How To Plan Without a Planner

Let's face it, no matter how well-designed our planners are, there are some days that is just too overwhelming that you can't function even with your planner next to you. For me, these days are when errands, chores and tasks keep accumulating that it feels impossible to get through them all. When this happens, just the idea of opening my planner gives me anxiety.

So, I forego my planner (temporarily at least) and use different tools to tackle the day. My strategy on days like this is to brain dump everything I need to do, break down bigger tasks into smaller, more actionable steps and go through one thing at a time. It doesn't have to be neat or methodical. Just steps and tasks to cross out.

With my planner out of the game, here are some tools I use to help me with writing everything down.

Sticky Notes

Laptop, pens, sticky notes and phone

Photo by Daniel Fazio on Unsplash

Sticky notes are great because they're modular - you can add or remove sticky notes as you go and you can place them somewhere that you can view easily (e.g. on your desk, laptop or on the wall). Not to mention, they're also cost-effective.

For me, sticky notes provides a blank canvas where I can brain dump my to-do list and since I can get rid of it after I've completed my tasks, I'm not worried about it being perfect. I use a different piece of sticky notes for different categories (e.g. personal, work, errands, chores etc.) or for different projects. You can even use different colours of sticky notes to differentiate between tasks or for prioritisation.

You can also use sticky notes as part of the Kanban method. The idea is you write down one task on a piece of sticky notes and you move it across a Kanban board according the status of the task (e.g. to-do, in progress, blocked, complete etc.).

I love using this pack of white sticky notes from Amazon. Since they're cheap and has a plain design, I don't feel precious about using them.

Desk pads or notepads

Notepad and pens

Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

An alternative option that provides more structure than sticky notes are desk pads or notepads. I love notepads for the same reason I love sticky notes: I can tear off the page once I'm done with my tasks which means I don't have to worry about planning or writing down everything perfectly.

My go-to kind of notepads are to-do list notepads since they're highly versatile - you can use it as a to-do list, project checklist or a shopping list. I haven't found a favourite yet but I have been eyeing this  Daily To Do List Notepad from Crossbow Planner Co.

Google Keep

If you're looking to step away from paper completely, there are lots of options available for different productivity or note-taking apps.

My go-to app is Google Keep, which has a notes feature and a checklist feature. I use it to brain dump ideas or to draft up a quick to-do list. Since I'm logged in to both my laptop and phone, any notes I create are automatically synchronise and I can easily switch between devices.

I appreciate the simplicity and intuitiveness of Google Keep. My notes can easily also be easily organised using labels and by pinning different notes to highlight them. I also like the archive feature since I can have somewhere to store previously-important notes.

I hope this post has provided you with ideas and inspiration on how you can stay organised even on challenging days. Good luck!

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