But if you are doing all of that and still feel like you don't have a real grip on your life, then you might be ready to look at things a little differently. It might be time to really clarify not just the different pieces of your planning “system,” but also to really understand how they relate to one another.
The power of The Happy Planner is that you can pull out pages, lay them all in front of you on a big table, and create an entire picture of your life. You can really get a feel for every individual piece, see how it's all connected, and then layer it together again and put it back into one cohesive book. Taking advantage of this tool can help you turn your Happy Planner into your true “external brain,” and vastly reduce the weight on your shoulders.
There are two basic elements to any planning system: a calendar and a to-do list. For many people, these two pieces are enough structure to operate just fine.
For me, it’s a different story. There is no way my brain can manage the gazillion little details it needs to without a structure that is dynamic enough to contain not just the information, but the way it relates to other pieces, and how it changes over time.
So after a few years of working with my mind, studying different methods and trying new techniques, I’ve sketched out a cohesive methodology specifically for The Happy Planner because that is the line that has inspired me deeply and allowed me to get myself set up in a truly complete and effective way.
So let's get started on the different pieces that your system may contain, depending on what YOU need:
This is where we can dream freely without having to get too worried about all of the little details. This is where we let out souls speak to us about why we are here, and what we need most out of this life.
This is also where we need to allow ourselves to get messy, and let anything come out the first time around. We can make it pretty after we know what's truly going to the top of our lists.
Whether you use a monthly view or just input it directly into your weekly or daily view is entirely up to your preference. And for many, this piece of the planning puzzle makes more sense stored electronically, so it can be updated on-the-go or shared with others.
Here, the heart of our "thinking work" occurs. This is where we determine what needs to happen and how. We add item after item until our mind is finally empty, and then arrange it all in a way that makes sense for us.
Here the Happy Planner system can really shine, allowing us to utilize a variety of papers and sticky notes until we reach that "click" that tells us that our brain is getting a grip on things.
And of course, if you know what you need but you can’t find it, you can pick up a Happy Notes and start customizing it just for you and your unique mind.
You can also sketch out the routine of a typical day, and look for the places that are working well for you, as well as the ones that need some tweaking. We are constantly refining our daily flow to best suit our current situation and personal needs, or to adjust to the myriad of changes that inevitably arise.
At least once a day, we look over our daily schedule, our most pressing tasks, and any special considerations.
Once a week is often recommended for looking over all of our to-do lists and active projects, to update them with any progress made, and move the next action steps onto our day-to-day plan.
And it's a good idea to sit down about once a month and look over our big picture goals to see how we are doing. And this is where we must remember that gradual progress is much more transformative than big changes.
And then, arguably the most fun one, once a year we can sit down and create a fresh vision for the year ahead and sketch out some new, or continued, goals.
Et violà! A basic planner set-up, ready to apply to your Happy Planner today to help you feel even more on top of your life. Because once you unlock the true potential of your Happy Planner, the possibilities are truly endless.
Whitney Till, a.k.a. The Freckled Planner