It is here. 2022 has arrived. Maybe you have some big, hairy, audacious goals you want to achieve this year.
Lose 20 kilos? Arrange a postponed wedding? Run a Scrum sprint?
You will not achieve these goals unless you plan your journey toward them and track your progress. And the best way to do this is to invest in a daily planner.
Maybe you’re already using a day planner app to plan your day, but you’re not satisfied. Maybe you use a paper planner but want to upgrade. Or you don’t have a planner at all—paper or otherwise—and your New Year’s resolution is to start using one.
In this guide, we cover the “what”, “why”, how and “who” of daily planners – including our best-recommended planner for you.
What is a day planner app?
The daily planner is an organization and productivity tool with sections for each day of the week to fill in your tasks.
Most planners also break down days by the hour, in case you’re a fan of time blocking.
At the same time, planners help you keep track of everything you need to do during the week.
Paper planners vs. planning application
Traditionally, a day planner app is a book or chart with each of the sections mentioned above. You would complete your assignments with pencil and paper.
These days, there are scheduling apps that provide several benefits.
- Automation: Do you have a recurring task or appointment like a meeting? The Planner software allows you to set automatic planner items.
- Collaboration: If you use your day planner app for work, you may want others to access it.
- Warning: sometimes you write something down and forget it later. In the day planner app, you can set a reminder for each task that you’ll never forget.
- Ease of use: with one or two clicks, you can switch between daily, weekly and monthly views and move tasks around without having to turn pages or cross things out.
- Cloud options: you don’t have to worry about forgetting your planner at home. Just open it on your phone or computer.
- Non-scheduling features: some solutions like monday.com can do much more than schedulers. You can use Monday.com just as a scheduler, or you can explore all of its other project management features.
Why should I use a daily planner?
Planning your day and week by writing things down in your planner does a lot of good.
1. It helps with time management
Obviously, planners are a time management tool.
You can see how much time you have in the day and schedule tasks in open time slots so you don’t run out of time or burn out one day.
They also help you track deadlines so you know what tasks you need to do to get projects done on time.
2. Increases productivity
Planners increase their productivity through 2 psychological phenomena called the Zeigarnik Effect and the Ovsiankin Effect.
I know it sounds like we’re back in Psych 101, but bear with me.
The Zeigarnik Effect says that unfinished tasks are easier to remember. Meanwhile, the Ovsiankin effect (a variation of the Zeigarnikov effect) says that people tend to continue with unfinished tasks.
Writing down tasks negates these effects by freeing up brain space you would otherwise devote to memorization. You can channel this new energy into important tasks.
At the same time, these tasks are unfinished and on paper—or in productivity software—so you’re more likely to remember to check and complete them.
Not to mention the satisfaction of checking things out!
Also, most day planner apps divide each day into hours. You can set a fixed amount of time for each task, which can increase productivity when done correctly.
3. Relieves stress
Seeing all the tasks in front of you will make your daily schedule clearer. More uncertainty means more stress and anxiety, according to a 2020 article published in the journal Medical Education.
So making things less ambiguous will make you feel less stressed.
Less stress means better sleep and more energy, which leads to better work.
A planner will also keep you organized, making it easier to find and remember the tasks you need to do. You’ll be less stressed knowing you haven’t forgotten anything.
It’s also worth noting that completing your quests can be cathartic.
4. Record keeping
Planners help you plan events ahead of time and not forget them.
For example, most people visit the dentist once every 6 months. Put your next appointment on the calendar and you’ll be on your way to excellent oral health.
If you have regular tasks and forget to schedule the next occurrence, your scheduler can also remind you.
You may have forgotten to schedule your next dental visit after leaving the dentist. One day you remember you haven’t been to the dentist in a while – but you can’t remember when 6 months is.
Just go back to your day planner app and find the date of your last appointment to see when your next appointment is.
Tips to use your daily planner
As with other productivity tools, it’s easy to get bogged down in the details of the planner and waste time optimizing everything.
Follow these tips and best practices to get the most out of your day planner app.
1. Use the daily, weekly, monthly and yearly sections in reverse order
The annual section is a place to fill in events that never change, such as anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays. This part should be quick.
The monthly section follows. Complete the monthly section for the next month at the end of the current month.
As for what to write down, transfer everything from the year part to the appropriate month. Add some more detailed events like important meetings, fixed dates, meetings or big projects.
Then it’s time to plan your week using the weekly section. Jot down the main tasks you need to do for larger projects. Sit down early this week to complete this section.
2. Write everything down
It is best to write down all possible tasks. The Zeigarnik and Ovsiankina effects contribute to better productivity and less stress when you write things down.
Even if it’s something as simple as “getting gas after work,” having it in your planner will save you from worrying about it at work.
3. Set a reminder
If you use a paper planner, set reminders on your phone for daily tasks. If you have a day planner app, it almost certainly has built-in reminders or notifications, so set them up.
4. Throw in some inspiration
Some planners come with inspirational quotes or questions for each day, week, month, or year.
Opening a page for daily inspiration can be just what you need with your morning coffee.
You can also write down goals, routines, resolutions, or habits if it keeps you moving forward.
5. Don’t worry about filling in all the blanks
It’s easy to get caught up in ‘hyper-productivity mode’ – but you can’t work forever. Research has shown that your productivity decreases throughout the day.
If you really don’t have anything else to do that day, it’s okay to leave some blank space in your day planner app.
In fact, we suggest you put some white space, just for your own peace of mind.