Hey, Planner Peeps! I’m so excited to share this space with a very special guest this week. My friend Sarah Robinson and I met through an old job and we soon started a mastermind with two other lovely ladies! Sarah writes over at Beautiful Between and loves to share about hope, love and redemption. We got Chinese food together last November and she generously showed me her planner. I fell in love and immediately asked her to write a post on how she used it, along with her systems! Without further ado, here’s my lovely friends way of living life, intentionally:
I shouldn’t even be writing this.
At least, that’s what I would have believed not long ago.
I never saw myself as “organized.” My half-done checklists got lost in some notebook or another as I kept searching for the perfect planner, the perfect system, and the perfect way to get everything done.
Really, I was searching for ways to live up to my unrealistic expectations. I crammed my schedule full to the brim, edge to edge in planners and calendars, desperate to do enough that I would finally feel good enough.
Want to know what’s funny? I was convinced I wasn’t a perfectionist because I wasn’t perfect enough.
In all my frantic striving to just be good enough, I was focused on the wrong things. I made lists and set goals for things I wanted to accomplish, but they often went undone. And I beat myself up for all that I couldn’t quite manage.
It wasn’t until I stopped asking what I wanted to do that perfectionism’s grip began to loosen.
Now, I’m asking a better question.
Who do I want to be?
It’s so much more than what I want to accomplish. It’s not about the checklist and the achievement. It’s about identity: who I am and who I’m becoming. It’s about building the life I want.
Now, I don’t find my value as a person in what I cross off the list daily. I’ve learned that much of who I am and who I become is wrapped up in my daily activities, and I get to choose what they are.
I want to live a life that fully aligns with my values, so I make sure it shows up in my daily to-dos.
So what does it look like in practice?
First, determine who you want to be and break that down into specific traits. Here’s my example list:
I want to be someone who:
- Loves people really well.
- Creates meaningful work that touches lives.
- Stewards my one life well.
- Lives a generous lifestyle.
Then, take each of those traits and break it down to specific tasks/things that contribute to it in your life. These should be things you can schedule or principles you can implement as you fill your planner. Here are some examples for each of the traits above.
- Loves people really well:
- Schedule reminders to reach out to loved ones.
- Prioritize margin/open space in my schedule for unexpected opportunities to spend time with people.
- Creates meaningful work that touches lives:
- Schedule time for deep work, research, thinking, even prayer.
- Stewards my one life well:
- Prioritize what makes me healthy so I can give of myself how I want to.
- Schedule exercise, grocery shopping, counseling, and down time.
- Consider what I say yes and no to. Sometimes I need to say no to good things to make room for great things.
- Lives a generous lifestyle:
- Schedule payments to keep moving toward being debt free (so we eventually have more money to give).
- Set aside a little money from each paycheck for generosity (so we have money available whenever an opportunity arises to help someone).
The tools of the trade
This is a planner blog, so of course I’m going to share the tools that work for me as I create the life I want. Also, please know that while Lorna may use affiliate links and receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase the items below, I don’t get anything for these recommendations. These are just tools I love that help me become who I want to be. I think they might help you, too!
Last year, my husband hunted high and low for the perfect gift: a planner I would love. After TONS of research, he landed on my gorgeous Rifle Paper Co planner in a dusty pink. I love the heavy paper, the floral cover, and the quotes on every two-page spread.
I also LOVE the two-column layout! In 2017, it was perfect for me because I don’t usually fill my planners with my entire to-do list. Instead, I include up to 3 “most important things” that I list in order of importance. On one column, I list the top 3 tasks for work. I list the top 3 for my personal life in the other column. Then, I tackle them in that order.
If I only complete those 3 things that day – or even if I accomplish the single most important thing on each of my lists – I count my day a success. It feels good to have my own definition for success and know I can attain it.
Highlighters & fine point felt pens
I love having color to freshen up my pages, so I try to write in my planner with fine felt markers. I usually go for colored Sharpie pens or Staedtler Triplus Fineliners (my favorites!).
I also hate crossing or checking off items in my planner – it looks so messy! Instead, I highlight items as I complete them. It’s a bright, visual way to show my progress at a glance.
My writing has taken off over the past several months. It’s become a business and requires more attention and planning than a hobby. I’ve also started taking on some freelance clients and, much as I love my Rifle Paper Co. Planner, it wasn’t cutting it for my ever-expanding to-do lists, editorial calendar, and multiple projects.
Airtable is an incredibly flexible online tool full of templates to manage any kind of project, lists of clients, or even personal stuff like menu planning or keeping track of your favorite books. The best part is that it’s FREE and 100% customizable.
It’s the perfect complement to my analog planner. I track complex details and connect important information for my projects in Airtable so I can see where I am on big projects at a glance. But I still write down my 3 most important things in my planner to keep me focused.
What it all comes down to
I use these tools so I can have the life I want: one of joy, wholeness, and purpose. I use it to chip away at the important commitments and tasks that I’d otherwise sacrifice at the altar of the urgent. I use it to define success and move myself toward it.
But most of all, this is how I free myself from unrealistic perfectionism. This is how I’m becoming happy with who I am and what I do. And that is priceless.
Want more from Sarah? Click here to get her free mini-ebook on living a beautiful life right now.