What's the key to good organization? For many people, the answer could be to use a printable planner.
You may think you don't need a paper planner, but you'd be wrong. Paper planners serve as a visual reminder of work completed and work to be done. They can help you manage your busy daily schedule.
Sure, there are software tools and iPhone apps to help you track your work. But it's easy to close these tools and forget about them. In this case the old saying "out of sight, out of mind" is true.
Plus, having a printable daily schedule allows you to unplug. Some research indicates it's not good to be online 24/7. Our own Tuts+ tutorial from Andrew Blackman, How to Do One Thing at a Time and Stop Multitasking, discusses the importance of unplugging to increase your productivity. But how can you unplug if you rely on an electronic tool to keep your schedule straight?
Paper planners have helped me personally. For years, I've had a physical calendar mounted on the wall to the right of my desk in my office. A simple glance is enough to tell me not only what day it is, but also to remind me of what big projects and important tasks I have coming up.
Don't get me wrong. I use digital planners too. But I absolutely rely on my paper calendar.
In this article, I discuss the advantages of using a printable paper planner. I explain how to track your daily schedule by using a paper planner. I'll also share a short gallery of printable planner and calendar templates.
6 Advantages of Paper Planners
If you're ready to get organized, consider using a paper planner along with any electronic task tracking tools you already use. You may be surprised at how much more organized you become.
Many of us are drawn to paper anyway. If you don't believe me, take a look at your desk area. Is it covered with sticky notes? If it is, you'll probably be comfortable with a paper planning system. (And won't it be better to have those notes in a planner than on sticky notes all over your work area that could easily fall off and get lost?)
Here are six surprising advantages of using a paper planner:
- Easy to use. Most digital planning systems involve a learning curve. You have to set the system up properly and learn how to use electronic notes and reminders. With a printable paper planner, you simply print it out and place it on a notebook or on your wall. You're ready to go. There's no complex learning curve.
- Everything is in one place. If you're like me, you have more than one electronic planning system. One client may require the use of a particular system while another client requires the use of another system. Or, you may use one system for work tasks and another for personal tasks. Multiple electronic task tracking systems can be hard to keep up with. By recording everything on paper, I can see everything in a single place. I don't have to open apps to keep up with everything. Plus, I can still transfer the information to an electronic tool for a client.
- Visual reminder. Your daily schedule or calendar is always there. Always accessible. Right in front of you. You don't have to remember a password to open an app to see your schedule. Plus, it's easy to get in the habit of glancing at a paper planner each morning to get a visual picture of your day.
- More flexible. With a printable planner, you're not limited to a particular format for your tasks the way you might be with a digital planner. If you need to write more to describe a task, you can always write smaller or even turn your planner page over and write on the back.
- Doesn't rely on electricity. While most of us have our cell phones with us most of the time, those phones need to be charged. If your phone battery dies, you can't access your digital planner. The same is true if your desktop machine loses power. If there's a power outage, you won't be able to access your planning software. A paper planner in a notebook or on your wall doesn't rely on a power source to work.
- Psychological boost. Writing a task down instead of typing it can help you to remember it better. Many people cross a task off once it's complete or place an "x" through it. This provides a psychological boost that comes from the visual evidence of your accomplishment. You don't get by changing a task status in an online tool.
Once you've decided to use a personal paper planner, you need some guidelines for effectively tracking your daily schedule.
How to Track Your Daily Schedule
Here are some essential guidelines to help you get the most from your printable paper planner:
1. Decide What Format Planner You Want
Do you want a large printable planner you can place on your wall, or portable daily schedule pages you can place in a notebook and carry with you? You can find many printable paper planners at GraphicRiver or you can check out our gallery of printable paper planners in the next section below.
2. Commit to a Time Period
For some people, a printable weekly planner is all they need to record tasks and accomplishments. For others, a printable daily schedule is absolutely necessary. If your time is segmented into lots of little tasks, you probably need a daily planner. If you spend most days doing one or two tasks, a weekly planner will probably be enough.
3. Make Your Planner Your Master List
No matter which type planner you choose, it should be your master list of tasks and appointments. You may keep tasks on other tools too, but make sure everything goes on the paper planner.
4. Refer to Your Planner Frequently
Start and finish the day with your printable daily schedule or printable weekly planner. In the morning, look at it to see what is scheduled for the day. At the end of the day, look the planner over to make sure that you've added new tasks or information that have come up during the day.
5. Commit to Updating the Planner Daily
It should only take a few minutes to write down new tasks or cross old tasks off. Like any planning tool, your paper planner won't help you if you don't keep it current. If you also use various digital planners, check each of those against your paper master list.
6. Make Use of Color
Color coding is a great way to optimize the visual effectiveness of your paper planner. Buy yourself a set of colored pens and assign each type of task a different color. For example, you might record family tasks/events in orange, work deadlines in red, and personal appointments in green.
7. Use the Extra Pages
Many portable paper planning templates have extra pages where you can take notes or record the contact information of people you meet during the day. Use those pages to jot down information you want to keep track off.
8. Place Your Paper Planner in a Prominent Place
If you work from home, that place is probably on or near your desk. If you travel a lot, you may want a portable planner for your backpack or bag.
9. Store Your Old Planners in a Secure Place
Your planner is a written record of your daily activities. It's especially important to keep old planners if they contain business information, but you may also want to keep your old planner as a record of your year even if you used it mainly for personal appointments.
A Gallery of Paper Planners
Here are a few of printable planner templates we have available for the year 2016 on GraphicRiver:
1. Year Wall Planners
A yearly wall planner maximizes visual impact. Your long-range planning is a snap when you can see your entire year at a glance. An example of this is our Year Wall Planner template. This poster-sized printable planner template lets you choose between two different horizontal and vertical layouts.
2. Yearly Planner
The minimalist yearly planner is another great way to view your year at a glance. This elegant and modern printable planner template will complement any office decor. You can also customize it to add your company name and logo or slogan. Again, choose from horizontal or vertical styles. The planner template includes a PDF help file.
The Planner-Diary-Organize 2016 template is an example of a portable planning diary with printable daily schedule tracking. This handy paper planner is designed to fit in an A5 notebook. It is so convenient to carry with you wherever you go. There's a page for each business day, with slots for appointments and notes during normal business hours. There's also a place to jot down phone numbers and other notes. You can also customize it by making it your favorite color.
4. Weekly Planners
This printable weekly planner template is highly functional. It has adjustable color schemes and a number of easy to customize style options. This is great for keeping track of your daily and weekly schedule, important information, and long term planning for the entire year.
5. Desk Calendars
Desk Calendar 2016 lets you personalize a yearly calendar with your own photos as well as your company information. You can personalize your calendar in other ways too. For example, choose between three different color layouts. This attractive photo calendar also makes a good gift for clients and employees.
6. Monthly Calendars
This printable monthly calendar template is set up for 2016 - 2017. It has a design optimized for productivity and tracking. Each month is a wall calendar you can print and hang. It has margins you can use for planning as well. It can help you keep all your goals and important dates at eye level.
These are just a few types of paper planning templates that we offer. Be sure to check our website at GraphicRiver for a complete listing of paper planning templates. Or jump over to this post, which features a number of our best paper planning templates.
Make the Most of a Paper Planner This Year
Printable paper planners are a great visual way to grab control of your daily schedule. Many people find that paper planners improve their productivity. If your goal is to get more organized this year, why not give printable planners a try?