Life without a planner
Mon, 11 Oct 2021 22:25:49 +0000
October is my favourite month of the year because it’s when I buy myself a planner.
I spend the two months prior researching a planner, and the subsequent two months prepping the planner: filling in information, covering it with stickers, tweaking the layout, adding post-it notes, and making it exactly what I need it to look like. This is a yearly ritual that gives me immense joy and satisfaction.
In October 2019, after long consideration, I bought myself this planner. It was a specifically a goal-oriented notebook, which I put a lot of thought into as I wanted 2020 to be full of projects, trips, adventures and achievements. I had planned to visit my family back home, go to Japan with my best friend, as well as wrap up a couple of writing projects and upgrade my job situation.
On top of all the goals I already had, at the end of 2019 I met a guy from Quebec and fell in love. Soon, I was adding Save up for a trip to Canada to my priorities.
Where do you want to be one year from now? Two, five years from now? How are you going to get there? What feelings are you chasing? My new planner prompted me with lots of questions that I really had to think hard about.
Then 2020 showed up, and I watched all my plans go up the fuck.
Working through a pandemic drained me of everything but the juice I needed to barely exist outside of work. Burnout and exhaustion made it impossible for me to achieve any of the things I had planned. Relaunching my newsletter, finishing my short story collection, journaling every day: nope, nope and nope. Travelling of course was out of the question.
My Sunday night routine of filling in my weekly goals became more and more sporadic. By June, I had given up. Surviving was my only goal.
Quebec guy and I ended up taking separate ways, demoralised by the prospect of never being able to see each other again, clinging on to hopes more than plans.
When I moved into the bus in 2021, I ditched my physical planner in favour of Google Calendar. I did it for the sake of minimalism but also because, after months of pages left blanks and very nebulous life goals, I thought buying a planner would be a waste of money. Yet, it was strange to organise my days on my phone rather than on paper. It was the first time since university that I started a year without a planner.
At first, I thought I could deal with it. And for the first few months, it felt just as pointless to plan anything in 2021 as it had been in 2020.
But the truth is, I can’t help but plan. I am a project manager at heart. My life might look chaotic to the untrained eye, but it’s actually very intentional and meticulously organised. I swear by to-do lists and I have to write everything down in order to remember it. I regularly redefine my direction, reframe objectives, revise what I want my life to look like and how I am going to get there.
I have been needing to plan a lot this year in spite of not being able to travel or think about life goals on a broad scale. Google Calendar just doesn’t do it. I love to scribble. I like to flip back through pages of notes, accomplishments and missed appointments. I want to be able to cross things off lists.
So, in spite of the fact that a planner is one more object I would own, and that I would have to find a place for it and carry it around with me, I am going to get myself one. And stickers. And washi tape. Watch me.