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.

Thinking About Planning

All day I’ve been distracting myself looking at Planners. Paper planners. 

That’s because I’m not really here in my mind. My mind is in North Carolina with G whose father is dying. 

On Monday he left the hospital. He called a halt to all treatments. He said he wanted to go home. He’s not eating or drinking. The family is all there. They’ve said their goodbyes. He started taking morphine this morning. Hospice comes twice a day. 

Stella and I walk.

I teach my classes. 

I write, and meditate, and look at the Christmas tree which has lights but no ornaments on it yet. 

I light the menorah. 

Stella and I watch the news at night.

I’ve been looking at the Circa system in the Levenger catalog. I ordered the Junior size planner and it came the other day. I think it’ll work. We’ll see.

It feels weird to be “planning” my year ahead while looking at photos of a man who has no more need for a planner.

It makes me grateful for my life. 

I have a wonderful life. Even the other day, when I had to have a root canal, I felt so lucky. I have the money to afford a root canal. My endodontist is a complete pro.  The procedure was long but pain-free. 

Today I took my last antibiotic. 

Every night I sleep in a warm soft bed. Every evening  I teach yoga to kind, gentle, generous and caring people. The best people I have ever known. I feel so loved. So appreciated. 

There is no way to plan for this kind of life. This kind of life has to be built choice by choice.  Saying yes to some things, no to others. Saying yes to kindness and patience, and no to irritability and grouchiness. Even when I feel irritable and grouchy. 

It’s a trillion little choices that make a life. Until one day there are no days left in the calendar and nothing left to plan. 

I think all that anyone can ever hope for is that their love goes viral. That everyone they ever encountered felt their kindness, and then spread it to everyone they encountered, and on and on.

I feel this way about Owen. His love was contagious. I caught it, and I intend to spread it. 

On and on, for as long as I can plan.