I have always, always been a planner. It’s how I work, it’s how I write, it’s even how I relax. But it’s really hard to plan the year ahead when the normal things we plan our year around – birthdays, holidays, social events, family reunions, celebrations – aren’t likely to happen, at least in the way they normally do. And recently, this lack of ability to plan has sometimes left me overwhelmed and less able to handle all the things we are currently needing to handle.

Just Friends

Just Friends

However, the devout planner in me fervently believes that this is when planning truly comes into its own. So here are my top planning tips. Follow these, and whatever 2021 brings, we’ll be ready.*

*but a couple of quiet days, some good news and coffee would be very much welcomed, thanks.

Break it down

A problem that is too big to plan is too big to fix. I’m not an inspirational quote kinda gal, but if I were, this would be the one I would choose to hang up on my wall.

Use sticky notes

I could write a sizable (and oddly compelling) essay on the benefits of sticky notes, but I won’t (at least not now). However, I will share my top three reasons for why I love them so much. Firstly, they can be moved, and flexibility is an important character trait these days. Secondly, they are a small size (you’re cheating if you buy the big ones), meaning you are forced to break down a problem into three words max. And finally, they only come in happy, optimistic colours.

Reward yourself with snacks

When I took my puppy to dog training classes, the main thing I learnt (apart from the fact that us humans needed more training than the dogs) is to reward your puppy when they do something good. It’s worked well for Ted, and it appears to also work well for me. But remember, the ideal snack is one that won’t leave a residue on your fingers. You don’t want sticky fingers on your sticky notes.

Use a pen with a Big Nib

Nobody wants a plan written in barely visible biro. Your plan won’t have enough gravitas. Thin biro can be ignored. Giant sharpie cannot.

Prioritise the right tasks

Sure, doing my taxes is my least favourite thing, however, worrying about doing my taxes takes up a disproportionately large amount of mental space, and as with most things, it really isn’t that bad once you get started. (Plus, I treat myself to a toasted cheese sandwich when I’m done.)

Leave yourself some wiggle room (and while you’re at it, feel free to plan in some fun)

The only time planning hinders rather than helps is when the plan is too busy and too full of all the boring things. And whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of ‘my best ideas come in my down time’. It’s okay just to have down time that doesn’t come with anything.

RELATED: In praise of dogs by Gill Rowe, author of What A Wag!

How often do you talk to your dog? Every day, obviously! Wherever you are, whether in the kitchen preparing yet another meal, or fuming about lockdown restrictions, relationships and home schooling, or pouring out anxieties about the virus and your loved ones, your faithful dog will always be there to listen and console... to read more click HERE