Last year my mother gave me a Happy Planner for Christmas. When I first saw it, I thought to myself “Self, that organizer is too creative for you.” It had these large, blank boxes (three per day) and a single week took up two full pages. Down one side is an area for notes, but it mostly just looked like a giant way for me to not know what to do that was interesting enough.
I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was no longer as creative as I once was. I don’t paint anymore, I don’t draw. My linocut materials have been gathering dust. I no longer scour datasets for fascinating patterns. Even my knitting/sewing/fiberworks had fallen by the wayside. I took a Sketchnotes class in the fall of 2015 and couldn’t bring myself to litter my notebooks with my now terrible drawings.
And so it was that, armed with stickers and encouraging words, I set out to use this creative planning method.
My first few weeks months were fairly uninspired. I wasn’t sure how to use so much space. I felt like I had forgotten how colors work at all. For some reason, I got incredibly caught up in the concept of foreground and how to make that work with an organizational method.
Organization foregrounds. Great.
It wasn’t until the end of April (that’s four months, my friends) that I finally got my mind around the whole thing. I learned how to make my weeks function as a unit. I discovered that if I put in my standing items at the beginning of the week, I could add as I go. Importantly, I realized that everything can get better (or re-learned) with some practice. You get things wrong when you start something new. That can be discouraging (or embarrassing, or frustrating, or horrifying), but it’s not insurmountable.
Sometimes it was very orderly, but unusable.
Other times it was random, but equally unusable.
The first week that was functional and fun.
The first week that I included my own drawings, the colors were coordinated, and I used it as a journal.
First half of my busiest week to date…
…and the second half.
I now use this awesome planner for remembering what has gone by as much as I use it to remember what’s coming up. The sidebar tends to hold a small note-to-self from the week; sometimes a thing to focus on as I go and sometimes a lesson I learned while I was in it. The habit of physically writing down what I want to do, what I actually did, and what to focus my mind on is satisfyingly grounding.
It’s equal parts catharsis and clarity. Who wouldn’t want that?