Planners, or, what to use when you want the Universe to laugh at you

Dear Lovely Reader,

How are you? I hope you are well. Today I want to talk about planners. Do you use one? Have you found yourself more inclined or less inclined to use one? Are the daily, weekly, monthly, yearly plans you scribbled into your year 2020 planner now seem woefully out of place due to current circumstances such as a pandemic?

I came across an article in Real Simple which had this weird line to promote a planner line and to justify the use. And to buy a new one. Here’s the thing. People who use planners don’t use pen. They use pencils. Things that are eraseable. Using ink doesn’t mean something got done but it DOES make it a little tougher to keep the planner neat.

So imagine it’s January 2020 and you already bought your 2020 planner three or six months before on a preorder. You think you are organized and set. You may even inwardly pat yourself in the back for being so ready and organized.

You go the pages that you fill in with your plans for the year. The year starts out quietly. You start filling in the quarter on what you would like to see done in three months, maybe breaking it further down by month then week as 2020 unfolds.

Then the pandemic hits. Lockdown. Your mind doesn’t want to believe these things are happening.

Then the very thing that brought a sense of accomplishment and pride to you, that you felt delighted to scribble in and organize all the things you have to do and get done, and felt a great sense of satisfaction when crossing off things as “done” on your lists….is no more. The pages that are in place for daily and weekly tasks start to get more difficult to fill in and even more difficult to cross things off. Job duties have changed or disappeared.

But never mind all that. You have pages to fill. With something. So what do you fill it with?

You can use the planners to plan your life or simply live it. There is nothing absolute in life. There is an old saying that if you want to make God or the Universe laugh, make plans. We focus so much on “what to do or get done,” and the future, that we forget that we may not have a tomorrow and can only be present for this very moment. We place a lot of expectations on ourselves and our lives, feeding into this impulse to immediately scribble down what we need to do to gain a sense of control and accomplishment, to say we are here we are important we are so busy we matter.

Once you realize your need to control, once you realize you have nothing new to write in your dear planner, you have nothing to define you and your worth as a busy person.

I loved planners. Bare paper waiting to be scribbled on with plans and to do lists felt sexy. But I realized that as much of an ego stroke it was to make lists and cross out each thing I finished, it was not enough to live a full life.

I am not a list. I no longer define myself as a list to do. I am a living person who has a life to live. Now that so many distractions have been put on hold, I can focus on the everyday without the lists. I can remember to sweep and mop, do laundry, cook dinner. I can remember to take care of the dog. I can remember to take a shower. Watching television has become a pleasure not a time waster. I watch educational shows and documentaries but I will also watch silly things and laugh and be grateful for the laugh as I sit with my dog and family.

My family? We talk more. We listen more. We are not as easily distracted by the outdoors. Once you go outside you are greeted by other stressed out people who may or may not have a handle on it or their sanity. So I limit my outside time to multitasking- I get some sun, fresh air, exercise quick walking to the supermarket and pharmacy then head back home.

You can build a life or deal with the anxieties of having a less than filled less than perfect planner. Here’s to putting the planner down and just living your life.

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