I am a planner, a list-maker, an organizer, and basically a write-everything-down kind of girl. And for the better part of my adult life, I have completely relied on and loved using a planner. For one it keeps me organized. And that alone is enough for me to do just about anything. But also, using a planner has helped me to map out my time, remember small details, and keep tabs on more out of the ordinary life things.
But this past September when we went home to my parents house for the week, for whatever reason, I made the very shocking decision (for me) to leave my planner behind. Normally I always travel with my planner, but since it was my birthday week, it sounded like a nice treat to be a little more disconnected. And so my planner stayed home.
And you know what? It ended up being a really nice mental break for me to not be consistently thinking about what was on my list for the day. And surprisingly, even with no reminders, I ended up having a really productive week. Especially considering that I was sort of planning on giving myself the week off.
When we returned home to San Diego, I excitedly sat down with my planner. I was ready to jump in and literally get planning. I mapped out all of my weekly reminders, assorted appointments, commitments, work obligations, life reminders, goals and to-do items. It felt great to take a break, but I felt so happy to be back to my routine. Well, until I didn’t that is.
After just one short week of using my planner again, I found that it wasn’t giving me the same sort of organized satisfaction that it used to. In fact, it was kind of giving me a bit of anxiety. Instead of looking at it and feeling accomplished by what I had done, I looked down and saw all of the items that had yet to be completed. My planner had suddenly become a reminder of what I wasn’t accomplishing in life. A metric for my productivity, or lack thereof.
And so I knew that something needed to change. I threw caution to the wind right along with my planner. I grabbed a notebook, and started keeping a daily list of what I wanted to accomplish. And that was it. Just one day at a time. Each day was a fresh start. No reminders of what hadn’t been done from the day before, and no reminders of what was to come.
But in the end it just didn’t work for me. Nearing the start of the New Year, roughly three months of not using a planner had passed, and all that I really had to show for myself were less productive days, details forgotten, and appointments missed. Oh, and two almost completely used notebooks. Definitely not what I was expecting. But wait, there is an upside!
Not using a planner gave me a new perspective, and for that I am very grateful. The disconnect encouraged me to not be so hard on myself, to be more mindful of taking everything with a grain of salt, and to let things go. Some days things happen as we plan, and other days things don’t. And that is just all part of the flow of life.
So yes, as you are perhaps predicting, I did pick myself up a new planner for the year. And really we are back to being best buds again, just with a new set of rules. I’m still making lists and taking notes as much as ever, but I’m also being very aware to just focus on today. There is time enough for everything in life, and that includes taking a break to see what works best for you. Now if you’ll please excuse me, I need to go check my planner.