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How to Use a Paper Planner to Be More Productive

How to Use a Paper Planner to Be More Productive

In this article I share some tips on how to use a paper planner to be more productive. I’ll explain my own strategy for organising and managing my time using a simple productivity planner too!


I used to rely on my brain to tell me what I need to do or remember, or where I needed to be, or what I needed to buy for dinner that night.

The problem was that relying on my brain for all this information wasn’t very efficient. I’d often remember them too late or forget about them completely.

The end result was that I wasted time, gave myself more things to do, lost track of time, forgot about my to-do list or the goals I set. Any good habits I tried to put in place, well… they never happened either.

To turn this around I decided to try using a planner.

  • I thought a visual and written record to help me manage, plan and organise my life on a daily, weekly and monthly basis would be the solution.
  • No more relying on my muddled brain, filled with the minute details of daily life.
  • No more forgetting things and no more losing focus, motivation and direction.


All that sounded great, but finding a paper planner that suited me wasn’t actually that easy.

They often came with too many pages, or too little.

They were too complicated, or not detailed enough, and often, more about the design than the functionality.

Filling those planners in seemed like a hard task in itself, perhaps even more of an effort than carrying out the tasks and activities I was using the planner to plan!

I bought lots of different planners whilst I tried to find the perfect planner but I just ended up with a pile of planner clutter. I felt a bit of a failure that I couldn’t keep up and stick to planning my life in any way.


I was determined to find a way to get organised, productive and more efficient. Decluttering may be a valuable tool to help simplify your life, but there’s a secret sauce that goes with that and it’s called time management.

Now, I know time management might sound a boring, dusty and rigid term but it really does help remove much of the stress and busyness from our lives.

I decided to continue looking for ways to manage my own time, and find some kind of planning system to help me with that.

Here are some of the things I’ve tried which worked…

1. Keeping to a short To Do list

No fancy, lengthy or complicated To Do lists. Just a To Do list for each day that’s about 3-5 things long so it’s realistic and motivating. Anything I don’t get done in the day goes on the list for tomorrow or gets knocked off completely.

2. Sunday planning

I enjoy dedicating 10-20 minutes every Sunday to planning my week ahead. This includes planning meals, reviewing my To Do list, my schedule, things to do and any goals or priorities for the week.

3. Google calendars

We have a family Google calendar and my husband and I can both see what we’re doing and when we’re doing it. No more double-booking, overrunning or missed appointments. It’s really simple to use and I put EVERYTHING in here, from school activities, personal appointments, to holidays and birthday reminders. It really does make life simpler!

These are three ways that I’ve learnt to manage my schedule and time better, but I did also go one step further, and I’d like to share it with you here in case it might help you too!

How to use a planner to be more productive


I decided to create my own Simple Productivity Workbook and Planner.

It’s nothing fancy and won’t win any design awards but it does what it says on the tin. It helps me plan and be productive, the simple and strategic way.

I’ve included the different elements of my life that I like to plan and map out and I’ve put it all together as a planner that you might like too.

Simplifying your life comes down to 3 key components:

  • Clear your clutter (in all its shapes and forms) so you have less stuff in your home, schedule, heart and mind.
  • Get clear on your priorities and what’s most important to you. Keep these in mind every day as you decide what you let into your life and where to invest your time and energy.
  • Get organised and find ways to be more effective and efficient so you’re working smarter, not harder. Create more time for what matters.

If you’re looking to simplify your schedule, get organised and keep on top of how and where you spend your time, then the Simple Productivity Planner could be just what you need.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” — Benjamin Franklin

If you’ve ever wondered why you write a To Do list but never follow it, run out of time each day, forget things or lose track of time, maybe you need to get planning!


Busy life pushes and pulls us in all directions. We have errands to do, people to see, places to go and an endless list of things to remember. No wonder our brains feel overstretched and our bodies have difficulty keeping up.

The result of this busyness is that we often have so little time for things we want to do because we’re too busy trying to do ‘all the things’.

Sound familiar?!

If so, then there are some benefits of using a planner to boost your productivity and time management.

How to use a planner to be more productive


There are some great benefits of using a paper planner and writing down everything you need to do (and want to do).

1. Declutter Your Mind: Your mind is probably full of errands, tasks, things to remember and things you’re worried you might forget. Using a paper planner helps you clear your mind of clutter so you can think more clearly and with more focus.

2. Better Productivity: Use the planner instead of your brain so you can see what you have to do and when you have to do it by, in an organised and structured way. We’re often more productive when we have a clear, visual list.

3. Identify Your Priorities: What’s important, your priorities, tasks that are most urgent, track your habits, time-block your day and keep on top of daily tasks such as meal-planning, celebrations, shopping and chores.

4. Stay Motivated: Stop putting things off, come up with an action plan instead of procrastinating and use the planner to keep you on track and focused.

5. Improves Health and Self-Care: A paper planner can help you make time for self-care, exercise and well-being. You’ll be able to create a schedule and plan for you to look after yourself on a regular basis, track habits and self-care routines and keep them up.

6. Goal-Planning and Setting Direction: A paper planner can also help ensure that your life is heading in a direction you want it to. You can brainstorm goals and plans for the future, reflect on the past and regularly review your goals to make sure they’re still aligned with your priorities and meaningful to you.

7. Central Place for Records: A paper planner is a good place to keep all your lists and plans all in one place. No more making lots of lists, in different notebooks or random post-it notes. Keeping all your notes in one place to avoid losing things, a point of quick reference and a go-to place where you can find everything you need, when you need it.

This planner will help you get more of the right things done, the smart and simple way.

And, importantly, stop you wasting time on things that aren’t important and just clutter your brain, To Do list and schedule. You’ll also be able to reflect on your progress and avoid the distractions of busy, everyday life.

Use the Simple Productivity Workbook and Planner to clear your head and get everything down on paper for you to see exactly WHAT you need to do and WHEN… and break it down into manageable steps.


The Simple Productivity Planner is a 100-page printable workbook and planner to help you manage your schedule, get organised and make more time for what matters most to YOU!

Here are some key features:

  • Comes in both US Letter and A4 sizes and you’ll have access to both so you choose which option is best for you
  • Undated so you can use it year after year
  • Designed to use minimal ink when printing
  • You can laminate the pages and use a dry wipe marker to write on them
  • Frame the pages and keep them displayed in your home command centre or kitchen where you can view and keep them updated


Inside you’ll find printable templates to help you plan, schedule and organise different areas of your life.

This is what the planner includes:

  1. Finding your why and exploring how you think about your time and where you spend it
  2. How busy are you and how your schedule makes you feel
  3. Assess your schedule to understand exactly what your calendar requires of you
  4. Saying no and understanding trade offs
  5. Free time and you and making it happen
  6. Your morning routine and creating a plan that works for you
  7. Your evening routine and creating a plan that works for you
  8. Being productive and how to make things easier and quicker in your daily life
  9. Your daily and weekly To Do lists and how to use them to really get things done
  10. Things that waste your time and how to overcome them
  11. Saving time at home with habits and routines
  12. Priorities worksheets
  13. Morning and evening routine planners
  14. Day, week, month and year schedules and planners
  15. January – December planners
  16. Weekend planner
  17. Daily and monthly To Do list templates
  18. Project planner template
  19. Weekly meal planner
  20. Shopping list template
  21. Chore brainstorm, weekly chore planner and cleaning rota
  22. Celebration and important dates planners
  23. Week, month and year end reflection sheets
  24. Daily gratitude worksheet
  25. Self-care and workout week and month planners
  26. Tracker printables for self-care, habits, fitness, relationships, mood and sleep
  27. Time blocking and time tracker worksheets
  28. Wheel of life and Eisenhower Matrix worksheets
  29. Goal planner and brainstorm worksheets
  30. SMART and life goals worksheets
  31. Monthly goal reflection and planners
  32. Goal vision board
  33. Short vs long term goal worksheet
  34. Brain dump worksheet
  35. Checklist and list template
  36. 30-day and 100-day challenge templates


If you’re ready to simplify your schedule, get organised and manage your time, the smart and strategic way, then I hope the Simple Productivity Planner can help you do all of that!

This planner is no fuss, uncomplicated and does what it says on the tin. It helps you PLAN for greater PRODUCTIVITY, the SIMPLE way.

I think the key to using a planner to help you be more productive is to find time regularly to sit down and update the relevant pages so that it becomes a habit that you look forward to.

For example:

  • I use Sundays to check my schedule and set goals for the week, plan my meals and write a grocery shopping list.
  • I use the end of the month to set goals and plan for the coming month.
  • Make it fun, designate some peace and quiet time to really set your intentions for the day, week, month or year ahead.
  • Be intentional about how and where you spend your time, stay accountable and monitor your progress and productivity. Find out what works and what doesn’t, why and how to make changes that are right for you and your life.
How to use a planner to help you be more productive