This is a different type of post for me, but I think it is time for a little bit of fun. Leading a school during the last two years is unlike anything I could have ever imagined. I have learned things I probably would not have learned in any other years. Surprisingly, one of these things is how using a planner can do more for me than help me stay organized. This is not a post about or advertisement for the “Happy Planner." The "Happy Planner" helped me as I was searching for a new hobby that would bring me happiness, help me create, and help me produce something valuable to me in addition to my work.
Self-Care in the Quiet Times
As a classic introvert, I am well aware of my need to unwind and refresh. My beautiful new planner has made me slow down, plan, and think about what my needs are each week. As an elementary school principal, I spend a lot of time making sure others’ needs are met and it is easy to run out of time and energy for myself. I write, color, plan, and visualize my days. I actually take some quiet time each morning to get my head in the day before I have to face it. I have a planner for work and a planner for home life. I plan the week’s meals, clothing, and events in my home planner. Since I am also now planning and tracking food, water intake, and workouts on paper, I have extra accountability to stay on track. I create my work planner weeks around the set appointments that I have and fill it in with observing teachers and the daily tasks of running a school. I do not have set times for anything other than meetings and leave the rest of the day to a “to-do” list format. It is satisfying and encouraging to plan everything and see it in front of me to tackle each day. The photo above is my work planner before I have filled in much of the month view. I have always been a sucker for pens, and the rings of colored tape add some extra fun to the pages. I loosely plan the week on Sunday, so I have an idea of how the week will look and fill it in as needs arise. In a way, the planning with colorful stickers has provided some psychological aspect to my self-care routine. I think it just fulfills a need for creating and enjoying simple pleasures that I didn’t realize I had until I started this new journey. Maybe we all need to slow down and find some simple pleasures to enjoy.
Who Doesn’t Love a Sticker?
When I was a kid, I loved stickers. I never had a big sticker album to store my stickers forever, but I wanted one. I usually bought sticker books from the book orders when I bought my paperbacks. I was so excited when I got a Scratch ’n’ Sniff sticker on my spelling test. Stickers just made me happy. As a teacher, I enjoyed putting stickers on my students’ work. I don’t know what it is about stickers, but they are fun at any age, and I don’t mind admitting it. The stickers add inspiration, color, whimsy, character, and fun to a chore that I never consistently implemented in 20 years as an educator. I think the stickers are a big part of what keeps me going with this planner. My husband usually cooks for us, so I even write a separate page for him with the meals for the week on it and stick it to the refrigerator. I put stickers on it and decorate it with a little message for him. It brings a smile to his face to see the stickers and little note from me. Seriously, who doesn’t love a sticker?
The World of Planning
I had no idea that planners were such a thing! Once I bought my planners and saw the aisles of stickers and accessories, I thought I should see what else was out there on the topic. There are so many videos and pages devoted to decorating them! There is an entire subculture devoted to planning, and until I started using my Happy Planners, I was oblivious to it. I was never a scrapbooker, but from what I can tell, these planners are a mix of scrapbooking, journaling, and planning. I have watched some planner videos with over 400,000 views, and I realized this is a really big thing. I have learned some fun tips and ideas from these planners, and I have become much more organized in my daily life because other planners have shown me how fun it is to get it on paper.
The Act of Planning
As a teacher, every moment of every day was planned, and to this day I don’t like to plan actual times or commit to things. This doesn’t mean I am in an undisciplined free-for-all in my work or personal life. I have routines and am up early every day to begin them. I now have the joy and satisfaction of seeing them documented and completed every day. I can see my changes in attitude toward certain tasks each week and my success rate with all I have planned and completed on my colorful pages. This provides a unique sense of accomplishment for me, especially because I have also accomplished the task of tracking and planning it in a creative and colorful way. I suspect that people aren't accustomed to seeing a principal with a sticker-ed up, colorful planner, but I will take the sprinkles of happy where I can find them these days.
Final Thoughts on Planning
After over 20 years of planning attempts, I finally found a planner I enjoy that works for me. If you want to do it but think planning is not for you, don’t give up. Do some research and find the one that works for you. It may or may not have stickers, but there are so many types of planners and methods out there- including apps for digital devices. You can probably find one that will suit your needs and bring you all the happiness, order, and accomplishment you may not even know you’re missing.