Tuesday, July 28

On Paper Planners and Getting Ish Done

For some of you this post is going to sound like a broken record because I wax on about my love of paper planners every few months. I get excited about the planner releases every May (for the Academic year releases) and October (for the Traditional year releases) and I moan and stress about about which one will help me get more done. Or just keep me on task - squirrel brain, she is a real thing. And then I typically go with the same layout I've used for a few years (three box vertical - yay!).  I get excited about new sticker and washi releases, and new pens and highlighters make me feel all floopy inside.

Planner pages filled with quotes I love
This year I did go a different route, although my planner is still a vertical layout. Instead of three big, empty boxes, I'm using an hourly layout from the Passion Planner that has two separate areas at the bottom for to-do lists and one just for ... whatever makes me happy.

I know a lot of you are digital planners but that just doesn't work for me (though it does for RadioMan - he is lost without our shared iCal). I realized in ... 2015, I think, that I was losing things. Doctor's appointments, I forgot about lunch with a friend (I KNOW!!), I got mixed up on a deadline (which I met but the meeting of it was skeery)...so I decided to try a paper planner and it worked for me. My brain seems to latch on to appointments, birthdays, events, deadlines and the like when I physically write them down moreso than when I type them into a digital screen. I'm not sure why, it's just my brain.

This year, though, has been weird with planning. Starting with the pandemic and shut-down in March, things just kind of stopped and I started wondering why the heck I needed a planner. There were no doctor's appointments, no karate lessons, no lunch dates or movie dates or writer dates with friends. I still had deadlines, but what else was I going to fill in on all those pages.

And then things got really real with the pandemic and all of these people (no one super-close to me, but still) were getting sick and there were fights about wearing masks and suddenly I was a working, writing, homeschooling mom and the overwhelm was real. My basic planner style is to use the hourly areas of my planner for dayjob stuff or appointments, use the to do list areas for wordcount goals and fill in the rest with pretty stickers. All of that empty, hourly space was freaking me out.

So I started filling it in - my thoughts about what was going on, things that were making me happy, things we were doing as a family like playing games or watching movies. I made lists of dinners and recipes I wanted to try, places I want to go with all of this is over, reminders to myself that things would be okay. And as I was filling in all of that space not with appointments but with things that made me happy, I started to feel better.

Writing out gratitude lists didn't give me control over anything to do with the pandemic, but you know what it did give me control of? What I was thinking. I helped me to remember that in the middle of all of this craziness, I have a family and friends who love and support me and who are loved and supported by me. I have this career that I love (even when it's hard). I have hobbies (quilting, photography) that keep my hands occupied and a stack of recipes that I may never make but that make me feel inspired about cooking dinner.

As the world has started reopening, I'm finding more 'things' to fill in in my planner - orthodontist appointments, karate lessons, a few days out with RadioMan - but I'm also finding that keeping a few 'fun' extras is still important. So I think I'll keep writing my gratitude lists and looking for recipe/dinner ideas to write in along with all of the deadlines, daily wordcount goals, overall career goals, and real-life stuff.

Do you use a paper planner?


  1. I love your planner. And other people's planners. And the one I bought last year with good intentions. But I'm not a planner. Sigh. I'm a forgetter. Great post, Kristi!

    1. thanks, Liz! It's a fun hobby...but I totally get that it isn't for everyone. :)

  2. Though I do enter appointments in my phone, I'm more of a paper planner, too. It's like you said, the act of putting pen to paper somehow makes me more organized. But I just use a plain old calendar and scribble in dates and times. But I love your pretty book, and if it's what you need, good on you.

  3. I usually buy one every year, but abandon it around February. But, I love your idea of documenting these past months the way you have. It's almost like a journal, but not. :)

  4. Girl, I just re-did my address book after using my rubber band-wrapped one for years. Give me a hard copy any day. I also have two wall calendars, AND a Rolodex, need I say more?