Ask Entrepreneur

7 Ways to Use a Day Planner to Be a Better Entrepreneur (and Better Version of You)

Sometimes, you just need to write it down.
7 Ways to Use a Day Planner to Be a Better Entrepreneur (and Better Version of You)
Image credit: Brigitte Sporrer | Getty Images
Guest Writer
CEO of Ashley Shelly, LLC
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In a world where technology is part of nearly everything we do, a paper planner can be a breath of fresh air and a break for our eyes. As a graphic designer and product photographer, I am constantly staring at a computer or phone screen. My eyes take a beating daily and writing things down in my planner is my happy place.

Related: Get It Done: 35 Habits of the Most Productive People (Infographic)

Today, I'm sharing seven ways that using a paper day planner will help you be a better entrepreneur and better version of yourself.

1. Write everything down. Everything.

The act of writing is like zen for your busy mind, and research shows you're more likely to remember things you write out. Taking the time each day to write down all of your appointments, tasks and goals is worth every minute spent. It will save you time the next day when you have a real plan and aren't scrambling to figure out what needs to be done.

No task is too small to document if it's something you don't want to forget. Write it down, and then take action.

I always recommend taking a few minutes each evening before bed to plan your next day, and a step further, to take some time each Sunday evening to plan your upcoming week. You will find your mind is clearer and more free time will surface.

Related: How to Manage Time With 10 Tips That Work

2. Pick a planner that has room for your schedule and to-do list each day.

As a graphic designer and detailed planner personality, I took my love of planners and created my own brand of planners a few years ago. One of the main components of the dream planner I wanted was having equal space each day for my schedule and to-do list.

It is important to business owners to be able to see all of their time-sensitive activities during the day, but also have a space to write tasks. We all have a lot to accomplish each day, but with a proper planner setup, we can stay on task and achieve our goals.

Related: 10 Simple Things Successful People Do Every Morning (Infographic)

3. Use your planner to create monthly goals.

If you're going to be planning out each day, you should also be thinking about each month as an overview. One of the key factors for entrepreneurs is setting goals and then taking the steps to reach them. Take some time at the end of each month to decide what you want to accomplish in the following month, and write it all out in your planner.

A recent study conducted by Dominican University of California proved writing down your goals makes them much more likely to happen. These goals can be business-related and personal. You are not a separate entity from your business. You are a part of it, so making goals that work for your business and for you is important.

Related: 9 Set-It-and-Forget-It Tools for Inundated Entrepreneurs

4. Make your planner a place for inspiration.

A planner is not just a place to check things off and see what time you need to be somewhere. It should be a place that houses inspiration as well. One of the things I always write in my own planner is a word to focus on each month. A lot of us pick a word of the year or set a New Year's resolution, but we know how hard it is to stay inspired all year.

Setting up monthly inspiration is far more practical than simply making annual resolutions and keeps things fresh. Write down what creates happiness in your life, things you want to say no to, routines and habits that help you stay healthy, special dates and a monthly bucket list. Make sure to refer back to your notes every week so you keep the inspiration going.

Related: More Coffee? Working 52 Minutes? Why You Should Ignore Most of Those Productivity Studies.

5. Keep track of your finances.

Use your planner to the fullest extent possible. Your finances are a huge part of your life and business, so why not write things down to keep track of your money?

Mark when your bills as due on the date that they need to be paid, set financial goals and check them off when you accomplish them! You most likely have budgeting software set up for your business, but how many times have you been in a hurry during the week and realized your electric bill is due today or -- even more unfortunately -- yesterday? Write it down and delete that stress from your life completely.

Related: Want to Save Your Business an Hour a Day? Automate These 11 Tasks.

6. Schedule time to work on your business and not just in your business.

Beyond scheduling and to-do lists, an important part of your life as an entrepreneur is prioritizing blocks of time to focus 100 percent on your business. This means sitting down with no distractions to look at the current state of your business and address anything that may not be working well, planning new things to try and delegating.

It's so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day processes and not put a solid plan in place for growth. That doesn't have to be you.

Related: How to Use Your Time Wisely by Prioritizing Your Goals

7. Incorporate self-care and family life into your planner.

Self-care has to be a priority for you as a business owner. You are the driving force behind your success and you need your health to maintain that success. Research has shown that a significant percentage of entrepreneurs may be suffering from depression. To combat that, carve out time in your planner for rest, hobbies and exercise.

You are an entrepreneur, but you're also a person with loved ones and friends who would enjoy seeing you. Don't forget to plan out some time to meet up with your friends for dinner, or go all out and plan a get-together with your family around a special meal.

Don't hold back. Write it all out and create your best days!

Related Video: 7 Little Habits That Are Killing Your Productivity

My Queue

There are no Videos in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any video to save to your queue.

There are no Articles in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any article to save to your queue.

There are no Podcasts in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any podcast episode to save to your queue.

You're not following any authors.

Click the Follow button on any author page to keep up with the latest content from your favorite authors.

Looking to Streamline Your Job Search? Consider These 10 Job Search Hacks.