Day Timers & Calendars & Systems…….oh my!


How do you choose to approach the start of a new year? There are a myriad of options available to us. Do you get a new calendar/planner? Do you take time to reflect on 2015 and be complete with it? Do you make resolutions? Do you have any superstitions about the start of the new year?

There are people who choose a word to represent their thoughts/intentions for the new year. Some people set elaborate resolutions and put thought into how to track them ~ with spreadsheets and check boxes  There are an endless number of ‘systems’ available for approaching the new year in an organized and inspiring way.

Here’s the deal. I am still in search of the perfect planning/scheduling tool for me. I’ve tried so many of them and have had little or no success. Some have ‘rules’ and I function well with them for a while and then the rebellious child comes out to play and it falls by the wayside. I’ve tried ones where you have much more freedom to play and create and I feel overwhelmed by the lack of structure and nothing gets done.

I’ve come to realize that there is one constant in all of the systems and methods I audition and that constant is: ME. The truth is that I’ve been hoping that adopting some new planner will magically bring organization to my life – a perfect example of living from the outside in. This does not work for me and I suspect that it really works for no one. This year, my priority is to begin from the inside and then move outward with my plans/intentions. And so, took some time to think about what I’d like to organize, what I’d like to plan for, what I need to schedule. Am I a weekly, monthly or daily person? Do I need times on a calendar etc? What are my needs are from a big picture and a detail perspective? Once I had these answers, I was in a position to source out the ‘what’.

Isn’t it funny how it all comes back to starting with why? Why do I want a system/organizer? My why is that I would very much like to feel ease around my activities – to create the space and the intention to be present in my online life, my personal life and my creative life. I realize that I am the one creating these separations. They are all part of my life, plain and simple. The ease comes from having a planning piece in place so that I am able to let go of the tight grip I have on the details in my mind only. At times I am running through an endless list in my mind – trying not to drop the ball on anything. Well, that’s kind of a high standard to require of myself as a starting point. If I am able to let go of that expectation, there will be a greater ease in my life in general. I’d love to have a way of noting things, scheduling things and planning all in one place. Already I feel a bit better about the whole thing.

It is easy to be distracted by the glitz and glamour of planners – complete with their promises of the many ways they can and will be life changing. We need to remember that they are simply tools. And, once a tool is placed in the hands of the artisan, it is up to the artisan to employ it. Simply owning a jigsaw does not ensure that you will be able to create amazing shapes out of wood. Perhaps there is a better example to use here ~ the point remains that I need to consider myself fully in the equation.

This year, I have opted for a combination of tools. I have a weekly agenda planning book and a larger set of calendar pages, which I will post on my wall. The large gridded squares on the wall calendar will easily accommodate small, colour-coded post-it notes. This will allow me to have a big picture of the upcoming quarter.

One interesting moment of discovery in this whole exercise came from an off-hand comment from a very good friend. She mentioned that she only uses pencil in her planner. Seriously? This is an option? It was an amazing idea to me! Somehow, I had decided that ‘adults’ use pen in their planners. I had also used coloured markers to add to the visual appeal of my old planner. It is all well and fine until plans change. And, plans DO change. I found it too messy to have things crossed off and moved about in my planner and I found myself delaying the recording of dates/plans – in case I had to make any changes.

Now, I have a mechanical pencil and a separate eraser close at hand. I feel comfortable writing further into the planner because I have the ability to make changes that will not mar the overall look of the planner. This new approach feels far more comfortable for me and I am optimistic about my plans for the new year.

Curiosity Q: What is your planning ‘why’? How will you honour it in your approach to 2016?

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This post was written by megan