If you're new to using a paper planner (also known as a calendar, agenda, or organizer), it might feel intimidating or fussy. Good news: it doesn't have to be that way!
A paper planner can help you live out what lasts: following through on your priorities, simplifying your schedule, clearing away distractions, using your time with intention, and making real progress on goals that lead to a life of joy, contentment, and purpose. YES!
Not to mention, you know, getting to appointments on time :)
Our favorite paper planner, of course, is the Season by Season™ Planner, which has both a Daily and a Weekly version. (Cultivate's Daily planner devotes a full page to each day, while our Weekly version has all seven days of the week spread across two pages.) We love it, we use it ourselves, and we're grateful to hear from Cultivators each day who are using it to live purposeful, joyful, productive lives.
But! A paper planner is only good if it's used. If it sits in the box and you never once crack it open? That's a sad story, friends.
Let's make sure you USE the tool you've invested in. The good news is, it's simple! Here are our top six tips to make sure you get the very most out of your Season by Season™ Planner.
1. Set up your planner.
Your Season by Season Planner opens with a brief opportunity to name your priorities for the season ahead and sketch out a weekly rhythm. These should take no more than 30 minutes to thoughtfully fill out.
While you're at it, write in important birthdays, holidays, and dates for the months to come—we've included a handy card to help you do so in the box!
2. Set aside time to check in daily and weekly.
To use your planner consistently and regularly, make it a part of your daily routine. Whether you use the Daily or Weekly version, set aside time each day to review your tasks and plan for the next day. (If you can, it's great to bookmark the first ten minutes and the last ten minutes of your workday to check in and note the day's priority and win.)
To review the previous week and plan for the week ahead (so key for getting clear on your priorities and avoiding overwhelm!), fill out your Weekly Refresh at the same time each week—maybe after the kids go to bed on Sunday or with your morning coffee on Monday.
You might find it helpful to set alarms on your phone to cue your daily or weekly check-ins. (Proving once more than analog and digital tools can go hand in hand!)
3. Experiment with time blocking.
The hourly layout of the Season by Season Planner is ideal for time blocking, and that's on purpose: whether you're a corporate leader, a stay-at-home mom, or a solo entrepreneur, time blocking might just be your key to getting the right things done and feeling like you have room to breathe.
As you get started, build in more time than you think for each block—because remember, we're going for focused productivity that makes you feel like a person, not robot ruthlessness.
4. Don't be afraid to get messy.
While we love an accessory moment, and it can be fun to go all-out with color and stickers, the best planners are workhorses—and often, they look like it! Hasty handwriting, scratched-out dates, creased sticky notes—yep, they're all welcome here.
Don't be afraid to use your planner. It's there to serve you, not to look pretty on social media. No one ever needs to see it but you :)
5. Consider accessories.
Okay, okay—let's have a moment for accessories. The best ones are as practical as they are pretty! Here are a few to consider:
- Colored pens, markers, or highlighters: Use them to color-code family members, responsibilities, activities, or types of entries in your planner.
- Stickers: Mark dates and activities, call out things you're looking forward to, personalize your pages, or color-code your goals.
- Washi tape: a.k.a. Tending Tape :) Use it to mark vacations or multi-day events, mark theme days, or add borders and accents.
- Sticky notes: A moveable tool you can use to track habits or add reminders to your planner pages.
- Wildcards: These customizable worksheets help you tailor your planner to your goals, interests, and season of life.
- Snap-ins: From page flags to wet erase dashboards, these are next-level tools that can move with you as you move through your planner.
6. Keep your planner open.
KEEP IT OPEN. I joke that this is the answer to 99% of the follow-through problems users have with their Season by Season and PowerSheets® planners, but it's kind of true. If you keep your daily or weekly spread open somewhere you'll see it every day (your desk, your kitchen counter, your bedside table), with a pen resting beside, you will be shocked by how easy it becomes to do a quick daily check-in.
Do you need to use your Season by Season Planner perfectly for it to be worth it? Absolutely not! Progress, not perfection, friends! But with these six simple tips, you'll be well on your way to getting the very most out of your Season by Season Planner—and to a year of purpose, clarity, and joy!