A planner can make your life and your time more efficient, but only if it's used the right way. You can find daily, weekly and even monthly options at stationary and office or school supply stores, or use a notebook and come up with your own format. Plus, there are a variety of options especially for students, busy professionals and working parents. Some great online stores that stock planners include Barnes & Noble and Vera Bradley.
Use pencil to add activities to your planner. If you need to make changes, it's easier to erase an event and replace it with new information than to keep up with a bunch of crossed-out events. Plus, be sure to write down new projects, events and activities as you think of them or schedule them. It will be a lot easier and more dependable than trying to remember and writing them all down later.
Have only one planner to make it easier to keep up with daily activities. Even the smallest task should have its own block of time set aside. In addition, write everything in your planner, including important notes, phone numbers and email addresses. If you have a family planner or school or work schedules, consolidate that information into your planner, as well. Use extra pages or side margins to keep "to do" lists.
Keep It with You
To get the most out of your notes, carry your planner with you wherever you go. A pocket-size planner or one that fits in your bag is a good idea because if you leave the planner at home, at work or in your car, it's a lot harder to check if you're available or if you have another commitment scheduled for that day.
One more important tip: Don't schedule your entire day. It's always good to leave slots empty for unforeseen events or emergencies, as well as time to rest and relax. On the other hand, if you have time set aside for something, don't fall into the trap of getting distracted from your goal. Your voicemail can take a message, and if you don't have time for a quick chat, just let the person know you'll call or email them when you do.
Evaluate and Revise
At the end or beginning of every week, sit down and review your planner. Look over the previous week for regular events that took more or less than the time you allotted, reschedule the things you didn't have time to do, and weed out the time wasters you would be better off without so you'll have more time for the things you want to do. If your spouse or significant other uses a planner, include him or her in your weekly review and coordinate your schedules. It's also a good idea to get your children their own planner and teach them how to use it effectively to give them a firm foundation for being more organized as they grow older.