How To: Effectively Plan Your Life + Why I Plan My Life
Honestly I get a lot of crap from my peers for planning my life so heavily. I know some of it is meant as a joke, but sometimes it really irks me. Why do I get so much crap for being such a planner?
And then a few weeks later they come back to me complaining that they didn't plan their life well enough....
But regardless of that, let me focus on the positive, and give you advice on how to be an effective planner, AND explain why I plan so much.
Why I Plan My Life
This is honestly the biggest one. I am not a big fan of sudden changes. Regular planned/scheduled/known changes, I'm fine with, but sudden changes (i.e. an exam being given a week earlier with only one week's notice) I cannot deal with. And I only cannot deal with because those changes stress me out. It freaks me out.
So I plan to de-stress. Planning helps me focus on all the aspects of my life I can control (i.e. studying for the exam way before the exam so if my professor moves up the exam date I won't be freaked out like my classmates who might've left exam studying to the week before).
helps me sleep
This is probably the biggest of all three reasons. My brain naturally goes full-speed ahead, and it takes my brain a lot of shut up at night. When I don't plan, my brain won't stop talking to me, telling me all the things I need to get done and cannot forget to do the next day. (I also have bad memory, hence this.)
So I plan ahead so I can tell my brain that I have it written down somewhere, and won't forget about it when I wake up. And then I can fall asleep.
keeps me organized
Like I said, I have REALLY bad memory. I forget things really easily. But planning helps me remember my deadlines, engagements, socialization, etc. Basically it keeps me from pissing other people off haha
Tips to Effectively Plan Your Life
use a planning tool that you will consistently check/keep track of
Okay there are some people out there who use multiple things: Google calendar for one thing, a physical planner for another thing, and a notebook for something else etc. Well, I have mad respect for you if you do that.
But I can't. And I actually don't think that's a very effective use of your time.
I think when you are splitting your tasks and responsibilities across so many avenues, it takes some serious mental energy to transition between. I am a big fan of just using ONE planning tool, and that's my physical planner. People ask me how I do that... well, let me explain to you how.
Monthly spreads - blog post scheduling + major life events i.e. graduation (eeeeekkkk)
Daily spreads - daily deadlines/events/engagements
To continue onto the previous point... I use post-it's for the weekends. I make weekend to-do lists since those are the days I'm able to be the most productive. That way it keeps me on top of all my deadlines in the next week or two, and keeps my planner consistent (I still have every single post-it from every weekend from the previous semester).
write to-do lists for the next day the night before
Kind of similar to the previous point but I think reflecting on what you have to do the next day can help you. For one, it'll help you sleep easier at night, but also that it will ensure you can keep adding to the list and will give you the sense of having been productive at the end of the day.
color code if you know it helps you
I have some friends who color code. Also give them major respect. I personally can't do it because then I need it to be consistent and I don't have time or energy for that.
BUT, it can be helpful for you, if you have different kinds of obligations but want them all in one place.
For example, blue ink = homework, red ink = blog, orange ink = social engagements, green ink = events, etc.
it takes time to start planning consistently
Bypassing all those actual useful tips though, here's a more mental tip: it takes time and practice. To say that I got here immediately is ONE. BIG. FAT. LIE. No way. I did not get here naturally.
It took a lot of trial and error to find what worked for me. And to be entirely honest, what works for me might not work for you. If you are not as anxious or an over thinker like me, than chances are you do not need to use most of these tips. But if you are, then hopefully these will ease you a little.
...but, you also have to enjoy it
I actually LOVE planning. I honestly think I should go into event planning haha
But in all seriousness, don't look at it as a chore. Look at it as a way to reflect, as a way to preemptively stop stressing yourself out (if that's what you do of course!).
But similar to the previous point... it takes time to start enjoying it :) So take your time!
Do you have a planner/use a planning system? If so, what do you use?