a planner to slow down?

Posted: May 15, 2017 in Uncategorized

I have a new planner.  I saw an ad for it on Facebook in April, and I marked the homepage.  Immediately after beginning my May fast, I raced over to that page and ordered the planner.  It’s a pretty unique one, being only 13 weeks long.  It is shaped around setting goals and then walking them out.  Somehow it felt like the right thing to have on hand while I am in this weird unplugged zone.

The planner requires me to sit down every evening and evaluate my today, and then do a bit of sketching out for tomorrow – I have instructions to account for every bit of my time in advance.  The advice given notes that this doesn’t mean “no breaks” or “no free time” – it just means I handle these things with intention.  I schedule them in.  This is to help me avoid just wasting time in a way that will leave me with regret later.  It also requires me to sit down every morning and spell out some specifics:  an overarching goal for the day.  A set of 3 target tasks.  And at both the morning and the evening session, it requires me to record 3 things for which I am grateful.

In addition to that, I had to start out the book choosing three 13-week goals of the S.M.A.R.T. variety, breaking down the sorts of tasks that should get me from here to there.  There are pages to evaluate entire weeks and checklists for easy recording of little things I want to do on a daily/regular basis.  Basically the folks who invented this journal went out and read all the best time/goal management books and put all the best ideas from all those books into this nifty journal.  Thus far, I’m very much a fan.  I can’t do the thing justice by describing it here; ask me to show it to you sometime (I’m ridiculously excited about it), or if you don’t know me, check it out here or here.

On one hand, the planner is helping me a lot with my tendency to procrastinate on projects that I don’t like.  Every day, I write chose one such item to place on my list of 3 targeted tasks, and because I’ve written it down, I almost always get it done that same day.  In this sense, the planner is making me MORE PRODUCTIVE, which was what I assumed I was going for.

On the other hand, the planner is teaching me quickly how much I ask too much of myself.  In the first week, most days I made a plan that was just too ambitious.  It didn’t account properly for how long tasks take me.  It wasn’t that I needed to step up my game, it was that I needed to stop trying to be a superhero.  I don’t have special powers.  I can’t move at the speed of light.  There are so many hours in a day, and that’s what I have to work with.

I have to tell you, I find it ironic that I seem to have purchased a planner to help me SLOW DOWN.  Don’t you think that’s the antithesis of what seems to be the purpose of a planner?  I think my functional medicine practitioner would approve, though.

Jumping off today into week 3, I am learning what a realistic day looks like.  I am starting to figure out how not to pile myself up so much that there will be no hope for success.  That’s counter-intuitive for me, as I have built myself an identity of “Karen Who Gets Stuff Done.”  It FEELS like aiming for less.  But really what it comes down to is beginning to get real about my time and my abilities.  Here’s the surprising thing to me:  it feels BETTER than my old/usual way of asking entirely too much of myself in order to try to get the most possible work done.  I’m working smarter, not harder – a thing I urge people to do all the time, but clearly hadn’t been practicing in reality.

Pretty good gift.  Pretty good place to focus on a Monday morning.  Let’s do this thing!

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