2016 Planner

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Well, it took 20+ inches of snow, but I am finally able to sit down and share this year’s planner!  We are currently in the midst of our largest snowstorm in five years.  The county schools already had a few days off in the beginning of the week, so there was one day of school before the impending storm cancelled schools.  The university closed on Friday, so M and I had a day off together yesterday and are snowed in until further notice.  The snow is still coming down, and is expected to last through the rest of the day.  I’m sure we will hit two feet!

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I have a pile of homework to get through in the next few days, in case the plows are efficient enough to have us back at work/school by Tuesday.  One of my classes is the notorious “reading” class of the program–we’ve got around a book+a paper a week to get through, plus additional assignments.  I’m glad to be getting it out of the way this early, but I expect that I will have to work on my self-discipline to stay on track.

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Thankfully, my planner is all set up to help me remember everything for my classes and my work–there is even space to remember to take care of me!  I stuck with most of my set-up from last year.  I still love my horizontal weekly spread, with the trio of delineated space for the important things for the day.  This year, those spaces are for homework (super necessary), self-care/relationship care (one of my goals to work on for 2016), and dinner (always important).  Last year’s planner had space for daily chores and workouts.  I am still working to make a true routine of movement in my life, but homework definitely trumps workout, in terms of valuable planner space.  Instead, my workouts are now in a row of checkboxes at the end of each week.  I also realized over the course of last year that having the daily chore space was weighing on me far more than it should.  I am still trying to come up with a routine of daily maintenance that cuts down on my cleaning time, but, realistically, I do most of my cleaning on my day off each week.  The solution was to add another row to check off the chores at the end of the week.  This way, I can do the cleaning whenever is convenient!  I even found some adorable little images to help remind me of the seven major cleaning tasks that I try to conquer each week.  I added a third row to my checkbox tracker that is blank, so I can use it for whatever habit I’m working on.   I also move my blog planner onto the weekly spread–hopefully I will see it more often!

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My meal planner page remained the same, as did my time sheet.  I added a place on the follow-up pages to track my weekly goals, that tie in the monthly goal planner that I built into my monthly page spread.  My word for 2016 is intentional.  We saw a lot of improvements in 2015: having our own place (no roommates!), being more social, settling into life on two full-time salaries, growing our first garden.  But I reached the end of the year feeling like I coasted through a lot of it.  I want to be more intentional about how I spend my free time, rather than ending up in front of the TV.  With this striving for intentional action on my mind, I added in monthly goals (and weekly sub-goals) to help plan out and achieve new habits and good changes in my life.  I also added the section for self-care in hopes of teaching myself better stress management.

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This new format takes a little bit more time to set up each week, but I think slowing down and spending a little more intentional time setting up each week will only benefit my life.  2016 is off to a wonderful start!

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My 2015 Planner and A Lesson in Slowing Down

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Happy 2015, everyone!  I’d like to say that I eased into 2015, but that would certainly be a fib.  After flying home from Colorado on December 30, we promptly threw a New Year’s party the next evening. Copious amounts of champagne bottles popping, plus celebratory fireworks (one of our neighbors seems to be hoarding a stash) had Punc terrified for much of the night.  She is a bit of a chicken, so it was not surprising.  Though fireworks are a rarer occurrence, we may need to get her a thunder vest.  This past 4th of July was a mess–we end up wrapping her in an ace bandage to apply some comforting pressure, but she still cowered under our bed for most of the night.  Thankfully, Punc recovered from New Year’s Eve pretty quickly, as we were dropping her back off at my mother’s house just two days later.  It is a tradition that a large group of our friends takes a vacation in early January.  M and I went down this year and joined in the game of Nerf Gun Assassins (I earned the title of “Best Rookie”), hung out in hot tubs in the frigid January weather, and–in my case–caught up on sleep.  I also made a massive batch of my Swedish Meatballs when it was my turn to make dinner.  Quadrupling the recipe was a little more stressful than I expected, to be honest.  I don’t think restaurant cooking is in my future.  But, ultimately, they turned out just as delicious as usual, in spite of an oven that wouldn’t fully close.  Another highlight of the trip was having real homemade Korean food on our last night.  It was amazing! And the cook was careful to check with us on all of the ingredients, so that we could eat entirely gluten-free.  I may be trying my hand at some Koren BBQ ribs in the near future!

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While our vacation was quite relaxing, M and I jumped back into the deep end as soon as we came back last Thursday.  I auditioned my cast for the sixth grade play that I am directing and M went right back into his usual schedule of tech builds, rehearsals, performances, and break-down.  Saturday and Sunday, I did work as an extra for a friend’s film.  It is set in the 1840s, which means some awesome costumes.  However, I had signed on for an outdoor scene on Saturday.  We were filming in the snow for ten hours while the January sun managed to raise the temperature from 16 degrees to a whopping 20 degrees.  Thankfully, I was in a full-length skirt and cape, which allowed me to pin my costume over my winter coat and the four layers of clothes that I wore beneath it.  I definitely should have put on more socks, but given the environmental ordeals and length of the day, I actually stayed fairly warm.  The weather was certainly a bonding experience for the extras.  I was also able to catch up with several old classmates, whom I had not seen since we graduated from college.  I started some French Onion soup in the crockpot before I left, so I had piping hot soup and whiskey to warm me up when I got home, in addition to a long, hot shower and several heating pads.  Sunday was a late night shoot, thankfully indoors, and for a fancy ball.  I was chosen to be in a particular shot in the hall, because the back of my head looked so good!  Seriously, I should have high-fived the makeup girl, since I just arrived with my hair in ringlets.  She piled it all up with this lovely peacock-feathered hairpiece.  I think I have to give her the credit for that achievement.  So we stood and looked pretty and pretended to chat for another 10 hours.  I got home at 3:45am and managed to noticed that I had a great 50’s-style hair-do after taking the pins out (check it out on instagram–>).  Then I collapsed gratefully into bed, knowing that I still had work the next day.

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I’ve spent this week adapting and casting the script for my students and desperately trying to get my feet under me as we prepared for our largest season: Summer.  One thing that has helped me keep track in this past hectic week is my 2015 planner.  I created my very first planner last year and noticed room for improvements almost immediately.  I keep a running list and, truly, I am very happy with the new format for my 2015 planner.  I knew I wanted to turn the days from vertical to horizontal in the weekly spread.  I also wanted to ditch the space for breakfast and lunch in favor of a cleaning and workout schedule.  Routine and schedules are one of my goals for this year.  A cleaning schedule, so that I am not stuck cleaning the entire house on my day off; and a workout schedule because I am definitely feeling my 8-10 hours spent at a desk each day.  I’m too young to feel so creaky and stiff-jointed.  I thought about ditching the dinner section, because I knew I would be keep my weekly full meal plan page, but I like seeing dinners at a glance, so I can plan my prep throughout the day.  I also knew I wanted to better utilize the page opposite of the weekly meal plan.  Last year, if was a full notes page, but I barely touched it.  This year, I added a timesheet space.  I work flexible hours, rather than a 9-5 schedule, so I knew a dedicated space would be very helpful for keeping record of my hours.  I also added a little blog planner, because another goal for 2015 is to actually build a routine and posting schedule for this blog, as well.  My month spread stayed nearly the same–though I remembered to add the day labels.  I did, however, forget to provide a space in the weekly spread for each day’s date.

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My other problems with the 2015 planner are, thankfully, more visual/physical than functional.  I designed this planner leisurely during our time in Colorado.  But I was rushing to print it as soon as we returned home.  I couldn’t figure out why the printer was shrinking the pages to provide blank margins.  I’d managed to circumvent that last year, but I couldn’t figure out how I had done so now.  Then my ink cartridges ran out about 1/3 of the way through printing.  I tried to remain unfazed and replaced the cartridges, set it printing again, and let my attention wander.  When I glanced over again, the lovely peach+teal combo that I chose to complement the front cover was…well, gone.  Instead, it was printed in a pale pink and bright blue.  I stopped the printing, reran the alignment, and was still stuck with pink and blue.  At this point, I sat back in apathy and assured myself that I didn’t care as the planner finished printing.  The pink isn’t so bad. The blue is a little dark.  I had forgotten to make the decorative print slightly translucent, as I had last year.  That would help to solve the problem, but now it was too late.  With my pink and blue planner in hand, I set to work chopping the pages in half…with a dull paper cutter.  It ripped several pages, and even more were chopped unevenly.  Finally, I began hole-punching without any further thought, except to get this damn planner done.  And wouldn’t you know, I was left with another mistake.  Last year, I had compared, to make sure I was placing the 8 holes correctly.  This year, I forgot to do that.  I ended up with 9 holes that were far too oddly-spaced.  I actually had to chop a half-inch off of the top of every single page, because they would not fit within the covers.

So now, I am left with a weird-size, discolored planner that carries a ton of wasted space in the margins.  But as I said, the functionality is not really affected.  It simply isn’t quite as pretty as I had intended.  But, as much as I told myself it wasn’t, it was frustrating!  I wanted something pretty and perfect!  I had been so careful with my notes and my plans over this year.  I was so ready to fix last year’s mistakes.  So ready, in fact, that I didn’t take the time to check my work or to slow down and think about the consequences.  Thankfully, these poor decisions were made over a stack of paper, and not anything more serious.  But it was a good reminder to take a step back, to slow down, to think things through. Theater major that I was, to my chagrin, I was reminded about the Greek tragic plays and their focus on hubris.  Hubris, to keep things simple, is arrogance, overconfidence, or ‘excessive pride’.  It was almost always the downfall of the tragedy’s main character.  Now, I am not saying that I am in a tragedy, but I do think that I get a little too sure of myself when I have done a task or an act before.  I had made a planner before, and I had planned out all of the design.  I did not even consider that I could encounter problems when I tried to make another planner.  And worse, when I did encounter a problem, I did not stop or slow down to reevaluate.  I gritted my teeth and pushed forward with my original plan, refusing to acknowledge that the original plan had failed.  So I was left with a planner that has far more mistakes that it would have if I had stopped and taken my time to work out those problems one by one.  This same sort scenario is playing out in my life more and more frequently.  I do not like that.

All to often, these days, I find myself rushing.  Rushing to the next task, or the next place, or the next plan.  I do not let myself slow down, so whatever plan I start with has to carry me through to end, for better or for worse.  I think my work, my relationships, and my own mental health are suffering a little from this.  I want to stop this behavior before it gets worse, and before something more precious than a planner suffers from it.  I’m not exactly sure how I can do this, but the thought has certainly been at the front of my mind over the past few weeks.  While I am trying to consciously slow down and consider all of the factors,  the whole process is (haha) slow going.  To start with, I am focusing on multi-tasking less.  And giving myself a break.  I do not always need to be doing something while I watch TV.  Giving a movie my undivided attention after dinner is not a waste of my time, especially when this break from racing thoughts is actually so restorative.  Multi-tasking has become a detriment, and, until now, I have stubbornly ignored that.  That needs to change  So here we go 2015: let’s slow down, establish routine, and be a little gentler on ourselves.