Opinion

It’s NOT a scrapbook!

My planner is always with me. I’ll occasionally show someone as a self-deprecating way to show that yes, I am a Planner with a capital “P”, and my need for grids, deadlines and advance logistics is just part of my DNA.

When I did this recently in a meeting, a co-worker called it a “scrapbook”, and I was AGHAST. My planner, a scrapbook?! Never.

To be fair, yes, there are stickers, and snapshots and color coding and the occasional sketches. It is part future-focused planner, part journal and part memory tracker. You know, part scrapbook. Sigh. I’m a crafty person, and some of my favorite people are scrapbookers (hey, Jen!). I’ve just been marinating in my reaction and wondering why I was so put off. Was it because I was at work? Because I was in a meeting of just men for what might have been the first time in my career? (Hazards of being in HR.) Because I have an unconscious bias against scrapbooking and believe knitting to be a superior craft?

It’s because calling it a scrapbook seemed to minimize the usefulness of my planner.

2018 end pages: ok, it’s part scrapbook!

My planner is how I get it all done. Not the actual paper planner itself, but the practice of planning. Each Sunday, I sit down and plan my week. That does not mean transcribing meetings and appointments from my two digital calendars (work and family). It means time blocking sleep. Highlighting time I get with my son, a visual reminder of our time together when the mom-guilt over having goals that have nothing to do with him creeps in. Checking to make sure I have time to myself each week. Keeping boundaries around my work. Setting priorities for the week so that I’m chipping away and making my aspirations become a reality.

As my friend Teresa reminds me, it’s not a time management tool, it’s ruthless prioritization.

What’s important to me and when do the important things get done?

Analog planner use is on the rise, specifically among millennial working moms. I think this is because we* are told we can have it all: Pinterest-level bento lunch boxes for the kids and a fulfilling dual-career family life? No prob! And we look breezy since we all sport on-point messy buns and of-the-moment wardrobes thanks to StitchFix. It’s all Insta-worthy! And so incredibtly overwhelming.

Planners are a powerful combination of writing down plans to make them happen, carving out time for self-care, balancing all the parts we play and a form of self-expression. Dreams, drop-off schedules and date nights all get mixed together.

My planner is the foundation of my happiness strategies – planning is how I make happiness happen. As we head into November, now is a great time of year to reflect on the systems and tools you’re using to get done the things that are most important to you. If you don’t have a practice, consider starting – even a simple start of a small monthly calendar to track three things you want to get done each day will help you determine if planning is for you.

If you’re already a planner (or scrapbooker), let me know what planner you use and why you love it in the comments.

Journal Prompt:
What aspirations do you have for yourself?
What strategies do you currently use to make sure you’re making weekly progress?

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