Earlier this year – and by this year, I’m technically talking about December of last year! – I decided I needed a planner change. Y’all know I’m a Happy Planner fan and have been for a long time. That hasn’t changed. But I was finding that having the three dividers just wasn’t working for me. I was getting lost in my day, skipping over things that needed to be done…It was time for a planner change. I’d been looking at the Teacher Planners for quite a while and decided to pick one up and customize it to what I wanted it to be. You can read more about why I chose a Teacher (and created a Writing Notebook and incorporated a Mini-Happy-Planner, too, here).
What I like about blocking out my days is that everything is in order. When I was dividing my days into three “areas” – Home, Writing, Family – I was forever skipping over the things I didn’t want to do (hello, unfolded laundry!) in favor of what I wanted to do (why, there you are project I’m not set to start for another 3 weeks!) and missing a LOT of stuff. And not just the “mom” stuff of dusting or carpooling, but sometimes even writing stuff. I needed a better solution and after Googling a lot and reading a few “plan a better life” type books, I thought block scheduling would be a huge help. Only, when I first started, I was simply setting up the blocks in my Teacher Planner like I had my old planners – a box for house stuff, a box for writing…and it was the same vicious cycle of skipping over X in favor of Y. So I adjusted and created a time-blocked schedule where each time-block of the day has specific tasks. So far, it’s working. Here’s how I set it up.
Step One: Figure out how many time blocks you need. I like having five blocks, some people like four, some six. Whatever works for you, try it. Five made sense to be because there are five basic “parts” to nearly every day in our house: getting up/getting bebe off to school, morning, lunch/early afternoon, after school run/homework/practices, and dinner/evening.
Step Two: Make a list of all the things you do daily: working out, meal prep and eating, house chores, grocery shopping, writing/editing, post office and school runs. Everything you do should be on this list. Don’t worry about prioritizing the list, just get everything down so you can see all the things you do in a week. Feeling a little overwhelmed? Don’t worry, that’s what the next step is all about.
Step Three: Figure out what Key Activities fit the best in each block. A “key activity” is a most-important: you should have a “most important task” for each of your blocks. If you have five blocks, choose your five most important activities and think about where it makes the most sense to put those activities. Create a new list, with the number of blocks you’ll be using, and fill those in. My five are: Working Out, Writing, Business (which includes graphics/websites and additional writing), Family, Me Time. Once I’d figured out my focus for each block, it was time to fill in the other activities.
Step Four: Fill in the “extras”. For me, working out fits best when I first get up, but during that block I’m also getting the kiddo off to school, having breakfast, showering, and even doing a quickie email and social media check. I’m also most productive, writing-wise, in the mornings. So I set up my second block as a strictly Writing block. No social media, no email, just me and the pages. BUT. I can fit in a few loads of laundry while I’m writing (because no one should be stuck in a chair for 3+ hours!) or unload the dishwasher. Next comes lunch and my Business block: a check in with email and social media and a little outside time, maybe 20 or 30 minutes. Then back to writing if I haven’t met my daily goal, or time with graphics, editing, website updating and that kind of thing. My third block is the Family block – it’s the school run, homework, karate practice. Then comes the Kristina block – it’s me time, time to read or watch a favorite show or maybe sew or do something else creative.
It may sound weird that separating my blocks out by time works better than separating out by task, but it does work for me. If you find you’re struggling to get things done or that your planner feels like a jumble of “stuff” that you can’t keep up with, consider changing up how you plot your days – you may just need a change in your planner scenery!
I love Pinterest. Next to Instagram, its my favorite of the social networks because of all the pretty pictures. If you follow me at all on Pinterest you know I have boards for all kinds of things: favorite quotes, meals that I’ll probably never make, inspiration, and I even have pinboards for each of my books. My book pinboards are filled with nature pics and some quotes and (naturally) the models and actors that I think represent the characters in my books. These pinboards are very much like vision boards for me, and while I create them in the beginning stages of each draft, I add to them throughout the writing and editing and publishing process. These pinboards help me keep my vision of the books fresh while I’m trudging through the middle (middles are HARD for me, people!), and last year as I was setting up my planner I thought: why aren’t I making pinboards for other things? I should do that and so I did.
I made a vision board for 2018 on Pinterest. It was beautiful. Filled with quotes I like, pictures of places I’d like to visit or that inspire me…you get the idea. The problem was that while I filled that board up quickly, I forgot to go and check in on it (which made for a fun surprise this year when I discovered in again…but I digress). I wanted a vision board for my year that would actually work to inspire me – that I could see every day and not forget about. That meant it needed to be a physical board, not a digital one. The big problem with creating a big poster or cork board sized vision board is the size of my office and the fact that it doubles as a guest room.
I kept thinking and wondered if I could create a vision board that would live in my planner for the year. I use my planner daily, so I wouldn’t lose track of my vision. I could add to it throughout the year because I use the Happy Planner/discbound system, that was a bonus. I played around with that idea and it turns out, I could. And I did. And I am so excited about it!
I wound up putting the vision board in my project planner because that’s what made the most sense. So far I’m really loving it. When I see those images I chose to represent my expectations and hopes and plans for the year, it just makes me happy and inspires me to keep moving forward. So much, that I wanted to share the process with you guys because I think it could help you, too! Here’s what you need: glue, a few blank pages that will fit into your planner, and clippings from various magazines or digitally printed. The images can be words that are inspiring to you, nature images, inspirational/aspirational sayings, and even people that inspire you if you’re so inclined. If you don’t have any magazines laying around, contact your local Goodwill – most have stacks and stacks of magazines that you can buy for $1/bag.
Step One: go through the magazines page by page looking for images, headlines, and even bits of text that make you happy in some way. Cut them out and stack them in piles. I made piles of nature pics, some health/wellness images/words, inspirational words, and even a couple of pics of people (Oprah!) who inspire me. The number of clippings you have will vary, but I think a solid number is probably 20-30 clippings.
Step Two: decide how many “sections” you want for this vision board. I used three sheets of planner paper, and “titled” each page according to what it represented. I have a page for work (writing), a page for home, and a page for health/wellness because those are my top three areas this year.
Step Three: figure out which images you want on what pages and/or, if you’re just doing a single page, which section of the page. I like to have one big image and then I fill in the rest of the area with quotes and pictures that either reinforce what I see in that image or that build upon it.
Once you’ve figured out what goes on that page, it’s time for Step Four: start gluing! Rubber cement or glue sticks work well, but I prefer a tape runner (I use a TomBow) because it isn’t as messy but it keeps things in position. For my vision board, I also used washi to tape the pages together so that they fold in on one another. Speaking of, washi would be a great way to stick images to your pages and add a little more color/texture to the overall piece. That’s it. You’ve created a vision for your year that can be tucked into your planner (or put on a cork board if you have one!) that will keep you inspired for the next year.
Do you like vision boards? What would you like to create a vision board for?