In the Raw: Planners are like Underwear.

Today I hit a wall.

Okay, it’s a wall I’ve seen coming for awhile and I’ve been deep in denial, but still the wall came and we met. It was not pleasant.

The wall did not shake hands. He was not welcoming. He had a large beatdown stick and was very clear on how I’m a failure and what in the world did I think I was ever going to accomplish – write a book? Never. I might as well get used to that. 

That wall? My planner.

I grew up with the Franklin Planner Catalog (before Franklin met Covey and his habits) arriving in the mail every quarter – especially thick and enticing toward the end of the year. Boasting shiny pages of new forms to help my mom manage all her duties and keep focused and stay afloat while homeschooling four kids.

So it makes complete sense that Franklin-Covey and I were together high school through college and into my years as a teacher. That sleek black leather binder weighed over 10lbs with all the forms and pages I crammed in there and though I didn’t use every part of every form, it was still responsible for me being responsible. 

But as things happen, my view and use of a planner changed so we parted ways. I said goodbye to paper planners for almost 10 years. My iCalendar app worked well and I was thankful for its minuscule weight.

The last few years however, I have dipped back into the world of paper planning but on my own terms. My brilliant friend Canva and I created a personal planner that has evolved to now include a blog planner with all the bells and whistles – completely unique to my needs.

My planner is a conglomeration of a lot of ideas from others and things I liked arranged in the way I needed to be useful for me and my crazy life. I know. There’s a lot of “me” in that last sentence but a planner is intensely personal – and it’s still being tweaked. Especially on days like today.

Ever have one of those aimless wandering days where you have a vague awareness of pressing things to do and absolutely no desire to act? No? I’m the only one. To attempt some clarity, I began to flip through my planner (a cute binder from Hobby Lobby that is unfortunately not lasting) and noticed my Yearly Goals sheet. One glance and a good ole fashioned guilt trip was all I earned. My carefully and reasonably chosen goals unmet and boxes unchecked.

Then I had a bolt of realization.

Why do I have those darn things in there to begin with?? I thought back over my planner journey. I’ve never ever been excited to grow and learn while seeing all the goals I don’t end up meeting or fail at so all that’s accomplished: I get so discouraged I give up all together. WHY in the world do I even waste the precious space on that dead weight??!

So I did the most liberating thing I’ve done since decluttering my wardrobe. I not only ripped them out of my binder, but I ripped them up into little itty bits!!

This planner is supposed to be representative of me.

I have goals and lists. I have plans but getting there has never been the “plot it out and achieve it” method. That would be my sister, not me. My specialty is to take the long and twisty paths that sometimes aren’t paths at all.

I’m currently reading through The Sacred Enneagram and realizing that doing the hard work of seeing the inner me for who I am sometimes makes the rest of “my goals” feel trite. In reality, that list I think I should accomplish will actually check off itself if I do the deep work first.

Hence my claim: Planners are like underwear.

  • Your perfect one will not work for me and mine will not be perfect for you. If seeing your goals freak you out and all you can see is what isn’t getting done, then for the love of all things, rip those sheets out and stay sane. Keep working on the goals but do it your way. Keep track of what you want to do and who you want to become – but do it in the way that doesn’t feel like a prison cell.
  • A good planner is the foundation of getting things done. Going commando isn’t advisable if you have deadlines and tasks and 3 kids who cannot leave you alone. Plus, getting all that stuff in your brain out on a piece of paper will make your brain very happy.
  • Sometimes you need a new one (or a new version of the current one). Life changes. You change. Seasons change. That’s one of the reasons I’ve stayed with creating my own forms. I can change colors (thank you printer ink) or style or font or even placement as I only print the current quarter.
  • Buying one for someone else isn’t advisable. They need to go through the process of figuring out what truly works for them. Options are endless – disc bound, spiral bound, mini binder, full sheet binder… weekly view, daily view – it just goes on. Ever tried to figure out the underwear section in the store?? Yeah. Same thing.

This last bit I’ve figured out with my two middle schoolers. They both needed a system that would help them remember assignments but also gradually move from the school-mandated idea to their own desire to keep track of family celebrations and after-school activities. I tried to shoehorn them into my preferred planner. Neither of them were helped and all of us were frustrated.

So finally I took them to the store individually and they looked through the variety. My boy was far simpler than my girl. He found his quickly. It was simple, no fuss, no special design. Form follows function in his mind.

She, on the other hand, took a long time to muddle through her choices. She tried BulletJournaling, Franklin-Covey, and finally landed on a small disc bound planner by Happy Planner. Function and Form are equally important to her. She loves the cute and yet customizable but still concise.

This process helped them learn (and me too) that yes, they do need a planner, but it’s a very personal decision – no one else can make it for you.

So flip through that planner – or whatever you use to keep up with your life.

Ask yourself: Does it work for you or are you using someone else’s underwear? If you are, rip those things off and find your own! 🙂

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Photo by Yleidis Maldonado on Unsplash

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