How do you plan when you have no plans? What’s the point spending that quality time with your planner if lockdown’s cancelled everything for you? Now could actually be the perfect time to do it. Let me convince you…
You are more than a task list.
I find that when things get crazy, I mainly use my planner for keeping track of tasks and as a space to frantically scribble down ideas as I’m trying to switch off at the end of the day. While that’s great, and of course, helpful; shouldn’t it be more than this? We’re often so busy with all of the roles we’re juggling, it’s far too easy to lose a sense of direction when the daily grind keeps you from seeing it. Your planner could be a place to remind you of where you’re headed and what’s important to you; but is it set up that way? Now lockdown has us all in this odd life-limbo, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about what’s working for you, both on paper and in a bigger sense.
Planners can help you build habits, and habits are everything.
You’ve probably heard that you’re the sum of your habits. Have you stopped to think why? It’s so easy to make a big effort to do something, whether it’s eat healthy food for a change, train for a marathon, start regularly de-cluttering, but have you wondered why it’s hard to maintain? One of the reasons is that it probably needs a habit to keep you going, and unless you work hard to design one, it’s just not going to happen. It’s the slow, everyday incremental progress that gets you closer to your goals – not those big bursts of effort. Are you waiting to write that book? Don’t book a week off to make a good start, just set aside 30 minutes each day to do *something*.
I feel like now is the time to point you in the direction of Atomic Habits; if you want to know more about this, see what James Clear has to say about it.
So now that lockdown has killed your calendar, your planner is a great place to start designing and tracking habits. Take time to plan your goals, whether they’re business-related, self-improvement, or you just want to start hanging your clothes up at the end of each day. Design a routine that helps you to do what you want to do and start tracking it with brutal honesty. Keep going. It takes time to cement new behaviours, and let’s face it, you’ve probably got that right now and a nice new tracking insert in your planner’s probably going to make you want to do it.
You have the time to finally make your planner work.
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve bought a whole planner; you know, those pretty pre-printed ones, and looked forward to filling it in each day. I’ve set up seemingly perfect collections of inserts to track everything, log everything, list everything, and capture every thought that may one day be important. But you know what, they don’t work for me. Do you find that you love collecting stationery and planners, but you don’t actually use them? Yep. Me too. It’s not you, it’s your system.
I love the idea of setting up a planner at the start of the year and having that fresh new year feeling when everything seems possible. All of your pages are clean and pristine and waiting for you to fill them. But… does this really work? Do your months look the same? Have you got kids? If so, I’m betting your summer break looks a lot different to your term-time. Do you have a business that gets crazy at Christmas? Maybe it’s time to plan month-to-month instead and set up in response to your life-demands. You may just find that it helps. Now’s a great time to re-evaluate your setup and start over. Besides, there’s nothing like a beautiful freshly set-up planner to pull you out of a lockdown slump.
You can change your planning focus
In the absence of any social plans, or maybe even work plans, it’s a great time to think about looking after yourself. Instead of planning events and tasks, you could start thinking about your best ever self-care routine, an invigorating morning routine, or just perfect that super-relaxing bedtime routine. You could write it all down and tweak until it’s perfect (and realistic) then start tracking how you’re managing to cement this new habit in place.
Maybe it’s a great time to start thinking about planning those things you never get round to? Ever had the time to set up a financial planner to track your expenses, budget and debt? How about a food planner to gather all of your favourite recipes and kitchen scribbles? How about starting a journal to give yourself some creative time to get it all out on paper? Is there a goal you wanted to work on? How about setting up a goal planner to break it down into milestones and plan your route through it? Or, for the ultimate escapism… a holiday planner. From staycations to bucket-list trips, you can keep inspiration, packing lists, mementos and travel ideas in one gorgeous place for a little virtual holidaying.
Disclaimer: I’m imagining you as someone at home with no work to go to, no plans to keep, healthy and with the luxury of time. That’s not true for all of us: some of us are struggling, anxious, worried about our future or maybe you can’t seem to find those little moments of calm with your family at home all the time. If that’s more like you, I hope that you’ve still been able to take something away from this; my thoughts are with you.