Making my case: How planning can help us be more courageous.

Recently my husband told me “you have too many planners already” when I asked him to give me the beautiful pink fluoro filofax as a gift, and I said “mmm yes, maybe”. He then went ahead and said “you really are into that, huh?”. I said “I think this is a new phase in my life where planning has helped me cope with some of the radical changes that have happened in life lately”.

This remark made me think about how, many of us in the planning community, have used planners and the process of planning itself as a way to express our creativity, as a creative outlet but also as a way to have an overview of our ever changing and chaotic lives. I recently became a mom, as I have said before, but also, I moved to this City and country only a few years ago. After moving, we also moved to a new house, and a few months ago we had our beloved child. All of a sudden the “life equation”, at least my equation, became too complex. For someone who has lived on her own for so long, and someone who has always had the control of her life, her decisions and her path, suddenly facing a life where nothing seemed under control really started to affect me. I didn’t see an order in things and also, I found myself in the center of a household as the manager. Not only did I have to think about my life, my full time work, my voluntary activities, my side projects, and so on but I had to think of my husband’s projects, needs and things, my son’s new life and our loving dog, AND my own family as well, thinking of my mom and dad and their needs. TOO MUCH.

I have carried a planner for as long as I remember. In elementary school it wasn’t maybe a planner per se but I did have a notebook where I wrote down what I had to do for school and also things that were happening soon. Maybe these were the first signs of my personality as someone who likes taking control of her own life. Later on, as I have mentioned before, in high school and college and grad school, I carried a planner in all its glory. I used to look forward going to this stationery store each year to buy my planner for school. I used to use colorful pens and do some kind of doodling in there. Using a planner or a journal was always a way to express my thoughts, articulate in words my ideas and let my creativity flourish in a way.

Now as an adult, I have realized that after my life changed so much, I started to using planners and notebooks and colorful pens again as a result to not having enough time to write down my thoughts or even put them together in my head. Especially when you have to take care of a new-born and when you don’t sleep, your mind is a mess. You can’t think clearly beside the fact that you don’t have time to think of yourself, your needs, your ideas or your own projects. Suddenly planning became my the center of operations where I plan and am able to put into words the ideas that otherwise would dissolve in thin air if I had not written them down. By using a planner I have been able to remember my appointments and my family’s as well, remember dates, important events, upcoming projects, current projects, calendars, lists, bills, accounts, passwords (mine and my husbands), work things, family events and everything in between.
Planning has been a great tool that allows me to have an overview of my day to day and be able to get things done, remember things and plan ahead.

Aside being a great tool and a therapy in a way, planning has become my way to exercise my creativity. I love that quote by Matisse that says “creativity takes courage” and have realized that it is true. I am someone who is afraid of making mistakes in my work and things I do, this is why I would avoid doing something unless I know how to do it to perfection. I thought I was someone who is not creative and in my work I would avoid undertaking tasks where I would need to come up with creative strategies and would pass them on to another staff member.

Planning has allowed me to become less fearful of exercising my creativity because when you are creative, there are no rules and no right, or wrong, it all goes. Putting washi on my pages or using stickers, it all goes so I have become more resourceful and more of the way I used to be when I was younger, when I actually came up with an idea of how to “build” a dressing room in my tiny room as a child. I have it in me, just as all of us do, but as we grow up, we lose that spontaneity and become more fearful of “being wrong”. Planning is my creative outlet, it allows me to be more myself, loosen up and enjoy putting my crazy ideas into action.  

On another note, recently because I was looking for more planning supplies, I actually learned that we have some amazing local stationery stores that I never knew about. I explored the new City where I live and got to learn my way around places where, before, I would get lost so easily. I learned what stores have better products of certain kind, which stores have a better supply of page flags for example, and which stores have japanese stationery which I so much love. Through my planning addiction… I mean, hobby, I got to also lose the fear to explore a new City and be more spontaneous about daring to go into stores that otherwise I would not visit, such as the fancy stationery stores where sometimes I would feel out of place.

Some of the things that you need when you want to start decorating your pages are for example:

1. Washi tape, you can’t go anywhere without washi tape!
2. fun stickers or functional stickers, even some avery stickers would do if you make them into fun shapes with a puncher.
3. page flags, these days you find page flags in different price ranges, from the $1 page flags at target to the $10 at japanese stationery shops
4. Pens! My favorite things are pens and I have plenty of them because I am picky about the with and tip and handle of my pens (!)
5. scrapbook embellishments or anything that you can paste to your planner

So, this is my take on how planning intersects with life and how planning can actually become a tool to develop another side of our personality or even, dare to do new things because after all, like Matisse said “Creativity does take courage”. So let’s be more courageous and dare to plan!

Fabulous planning to you all!

EM J  


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