Y’all, whew. After spending a year at home doing things I love, I have returned to a 9-5 job (that I also happen to love!). Being patient and able to wait for the perfect opportunity was such a blessing! I couldn’t have mapped this interesting career twist for all the planning in the world. After surviving The Job That Nearly Killed Me, it’s refreshing to wake up every day excited to go to work.
The only thing is…
OMG how do I get All The Things done?!? I recall that I used to be able to. Hell, I worked full time and went to college full time while raising two boys as a single mama, and still had time for hobbies and friends. I can cram a LOT into 24 hours. Or at least I used to be able to. Maybe it’s that I’m getting older and when I get up at 5 a.m. I *need* to go to sleep by 9 p.m. I didn’t used to need 8 hours of sleep but now somehow I do.
I don’t like to blame things on age, though, that’s just silly. I must have some time and energy sucks attached to my person, or some lingering election malaise. Something.
While I do carry my planner everywhere and look at it often, I haven’t been using it properly (i.e., the way I used it back when I could get shit done). For years I was good about following a system based on 7 Habits – identifying priorities based on values; project mapping; prioritizing tasks; etc. (You’ve read this book, right? It’s an oldie but goodie.)
I have fallen off the 7 Habits wagon and it is painful. So so painful. I wave to my beautiful yarn and watercolors as I walk past them on my way to things I “have to” do. But do I have to do them, really?
I just don’t know anymore.
Franklin Covey planners have been my bestie for years. Frankie is for people who want to get shit done. He doesn’t invite you to explore your soul while you’re planning. He doesn’t ask how you feel today or what your dreams are because he’s a planner, not a journal. In short, he’s utilitarian and very good at his job. Sturdy, serious, and smart.
I’ve always used the two pages per day spread because I’m an obsessive notetaker and list maker. Also, focusing on one day at a time is a great way to go through life.
But, over the past year (and particularly since I returned to work), I’ve found that the big picture has been getting lost. My long-term projects that I had to carry from day to day in my planner became a daily reminder of my lack of progress. I started to resent confronting that feeling every night. Stopped writing things down. Started forgetting things.
Before long, I forgot my whys.
Thus, I ended up with a tangle of half-started projects on the corner of the sofa and a pile of untouched watercolors. Writing time = non-existent.
I’m basically getting nothing done beyond the basic functions of daily life.
This will not do. This is not living.
It was easy for me to make sweeping generalizations from the cheap seats this time last year: If you want to do something badly enough, you’ll make time for it. I had unlimited time to do whatever the hell I wanted to do.
Now that I’m back to trying to cram 80 hours of stuff into a 24-hour day, I still stand by that but with a caveat: You’ll probably need to look hard at how you spend your time and let a few things go. Or you may have to embrace doing some things just ok, which is difficult for us perfectionists.
I miss writing intensely. I draft articles in my head on my commute and frantically scribble notes when I’m done driving. I plan projects at lunchtime. I think about what I’ll paint on the drive home. I tell myself every morning: Tonight will be different. After Smalls is fed, bathed, read to, and tucked away in bed, I will not collapse into a heap with my face in a book, read two pages, and fall asleep. I will stay awake and do some of that writing or work on a project. And every night, I collapse in a heap.
On Saturday I try to unpack all of that mental energy I’ve expended into something tangible…but it’s not there. The notes don’t make sense, or I no longer care about words I cared so very much about a few days before, or I’m so overwhelmed by the volume of ideas that I can’t see through them.
Sunday is for church and family time, so I don’t want to tuck myself away in my office to write.
Enter the New Planner
My Franklin Covey was going to run out of pages on June 30. In dire need of an immediate planning solution, I popped into Staples. Alas, Staples didn’t have any of the Franklin Covey July-July page inserts (though you can buy them on Franklin Covey’s website). I was on my way to the pen section (because in addition to a yarn problem I also have a pen problem) when I spotted the Big Happy Planner.
And stickers. So. Many. Stickers. Silly planner hobby. Planner decorating is for people who like to use “planning” to procrastinate rather than get real things done.
But then I saw folder pocket inserts, dashboard inserts, and *gasp* be still my heart NOTEPAPER INSERTS in TWO sizes!
I might have made a huge mistake and have to go running back to Frankie, but I left the store with a Big Happy Planner.
I might have also spent an insane amount of money on stickers, and by insane I mean anything more than $1. I have a Silhouette and can make my own damn stickers.
They also have a punch that you can use to punch your own insert pages, which is a really cool thing to be able to do. I can remember years ago trying to do a BuJo in a spiral notebook and carefully slicing hole edges with an X-Acto knife to be able to move pages around. What a PITA that was.
I used to pffffffft at the make-your-planner-cute hobby that popped up in the last couple of years. Setting up each week with cute stickers and washi tape was a silly waste of time (though I did try it!). Like, the whole point of planning is to get things done, and here I was creating more work for myself *and* taking away time from the things I was planning to do. Minutes are precious. Decorating a planner can take hours.
But it’s so much fun.
That’s one of the reasons I cheated on Frankie Baby with Erin Condren for a few months. I liked the weekly pages and the ability to cute things up, but there wasn’t enough space for all I wanted to accomplish. My mind felt crammed into three little boxes a day with no space for notes and no way to insert notepaper or folders to corral extra things I needed.
Anyway. So now I have a new planner. I can see a whole week at a time. I got the BIG Happy Planner so the three boxes per day are much bigger than the EC. And the ability to insert and remove pages (I *heart* you notepaper!) is a HUGE improvement over the EC.
I will no longer get so lost in microdetails that my overall project plans get forgotten.
It’s really nice being able to carry more than two months of planner around at a time (BIG drawback using Franklin Covey two pages per day). It’s also nice to not have to carry an entire year with me, as with the EC, because she was a super heavy planner.
Here’s what I’m using, though I haven’t been using it long enough to make any recommendations.
The first thing I did with my Big Happy Planner was yank out a year of weekly pages. It’s an 18-month planner, but I only need six months at a time. (When I get to the end of July I’ll take July’s pages out and put January 2018 pages in.) I did leave all the monthly calendar tabs in, along with the corresponding second half of the calendar. That way if I do any long-range planning, I can make a note on the monthly calendar and transfer it when I put that month of weekly pages in.
God that sounds complicated. There is a method to my madness, I swear!
Beyond that, I’m not really sure how I’ll end up using my new planner. I figure after a month of daily use I’ll organically discover how the layout and inserts work best for the way I plan.
But I’m not doing any of that bullet journal nonsense. Ain’t nobody got time for that. 😉
All of this to say that I am slowly working on getting my shit back together and publishing patterns and writing things and talking about painting and such.
I’m so glad you asked.