7 Expert Planner Ideas to Be More Productive

Your productivity is not solely dependent on what happens during office work hours

Planners are practical organization tools that can help you increase focus, improve time management and track goals. All of which are essential for increasing productivity. However, it’s not just what you do from nine to five that can affect your productivity.

When you feel your best, you do your best. Using a planner for work can help you manage feelings of stress, feel better and carve out more time for creative activities. This creates a healthy balance that gives you the mental energy to achieve more at work.

In this article, we’ll share 7 expert tips for using your planner more efficiently to organize your time in the office, and at home, so that you can be more productive.

Explore more ideas to boost productivity and increase work/life balance:
Home Office Tips: How to Create a Space That Supports Productivity
7 Tips for a Healthier Work-Life Balance – Even if You Work from Home
5 WFH Tips to Help Your Brain Switch Out of “Work Mode”

Two images side by side. On the left is a contemporary modern blue and white desk showing Avery planner stickers being used in a work planner to note recurring events. On the right is the same desk with a planner open to a page for goals. Goals are tracked and color coded using Avery labels and colorful Marks A Lot ultra-fine point permanent markers.
Quickly and neatly add recurring events with 3/4” round labels and free Avery templates. Create your own goal-tracking planner stickers with matte white labels that are easy to write on with fine tip markers.

 

1) Streamline: Use planner stickers and labels for recurring events

Recurring event planner stickers make it easier to fill in your planner in advance. You can fill in birthdays, annual events, vacations and the days your office observes for holidays as soon as you bring your planner home. Seeing events on the horizon will help you commit to your planner so it’s more effective.

Writing down events in your planner ahead of time can also give you a better sense of control. “Controlling what you can” is one strategy the American Psychological Association (APA) recommends for dealing with stressful times.

Keep recurring planner stickers for meal-prep, exercising and other relaxing activities in the pocket of your planner or bullet journal. They’ll act as a reminder to schedule the “recharging” time you need in order to bring your best self to work.

2) Track SMART goals in your planner to stay motivated

SMART is a framework for setting goals and helps you apply time and resources more effectively towards progress. Keeping SMART goals at the forefront of your mind can keep you motivated to stay on track towards more long-term goals and plans. SMART stands for:

  • Specific – a narrow goal makes the steps to success more clear
  • Measurable – how you will know you’re making progress toward your goal
  • Attainable – set goals you can reasonably accomplish to keep you motivated and focused
  • Relevant – each goal should align with your larger plan and long-term goals
  • Time-based – an end date will help you prioritize and keep you motivated

Print your own goal planner stickers as needed and fill them in with permanent markers to efficiently track SMART goals in your planner.

PRO TIP:  Avery Design and Print allows you to create, save and print for free. Print your saved planner sticker designs on the go, from any device. 

Two images side by side. Left image shows a contemporary modern blue and white desk with an open planner. Avery Ultratabs are used across the top to index months and mini UltraTabs are used down the side to organize quarters. Right image shows Avery highlighters used in a planner for color coding.
Make the information in your planner easy to scan with Ultra Tabs® and highlighters for color coding. Strong visual cues help you assess information at a glance.

3) Index information to quickly navigate sections in your planner

Most planners come with built-in tabbed dividers for navigating from month to month. Further dividing the year into quarters, marking your notes section, and flagging important details for quick access can make your planner more effective for work.

Repositionable Ultra Tabs are the perfect tool for organizing information in both traditional planners and bullet journals. There’s a ton of flexibility for indexing larger sections like months, quarters and notes, or flagging important dates like quarter close reporting, deadlines, and critical meetings.

Think of your planner as a reference volume. Ultra Tabs keep important information right at your fingertips so you can avoid thumbing through pages looking for what you need.

4) Color code like an expert

Color coding is an extremely powerful visual tool that can help you assess information in your planner at a glance. While the concept is simple, there are many ways you can use color-coding to organize information and increase productivity.

Prioritization. Assign colors to the level of priority and highlight tasks accordingly.

Team management. Color code by employee/department if you’re managing multiple people/teams. Quickly scanning your weekly schedule for a team color makes meeting prep easier.

Time allotment. Color code by the amount of time a task will take. Being able to quickly scan your planner for 5-10 minute tasks can help you utilize those odd 10-15 minute gaps before going home or between meetings instead of letting them become “lost time.”

Two images side by side, both with contemporary modern blue and white desktop. On the left a planner is open on the desk top and surrounded by common office supplies including Avery Hi Liters. In the planner are color coded Avery labels. On the right is a close up of a free-form notebook planner with a to-do list. Avery color coding dots are used to color code the list.
Labels are also useful color-coding tools. From simple color-coding dots to colorful round labels you can print on.

5) Set yourself for success with good planner habits

Think about how your planner looks. It might not seem important, but don’t underestimate the power of subliminal motivation. If you like looking at your planner you’ll want to use it. Additionally, a neat good-looking planner makes you look polished and prepared in important meetings.

Get used to carrying your planner around. Having your planner with you at all times gives you the advantage of the information at your fingertips. Pick a size that’s easy for you to carry around and make sure your planner lays flat so it’s easy to write in and reference.

Set aside time to plan daily. You’ll get the most out of your planner if you use it daily. The morning is the perfect time to recap what needs to be done and what’s on the day’s agenda. Set yourself an alarm to help you remember and use a timer to make sure you spend enough time preparing for the day.

6) Prioritize, review & learn from your to-do lists

The human brain loves ordered tasks, in fact, writing down “to-dos” helps declutter short-term memory, freeing up more mental energy so you can focus in the moment. Prioritizing and reviewing planner to-do lists can also help create realistic expectations of what can be accomplished in one day.

Without realistic expectations, it’s easy to fall into the trap of working extended hours trying to “do it all” (especially if you work from home). Healthier work-life boundaries will help you have more time to do creative projects and take care of yourself, which in turn will help you be more productive at work.

7) Mine your planner for mid-year & end-of-year data

Quantitative data on all that you’ve accomplished is right there in your planner via your accomplished goals, finished projects, and to-dos marked done. Mining the data from your planner gives you the tools to advocate for yourself in reviews as well as help fight “imposter syndrome” feelings.

Mid-year is the ideal time to do a status check on where you are in accomplishing your goals and how to better use your planner. The end of the year is the time to compile all of your accomplishments and take the list with you to your yearly review. Impressing the boss with how prepared you are is a bonus.

Use your planner to be holistically more productive

Remember that your well-being as a whole person helps you to be more productive at work. When used efficiently your planner can help you increase focus, improve time management, track goals and create work-life balance.

Use planner stickers to quickly fill your planner and schedule activities, such as meal prep and exercise, that help you physically feel good and “recharge your batteries.” Track SMART goals to stay motivated and learn how to create good planner habits.

Make your planner easy to navigate with tabs and nuanced color coding. A well-organized planner makes it easy to prioritize, review and compile data for personal development as well as professional reviews.

How do you use your planner to increase productivity? Let us know in the comments below, or connect with us on our social media accounts.

Please note, the contents of this article and related articles on avery.com are for informational purposes only, are general in nature, and are not intended to and should not be relied upon or construed as a legal opinion or legal advice regarding any specific issue or factual circumstance.

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