If I linked to every blog post I’ve ever written about planners, I’d have a list like a mile long. In fact, why have I never flat out made a “planner” category? Or at least a tag?! I should do that. Hold on, let me write that down so I don’t forget.
Uh… where was I? What was I writing about? PLANNERS! (As an aside; my doctor just sent out an email that they’re doing ADHD testing, and I’m kind of tempted to get in on that. What if I do have ADHD and some meds would help my brain focus? But worse, what if I DON’T have ADHD and I’m just a fucking flake?!
Side note, I started this blog post at 7 AM this morning; it’s now almost 2:30. I’ve taken time out from writing it to eat breakfast, hang out with the dogs outside, get orders together to mail, go to the grocery store, eat lunch, email my doctor about an appointment to talk about tinnitus, called a pet boarding facility that does both doggy day care and long-term boarding to see if I can schedule a meet-and-greet for the dogs, ordered a spare battery for the pressure washer because it seems that that’s the only thing I don’t have multiple batteries for and Jeff was powerwashing something that took five times longer because he had to keep charging the battery, and sat with the dogs one more time while I had some ice cream. OK BRAIN, YOU TOOK CARE OF ALL THOSE THINGS, CAN I PLEASE WRITE THIS BLOG POST NOW???
Anyway. I posted on Facebook the other day about planners, asking if anyone had one they liked (or didn’t like) because I’m in the mood for a new one, because once again, I’m not opening the one I have. Which is a cycle I seem to go through every couple of years. The good news is that there are a gazillion planners out there so it’s easy to find one that has stuff I want and not stuff I don’t need. The bad news is that there are a gazillion planners out there and I don’t live near any of them, so if I want to flip through one to see how it “feels,” I have to order it. About… three years ago, maybe, I did that. I ordered a few different pre-printed planners and dot grid journals, flipped through them, felt the paper, looked at the layout, and then gave away the ones I didn’t like. I just ordered five pre-printed ones (and a couple of dot grids from another place) so I can do the same thing. So it seems like this is just going to be a thing I do every few years, and that’s OK. Although maybe I should keep the ones I don’t like, with a big note on the outside that says “YOU DIDN’T LIKE THIS ONE” so I don’t do something boneheaded like order one I didn’t like, again. Haha. *side eye*
I also sat down with six of the planners that I’ve gotten the most use out of in the last eight years (I seem to use about two a year, or three over two years). I flipped through them and looked at what was going on with the pages I used the most, the pages I used the least, the pages I seemed to stop using halfway through even though I kept using that planner for a while, and here are my observations:
I don’t like planners that ask you a lot of questions. I can see the use of the questions, the things to review, but… I don’t want those in a day planner. If it is more of a workbook kind of thing, geared towards businesses….? That, I use. But I don’t use the ones that come in planners that are all about – for example – blending one’s work and life goals into a balanced chart of steps you’ll take to reach the finish line of all of those goals together at the same time, ideally at the end of the year. I don’t have things like “love and relationship goals”… I mean, other than “make sure the people I love know I love them and be generous with my time and heart when it comes to them” which is not so much a GOAL as A WAY OF LIFE.
I don’t, as a friend on Facebook said, need forced toxic positivity. I don’t need space to write three things I’m grateful for in a day (I mean, I do do that, but I do it in my mediation app, and I don’t need to do it twice). I don’t need a space for “how I’ll make next week great” or “things I could reframe to be more positive” or whatever the fuck. If that’s in an actual journal, like a diary type thing? Fine. But all I want for my work planner is a place to write down shit I’ve got to do, with space for notes about it.
I also don’t want monthly review/planning pages, or worse, WEEKLY. I barely have time to sit down and do quarterly sales tax, where am I finding time on the last and first of every month (OR WEEK) to hash out what worked, what didn’t work, what I can do better, how fulfilled I am, what I’m planning on doing next. I’ve said this before, but I kind of am always doing that with work, all the time. I go over things like that in my head while I’m painting, while I’m working on ceramics, while I’m wrapping soap. Those things are always on my mind, on some level. If I had a dedicated sit-down time to write it all out I’d probably forget half of it since I didn’t write it down at the time I thought of it!
Anyway, that does mean that a large swath of “popular” planners aren’t geared for me. But going back and looking over past planners was actually the most helpful thing I think I’ve done as far as planner planning goes. I could see what was really working for me. I could see that like with most people, when Covid and that first lockdown started that I didn’t do anything with my planner for weeks. And then that things started to go off the rails for me when Heath got sicker, and I started to go down for a week every couple of weeks to help him out and be there for the girls. I could see that it took me about a year but I was starting to get my shit back together when Tim got sick, and then shit went WILDLY off the rails and are, honestly, still not right yet.
But. But they’re getting ready, and I’m starting to think that writing something down with a due date on it might not be the kiss of death. That maybe things will actually go right… or at least, not wildly wrong. Is it planning this trip to the UK next year? Is planning that, even though it’s a year off, making me trust that the sun will set at night and rise in the morning and things will happen in their own time and that it’s OK to look forward to things?
See, in the last couple of weeks, I’ve been feeling this… itch. I want to make some plans. I want to commit to something. I want to put an idea down on paper and watch it come to life over a period of time. It really has been lovely, these last couple of months, just playing in the studio and not trying to make myself restock and bring new things in perfectly. That I’ve just been letting myself experiment with shapes and colors and textures has healed me in a way I didn’t know it would. I think I’m ready to make some plans.
Those five pre-printed planners I ordered? They came in a couple of days ago, and there was a clear winner out of the pile (and it wasn’t the one I was expecting it to be). Stay tuned for that post later this week, probably Friday.