I Need a Plan(ner)

Messy pile of calendars, planners, sticky notes, and pads with a 'week-at-a-glance'.

For years I had a simple planner system I loved. It was just the right mix of ink-on-paper, creative doodling, and handy portable calendar for organizing my pre-pandemic life. Finding that planner and system was a bit of its own miracle – I’d never gone more than a few months with a planner or organizer before being seduced by a different one. Along came the Passion Planner and stability (I wrote about in a blog post and was invited to write about it on another blog as well at RediscoverAnalog). Alas, life changes and as my fave Leonard Nimoy said (tweeted actually, but that seems less poetic) just before he died,

Tweet from @TheRealNimoy saying, "A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP"
Live long and prosper 🖖

Unprecedented and Unplanned Times

With the pandemic, my needs changed. I didn’t need a planner that held all the possible information I might need while away at the office for eight hours. I didn’t need something portable at all – the commute from my dining table workspace to my bedroom workspace is not particularly harrowing. 

I found I was making a lot more random lists, and of course the lines between home tasks and work tasks blurred/melted/spontaneously combusted. I also went back to school as well as continuing my full-time job and freelance work. The idea of goals and planning steps toward those goals went out the window, along with all our plans. My daughter’s school schedule (sometimes in person, sometimes remote, never full days, rarely full weeks) changed *nine* times during the school year. I tried to adapt how I used my beloved planner, but it wasn’t meeting my unprecedented needs.

AND

I’m changing my life in a big way in 2022. I’m retiring from my day job, building up my freelance work, and probably taking a part-time job too. (I do have two kids to get through university, and a lot of energy 😄). Who knows how/if I will plan all that? I need something flexible, that’s all I know.

SO

I decided to try out ALL THE PLANNERS!!!!!!!

I didn’t even limit myself (haha as if I would) to bound organizers or binders or notebooks. Why not a desk pad calendar? Maybe sticky notes? What about detachable pages in a pretty little book. What about a pretty big book? Pocket size? 

Side Note About the Distinct Lack of Minimalism

I make up for minimalism in much of my life by having *oodles* of pens and notebooks. And pads, and sticky notes, and markers, and you get the idea. I love them and use them daily, so I don’t usually fret about the maximalism; it doesn’t seem wasteful.

Wasteful, however, seems to have seeped into my planner world. I was going to take a picture of each of the planner items I’ve accumulated, but that would crash my website. Here is a group photo of the, um, handful? pile? hoard? of organizers and planners I have. To add to my embarrassment, I have another two pads on the way (they are BEAUTIFUL – check out bookbindersdesign.com in Sweden – none of these are affiliate links or anything, just excitement). Oops, I mean, if you want to make an well-thought-out intentional choice to bring new material belongings into your life, these would be an option to consider. 🙃

Messy pile of calendars, planners, sticky notes, and pads with a 'week-at-a-glance'.
I might have overdone things

Your reward for reading this far is to claim any of the (many) unused or barely-used items I have left. If you see anything you like in the photo above, let me know! All stationery deserves an appreciative home. 🙂 Seriously, I will happily send you my extras, just ask.

Back to the Planners

I experimented with varying sizes and types of my beloved Passion Planner (they have free pdf templates online), the Panda Pro, and I ended up designing my own pages for a filofax organizer binder. I found it tedious to print and cut the pages though, never mind that the paper is nowhere near the quality I want – at least the designing was fun!

I’m currently trying out – with great success, but it’s early days – the filofax notebook system. It’s got movable pages and is less calendar-y than the others, so it suits me and all my lists. The internet tells me that my pretty notebook will fit pages from similar-sized disc notebook systems, but so far I’m happy with the types of pages and calendars I have for it. I am looking forward to the days of doodling all my ideas for trips.

Medium-size notebook with colourful leaves on the front.
Ding ding ding! We have a winner! 🏆

What I Learned

My process is to open my planner in the morning, say hello to myself, and think about what needs to get done that day, what I want to get done, and how I want to approach the world. Here are the things I need/want a place for:

  • Word(s) of the day to give me focus.
  • Dinner. It’s not helpful to remember to thaw something at 4 pm.
  • Three priorities. Only three, otherwise the word “priority” is a bit too watered down.
  • Lists of non-priorities that may or may not get done that day, but are easy to find the next day. Or the next week. Or month.
  • Frequently used lists, like my monthly ritual or a class outline, that I use to plan my tasks.
  • Meetings and appointments, but not too much space for this – they’re in my phone/computer too, I just want a general way to picture the shape of my day.
  • Quick visual of my kids’ schedules, again no details needed here.
  • Long-term planning (hahahahahahahaha, good one, COVID).
  • Tasks – like putting the garbage out or paying a credit card that doesn’t have auto-pay – that need to be done on a certain day. [FUN FACT: Our garbage collection is every six business days. It is a different day every week and gets extra confusing when there are holidays. If you live in a place (anywhere but London, Ontario probably) that has a regular schedule, pause to give that predictability some appreciation right now.]
  • Reminder to reflect on what went well or didn’t, maybe a gratitude list.
  • Dreaming. In the Passion Planner it’s called the “space of infinite possibility” and every planner – every life – needs that!

I’ll update you next year (I put a note in my planner to do that), so we’ll see how long I stick with my current system. I did promise myself to not spend another penny on planner items, so that may motivate me!

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