When you purchase a new diary, you’re taking the first step towards being more organised. However, it really is only the first step.

Just like you won’t get fit simply by joining a gym, you won’t keep on top of your life and work unless you put the effort into making your diary work for you. So here are five tips on how to get more from your next diary.

1. Always have your diary with you

If you only use your diary for work, then ensure it’s always on your desk or with you when you go to meetings. If you have a single diary covering work and home, then it needs to travel with you always. The minute a task or job has a deadline, write it in your diary.

2. Buy the right diary for your needs

If you do need to take your diary everywhere, a large size may not be the most suitable. Then again, if you’re a comprehensive note-taker, a pocket size will leave you wanting. If you need to plan far ahead, consider purchasing an 18 month diary. Basically, determine how you plan to use your diary and then purchase accordingly.

3. Don’t treat every event or deadline as a single entry

In the same way a digital diary provides reminders, you can include prompts for yourself a day or two ahead of major deadlines to ensure they do not sneak up on you. If you have a series of tasks that are leading up to a major event, you can also diarise these. So you break down a big job into it’s parts, ensuring you’re more likely to meet a deadline.

4. Open it first every day

Your diary should be your critical reference point. So it needs to be opened every day before you start any new tasks. You can then plan your day, adding immediate ‘to do’ items, and looking ahead to see what’s coming up in the next day or so.

5. Consider using colours

You don’t automatically need to write everything in black or blue pen. Colour coding can help you see, at a glance, the type of task or event you have coming up. Perhaps you can use green for meetings, red for critical work deadlines and black for everyday tasks.