In An Effort to Organize

If you know me well in real life, you know that for the past several years, I have been hopelessly devoted to my paper planner. I had been using the same brand for the last three years or so, and when I decided to make the switch to a new one, I was equal parts excited and nervous wreck. 

Prior to my use of a paper planner, I had just depended on my phone's calendar and my memory (lol) in order to remember all the things that needed to happen. Needless to say, it wasn't optimal.

So, several years ago, I started using an Erin Condren planner and was immediately obsessed. There were so many choices! And how did people even function with those hourly planners? What! They are organized into three handy boxes for morning, day, and night, it was just what my unorganized soul needed. Aside from the price tag for a planner, I found that the freedom in those three little boxes allowed me to just have a place for the stuff, and that was enough to allow me to sleep at night without fear of being awoken by the cold, hard, realization that I had once again totally forgotten all responsibilities.

Over the last 6 months or so, though, I've felt kind of restless. Not restless with my planner--I do love it, but not so much that I feel the need to associate relationship-style adjectives to how we interact--but with how I was spending my days in general. I would flip through the pages of my planner that were filled with appointments, tasks, and just random lists of to-dos, and had a bit of existential crisis feels happening. 

Then, in conversations with the roommate about said restlessness, I was reminded about this blog post I'd read like a year ago, by this lady who'd made a planner for entrepreneurs. And even though neither of us are entrepreneurs, we looked into them. 

Let it be noted here that once I am on board for something, I am. On. Board.

Oh my gosh. Isn't it just the fanciest? 

Oh my gosh. Isn't it just the fanciest? 

That handy little planner is called The Day Designer, and I just knew it was the logical next step for me. 

Up until this point, I have been keeping my work schedule/tasks/etc, and my personal to-do's separate. It made sense for me for the time that I did it--it was really important to me that I keep myself accountable in some form (and a planner was how it happened) to make sure that I wasn't just working. However, once I became a much more organized version of myself, I realized that maybe what I was looking for didn't have to be compartmentalized between work and personal (because seriously. Twice the work every time I wanted to go do/plan something. What was I thinking?), but I didn't really know what I was looking for. I just knew that I felt like my days were just flying by, and I wasn't sure what they were adding up to, other than just getting a lot of stuff done. 

Roommate helped me find the blog post that I'd read by Whitney English, the maker of the Day Designer (which proved more difficult than you might think, when all she had to go on her search of the internets was me spouting phrases like, "No, I don't know for sure...but I'm pretty sure it was about making days count...but not in a cliche way, ya know?" Bless her.), and I'll include my favorite bit of that post here:

Over the past several years, I’ve spent a lot of time soul-searching, looking for things like “balance” and “authenticity”. The unactionable terms don’t come with directions, or a step-by-step manual for how to find or achieve them. All the branding and business experts tell you to “live authentically” and “be authentic”, and everyone is constantly running around complaining about how un-balanced their lives are. So the questions plagued me: what on earth was my “authentic”? Where was my balance? As I searched, the answers came: authenticity starts with an understanding and acceptance of your genuine purpose, operates with consistent values, focuses on your natural strengths, and balance has the courage to recognize that it cannot be everything to everybody.
— whitneyenglish.com/daydesigner

Let me make sure that last part reeeeeeally sticks: 

Authenticity starts with an understanding and acceptance of your genuine purpose, operates with consistent values, focuses on your natural strengths, and balance has the courage to recognize that it cannot be everything to everybody.

Dang. I can totally appreciate that. The basic premise of the Day Designer is to name your dreams/goals, plan out how to see them happen, work from long-range to short-term deadlines, and then act those out daily. 

Basically: Is the way you're filling your days ultimately adding up to the dreams or goals you want to achieve? Are they building toward the things you feel called toward?

Turns out, a planner isn't going to make that happen for you. Because of course it won't. But I like a product, in this case a planner, that challenges me toward that. It is really tough to put a name to those things you dream and want to one day aspire towards, much less work them out & set things into motion toward attaining them. 

Which is probably why I'm still, a month into using the planner, balking at the beginning pages, which are still pristinely blank, waiting for me to get up the nerve to write down the things that I want to see happen in the next year. The start of the planner has several, ya know, planning pages that help you put a name to what you're dreaming (some of it is pretty entrepreneurially-centered, so you just adapt it), and then brainstorming, and concrete, deadline-y planning. Eek. 

It's also been tough to use it super consistently every day. I love all of the different sections on each page, and I love that each day (except weekends) gets it's own page, but the different format requires time every evening (or morning, if you're a crazy person who doesn't want to use that morning time to do things like sleep), and I haven't been super great about doing that. 

Again, it's a different thing than just jotting down events that are coming up and grocery lists. It can definitely be used for those things, too, but it's built for more. Which requires like 5 minutes every evening to look ahead to the next day. I know. 5 minutes. I'm working on it. 

Let me show you a bit of the inside.

Below is the monthly view: 

It's got a pretty sweet, standard, two-page spread with a space on the left for notes, or monthly to-dos, or a place to keep track of the monthly goals you've made for those long-term goals you haven't written, yet, ME.

The daily page is the real difference maker for me: 

It's so fun how I strategically placed one of the greatest pens in the world to cover a phone number, right? I'm pretty much a professional at this. 

It's so fun how I strategically placed one of the greatest pens in the world to cover a phone number, right? I'm pretty much a professional at this. 

So, some daily page features:

  •  The left side of the page has an hourly layout from 5am-9pm.
  • The right side of each week-day page has a place (with boxes to check!!) for 17 to-dos.
  • The top of each page includes a sweet little quote. 
  • The top right of the page includes an adorably alliterative section for Due, Dollars, Dinner, and Don't Forget. Yes. 
  • The top left section of the page has one of my most favorite features: Today's Top Three: where you look at your list of to-dos that you've dumped out of your head onto paper, and prioritize. So, if there's no way I'm getting everything on that list done: which are the three things that have to get done today. I especially love this because it helps avoid feeling like you've done nothing because you haven't done everything. That Whitney English really knows what she's doing. 
  • The bottom left side of the page has a big space for notes, which is sweet.
  • And then the bottom right side of every page has a space for a daily gratitude.

You'll notice that I chose May 4th as the date to show you, as things got kind of (definitely) sketchy and inconsistent as the end of the school year drew closer. 

I really do love this planner, and want to use it to really see where my time is going, in addition to all of the sanity-mainitaining benefits that a paper planner provides me. 

Hope you've enjoyed this adventure into Nerdy Planner Town. There is truly no limit to how much I could talk your ears off about planners. I should probably be more embarrassed at the truth of that last sentence, but nope. I'm good with it.

Have a good one!