I bought a new planner.
You guys. It’s so pretty.
I texted my sister last night to make sure I remembered her kids’ birthdays right (yeah, I’m that kind of aunt), and she shared my joy over new planners. I live in a family of office supply addicts. My oldest daughter will work for sticky notes.
This is not just an appointment planner, but one of those “I’m going to get my shit together across my whole life” planners. It has mission boards, long-term planning, short-term planning, daily habit trackers, and a bunch of other stuff that will help me integrate the personal and the professional sides of myself.
If you’re super curious what I bought, you can see it here. I got the “Classic” layout.
One of the biggest things I’ve struggled with since I started freelancing again is getting control of my time. It’s not just that I have a lot of obligations, though I do; it’s more than the obligations are so scattered across various areas of my life that I end up feeling fragmented and unfocused, and I think that makes it hard to create anything, either for myself or for clients.
I have been mulling over how to use my calendar better. I use Google Calendar because it integrates with my phone, and that makes it ridiculously easy to schedule stuff and know when I’m free and when I’m not. However, the problem I have is not the appointments and scheduled events–it’s the free time! I know there are things I need to do, but those big gaping holes are kind of overwhelming. And yet, I’m reluctant to put stuff on my phone calendar if it’s not an actual appointment…
Those big gaping holes are also intimidating when it comes to building my business. I know I need to do some actual sales and marketing. Every week, I look at the gaping holes stretched out before me and think, “oh, I shouldn’t have any trouble finding time to make phone calls or send e-mails or do some prospecting.” And yet, since sales is the LAST thing I want to do, it’s easy to keep pushing it to the bottom of the list. By the time I get to Friday, I’ve usually managed to fritter a week away without making a single call, and I end up feeling frustrated that I didn’t get enough done.
I’ve heard other freelance-type people say they assign specific activities to certain days of the week. I broke down the things I want to do each week into five categories: Administrative, Marketing/Communications, Sales, Client Work, and Personal Projects (meaning fiction, primarily). Once I kind of grouped it like that, it all seemed a little more manageable. So…
Monday: Administrative and Marketing/Communications
Tuesday: Client Work
Thursday: Client Work
Friday: Personal Projects (though Fridays are flexible if I have a networking event come up or if I am preparing for a campout or something)
But even as I wrote it down this way, I could see me finding reasons NOT to follow through. It’s so easy for me to get distracted… And I was a little worried about not having enough time for my personal projects. I can see that being the second thing to go, quite honestly. (The things I feel most ambivalent and grouchy about seem to be the first things to go… imagine that…) But as ambivalent as I am about my fiction, I need to do it. I feel the call toward it again, and I still feel that obligation to finish Unquickened and the rest of The Taurin Chronicles.
And of course, I need to still fit everything else into my life–exercise, grocery shopping, laundry, errands, kids, husband, grandson (yes, we have one of those now), dinner, AHG, etc., etc.
Those articles about the mental load that women carry are really accurate.
Enter the planner.
I can put everything in there.
But in pencil, of course, because who am I kidding?
Last night, I wrote out my plans for the week–my work plan, daily dinner plans, AHG duties, kid obligations (speech and debate, birthday party, SAT), the babysitting I agreed to do, my daughter’s birthday, shopping reminders, and the reminder about no school this Friday are all in one place. And on the monthly view, I have a place to track the daily habits I want to work on. For this month, it’s daily exercise (always–I feel like I’m always just one day away from falling off the wagon), getting 5 servings of fruits and veggies each day (I’m not very good about that, to be candid), and writing 1,000 words of fiction every day (I am determined to finish that dang book).
I feel so integrated.
I have never been very good at using planners, but I feel like, with this level of fragmentation in my life, I need one place to catch it all. Google Calendar just wasn’t going to cut it. I need to write things down–not just type them into a calendar–because there’s something about the act of physically writing that makes me take things more seriously.
I need an accountability partner to make sure I’m actually doing what I say I’ll do. My BFF has been a great accountability partner on the self-care things, but I think my husband will make a better one for business stuff. And personal stuff… well, I’m working on that. But on some level, I’ve just made myself an accountability partner, because the very act of writing stuff down makes me accountable to it.
It’s only day two of The New Planner, so we’ll see how this goes. But I think one side effect I’ve noticed about establishing such a good exercise habit is that I now know I’m capable of establishing new habits. There is a lot of confidence that comes with making exercise a habit.
I know this isn’t the usual blog fare… Maybe one side effect of removing myself from Facebook conversations is that I’ll ramble here more often.
You know what? I’ll put that in my planner.