Shown above: Well Planned Day Original Homeschool Planner
Over the years, I’ve learned a handful of planning secrets that have kept me on the path of success — little reminders that have helped me stay on track, even through the ups and downs of homeschooling and real life.
The first and most important secret is to make planning a priority, as we discussed when we talked about what to plan. But there are a few more planning secrets that can help you along the way. Are you ready?
Planning Secrets: Keep your planner in sight at all times.
Simple, isn’t it? For me, “in sight” was on the dining room table, since that’s where we homeschooled. When we needed to clear the table for a meal, the planner went into an empty fruit basket on the counter. As soon as the meal was done, it went right back on the table, open to the current week.
That deceptively simple habit from my planning secrets toolbox made all the difference for me. It kept the plan right in front of me at all times, helped me remember to record grades and make notes, and ensured that I actually kept up with the habit of planning for each new week.
Take some time right now and pick a spot where your planner will rest. Train yourself and your children to put the planner back in its visible spot if they find it lying elsewhere for whatever reason. Remember, planning is like so many other things — when the planner is out of sight, it’s also out of mind! So, make a point to keep it in sight, and see what a difference it makes as you build your planner habit!
Planning Secrets: Use pencils or erasable pens to plan.
You’ve probably used, or at least heard, the phrases “penciling you in” or “I have that down in ink!” These phrases represent a cultural mindset that something in pencil can be tweaked or changed, while something in ink is firm and settled!
In homeschooling, we want to plan in ink because that shows that we are committed to the plan. But things beyond our control very frequently disrupt our plans. An assignment takes longer than expected and needs an extra day or two. A 24-hour bug hits the family, forcing us to bump all assignments by a day. Grandma drops by for a quick visit, and a couple of tasks need to be moved.
Any number of things can impact the ebb and flow of our days, causing us to need to make adjustments. Unfortunately, inked-in scribbles and rewrites can make a chaotic mess of our planners.
This is why planning in pencil is one of our planning secrets. This takes some retraining of the mind, though, as we have to convince ourselves that just because it’s erasable does not mean it’s disposable. Ink doesn’t determine our boundaries — the simple fact that it’s written in the planner determines our boundaries.
Planning in ink is a surefire way to burn out on planning very quickly. But by planning in pencil (or the wonderful erasable pens I’ve recently discovered!), you can set your planning boundaries while maintaining your flexibility at the same time. It’s a win-win!
Oh, and just as one little additional secret, I’ve designed mechanical pencils and erasable pens to match Well Planned Day planners! Sounds like even more of a winner to me!
Planning Secrets: Take it one day at a time.
The first two planning secrets are relatively simple habits to form. The third and biggest secret to building a planning habit is probably also the hardest: I’ve had to learn to give myself grace.
My Type-A personality doesn’t respond well to missing the mark when it comes to planning. I like to get every box checked off. But, it doesn’t always happen. In fact, if I’m honest with myself, most days really don’t go 100% according to plan.
When that happens, I have to remind myself that tomorrow is a brand new day that will give me a fresh start.
Each resource I’ve added to the entire line of Well Planned Day planners has been built on the foundation of this grace. Whether you are choosing an area of focus, laying out and evaluating benchmarks, or finding ways to reward yourself and your children, each activity is a chance to find encouragement and give yourself a boost.
You won’t build a habit of planning until you try. So, grab your toolbox of planning secrets and get started, trying it one day at a time — giving yourself grace each and every day!