Wednesday, April 6, 2016

My secret planner obsession…

     Maybe it is not such a secret but I can pretend!  I love planners.  Okay, I love to organize and be organized and planners are just an extension.  My obsession with time management started when I was introduced to the Franklin Planner.  It was in the days when I was na├»ve enough to think that I could make Amway, or whatever name they tried to disguise it as, a viable business and we could retire early and rich.  I firmly believe that all things happen for a reason and while I was never going to make it rich in Amway or Mary Kay or Pampered Chef, I could glean wisdom from each of these experiences.  The Amway crowd introduced me to the Franklin Planner.  Nowadays, I think they are called Franklin Covey because they merged or were bought out by Stephen Covey who is famous for his “Seven Habits…” books. 
     I used my Franklin Planner for many years.  Some months I was more effective at using it than others but it developed a few habits that have really helped me over the years.  The first rule I learned was only to have ONE calendar.  If you have more than one calendar you are setting yourself up to miss important events or not have the right calendar with you when you need it.  I took this to heart and centralized my calendar to keep track of everything.   The second rule or concept was the idea of prioritizing tasks.  Ten to twelve years ago, I ventured into the electronic calendar and began with Outlook.  This present somewhat of a dilemma to my one calendar rule because I couldn’t have my computer with me all the time.  I’m not sure how I did it but I managed to get everything into the computer and print out what was coming for the week ahead so I could maintain my one calendar rule.  Seven years ago, Google and technology decided to make my life easier.  I began to use Google Calendar.  At first it wasn’t as easy as it is now but it was convenient to be able to pull up my calendar on any computer.  As the girls got older is was also nice to be able to share my calendar and to have them create their own calendars so that we could see where people needed to be where. 
While the electronic calendar has helped me keep track of life it really didn’t meet the needs of prioritizing tasks.  I have some great to do apps and I used them more when I was working on multiple projects but there was always something missing for me.  I just don’t take their reminders as seriously as I do if I have physically written something down.   Sometimes seeing everything I needed to do, even if I didn’t have to do it for 6 months was completely overwhelming.  This lack of contentment with electronic options left me using index cards on a daily basis.  I was pretty good at keeping track of that card but there were occasions when I suddenly found myself with nothing to do because I could not find the card.
     All of this has left me searching.  I could go back to my old planner but I don’t want to give up my electronic calendar and it seems a wasted to only use part of it especially with the cost of a Franklin Covey planner.  I had to reconcile in my mind the difference between a calendar and a planner.  The calendar keeps appointments and schedules but the planner helps me manage the times not otherwise planned.  It may also help me say no to appointments but while they are connected, they serve two different functions.  Since I love my online calendar I wanted to keep that but I needed to find a way to effectively plan the rest of my time.  I decided that I would be okay maintaining my Google Calendar and then just transferring that information onto whatever planner I would use.  I usually do this Sunday evening when I am planning my week but I do have to remember to make duplicate entries during the week if something comes up.  I had heard about something called a Spark Planner on one of those pages to raise money and it sounded promising but they were sold out and it just didn’t seem like they were ready for the interest they received. 
     Pinterest showed me these lovely “Bullet Journals”.  Bullet journals basically use all those cool journals that you find and love at Barnes and Noble but no matter how many you buy you still don’t really journal because you don’t like to write that much with a pen.  There are templates for really cool looking pages where you can track anything you want.  I loved the creative side but there was a reality for me.  I don’t have the artistic ability or patience to create those pages and I have terrible penmanship so my pages never looked as beautiful as the ones I saw on Pinterest.  There’s a surprise, huh!  Bullet Journals led me to Happy Planners.  Happy Planners are basically planners decorated with stickers, washi tape, stamps or whatever you’d like.  I thought this would be a good way to use up some of the stickers I had collected over the years and have a little fun.  You can see a bit of what each of these look like by checking out my Pinterest board at
     I like the Happy Planner and even brought my daughter into the fun and creativity of making beautiful pages but it proved a little basic for me and there was another piece missing.  Enter The Catholic Planner.  For me, The Catholic Planner has the best of all of these worlds and it allows me to bring my faith into my daily planning in a more visible way.  It has pages to begin your planner with where you are at and where you want to be.  There are trackers for habits and rituals.  Space is also included weekly for brainstorming and journaling on the upcoming Sunday Gospel.  There are spaces to make note of priorities for the week and month and all of this comes in a simple black journal book that looks classy.  I don’t think they intended for me to decorate my pages the way a Happy Planner is decorated but I have and it works.  Not only do I have one weekly page to decorate, I have two!  Function and creativity all in one.

Here are some photos of their blank pages:

 And then, my decorated pages:


Nothing too fancy but just a little fun!

For me, it was about finding a balance of functionality and creativity.  My life is simpler now and doesn't need to complexities of some of the calendar planner systems that are out there but honestly, I can see myself having used this planner when I was a student, homeschooling and working.  I think it has plenty of versatility.  I doubt I would have had time to decorate pages regularly when I had all of those things going on but it is where I am now.  I think the important thing is to realize that time is a gift from God and we can either use it to the fullest or waste it.  In either case we will be held accountable.

Blessings and prayers,