Okay. So you’ve read all the articles about why you should use your planner but you’re still struggling. You know you need it. You know it makes your life better. You know it helps you get things done. But for some reason, you just can’t make yourself use it faithfully. And in the meantime, you’re forgetting appointments, not getting things done and your brain is spinning with all the things you need to do. That’s no way to live.
So what’s the solution? Well, I wish it were easy to figure out the solution but it’s not. Each of us is different and each of us has our own issues that keep us from using our time management system the way we should.
My problem is that every day is different and I’m different every day. My needs vary based on my schedule and my mindset. For example:
- If I’m really busy, I don’t even need a list because I can’t get anything done beyond a few basics anyway.
- If I’m busy but have some tasks I must do, I need a list that’s scheduled hour by hour or at least divided by morning, afternoon and evening. And it has to be realistic.
- If I have a lot of time, I need a really long list – a list far bigger than I could ever possibly accomplish. It keeps me moving and it’s motivating to mark things off.
- Sometimes I need a lot of details – instead of “laundry”, I need it broken down by load type: colds, darks, whites. I need smaller tasks I can check off easily to increase my motivation.
- Sometimes I don’t want details – instead of “colds, darks, whites” – I just need laundry. Instead of dust, clean glass, dump trash – I just need “clean for 30 minutes”.
- Once in a while I get SO overwhelmed that I can’t even make a list. When that happens, I use the technique of limiting my list to just 10 things (and that includes basics like make dinner, tidy, vacuum, etc.). I just pick 10 and put them on the list and then get started. If I happen to get them all done, which I never do, I can make a new list of 5 more.
- And other times I feel so overwhelmed that I make a list that only includes the MUST DO’s and nothing else. If I get those done, I can think about the other stuff.
See what I mean?! I need a different type of list for each day but it just isn’t practical to have a different type list every day. In addition, no list is generic enough to cover all those scenarios.
What’s the solution? Unfortunately the solution is that sometimes you just have to pick something and make it work. And when it doesn’t work because of a schedule change or bad mood, you just have to deal with it. Yes – that’s the unfortunate truth. There’s no perfect system. There’s no system that will work for every scenario. There’s no system that will always make you happy and productive.
So if you and your planner haven’t been on speaking terms and your life has been falling apart as a result, maybe it’s time to pick it back up and make a commitment to stick it out no matter what!