Let's face it – the day we get a new planner is the day we have those most interest in it and excitement around it. But that makes sense – we love new (or new to us) things. And new planners and calendars carry a lot of symbolism – a fresh start, a clean slate, a chance to do things differently. Our planners hold our dreams, goals, visions and aspirations – in addition to our to-do lists, notes and ideas.
I love sitting down with a new planner that I've carefully selected because it suits my needs.
I've used a variety of planners over the years – Day Designer, which helped me track my daily schedule, the Desire Map Planner, which helped me keep track of personal goals, the Happy Planner, when I thought I wanted to get creative and decorate my planner (that last four months) and The Next 12 Months Planner to focus on my business goals, plans, marketing and financials. There's a planner for everyone out there. Each year, I do a round up on the Best Planners for Small Business Owners to help people find the right one for them.
No matter which planner you choose, you need to spend time setting it up so that your planner doesn't go from shiny new thing to clutter catching dust. Your planner should be one of your essential business tools.
With a little prep and intentional planning, you can set yourself for success going into a new year (or whenever you pick up your new planner). Here are three things to do when setting up your new planner:
Set your planning goals and intentions.
How often will you plan. It's important to create a habit. I recommend planning daily. Yes, really. You may create your plans once a week or once a month, but you should reference your planner every day. This helps ensure you're on track with the goals and tasks you've laid out for yourself. And, things change. What you wrote down on the 1st of the month may not even be relevant by the 12th. Adjust your plans as needed.
Whatever you intend to do, be consistent.
Enter important dates
Some things aren't going to change – holidays, birthdays, the start a new seasons. If your planner doesn't come with pre-printed holidays, take a few minutes to write them in. If you need to keep track of birthdays, anniversaries or other such dates, enter those as well. If your vacations are already planned, now's a great time to block those days off.
And, if you do any seasonal planning, marketing or promotions, log anything you already know is going to happen.
Jot down your goals
I'm willing to wager that you had some goals in mind when you bought your planner. There's something (0r many things…) you're thinking about and you felt like a planner could help you stay on track. Writing down your goals can go a long way in helping you achieve them. Writing them down shows that you care and that you're committed. And if you're using a planner (not just a calendar) that helps you track your goals, writing them down will help you keep them top of mind and stay focused.
If you need a planner designed for business owners, check out The Next 12 Months, which features space to track goals, plans, monthly metrics and more.