Does this sound like an exercise in futility?
I still use a paper planner.
Even in 2020.
Go ahead and laugh. Get it out.
It’s okay. I’ll wait.
Using a planner when so many of our plans, events, schedules, travel and conferences have been completely upended or downright cancelled? Have you lost your mind?
Six months in quarantine can do things to a person, which is why writing in a planner has proven to be more valuable than ever before. With so much out of my control, the daily practice of putting things down on paper, from tiny tasks to long term projects, has been an important grounding habit that has helped me through the last several months of uncertainty.
A few friends enjoy teasing me about my affinity for the printed agenda (winking at Valerie), but I love a good planner. There’s something alluring about a small, portable book that promises to bring order to schedules, ideas, and projects, especially now. While I depend on Microsoft Outlook for work-related meetings, deadlines and reminders, for me, nothing replaces putting pen to paper and visually seeing my week. Even if my weeks now look completely different than they had at the beginning of the year. Writing things down brings a clarity that I just don’t get from tech.
I did change planners. Gone is the rigid and elaborate full year calendar. After hearing so much about the Bullet Journal, I have moved to that format and have found that this open design is much more flexible in handling a year that makes you doubt writing anything in ink. All I need is a dotted journal (I love the Leuchtturm 1917 A5), a ruler, and a pen. I can create my own layout for the week (this takes 5 minutes), and create sections for projects, notes and research. It’s more forgiving for those times when I start out with a weekly plan that dissolves by hump day. And no more blank abandoned pages with days that have gone off the rails.
When so much is out of our influence—when and if our kids will go back to school (I have twin seniors who will be doing online classes this fall), job requirements (if we’re lucky enough to keep our jobs), and all the small ways we could once connect as a community being put on hold—writing things down helps me focus on what I can control and gives me space to explore how I can be of service to others in my community now and in the future.
So, I’ll keep writing and planning, even if it feels as though I’m drawing in the sand and waiting for the tide to come in. Each day is a new opportunity to listen, learn and put my energy towards my priorities.
Maybe I should write that down…