comes into play.
Put together a grab-n-go kit of essential planning supplies, and make sure you always have it with you. That way you’ll always have your schedule (very important), plus you can plan while you’re waiting in the doctor’s office.
6. Mornings are magic!
If you’re struggling to find time to plan, try getting up 15 minutes earlier. It’s a great time to organize your intentions for the day.
If you’re planning first thing in the morning (especially if your mornings are rushed), I feel it’s helpful to hit the hight points first:
- My biggest goal this week
- Tasks that cannot wait
- My intention for today
If you enjoy artistic journaling or planning, you can use your remaining time to beautify your planning. Otherwise, save the doodles for your evening Netflix time.
7. Learn to say “No.”
I’m talking to you, people pleaser! A gal pal asks you to lunch? You say yes. The boss wants you to work over the weekend? You say yes. More volunteers needed for the food drive? You say yes. Before you know it, you’ve given away all the time you intended to use on your goals.
Plus, you’re spread so thin you can barely find the time to plan your goals, much less achieve them!
Unless it’s something you want to spend your time on, or is crucial to your job or family, it’s ok to refuse. Say it with me now…“No.” Everyone else will get over it.
8. Let it go…
Do you feel like you have to hit every bullet on your list? Sometimes we run out of time to plan simply because we get so caught up in our tasks lists. Cut out a task or two to give yourself a buffer. You can use that pause to refocus your intentions.
Which tasks can you let go of? Can you delegate it? Is it time sensitive? Since I work from home, I feel the pull of laundry, errands, and other household chores throughout my work day. In reality, those things can wait.
As painful as it is for me, I sometimes just let the laundry sit. And that random office party that always seems to pop up on Friday evening? I’ll skip it in favor of some journaling time and a bubble bath. Ah, that’s better!
9. Synch with your family members
If you’re struggling to make time for your own planning, you’re probably rolling your eyes at me right now. Seriously? How am I supposed to find time to plan for my whole family?”
I know, it sounds Herculean. But, you can easily supplement your own paper planning with a home command center or shared digital calendar. Once a week (we use Sunday night dinner), do a quick rundown of everyone’s major events. This gives me x-ray vision for crunch points, and I can ensure my goals won’t be derailed. I also schedule time for my own quiet “me time” journaling (that was Tip #1)!
10. Cut through the clutter
Ignore unimportant things. Careful! They’re sneaky. These sinister little monsters will suck you into their dark web! Avoid things like busy work, guilted social obligations, redundant meetings, and anything else that drains your time without contributing to your health, happiness, family, or the pursuit of your goals.
Many people find that they’re busy, but they never get anything done. These strategies will help you flip that around. Be intentional about making time for planning, prioritize your most impactful tasks, and then slay, slay, slay!
What’s your hurdle when it comes to planning and journaling? Do you have any strategies that have helped you keep it all together? Comment below with your master planning tips!
Brainstorm with me!
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