I give up. I cave. I can’t take it anymore.
I think it’s finally time to get (and use!) a planner.
People who know me would be shocked to hear this admission. For so long, I have prided myself on the fact that I am a pretty organized person. I’ve never needed to keep a schedule because I have an incredible memory for tasks and appointments. I occasionally write to-do lists, only to loosely follow them and still do everything that needs doing.
But, this has not been the case lately:
- I missed my son’s 1 year well visit (yes, even with the phone call reminder)
- I paid my credit card late for several months (the old me would fire the current me)
- I forgot to pickup my farm share (even though I remembered it earlier in the day)
- I had a library book that was more than a month late (ahem, should have just bought the book)
- I have no idea what I need to do when I actually have a few minutes to spare
Actually, the last one is the worst of all. I have such few moments of precious time, but because I don’t have a solid plan of what I am going to do with that time, I end up squandering it away on social media or consuming content in the form of books or podcasts which is so much easier for me than creating.
My Unscheduled Life
I am just so tired of feeling unaccomplished. I am tired of my whole day being reactive to the onslaught of family life. Someone’s hungry? I drop what I’m doing and feed them. Someone needs a playmate? I drag out an activity to keep a child occupied only to be sucked into helping or playing as well. Someone had an accident? Clean up duty. Laundry overflowing? I can do that while I’m doing x, y, z. And then suddenly it’s 3 pm and my mind is spinning and I have no idea where my day has gone.
I would also like to throw in here that my husband is not very routine oriented, so a lot of times, my days get swept up in the mire of “Hey, honey, I’m going to paint this room today so what color do you want it?” And then I have to switch gears entirely to deal with that (because how can you say no to a husband who wants to paint the house?).
Trying to get my family on a schedule with a partner who resents being bound by a schedule is so hard. And the kids barely have a concept of time so they’re not much help in this department. Most days I feel as though I am swimming against the current of everyone else in my household.
And yes, as everyone loves to remind me, I do have a baby. He is just over a year and that first year is so demanding. There truly is very little time to carve out to do much of anything beyond caring for his basic needs and keeping the household from imploding.
That said, I am finally beginning to emerge from that new baby black hole and I am ready to hit the ground running.
Picking a Planner
I was inspired to check out some of the planners that were mentioned in one of my favorite podcasts and found most of them to be too feminine or frilly for my taste. I was looking for something simple and professional, with a clear, effective layout.
Thus, I came to find the Get to Work Book.
I really like the design of this planner. It is a solid piece, a tad heavy duty, but I actually like that aspect. I do most of my work at home so I don’t need to worry about schlepping it back and forth to an office. Part of why it’s heavy is that it has a great number of “extra” pages geared for helping people focus, define priorities, and free space. All of which is exactly what I need.
The structure contains what you typically would expect. A monthly view followed by a weekly view with ample space under each weekday. The weekly view begins with a column housing three blocks for highlighted action items. Each day has space for your top 3 items, and there is grid space along the entire bottom of the page. I find this to be plenty of structure while still providing free space for ideas and notes.
I love how the book also has a high-level monthly focus, beginning with a page to review your performance in the prior month and set goals for the new month.
The next page is a motivational page on a firmer cardstock that is perforated so that you can take it out and pin it on your wall if you like (shoutout to creator Elise because it is such a great idea!). These pages include sayings like “Start at the Beginning” and “Think Big Work Small” in fun graphics. Below that you can include a theme or set an intention for the month.
My hope is that a more proactive view of my days, planned in advance, will assist in two aspects. I’d like to be more efficient with my household tasks by planning them out and consolidating work. And second, I’d like to plan out what creative projects I’m going to do and when I’m going to devote time to them. So that when I get a moment where both boys are napping or a rare moment of peace while they are awake, I will know exactly what I want to do.
I think the hardest part will be deciding what I want to do next year and making sure that my goals are reasonable. A huge struggle for me is accepting that I really have very limited time because of my family life – I always think that I can get so much more done than reality dictates. I have chosen to be my children’s primary caretaker and will continue to be so for at least another 2 years (until the baby is 3). So, everything that I do must be within the constraints of managing my large family.
The rest of this month, I am going to be carefully considering which creative projects I want to work on, which organizational projects to complete from my very long backlog, and how to streamline my home tasks to free up more time for these things.
Are you starting to think about your focus for 2019? If you are a planner person, please share your tips for staying motivated to keep track of all the things…