Let’s start by going back about three years: I was (and still am) a wife and mother who was working full-time in a demanding environment. I was contributing to education classes at work as well as being heavily involved in community outreach, which meant I was traveling and working extra hours.
My daughter would come home from school with birthday party invitations and letters about upcoming events, she had extra-curricular activities, and we all had doctor’s appointments and counseling that required time off work or away from school.
Despite using Outlook and iCal at work, I would forget about my classes and rush to be there at the last minute, unprepared for the presentation I was about to give. I would forget about doctor’s appointments and school functions, and would ask for the time off work at the last minute.
Eventually, I sensed that my boss was irritated with how scattered I was. I then started feeling stress and guilt about the situation, which didn’t help with my general anxiety over my busy life.
When my daughter would bring home information about parties or events, I would immediately feel stressed and inconvenienced about the time and the contribution it would require. I would also forget about those parties/events as quickly as I set down the paper or invitation telling me about them. When the time came for those events, I was filled with guilt because I could not bring myself to attend and my daughter was disappointed.
I was flaking out on my friends and rarely doing anything for me. I had a million things jumbled in my brain and trying to sort everything out seemed insurmountable and added to my level of stress.
In a nutshell, I was feeling anxious, stressed, and guilty. I felt like my life was out of control.
Small Steps, Big Changes
After identifying that I was tired of living my life the way that I was, I decided to take matters into my own hands; I thought the best way to do that would be to commit to a planner. Immediately, just the simple act of writing down all of the things that were in my brain was a relief. Those stresses were now out of my mind and could be accessed one at a time, at the appropriate time. When I would look at my month and everything I had going on, I could prioritize and prepare accordingly.
Fast forwarding to present day, I am still using a planner full-time and it has enabled me to have a less hectic life. Yes, I am still busy, but I am prepared and there are fewer surprises to send me into a downward spiral of stress and anxiety. Yes, using a planner requires dedication, but the benefits of my efforts are vast.
Sitting down with my planner every morning and mapping out my day has become a therapeutic activity that I look forward to. Plus, we all know how fun it is to buy and use our planner accessories!
Finding My Way
I am currently using a bullet journal, which is my favorite method so far due to the ability for 100% customization. I have previously used planners from Plum Paper, Erin Condren, and Filofax (with Filofax, Kikki K, and Inkwell Press inserts).
My bullet journal has helped me to expand my creativity, though I am still heavily influenced by the style and layouts of Kara Benz. Not only am I more organized, but I am working on making myself better by working through my Level 10 Life goals as well as practicing gratitude.
In the past year, I have become involved in the online planner community. Seeing that there are other people who have busy schedules and have fallen short has reminded me that we are all in this together.
It is not always easy to manage our lives and the online community enables us to see the methods that other people are using.
It is exciting to see the way that people modify their planners, how people plan, and how things work for them. All of these things enable us to find the method that works best for us, resulting in a more organized life.
Long story short, I feel like planning has saved my life. At the very least, it keeps me sane.