Become of aware of how you schedule and plan your time. Are you a pen and planner person? Do you have a planner that really works for you? Are you a digital diva who lives and dies by her apps? Or do you merely try to keep it all in your head (because, like Sheldon Cooper and Wesley Crusher, you have an eidetic memory)?

How’s that working for you?

No, seriously. The holiday season, the often busiest time of year, is an excellent time to assess what’s working — and not working — in your planning and scheduling strategy. Also, there are lots of new journals, planners, and productivity apps launched or on sale during this time. Keep your eyes open for something that might be a better fit.

But I wouldn’t recommend starting a new system right now. Save that for the New Year. The last thing you need is juggling the stress of a learning curve or changing a habit when you’re already overloaded. Plus you’re willpower is often at it’s lowest this time of year. All those Black Friday and Holiday ads are timed to take advantage of our diminished willpower, especially on social media. Knowledge is power. If you are going to try and make a change this season, limit your time online. Only check your social media when you are feeling strong and fresh, not exhausted and needing a break.

Match Your Planning System to Your Goals & Lifestyle

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But before you change your planning and scheduling method, make sure the new technique really addresses the actual problem you’re trying to solve. Are you just finding another way to procrastinate or engage in shopping therapy? Or does the new system genuinely improve on your current methods? For example, if you feel you spend too much time organizing your schedule now, then don’t switch to the Bullet Journaling method. On the other hand, if you’re looking to combine journaling and planning and dig deeper into your goals, or you want to incorporate more creative expression into your planning, then the Bullet Journal may be the answer.

Live on your phone but keep missing dates or running late? Look at integrating your notifications and an online calendar/scheduler. Throw in a productivity app like Evernote, and you’ve got a complete system in your pocket. I confess I’m an organization and planner addict. At one time I knew the entire Franklin Planner system catalog by heart — and still spent a lot of time customizing mine. Now I don’t know what I’d do without my digital calendar flagging me at least twice before an appointment or event. However, I still like the feel and flexibility of paper and pen, so I do my Priority Planning Process on Post-Its. Then I stick the Post-It on my phone case.

I’m also a big fan of Moleskine. Earlier this year I purchased their weekly planner with great intentions. I’d use it to plot weekly goals and action steps as well as my appointments. There are exactly two weeks of notes in it. Since I carry a journal with me to catch my thoughts and events throughout the day I didn’t carry the planner. I would have needed a forklift to carry my bag. Lesson learned, Sunk Cost accepted.

The key is to identify what is working for you now, your Bright Spots. Find a system that increases that success while integrating solutions to any problems. Like not actually carrying your weekly planner. I bought a pocket planner to try for next year so I can see the big picture. I’ve also torn out all the bits I don’t need like the world maps. Make your planning system work for you. Don’t simply work the planner.

What are your planning and scheduling success — and problems?

When you get a chance, let me know in the comments.

Happy Holidays!

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