Paper Planner

With anxiety sky-rocketing over this past year, I’ve been looking to “complete” more of those invisible tasks I mentioned in my last post by writing them down or scheduling them in my calendar and whatever necessary office requires an appointment as soon as they come to me. Once I’ve written an item down as a future task in my planner or called the office to make the appointment, I can release that task until it’s due.

For this reason, I highly recommend a paper planner. I’ve been using a paper planner for several years and finally have my system down to an art. This year, I’m using the Blue Sky Day Designer Daily/Monthly 8×5 planner. I’ve been on the Day Designer wagon for a while but this is my first time using such a small version. I was worried that it wouldn’t be big enough to accomodate all of my notes but I use the paper planner for quick reminders and abbreviated schedules and keep the details in my online calendars. I used to think I could walk away from the online calendars once I got my paper calendar up and running but alas. Those insane bloggers with the multiple calendar transfers at scheduled intervals? Yeah, that’s me now.

At the start of the year, I go through all of my calendars and get all of the important, known dates transferred into my paper calendar monthly views. Before the start of each new month, I go through my online calendars and transfer dates that I’ve scheduled on my phone into my month view as well. Before each week, I transfer dates from the monthly calendar view into the specific days along with work meetings scheduled on my work calendar. It sounds horrible and redundant and inefficient but it keeps me sane. Different strokes, am I right?

Anyway, I color code the thing too. Pink for my daughter. Blue for my son (I know, I know. The gender sterotyping is appaling). Green for my husband. Gray for work. Red for personal to-do items. Purple for fun items. Yellow for info-only.

Once I started doing the calendar transfer thing, I figured I’d be one of those people who gets into the stickers or uses a stencil to make perfect shapes to color or maybe writes in different colors but in practice I’ve found the more complex it gets, the less likely I am to stick with it (and I couldn’t stand the colored writing).

I use “◯” is as an event indicator. I freehand it. I make a tiny circle in the middle of the hour line if I have an event on the half hour and if it’s an odd appointment time I follow the “◯” with the time (example: “◯:45 doctor”). The planner I use comes with square boxes for tasks so those get color coded as well. Checkmark = complete. Strikethrough = didn’t do it and not moving it forward. Right arrow means I moved it forward to a future date (and here’s the key: you actually have to write it down on a future date; it might not be tomorrow but it has to be scheduled). I put the anniversaries at the top right corner in the quotation box. Highlighters can be purchased here.

I’ve even started to put basic reminders about how to be a good person in my calendar like “call your best friend” or “Jane’s big presentation.” I used to think that if you were a good person / friend, you’d just remember those things. And maybe I still do. But I also believe that I’ve got what I’ve got with regards to mental capacity and what I got currently includes a lot of unecessary clutter and anxiety choking out the important things. So I’ve started writing them down when I hear them and replacing “absent minded” with “intentional” in my running narrative.

If your axiety has you feeling absent minded lately, I hope you’ll consider my strategy. More importantly, I hope you’ll share yours!

What tricks do you use to keep ahead of your anxious thoughts? How do you stay on task?

Reviewing the KonMari Method: Over a Year Later

I downloaded Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy on my Kindle the other day and read through the chapters in a matter of hours. The new year is full of resolutions and while tidying wasn’t on the forefront of mine, seeing my friends engage in their first reading of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up inspired me to check out her second book.

I read the first book in 2016 and at the time, I didn’t quite see the impact that I expected.  I donated a lot of things. I recycled a lot of things. I got rid of a lot of things. But most of the clutter I let go of was already craftily hidden away behind closed doors so it didn’t feel all that different in my house when I looked around.

But things often change beneath the surface before those things manifest in plain sight, don’t they?

I reminded Freddy this afternoon that he was unimpressed with my first run at the KonMari method of tidying and he scoffed, saying, “Really?!”

Today he says since reading that book we’ve changed the way we buy. We’ve changed the filter through which we evaluated what we need or need to keep. We have a home for things in our house.

That’s not to say that we’ve kept things in the same locations I chose in 2016 for those things we keep. I’ve moved objects around quite a bit since first choosing homes for them but I’ve refined locations. It helps to have open spaces where items will fit.

Reading Spark Joy prompted me to take another look around our house. I sifted through some of the categories I had put aside. I revisited categories I had gone through already. And I realized that I have come a long way in understanding the things that give me joy and the things that I am ready to let go.

If you haven’t had a chance to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I highly encourage you to do so.

It changed my life. And with a little grit and commitment, it can change yours too.

A Planner

I’m a planner.

Well, no. That’s not entirely correct. What I mean to say is that I’m a natural worrier which is a bit like planning but involves spending much more of your time thinking up outlandish worst case scenarios than actually doing anything to prevent them. But I do own a planner.

That’s something, I suppose.

I bought a physical planner this past fall for the first time since I was in college. I’ve tried to manage things off memory, caffeine, and a smartphone for years between graduation and then and while I don’t know that I’ve missed any critical life events, I did miss last year’s annual association meeting for my neighborhood. For which I am the secretary. And required to be present to read meeting minutes from the previous year and take minutes for the current year.

We had our 2017 association meeting this evening which meant I had to cop to my absence from the prior year and explain to my neighbors why I chose to have a date night on the same evening in 2016. Which really shows you how terribly I need a planner since my husband and I date about 3 times a year, give or take. What are the odds that it would coincide with the one time a year I’m committed to my neighbors?

Joke’s on me though because they took the opportunity to reelect me to this position for another 3 years. Well played, neighbors. Well played.

So here I am. Nearly 30 and going back to the school aged’s lifeline: the planner. And I love it. I’ve absolutely been more prepared in the past several months than I’ve been in ages.

Every Sunday, I go through my phone to copy down work events into my planner to get me thinking about what my week will entail. I look up the weather for the week and write down the highs and lows for each day. I take that book with me nearly everywhere so I can stay up to date with appointments, events, and reminders. And it’s not always that I’m entirely organized. Sometimes I start writing down my To Do / To Call / To E-mail / To Buy / To Focus for the week and I come up with blanks.

But do you know what blank spaces beg for? Something to fill them. It’s a natural call out to a life that’s slipping into maintenance living. Unintentional and carried away.

I have a few more months with my Sugar Paper academic planner and then I’m switching over to my pre-ordered Passion Planner. And I’m so nerd-ing excited! There’s something wonderful about starting fresh midyear! Yet as the bloggers at Day Designer reminded me this week, we can really start fresh every single day…