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