What I Learned When I Started Decorating My Planner

I’ve been messing with my planner. Messing with, as in decorating it. 

I’m into washi tape at the moment. I’m creating little borders around my To-do lists, and ornamenting my Goals. 

 I’m really not this person. I don’t have the patience for decorative crafts. So what’s going on here?

I think it might be procrastination. It’s a lot easier to put a washi tape border around my List of Things To Do than it is to actually do those things. 

 But there might be more to this than simply work avoidance.

It takes time to stretch a decorative border around a group of words. And some focused attention. It’s not a hard thing to do, so I can relax, and in that relaxed space, muse on those words, give them time to reverberate.

While I’m ornamenting a page, I have to consider how to segment it, and where to adjust. I often flip back to other days, compare this page with that, and peruse other lists. This allows me time to reconnect and review all the stuff I was planning yesterday, last week, and as far back as I want to go. Then, with that info, I can consciously design this day .

Right now I’m trying to customize a Daily Goals refill template I got from Levenger. The category set-up of this page is just not working for me, so I’m using wahshi tape to make different sized and labeled rooms to fit my particular content. 

For example, I need a special space of honor to inscribe my foundational practices everyday: Writing, Reading, Yoga, and Meditating. 

Then I need a small box to list appointments.

After that I need a long piece of vertical space to list my Ta-Das, my actual accomplishments.I know To-Do Lists are default in all planners, but they only make me feel worthless and depressed. 

And finally, I need one small, eye-catching area to hang a target or two, —some daily achievable thing that will make me feel like I moved the needle forward, if only a smidgen.

But here’s the thing. A few days ago I didn’t even know I wanted to track these things. I didn’t even think of my day this way, as something I wanted to monitor and measure.

 I only discovered this by playing around with markers and washi tape, creating layouts, dinking around.

Now I spend the first ten or twenty minutes of my business day ornamenting my planner with washi tape and markers.

My planner is starting to look more colorful and inviting. I want to hang out with it. And the more I linger, the more I think about why some things are on there and others not. Some days I try to imagine what it would feel like to actually do those tasks, and how my life would change if I did.  

I think this is a good use of my time. Especially at the start of the business day. It feels almost like a meditation. Or if not a meditation, at least a mindful ritual.

 I’ve always been a bullet points and arrows kind of girl when it comes to writing down goals. Lots of big angry asterisks, lots of exclamation points and heavy underlining. Mine is a no pain, no gain philosophy when it come to goals. So it’s a shock to open my planner now and see dancing paisley elephants cavorting around my big hairy goals.

It’s funny, this, and it’s causing all kinds of cognitive dissonance.

All my serious targets, festooned with shiny gold stars and blue polka dots? What is going on here? Is it possible that goals can be contemplated in a spirit of whimsy? With color and light and ornamentation?

Maybe.

I Think I’m Done

On July 1st I started writing my book here in short blog posts.

This was “Step 1” in the strategy to overcome my resistance to putting my work out there. The plan was to  use my blogging streak to chunk out the book. And you know what?  I think I’m done. Today when I sat down to write this post, there was no more content left to write.

I still have the Acknowledgements, and a Resources page and some structural tweaks, but the content is done. Two weeks ahead of schedule.

Tomorrow’s blog entry will be the 150th day in a row of this blogging streak which started on February 18th, Ash Wednesday.

As the string of days-without-a-miss has gotten longer, I’ve been getting excited about it. I’ve even wondered if I could last a full 365.

But tomorrow I’m going to bring this streak to an end.

Done.

So what happens to this blog now?

I don’t really know.

I’m thinking maybe a twice weekly posting schedule? Maybe just Mondays and Fridays? I could talk about Stage 2 of this process of self-publishing a book as I go through it.

Because this project won’t be “DONE,” done, until there is a bound copy of this thing for sale on Amazon.

(Remember Project Rule Number 2, right? The Goal: What will count as done?)

I could possibly go back to the, “What I Had For Lunch” kind of post where I talk mostly about my personal life and my lens on it.

I don’t know…

I’ve  gotten a few more readers since I started streaking every day here. It’s really cool, and so gratifying. Maybe you guys could tell me what you’d like to read here?

Personal life stories of a small town yoga teacher? Or how-to kinds of stuff about the few things I know how to do?

I’d really like to know.

Anyway, thanks so much for giving me a little audience to write to. This streak has been a fun ride for me.

Namaste.

Picking a Project

Before I talk about picking a project I want to say one thing:

This process takes time.

It takes time to build a Project-Driven Life. And it might take even longer if you spend every waking hour working on somebody else’s project.

Most people work on somebody else’s project. Any company who pays you, pays you to move its project forward.  If you’re happy at your job it’s because your skill set and values align with your company’s project.

If this is you, you’re lucky. High-five.

But most people aren’t big fans of the projects they work on at work. Or, they’re fans of a teensy little part of it, but they think the rest is bullshit.

And by “bullshit” I mean out of alignment with what they truly believe and/or stand for.

If this is you, you really need a personally-designed project on the side.

Why?

So you can live in integrity. So you can have at least a small shot at maximizing your full human potential before you croak.

So now it’s time to design yourself a cool project.

Here are the Rules:

1. Duration.Your project has to have a start and an end date.

2. The Goal.You have to state, up-front, what counts as “finished.”

3. Excitement. You must feel excited about the goal of your project.

A Project differs from a Streak in that you never know when a streak will end, but you always know when a project is done.

A streak is a game. A project has a mission.

A streak is how long you can persist. A project is persistence toward a goal.

When you know what kind of stuff you love and where to find it, and when you’ve tested your persistence by building long streaks of doing something every day without a miss, and when you know what you value and stand for:

It’s GO time.

Possible Projects

Here’s a list of possible projects to give you some ideas.

Learn a new language

Transition to a totally different diet: Go Vegan, or Vegetarian, or Raw, or Paleo

Train for something: a marathon, half- marathon

Write a book

Learn a musical instrument

Learn a martial art

Train your dog for an obedience or agility competition

Learn chess

Learn a new sport. Ultimate Frisbee?  Rock climbing? Kayaking?

Learn how to code

Start a blog

Build a website

Design a game

Plant a garden

Learn yoga

Learn photography

Learn to rumba

Scuba dive

Start a business

Hit the road for a year in an RV

Body build

Send 1 thank -you note a day for a year.

Read 50 books this year.

Some projects have longer timelines that others. For your first project, I’d pick something you could finish in a few months.

Let’s take an example.

Consider a project like: “Learn to Play an Instrument.” Let’s set up a scenario according to the rules.

Start with Rule #3: Excitement about the project.

You are really stoked to learn the ukulele. You went out and bought one, but it’s been sitting in the corner, untouched, since you bought it. Now you’re going to commit time to learn it. It’s going to be your NEW PROJECT. So great .

Now Rule # 2: The Goal: What will you count as done?

When you can play the song, “Over the Rainbow.”

Rule #1: Duration. You’ve watched an instructional YouTube, and looked at the chord sheet, and you really think you can nail this song if you practice consistently for 2 months.

So, 2 months from today (you circle a date on your calendar here) you will play Over the Rainbow totally decently.

Now your project is launched. This is your first project in your new project-driven life.

Congrats.

Tomorrow: Overcoming Obstacles

4 Goals For The Next 12 Weeks

This morning during my meditation, I was forced to confront the fact that my project has slowed down. (Who am I kidding? It has come to a halt. Not a screeching halt. Just a quiet, rubbery thud of a halt. Which is the worst kind: a thud can go unnoticed, but a screech gets your attention.

Ever since I took those 12 people through the exercises in the book to see if they really worked, I never got back to it.

I let the fire go out. Okay, not entirely. There is still a soft bed of glowing ash that could easily be coaxed back to a roaring blaze with a few pumps of a bellows, but I need to blow on that sucker!  I need to get back to it and finish it, and SHIP IT

It is all sitting in Scrivener but it is a holy mess. I keep wondering if I should take the time and go back to the LearnScrivenerFast videos and figure out how to bring this beast of a manuscript into some kind of order? Or is that just a procrastination project?

Am I just using Scrivener to distract myself from the discomfort of having to deal with an unwieldy piece of writing?

Or,  would time spent reacquainting myself with some of the features of Scrivener be time well invested because I would then have mastery over this amazing piece of writing software for the duration of my writing career? (i.e. the rest of my life.)

So I sat on my chair with my Insight Timer on my lap, and quote, unquote “meditated.”

I watched the panic surge up. I watched my confusion. I focused on the sound of the space heater’s fan, my own breathing, and the high-pitched tone of my tinnitis.

When the gong sounded, I slowly opened my eyes and the first thing I noticed was the pile of Pick 4 books on the bed.

I had gotten them out thinking I would send one to my new health coaching client, but as it turns out, I am not going to be working with her after all.

This Pick 4 book is a “goal setting” tool. I bought these for myself, but also to give to my clients at the recommendation of Seth Godin, who re-packaged this Zig Ziglar piece of magic, and wrote a new introductory  “reframe” for it. I tried it myself way back when, and although I had high hopes, I never kept up with it.

Today though, it gave me a mega-jolt of inspiration.

So I sat down and recommitted to 4 new goals for the next 12 weeks:

Number 1: Finish and Ship this book.

Number 2: Become an expert in Scrivener.

Number 3: Get really, really, really strong. 

Number 4: Express gratitude daily.

Every morning, Monday through Friday from 7 AM to 9 AM: Work on the book.

I will work on Scrivener on the weekends.

I will talk to Vince on Tuesday and we will set some SMART goals for the next 12 weeks of strength training.

And I have hatched a Thank-you note scheme for my loyal yoga students to fulfill the Gratitude goal.

I worked a long time in Scrivener today, and now it is time for bed because my 12 week plan starts tomorrow.

Wish me luck.

Food For Thought

I have made some new goals for myself recently.  In addition to my daily Holosync session (I am now on day 290 of that without a miss) and my “pen” writing in my paper journal (I just re-started after a 2 week break and am now on day 10).

I have committed to this blog for 6 days a week (Sundays off). And I kept to that schedule for the month of September, but I’m beginning to struggle with coming up with content every day.  I need “Food for Thought.”

I need to read.  Reading is my “food.”  When I am engaging with another mind through a book, all kinds of connections start happening and there is a firestorm in my brain, and I think that I will never STOP writing.

But without food it’s like gnawing on a shoelace.

I have so many books cued up on my Kindle and on my bed table it’s not even funny.  I need to schedule in some serious reading time.  But where?  Where can I find or steal time?  What needs to go?

Today Facebook was down for awhile.  I logged in and all my friends were GONE.  It was highly disturbing.  I felt like something I had painstakingly built had been destroyed.  And in a way that was true.  I have built something there: a network of shared moments, and shared lives with quite a few people, and I felt bereft when it suddenly disappeared.  (It returned.)

But when I think of where I will find the time to read, I know it will have to be here; I will have to cut back on online activities.  I spend entirely too much time here– time that would be better spent reading.

So I’m going to try to set some parameters here.  Anyone have any experience with doing this? Like “no computer after “X hour” or before “X hour?”  How about a media fast?  Anyone done that?

I’d really appreciate your input on this.