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You know the story. You start seeing day planners coming out and on sale for the new year. So you start browsing through them from store to store. You are determined to be more efficient, use your time wiser, or, if you’re anything like me, you just want to remember things.

So you buy a day planner.

January comes and goes, and before you know it, it’s June, and you haven’t touched the darn thing.

Sound familiar?

Don’t worry, there are plenty of people in the same boat as you. And, yes, I was one of them, lol. But no more!

Check out these five easy ways to make sure you actually use that gorgeous planner you bought and were so determined to use!

Buy a planner that suits your needs. I know. That sounds ridiculously simple, right? There are an overwhelming number of day planners out there, from the extremely simple calendar layout, to the more involved and, what I call, scrapbook day planners. You’ve seen them. These are the ones that come with stickers to put all over the place, to draw your attention from day to day to the things that you HAVE to get done, the mundane, everyday things, and the celebratory occasions. Believe it or not, there is a happy medium. But maybe that’s not what you want. Or, maybe that’s not what you need.

Start by making a list, either traditional pen and paper or a mental list, it doesn’t matter which. List the things that are important for you to have in your new day planner. Do you want just a big calendar that you write on each day? Or do you need the weeks broken down day-by-day? Do you need a lot of space for each day? Or will a couple of lines fill your needs? Do you like all the bling in a day planner? Or is simple more your key?

What sections do you need in your day planner? Notes? Contacts? Budget? To-do lists? All these things, and more, are decisions you need to make when choosing the best day planner for YOU. And because everyone is different (thank GOD!), everyone will have different needs when it comes to a day planner.

So figure out just what you need and/or want in your day planner, then find the one that fills those needs. And if you can’t find one to fill all your desires of a day planner, decide which extras you can do without, while keeping the higher priority parts of the planner.

Bottom line: A day planner with everything you need and/or want will encourage you to use it on a day-to-day basis.

Find a good pen. The pen is essential. I am quite picky when it comes to pens. Writing utensils in general, but I am a pen snob. And I’m okay with that. I cannot stand fine tip pens, and though gel pens write smoothly, they tend to bleed a little, depending on the paper. Most day planner paper nowadays is a little thicker. Still, I tend to find gel pens show through on the opposite side of the paper, and, well, that irritates me.

I like a good medium point pen. In fact, these are my favorite to use. The pen literally glides across the page. I have never had an issue with smudges or ink blobs, which drive me insane! I also like the grip on these pens, and the fact they are not stick pens. I have arthritis, so having a wider place to grip is very nice.

Bottom line: The perfect pen is imperative. If your hand is uncomfortable using it, or you are displeased with how it performs, you will be less likely to continue using your day planner.

Set up your day planner. I know what you’re thinking. This seems like such a “DUH” statement. But you know what? Some people never even make it that far. And come June, their day planners are sitting under a layer of dust, never having been touched since its purchase. So, set up your day planner.

That’s right! Put your name on the line that says “This planner belongs to…” or fill out the personal information page. The important thing? KEEP GOING!

Set up each month’s calendar, the individual weeks, birthdays, anniversaries, important dates, holidays, vacations (if you already have some booked), the works! If you have an address book or contact list, fill that out, too. Get everything set up in your day planner so all you have to do is go in when you need to add something and you’re done.

Bottom line: When you setup your day planner, you are more apt to use it on a daily basis.

Find a place for it. Not your purse. Not your desk. Not your nightstand, or any other place where you won’t see it or will gloss over it when you wake.

Instead, find a place where, once you are showered and ready for the day, you will be more likely to see it. If you are anything like me, you go straight for that coffee machine. Set it next to your coffee machine, put it on your kitchen table with a pen so it’s ready to go in the morning. Wherever you choose to put it, make sure it is not hidden from plain sight. Because….

Bottom line: If you can’t see your day planner, you will forget it’s there. Ever hear the phrase, “Out of sight, out of mind?”

Set aside 10 minutes, twice a day for your day planner. More is fine, if you need/want to reference your day planner more throughout the day. But start by at least setting aside 10 minutes in the morning, and 10 minutes before bedtime to go over your day planner.

In the morning, use this time to look over your day, and what you need to get done, appointments you have, and any special occasions that might be on the docket for the day. This is a great time to plan out any errands you may have to run, or add any last minute to-do’s to the list.

At bedtime, this is the perfect time to go over the next day’s plans. Anything on your to-do list that wasn’t finished today, move to another day ensuring you allow for any deadlines you may have. This is also a great time to add any notes, events, errands, or bills to the calendar overall.

Some people prefer to make notes throughout their day and enter them all into their day planner at the end of the day. While some people prefer to carry their day planner with them and enter things as they go throughout their day. Whichever method you prefer, going over your day planner the night before helps to mentally prepare you for the following day.

Bottom line: Remember that “out of sight, out of mind” saying? If you’re putting everything in your day planner, but you’re not checking it on a regular basis, there’s a chance you just might be missing some important things you need to get done.

There you have it! I hope you have found these tips helpful, and I hope you put them to great use throughout the year. Curious what kind of planner girl I am? I ended up with a Happy Girl planner from Hobby Lobby. I am in LOVE with that store! And, to top it off, I used their weekly 40% off coupon to get this $29.99 day planner down to $17.99! WOOT!

Check out the day planners Hobby Lobby has available here!