I have been using a Passion Planner for just over a year now. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have loved using my Passion Planner, so much so that I didn’t hesitate to order another for this year.
Why do I love my Passion Planner so much? Well, the planner, and the act of using it, allows me to focus on a purpose for each week and each day, not just for work, but for my personal life as well. The act of spending a bit of time each day deciding what I would like to accomplish, and why that thing is important to me, have allowed me to streamline my creative process at work and at home, as well as make steady progress towards my long-term goals.
The planner has separate areas for itemizing personal priorities and work priorities, at the monthly, weekly, and daily level, as well as different tiers for the importance of theses priorities. Additionally, there is a monthly review area, which allows me to reflect on the good things that happened and any improvements that can be made. It’s a small pause that allows me to assess whether I am still on track to achieve my goals, or if those goals might need to be redefined.
At the beginning of each day, I spend 5 minutes with my planner, deciding what task I want to make the focus of that day. Each Monday, I spend 10-15 minutes, as I organize tasks, appointments, and priorities for the week ahead.
I track all “non-moveable” events and appointments, such as doctor’s appointments, my daughter’s athletic and school events, road races, and personal commitments in Google Calendar. So each Monday, I bring up my Google Calendar for the week and record any items into my Passion Planner that I will need to take into consideration while planning the week ahead. For example, if I am working a Girl Scout cookie booth with my daughter on Saturday afternoon, I can’t very well do my long run that day.
Once all the non-moveables are recorded on my weekly calendar, I schedule my other top priorities. I usually schedule my runs first. I will look at my other commitments and see which evenings I have free, as well as which evenings I think I will be least tired, and cross check with the weather forecast. If I know of any meetings for work, I will schedule those next.
After that, I will schedule personal priorities. These might include things like decluttering activities, an evening of practicing my bass, or setting aside time to work on this blog. Or I might need to set aside time to assist my daughter with a school project. Putting these things on the calendar marks them as priorities for that week, and defines a time to address them. That way, I don’t get to Sunday and think, “Shoot! I didn’t declutter that cabinet / work on that blog post / place that garden order!” Or my daughter doesn’t say at 9:00 pm on a Tuesday, “You’re going to bed? But you said you were going to help me with Spanish tonight!”
I have a set of colored highlighters that I use to color-code each event. Pink for health goals, red for personal, orange for family, etc.
The Passion Planner also has a journal / brain-storming / notes area on each weekly calendar. There are additional journal pages in the back of the planner as well.
One area that I would like to make greater use of this year is the monthly calendar area. I found that I didn’t use it as much last year as I could have. I think spending a little time working in this area at the beginning and end of each month will help me break long-term goals or projects down into medium-range milestones. Not only will this help me better define the steps needed to achieve my goals, but it will help me measure progress in a way other than “complete” or “not complete”.
I carry my planner to work with me every day, in a bag reserved for that purpose. My bag holds only my planner, highlighters, pen, and white-out, as well as my medication (Tylenol, migraine meds, sinus meds, etc.), and a handkerchief. Nothing else is allowed in “the bag”. I have so completely integrated using my planner into each day that I feel lost when I accidentally forget to bring it along (luckily, this has happened only once).
The quiet act of opening my Passion Planner each morning and mindfully thinking about the day ahead helps focus my mind and center me. It helps me remember the long-term goals towards which I working, so that all the mundane details of the day are rendered worthwhile.