Thursday, September 13, 2018

Breaking Up With Paper Planners

For those of y'all who know me, this is somewhat of an earth-shattering post. However, I felt like I should share with the world where I am at in my relationship with planners.

Today is apparently my seven year anniversary of first bringing a Life Planner into my life.

There was a time that I adored the Life Planner. I spent more time than I care to acknowledge picking out the perfect cover. For years, I carried that thing everywhere. I loved talking planners with people, and I regularly spread the message of the joy that a Life Planner could bring.

kate mckinnon weekend update GIF by Saturday Night Live

About three years ago, Life Planners and I broke up. It wasn't so much them. It was me.  I moved into a role where my days were structured differently. Working from home I don't have the volume of meetings and events I once did as when I was based on a campus. I found I was carrying around a planner (which was also really, really heavy y'all) that was mostly empty. I was writing in it out of financial obligation more than anything. So, I just straight up stopped using it midyear. For the rest of that year, I found a planner for $15 while I made up my mind about where to go next.

For this year, I've opted for a Simplified Planner. I LOVE Emily Ley's messaging around living a more simplified life. I credit her work with the significant de-cluttering that Dustin and I have been able to do this year. I was excited for this planner. I mean, y'all, it had SIMPLE in the title. For the most part, I've liked using this one. I can track what I want to for life - Honestly though, that's mostly the books I've read, some birthdays, and replicating the work meetings that are already in my Outlook. While I will always love Emily Ley's work, I can't say that my planner has been anything but a space to write some stuff down.

As the time neared to make some decisions on next year's planner, I didn't feel that excitement I have felt in years past. Release dates have previously been like a holiday for me. I labored over which format and cover I wanted, and I could not wait for the new year to start so I could roll out my new planner. With each one, I vowed that this year would be different in one way or another.

So, as this year's release dates happened, I ultimately decided to not order one. I came to realize that for me, being a paper planner owner had started to become an obligation. (P.S. If a paper planner works for you, that's awesome, and for goodness sakes, you do you.) It had started to become a "have to" purchase. I have to get this to visually show I'm organized. I have to put this stuff in a physical planner to be officially organized. It was almost this weird status symbol/component of my identity. I mean, everyone knows me as this organized person, so I don't have a planner, am I still that person? 

disorganized aubrey plaza GIF

I recognize that may seem deep for the simple act of owning a planner, but y'all, that's the reality of what maintaining a planner has been for me. 

As I start preparing for 2019, I've already got some strategies laid out for how I'll schedule my work/life. The good (and not surprising) news is that even without a paper planner I've already got some solid organizational structures in place:

  • Just use my Outlook. Basically, I'll use the system and structure I already have to know when my meetings are. I don't need the additional paper to reinforce.
  • I'll be better at using my Google Calendar. My husband and I share a Google Calendar. I try to update it, but sometimes I forget - Sorry, Dustin. When kept well, this allows us to see what we individually and together have going on. 
  • I'll dabble in bullet journaling. The key on this one is not to overdo. I don't want to build a bunch of layouts and structure that I just don't use. I would like to have the means to track a few items of life, but not all the things.
  • I'll maintain a to-do list. I have somewhat always done this in life, but I'm making this a more formal process. I keep a list of what I need to do for work. I've also added one for non-work life which was a super helpful suggestion from my life coach. With this second list, it's not just the chores I need to do, but more the things I need/want to do for hobbies, blogging and such.
For me, acknowledging that I need to end this relationship is huge. Rather than continuing to go through the motions (something I've often done), it was taking an intentional look at what this purchase was really doing for me - or not. It was also recognizing that not having a planner doesn't strip me of my ability to be organized, to be recognized as being organized and/or to build my own systems to know what the heck I need to. It was forgetting those outside messages of "have to" and embracing my own messages of "need to" as I figured out what I actually wanted to do for me.

We'll see how 2019 goes on this one y'all. I won't rule out us getting back together ever, but for right now, I'm enjoying the new territory.

justin timberlake 90s GIF