Looking for planner ideas to streamline your schedule?
In this article, you’ll learn about things to put in your planner that make your schedule clutter-free and bring clarity to it. As a result, you’ll get work done faster without feeling rushed.
You don’t need a specific tool to implement these ideas. They work equally well, whether you use one of the top planning apps available today or other types of planners such as digital and journal planners.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
Let’s dive in.
What should you put in your planner?
Whether for work or personal commitments, a good planner should help you create and track schedules.
But if you want to make the most of your planner, it should include more than tasks and events.
Here’s a list of ideas to include in your planner:
1. Visual overview of the schedule
With life getting busier by the day, you need a way to capture and organize several personal and professional commitments every day.
Eventually, your schedule starts becoming cluttered. As a result, it takes more to ensure no scheduling conflicts. And you end up spending more time organizing your schedule than working on it.
Visualization helps you better understand and remember vast amounts of information.
Consider using one of these three popular visual tools to organize your schedule better:
Timelines offer a perfect way to organize tasks and events.
Each task, event, or project is laid out on a two-dimensional, horizontal dateline. A task stretches from the start date to the end date.
Kanban boards to visually organize tasks that you need to complete within a specific period such as a week or a month. However, Kanban boards fall short when it comes to visualizing events.
Calendars offer a minimal overview of events on specific dates. But, they fall short when visualizing tasks, particularly ones that stretch across multiple days.
2. Weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual overview
The whole idea of planning is to know what will be done ahead of time.
How far ahead, though?
It depends on you and how far ahead you need to plan.
For example, a creative agency might need to plan ahead at least for a couple of quarters if not for a year.
Similarly, you need visibility into the months to come for an entire year for personal commitments and to achieve annual goals.
A long-term bird’s-eye view helps you in two ways:
Capacity planning is the process of determining the resources you’ll need to meet the demand.
It answers questions like:
- Do you (or your team) have the capacity to take up more work?
- When’s the best time to start on this new project?
- Do you need to recruit more help to get the work done?
Availability planning helps you ensure that the right resources are available when you need them.
It answers questions like:
- Do you (or your team) have any off-days planned over the next quarter?
- Would you need to reschedule work to accommodate the time off?
Daily planners don’t work for long-term planning. And paper and digital planners make it difficult to visualize anything over a month.
With Toggl Plan, you can simply click on the zoom levels in the bottom right corner to visualize work for a month, quarter, or even a year.
3. Time off and vacation days
It’s safe to say—People who plan meticulously love their work.
But your off time is as important as work, perhaps more.
According to a WHO study, working 55+ hours a week increases the chances of death by stroke by 35% and heart disease by 17%.
Taking time off from work is crucial to your well-being, performance, and productivity. And that’s why consider including your time off and vacation plans in your schedule.
That way you can avoid scheduling conflicts caused by taking up or assigning work during off time.
With journal planners and digital planners, it’s fairly straightforward to mark your vacation days. But if you manage a team, things can become complex pretty quickly.
Here’s how Toggl Plan can help time off for your entire team:
- Create a dedicated Plan timeline for planning time off and vacation days.
- Ask your team to mark their time off on the timeline.
- Now when you look at your team’s schedule, you’ll see everyone’s work schedule along with their time off. Solo users can see this on their “My Work” dashboard.
4. Workload overview
While vacation time and time off on weekends are critical, you don’t want to go “boom or bust”.
It is equally crucial to pace every day of the week to make sure you have enough energy left throughout the week to get work done.
Productivity expert and creator of Zen Habits, Leo Babauta recommends focusing on 1-3 of the Most Important Tasks (MITs) every day. Sure, you can get more done, but your focus should always be on getting the MITs done.
MITs work great for solo workers. But things can quickly get complicated when you work in a team.
With teams, deadlines are stricter and you often depend on others to complete their work first. Plus, it’s often just an estimate of how long a task will take.
Project managers get around this by improving their estimation skills. Using a time-tracking tool such as Toggl Track can help you further improve your estimates.
Based on these estimates, it is easy to understand your team’s workload.
With Toggl Plan’s Team timeline, it’s easy to see how busy a team member is on any given day. This helps you ensure that no one is over or underworked.
Plus, it just takes a simple drag-and-drop to reassign tasks and rebalance your team’s workloads.
5. Goals and milestones
Goals move you and everyone in your team in the same direction. They help you stay focused on what you want to achieve.
In general, goals can be short-term and long-term.
Further, you can divide goals into subgoals, checkpoints, or milestones to ensure that you’re on track.
Keeping track of long-term goals in a paper planner is a challenge.
But you can easily set aside a day once in a while to check on your progress toward the goal.
Alternatively, you could use milestones in Toggl Plan.
In Toggl Plan, you can create color-coded milestones. Plus you can make them visible across all your plans. This way, you can keep track of your goals and milestones no matter what you’re working on.
6. Task workflows
You can manage tasks using a daily planner or a simple checklist.
However, when planning work-related tasks, a simple done or not-done checkbox isn’t enough.
That’s where task workflows can help.
A workflow is a process through which a task moves from planning to delivery.
In addition, a task may require the person responsible to complete a set of activities before moving on to the next step in the process. This too is a part of the task workflow.
For simple projects a “To do—In progress—Done” workflow may be enough. But for complex projects like software development or a web design project, you need more.
Unlike a digital planner or journal, task management software apps come with a feature to customize your workflows.
In Toggl Plan, you can create a customized task workflow for each Plan timeline.
When it comes to complex tasks, customizing your task workflow stages might not be enough.
Take filing taxes for example.
The humble “To do—In progress—Done” workflow isn’t enough. During the “In progress” stage you need to execute several sub-steps before you can say you’re done filing taxes.
And most of these sub-steps are too small to split into smaller stages.
Checklists are of immense help in such situations. They are also useful when you’re managing a team and delegating tasks.
As you or your team member runs through the checklist you can rest assured that nothing slipped through the cracks.
You can easily create a checklist with something as simple as Microsoft Word or Excel. However, it’s a bit of a hassle to collaborate using these documents with a team. Particularly, when they’re working from home.
That’s why each Toggl Plan task comes with a checklist.
As the person responsible for the task checks off items on the task checklist, you can also see the task progress on the timeline.
8. Reminders and notifications
Some tasks are too important to be trusted with memory.
But you can set reminders for every task and have them sent to your mobile phone through a calendar or an online reminder service. You’ll learn about calendar integrations in the next section.
Notifications come in handy in team situations, where you’re often:
- Dependant on other people’s tasks
- Or working together on tasks with other people
When something about a task changes, you want to know.
This isn’t possible with paper planners. But in your weekly planner schedule, you can set aside some time to enter new reminders on your phone for the coming week.
In Toggl Plan, you get in-app and email notifications when a task or a plan changes. In addition, you can also tag a team member using the @ symbol to notify and request feedback.
9. Calendar integration
The last thing you should consider adding to your planner is a calendar integration.
Again this is not possible with a paper calendar. But you can easily integrate a calendar with your digital planners as well as planning apps.
A calendar integration helps you synchronize important events with a calendar tool.
Integrating your calendar comes with a few big advantages:
- You can synchronize important calendar events across all your devices. As a result, you get reminders whatever device you’re on.
- All popular calendars instantly back up your events on the cloud. As a result, you can easily share your calendar with others. Plus, even if your device fails, you still have a backup.
You can sync Toggl Plan with popular calendar tools including Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, or Outlook.
Declutter your work schedule with Toggl Plan
Whether you work on your own or with a team, Toggl Plan is a beautifully simple way to plan your work.
Plan all your tasks and projects using simple drag-and-drop timelines. Stay on top of your workload and create a stress-free work schedule.
Try Toggl Plan for free today to plan and track your schedule without feeling overwhelmed.
Jitesh is a Content Marketing Manager at Toggl. He's passionate about helping teams plan, organize, and deliver their projects productively. When he's not thinking about project management, content, and SEO, Jitesh loves cooking and playing cricket.