Today, I’m talking planners, habits and habit trackers.
You know I’m a fan of journaling, writing things down, planners and journals (and a massive stationery nerd :))
Regardless of if you’re using a planner like mine here from Kikki K that you can put things into or a bound notebook (where you could copy an idea or stick it in), there’s something here for everyone.
The first thing that I always say about journals is that they need to be functional. A lot of what you might see on Pinterest or Instagram could be form over function. If your planner/journal isn’t working for you, then it doesn’t matter how pretty it is! That said, the more attractive you find your planner/journal, the more likely you are to use it. The benefits of using journals are immense. They can help you be more organised, prepared and help to regulate emotions when you use them to write your thoughts in.
Not only does my planner help me feel prepared for the month/week/day, but the time spent updating my planner and checking it, helps me re-commit to my goals and my targets. The best time to start planning the new month, for me, is a few days ahead of the start, so now is the perfect time to look at March. And to help with that, the talented Nadia over at @cottagenotebook has gifted us two beautiful spreads for March. (Click here for your free high-quality downloads.)
I’ll be honest, I had a hard time deciding which I was going to go for, but I eventually decided on this one!
One of my top tips when you buy a planner is to also buy some paper of that size (in my case A5) so you can print out the gorgeous things you find and then put them into your planner. If you don’t have a 6-hole hole punch (or whatever you need), use a piece of paper already punched to make a mark where you need each hole. Take the back of your regular hole punch off so you can see and then line up the paper so you can see the marks you’ve made. Punch each one individually and then you have a great spread that you can add in. If you use a bound planner, you could either use a paper glue to stick in or some pretty washi tape which could add extra interest too.
I always fill out my planner for the month in the following order:
Goals - where I review the previous month, check in with my long-term goals and add in my goals for the month.
Appointments – I start with client appointments, family commitments, fitness, my social things and then begin to block out chunks of time for my bigger projects. I really benefit from doing this on paper first before updating my online scheduler (which clients and business associates have access to). Blocking out this time means I make progress on those projects even when my days are filling up with clients.
New appointments – I check if there are any new appointments I need to make, including catch ups with associates, corporate clients, health appointments or anything else. Having a quick checklist in my head to see if I need to make any of these means I have fewer occasions of suddenly remembering that there’s a dental appointment to be made.
Balance – I look for balance across my filled in schedule. If I have a couple of weeks of really early morning calls, I look at how I can balance my days well so I’m not too tired. If I have a lot of online calls, I assess how I can add in more physical time with people.
Habits – what work on my habits do I need to do?
This last step has a lot to do with my goals. What habits are helping me to get to my goals and what habits need a bit more attention?
And this is where habit trackers come in!
A habit tracker doesn’t need to be fancy, part of your journal or something you spend a massive amount of time on. At its most basic form, your habit tracker could be a piece of paper with some numbers and ticks. But you can use habit trackers to help you put into action the things that will help you make the most progress.
You could use a habit tracker for one single thing, or you can use a tracker for many different habits. You can also use a habit tracker as a good visual tool to let you know how things are going. You can track habits such as:
Sleeping 8 hours
Watering your plants
Making 10000 steps a day
Keeping a room tidy
Whatever habit you’re trying to build, you can use a tracker to help you.
You can also use one to track your mood, sales, profit, hobbies, books read, films watched, successful potty training…. Honestly, anything!
I’ve resisted the urge to give you hundreds of trackers ideas because that is a Pinterest blackhole it’s hard to escape from! (If you find yourself in there, just call for help. I’ll try to rescue you!)
What I’ve done instead is found the BEST free habit tracker bundle available and this is it.
Vivian from Teal Notes has kindly put out this 7-page habit tracker set free for you to download.
I especially love these because they’re not all month ones, there’s a great weekly spread, 15 day spread and 3 x 10 day spreads, so there is something for everyone. (I printed mine at 75% to fit my A5 journal).
I can’t decide if I like the 15 day semi-circle one more or the vertical month one more. Either one is great, and the more you fill them in, the better they look. You can colour in the squares or doodle in them, make a tick, cross hatch or whatever floats your boat.
It may be that you’re looking at a habit that you can’t or won’t do every day. For instance, I work out 6 times a week and really need a rest day. I sometimes plan the rest day in advance, so you can see in my vertical tracker, I’ve crossed through that day as I know already that my aim is NOT to workout that day.
Similarly, there might be a once a week habit that you want to instil and you can use the habit tracker to do that by marking out the squares of the day you want to do that as I’ve done here for decluttering my photos.
If you’ve never used a habit tracker before then make March your month to give them a go! And if you’re serious about building your habits, come join me in the March Habit Building Club where you can make habits your super power!