How do you plan your days? How well do you plan long-term goals, like New Year's resolutions? How do you think about planning in general? Conveniently, both of my planners are running out of pages as the year runs out of days. I'm taking stock of the planners I've used this year (a little moleskin and a Panda Planner) and how well they've served me.
Open-Ended vs. Template
Inevitably, the templated style of planner (ie, anything more than lined or white pages and eg, my Panda Planner) ends up with some categories full of scribbles while others remain barren. And those parts of a planner I do use end up with notes and to-do's that extend beyond the category defined at the top of the cute box intended to keep my life tidy or organized. Meanwhile, the blank canvas of a moleskin always fits, because it can be anything.
However, the idea of a planner that helps you succeed by framing and organizing your days in ways far more useful than scribbling on blank pages is appealing. If I found a planner that really fit, I would prefer it to the open-ended blank space that doesn't remind me to be grateful, or do break projects down into chunks. The blank moleskin doesn't separate my idea for a blog post from urgent deadlines. Inevitably with my moleskin, I resort to scouring pages of notes for bits and pieces of projects and ideas, drawing lines through paragraphs of text just to help me see clearly what's undone.
Guidelines for the Perfect Planner?
My quest for the perfect planner continues. This year, I've decided to try a few things:
- Keep dated items in Google calendar - no dates in the planner
- Organize tasks, to-do's, and ideas into a few general categories for easier browsing
- Focus on cultivating consistent habits, rather than completing goals
- Focus on intention management instead of time management
- Recognize how I handle the days I'm given, rather than try to force the day I've planned
My Customized Planner
With these guidelines, I've been crafting a customized planner using and modifying existing templates I've found online. In case you'd like to try the same thing, here are the websites where I found the materials:
- Commit 30 - Free Planner and Organizational PDF’s
- Passion Planner - Downloads
- Productive Flourishing - Free Planners
- Happiness Planner - Printables
Within the sites referenced above, I found most of the content I wanted, but not all. Specifically, while I found several planner pages designed to reflect on gratitude, I did not find pages to reflect on other things I find helpful. Reflecting on gratitude has been shown to increase happiness, but what if I want to increase other states, like self-kindness and self-care?
Can A Planner Make You A Better Person?
I tend to be hard on myself and sometimes neglect what's best for me. If I were taking care of a child or another person, I would encourage them to exercise, to eat healthily, to get enough sleep. I would make sure they spent time on personal projects and learning, give them a quiet space to do so, and acknowledge their effort. I would do all of this because it would produce the best outcome for them and ultimately, the world.
I would not tell them they aren't capable or their idea is dumb. I would not make them feel indulgent for meditating in the morning instead of jumping to their inbox. Reinforcement of this kind would produce an anxious, demotivated individual. And yet...without stepping back to look upon ourselves in a kind way, we sabotage the better version of ourselves we could be with more self-kindness.
This is why I find reflecting on the ways I took care of myself each day as helpful, if not more helpful, than the things I'm grateful for (sure, you could subsume one of these into the other and eg, be grateful for taking care of yourself in a myriad of ways, but the idea is to draw out a specific kind of reflection.)
Custom Planner Pages for Intention Management
I've created several pages for reflecting on various things I want to stay aware of and thereby cultivate in my life. The reflection pages I've created include:
- Today, I Got Uncomfortable...
- Today, I am Proud of...
- Today, I Took Care of Myself...
- Today, I Took Care of the Earth...
- Today, I Took Care of Others...
- Today, I Made Lemonade...
- Today, I Did Not Waste...
Let me know in the comments...
What strategies you will use to have a successful year? What are your favorite planners? What were your New Year's resolutions this year and what helped you accomplish them? What held you back?
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