When preparing for an upcoming quarter or school year, one of my annual essentials to purchase is a planner. Naturally, I buy a decorative calendar or notebook with the best intentions of documenting my entire schedule inside of it with the hopes of avoiding forgetfulness. I tell myself that I will record each assignment, appointment, and personal event so I may easily keep track of my rather busy schedule.
Yet, as each month rolls around, I notice my planner accumulating more and more dust as it sits unopened on my desk. As one of my goals in this new year is to maintain better organizational skills, I did a bit of research regarding the benefits of using and updating planners, and I happened to be somewhat surprised with the results I found.
Aside from the common knowledge that using a planner tends to keep a person more organized and on track toward accomplishing what is required of them, what I did not realize was that it can also help you to make more intentional choices. If you include all of your daily tasks in the records of your schedule (yes, this includes the little things), you may find that you do not like what you are seeing. As you begin to see patterns of the number of hours you spend online watching Netflix or going out with friends, you will gain greater visibility of the ways in which you can better manage your time.
For example, you may attempt to shorten the amount of time you engage in these activities within your schedule. On the other hand, you might simply want to substitute that extra hour of napping for an extra hour at the gym. By addressing the realizations of your schedule firsthand, the choices you make to change your habits may save you extra money and can potentially allow you to be more productive in your personal life.
It has also been noted that documenting your daily routine in a planner can have a vast impact on your diet and physical fitness. For instance, if you keep a record of what you eat or of your daily caloric intake, it is ostensibly comparable from day to day. If you feel as though you won't feel satisfied with yourself after writing down what you consumed in a day, it may serve as a mental reminder to work towards eating healthy foods that will make you feel fulfilled. Interestingly, the same goes for keeping a workout schedule in your planner. Though the sweat and tears tend to feel like less than perfection when you are at the gym, glancing through your records post-workout will provide you with a sense of achievement in the sense that you spent your time meaningfully and purposefully.
In essence, the idea of keeping a daily planner is a physical manifestation of a mental reward system. The more you tend to like what you see as you are writing it down, the more you will take action in order to maintain your feelings of happiness and satisfaction.