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A paper diary is an essential tool for the organised person. We’ve put together six tips to get more from your dairy and planner.

Tip 1: Start Fresh If you’re renewing a commitment to getting more from your diary, take time to find one you love. Look for the right format, the right styling and the right paper, so that you’ll love using it. Then decide that you’ll treat your time — and your diary — with the respect they deserve. New diaries are just like new notebooks — those clean pages that offer such a sense of possibility. Starting fresh feels like an achievement on its own, a rush of excitement as you see all those blank dates and know they’ll soon be filled with everything you hope to do and achieve over the next 12 or 18 months.

Tip 2: Always open, always with you A diary and planner can only work if you consider it as the vital tool that it is — so your daily checklist of what to carry with you should look something like: wallet, phone, sunglasses and diary! If you have both a busy social and work life, you may like to consider a pocket diary for your bag or backpack to keep social engagements and big events in. Then you can keep a larger diary, with more space for detail and appointments, open on your desk. For those who like to journal, you could even have a third option, which is more about documenting what you were thinking and feeling rather than appointments and schedules.

Tip 3: Create space for inspiration Consider adding or designating pages in your diary for special lists you can refer to during the year, such as: – Books you want to read – Places you want to visit – Experiences you want to try – Skills you want to learn – Big and small life goals

Tip 4: Slow down to speed up Set aside the time each week — at the beginning or the end — to plan ahead with your diary. Paper offers you the chance to sit, plan and prepare; to slow down before you have to speed up. Taking the time out to write your to-do’s, notes and thoughts is a great way to relieve stress and give you a chance to clear your mind. Not only are you placing the thoughts running around in your head onto paper, you’re also able to clearly see, through a birds-eye-view, what’s coming up, when you’re going to achieve it and how.

Tip 5: Make your diary work for you Digital apps and calendars can be handy tools (if they’re all synced correctly and reminders are correctly set). But paper planners work because they are flexible — plus they won’t crash or ask you for all your most personal information to work! And, with flexibility an awareness is nurtured of how you work your productivity system, not how it works you.

Tip 6: Make it your memory tool Apparently our digital life is actually changing our brain wiring making our attention span shorter and our memories less reliable. Scary, really! A great idea is to use the monthly summary pages, included in most diaries, to create an instant snapshot. Take a few hours when you get a new diary to add the key dates you must remember: important birthdays, anniversaries, work appointments, holidays… Then get into the habit of writing key dates and upcoming events as you learn about them. Don’t wait until later.
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