- Writing in a daily or weekly planner helps you get a bird’s eye view of your day, which helps reduce stress by improving your time management skills. How this works is simple: If you know you’ve got an assignment due on Friday, then you can consciously schedule your time and spread out that work throughout the week. 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there to complete a task or responsibility usually feels a lot less stressful than doing a paper or a chore at the last possible minute – especially if there are consequences for not getting it done on time!
- It helps you break big goals down into small, digestible chunks. When you have a big goal to accomplish, like a project at work, cleaning the entire house, or studying for a big test, getting it done can feel almost impossible. Big goals are daunting, especially if they’re not well defined. Keeping a planner gives you the opportunity to sit and think about what smaller steps are involved in your goal. It can also give you time to schedule breaks and self-care in between the steps so that you don’t get burnt out. Checking off “Re-read and highlight chapter 1” is going to be a lot less stressful than “Study for the exam on chapters 1-5.” This can lower your anxiety and dread before it has a chance to build.
3. It helps you set your priorities. For example, if you’ve set a New Year’s resolution to exercise 3 times a week, your planner will help keep that goal in the forefront of your mind. Not only that, but you’ll be able to track when you go, which lets you see if you need to step up your effort or continue along as you are. In a broader sense, planners can help you sort your priorities by directly helping you devote your time to the activities that are most important to you. Would you rather schedule your extra hour of free time for Netflix, for beers with friends, or for tidying up the house? It’s up to you – but with a planner, it’s a more conscious choice about what you truly value.
4. It encourages you to set better priorities. Piggybacking off the last point, keeping a planner will make you realize how well or how poorly you might be spending your time. Let’s say that you usually use your extra hour of free-time for Netflix. Not judgement there, that’s totally cool. (In fact, making sure you have a daily time to relax is an important part of your week!). But let’s say you’ve been wanting to lose a few pounds for a year now, and you just can’t seem to do it. Planners these days come with a variety of calorie, macronutrient, exercise, calorie, and step trackers that can help you improve your exercise and eating habits. Heck, there’s planner trackers for anything and everything you can think of – it’s just a matter of finding the one that works for you, or creating your own.
If you’re interested in tracking your thoughts and emotions to improve your mental health, click here to view my mental health inserts for the Happy Planner.
5. It will show you how much you accomplish every week. Whether you’re someone who crams meetings and projects into every minute of your day, or someone who tackles one or two tasks before heading home, planning and writing down all the responsibilities and activities you do during the week can give you some perspective on how productive you actually are. This can be especially important for people with challenges like Major Depressive Disorder, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. Sometimes it can be easy to dismiss what we’ve already accomplished. How many of you have given yourselves a pat on the back for getting up on time, doing the million little things you need to get ready for work, then showing up to work ready to go? It may seem superfluous but many people cannot or do not do that. If you brush your teeth and that’s your major accomplishment for the day, write the sucker down. Congratulate yourself.
If you give yourself a little credit for all that you are doing and all that you will do, you’ll probably start to notice that you’re feeling better already.