Every year since 6th grade I have looked forward to that feeling you get when a fresh planner arrives ready for you to decide blue ink or black ink? The planners have changed and improved a lot since 1992 and I’ve tried so many: Julie Morgensterns planner, Franklin Covey’s planner, the Day Planner, the Simplicity Planner, Danielle Laporte’s planner (this years looks so dreamy it’s the only thing really tempting me), Erin Condron planner, Moleskine planner, The Greatest Planner, bullet journals, true story: I made my own planner and was really close to investing in getting it printed. I’ve tried so many and while my love for paper and lists and productivity remains so strong this year I’m skipping the planner.
I found that my feelings of fulfillment came more from what I had done than how I had lived.
“How was your day?” would get asked and I would respond that it wasn’t a great day – I didn’t get all 15 of the things that I had unfairly put upon myself done and so I felt like a failure. I had sent a call from a friend to voicemail because I had things that “had to get done” and everything felt like a walk through a pit of tapioca pudding and I loathe tapioca pudding.
I was forcing things to fit in 15 or 30-minute buckets that didn’t belong there.
Because I was thinking of everything as very deadline driven I was forcing myself to identify how long something would take me before getting into it. This was negative on so many levels. For one, things that I genuinely didn’t want to do I had decided would take a very long time, requiring hours of free time to do, which I didn’t have (shocker) because everything was stacked in tight, this led to procrastination instead of just starting. On the flip side things that I actually loved doing were rushed into a quick window because there was so much else to do – leaving no time to linger, marinate, enjoy the process. I was never giving myself or my work the time it truly needed so things felt half-assed.
I was judging my day by how much I did rather than how well I did anything.
Last week I went out to buy towels. Now, we don’t NEED new towels but I realized that my comfort and excitement getting out of the shower would be much greater with a really beautiful plush bath sheet than a bath towel. The version of me I am most familiar with would have gone out and found the best bath sheet I could find that day to get that item off the to-do list, but this newer version of me didn’t find any towels that would really bring the joy the way I imagined so it stayed on the list but I found the process SO much more fulfilling. I touched the towels. I looked at how long they were. I thought about if this was going to feel good. And not a one of them hit the mark but I enjoyed the process SO much. It wasn’t about getting that task done and off the list. This is such a major shift for me.
My motivation was geared more towards getting something done than the
process and life living involved in doing something.
Without a planner how does anything happen?
I have two lists in a notebook. One list of things that need to get done on a timeline and one of things that I’d like to see happen in the flow. The list lasts me the week. I’m not micromanaging when something must get done (although I do highlight things with a due date of today) and I’m not trying to make it fit into some unnatural timetable. It’s giving me room to do the work when it feels really good to do it and the output of that is work I’m much happier to do and I think is better than ever.
If you had an ugly sinking feeling of dependency at the thought of losing your planner I think that just might be a sign your life would love living itself without that planner.