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4 Basic Planning Steps for Beginners

plan your life planning Feb 15, 2022

In today's post, I’ll be sharing with you 4 basic planning steps for beginners to help you create a planning system for you and your unique lifestyle.

Are your days slipping by and you don’t feel like you’ve accomplished anything?

Or you were keeping busy enough, but didn’t really finish anything in its entirety?

Are your to do lists generally reside on bits of paper, scattered here, there and everywhere and you feel like you’re just flying by the seat of your pants?

If this sounds like you, read on...


1) Gather your supplies

Before you begin anything, lets round up your supplies. Keep in mind that there are numerous options for supplies, but the best way to get started is with what you already have on hand. If you do need to purchase something, start with the basics.

Here’s a list of basic items to get you started:

  • A calendar - this can be a paper planner or a wall calendar
  • A notebook - a school notebook style, journal, or even loose leaf paper will work
  • A good pen

There are several optional supplies you can use as well. These can come in handy later on as you become more comfortable with your system and start developing your own style of planning.

  • Highlighters
  • Sticky notes
  • Coloured markers


2) Gather your thoughts

In order for you to be clear on what you want to track and how, you first need to clear your brain and get everything on paper.

Sound simple? Well, it is.

Here’s what you do. Get out some paper and a pen. Find yourself a quiet spot and about 30 minutes or so of uninterrupted time. Then simply begin writing! Get every single thought that has been stirring around in your head down on paper. It could be to get the oil changed in your car, fold the laundry, or decluttering the garage.

As you make your "brain dump" list, don't filter or organize your thoughts. This comes later. The purpose of this step is simply to get your thoughts out of your head.


3) Organize your "brain dump"

This is the most time consuming step, but also the most rewarding! This step will help you to see yourself making real progress in getting your life organized.

Here is where the bulk of the work happens and where you’re going to start to see your system come to life. This is where you’re really going to feel the weight lifting off your shoulders.

But, how exactly do you even begin this process?

Just grab your brain dump list and start with the first thing you wrote down on the page.

That’s it!

As you move through your list, each item will either belong on your calendar or on one of your to do lists. If something is time specific, like a kid's dental appointment or sporting event, put those directly into your calendar system.

For everything else, read on to see how to best get started with their organization.

Everyone’s to do lists will differ, but to get you started, here’s a general list of what these can look like. Start with creating a new page in your notebook for each category, and of course, feel free to change these up to suit your style.

  • Home
  • Family
  • Personal
  • Work
  • Projects - these are things that require more than one step to complete
  • Future ideas - things you'd like to do and keep in mind, but aren't quite ready to take on yet

As you work through categorizing everything on your list, just remember to keep it simple. Your system will evolve over time and it won’t be perfect from the beginning. Some things you’ll try and find that they stick for the long term. Others you’ll let go of because they just don’t suit your situation or planning style.

Remember that a planning system is forever growing and changing.


4) Using your system effectively

You have a calendar full of events and a notebook filled with to dos.

Now what?

Set aside about 30 minutes or so at the end of each week to review your system and prepare for the week ahead. Take out your calendar and your notebook. Make sure any important days or appointments you have are noted in your calendar.

Next, while reviewing your lists in your notebook, choose your top 3 most important tasks for the week and mark those on your calendar. Then, slot in anything that you want to do on a specific day that week.

If you are to come away with anything at all from this post, please let it be this - DO NOT over-schedule your calendar or overwhelm yourself with to dos!

It is so easy to overfill our schedules, but when comes time to actually “doing the things”, well, that's a whole other story!

And when we don’t do “all the things”, we start beating ourselves up and think that the system doesn’t work. We give up, and go back to flying by the seat of our pants.

So please, PLEASE, don’t fall victim to this! You are much better off writing down fewer things and going back to your lists for more to dos later, if needed.


How do you know if you’ve put too much on your list?

Think about how long a certain task is going to take. Is it realistic for you to write down “clean out the garage” for a Monday, when you know you have a full-time job to go to, a soccer practice to take your kid to on top of all the other basic things that need to be done?

Just take baby steps. If you still feel the urge to put “clean the garage” on your list because you just want to get it done, how about you just start with “prepare recyclables for blue bag pick up day”.

SIDE NOTE: This is a bit of a drastic example. "Clean the garage" would normally belong on a Project list with many small tasks attached to it. These small tasks can then be added to your daily plans.

 Now that you’ve put down all of your thoughts, created your planning system and put in place a review process, how does it feel? Do you feel like your head is clearer and you are in a better space to accomplish more?

My hope is that when you’re finished going through these steps, your lists will be organized and your schedule will be clear. You'll find yourself more in control and in a much better place, with a clear mind and an efficient system in place to support you.

As you continue to use your system, it will evolve and will become the best sidekick you’ve ever had! Just keep tweaking it as needed and you’ll find yourself being more productive.


What next?

Now that you have a basic planning system in place, it's great to have your to do lists and everyday life events organized, but are you looking for more?

if you want to dig deeper into planning + organizing your ideal life, I invite you to check out my Lifebook Premium program where we take a deep dive into 12 life categories and design your life vision so you can live your best life!

You can learn more about the Lifebook Premium program HERE! Or send me an email at [email protected] with you thoughts or questions! I'd love to hear from you.

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