Thursday, January 29, 2015

E-Planner or Paper Planner: What's Your Style?

Kimberly Wilson's beautiful Daybook

Something that I find kind of humorous is that despite all the free, online planning calendars, productivity apps, etc., there persists the lovers of all things paper and paper planners are hotter than ever it seems. There are planner videos galore on YouTube. In fact, there are entire channels dedicated to planners and planning and how people set up their planners, etc. It's an interesting subculture. This is one of the things that I think the Internet is so great at doing: sharing and even creating subcultures. There are fascinating and bizarre ways of living out there, folks. But I digress...

Filofax is popular and those who use them are called "Filofaxers." Erin Condren personalized planners seem to be the hottest thing among SAHMs... at least those who make YouTube videos. And there are other brands too, of course. But crimeny, they are expensive!! Erin Condren planners start at $50 and go up from there. And these are spiral bound planners. No refills, but a new notebook will be needed every year.

And then there are all the little accessories: markers and stickers and washi tape and pens and pouches in which to keep all your supplies.

This is what planning has become: a great big coloring book to play in for grownups.

And I have no problem with that. :)

Seriously. I LOVE stationary and all of those beautiful accessories. I have my own, little collection of washi tape and pens and spend many happy hours decorating and musing in my journal. The temptation is strong to pick up one of these lovelies despite the price. Actually, the one I probably would get is Kimberly Wilson's beautiful Tranquility Du Jour Daybook. It makes my heart go pitter pat. But, that too is $50. She does offer a PDF version for $28, which is a real bargain. But then again, you would need to print and bind it yourself and find your own cover... and her's is lovely.

Rosmarie at the Busy Budgeter has a wonderful, homemade alternative for those who have more time than money and want to create a DIY version. The planner she made for herself for this year is beautiful, customized, and is sure to be effective.

The thing that I run into with paper planning that I have a hard time with though - at least at this point in my life, is the repeat tasks of my days that I just don't like to write and rewrite on a calendar. This is why - surprisingly enough to me, the paper lover - that I have been using Google calendar for over a year.

I love that I can make events repeat. And the color-coding works great for things like my menu planning. There is a task list that I use regularly that syncs, like the calendar, with my phone, but you need to find a compatible app for it, as for some reason, Google doesn't have one.

The tasks on Google can't be made to repeat though. I definitely wanted this feature, because not only do I have repeating to-do's daily, but I also have a rotating cleaning schedule using zones a la Fly Lady. I don't like having to enter in the same cleaning tasks every six weeks for each of the 6 zones, so I knew that this was going to be a magic feature I needed in a phone app.

It took a couple of hours of searching for just the right to-do list features, but I found it in The Ultimate To-Do List app for Android phones. I am not an affiliate for this app; I just like it a lot! :) It is a paid app: $5 after a 14 day trial. I tried it for maybe 5 days and then I just bought it because it does everything I need it to do - and more actually. I have my settings on the "intermediate" level so I can have advanced repeating tasks, but there is an advanced level available too that I don't really know much about since I don't need those features.

This system is working really nicely for me right now in conjunction with Evernote (which I'll write more about in another post). As I mentioned, I am surprised that I have incorporated so much of  paperless planning into my life. But with the things I do - teaching school, attending school, volunteering, etc. convenience wins the day at this point. I note that many paper-planning lovers have more than one notebook: one for blogging, one for their personal life and one for work, whatever that work is. I used a similar system a couple of years ago, because I just couldn't fit everything into one planner and didn't like carrying separate notebooks with me regularly such as my lesson plans and my personal planner.

Google calendar allows me to have separate calendars incorporated into my main calendar. So, for example, I could have a menu calendar. And last year I had a lesson plans calendar too. I had the lesson plans calendar separate from my main calendar because 1) I shared some planning with friends with whom we did a homeschool co-op and 2) I could hide the calendar whenever I didn't want it competing with my personal calendar.

So this is what is working for me now. I think  -  no, I know - that there are a lot of people interested in productivity, efficiency, time management, and planning. I know it's not just me and I find it interesting how fascinating some of us find it. How people plan their lives and get done what they need to get done is an oddly popular topic, as evidenced in part by all the videos on YouTube that I mentioned at the top of my post, as well as books, and of course the products that are so popular. So, what do you use to plan your days? Are you a planner? Do you like paper or do you prefer paperless tools? Do you pay for higher-powered apps that give you more features or do you find that your needs are pretty simple and you can go with what is readily available for free?

I am still tempted by the paper. In fact, I could potentially see myself using the Tranquility Du Jour Daybook as more of a journal and less of a planner. There's a lot of good stuff in it! I thinking on it. But for planning, right now, I'm happy with this system that is working for me!

Dreams for 2015

Hee, hee. Here it is, the 29th of January and I'm posting my goals for the new year! :) Do you have goals or resolutions for the new year? Did you pick a word of the year (I didn't pick a word, but instead a phrase, but that's for another post!)? If so, let's just call this a check-in to see how we're doing so far!

Here are the things I am aiming to incorporate into my life in 2015. There's a lot of fodder for future posts here, so I'll just keep this basic:

  • Practice mindfulness
  • Engage with my cooking to enjoy it more; try one new recipe a week
  • Continue eating reasonable serving sizes; allow myself time to feel full 
  • Cardio and yoga weekly
  • Practice Spanish daily - I want to be able to speak Spanish more confidently by the turn of the year
  • Memorize Scripture daily
  • Maintain cleaning zones
  • Detach from/release expectations
  • One date night a month with my honey
  • Take a trip to D.C./NYC
  • Finish knitting my navy blue sweater

These are my overarching goals for the year that I wrote in my paper journal closer to the beginning of the month! It should be good to have them here to refer back to and muse upon from time to time. I'm also practicing writing down shorter term goals by the month and the week that align with my annual goals. And these things don't entail everything either. For example, I continue to practice hospitality in our home, but I didn't make than a focused goal this year. These goals listed here are things that are newer or are deserving of newer attention and intention because they have, perhaps, been a part of my life, but have fallen by the wayside. Things like doing well in school go without saying and are simply a constant. So, what's new in your world this year? Are you trying something new? Learning something new? Do you have enough on your plate already that you just don't even want to think about another thing?? :) I have felt that way before too, but for me, setting goals or trying new things is what keeps life interesting and fun and gives me purpose and direction. I allow for serendipity, but I'm a planner at heart. That said, I'm not hard on myself if I don't achieve some of these things. For me, it's meant to be fun. Share your plans or thoughts for the year with me in the comments below or on Facebook. I'd love to hear what you are doing!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Keeping Winter Blues at Bay

Today is probably the first day of this winter that I have felt ho-hum. The sky is gray and it is windy and cold. Of course, that has been the case for more than one day; we do live in Minnesota after all. But this is the first day that I feel somewhat affected by it.

I am learning, however, that I do not have to give in to my fickle feelings. My feelings don't lead me around by the nose and direct the kind of day I'm going to have. Instead, I choose to take a more active role in my behavior and responses to my circumstances. I am not denying the feelings that want to be there, but I'm not letting them take the lead either.

So, when I did not feel like going to the gym this morning I did yoga and meditation instead. If I didn't do anything physical, I think that would have made me feel worse. But I also really didn't think that I had a run in me this morning. Yoga was a good compromise: a way to be gentle on myself while still moving (a definite mood booster!).

Ironically, the routine today was not one that matched my craving for comfort, but was instead more active an invigorating. I didn't let myself off the hook so easily after all! :)

I have been working through "30 Days of Yoga" on the YouTube channel, Yoga With Adriene. I have to just say here:


I don't have time or extra money right now for a yoga class. I love yoga classes because of the variety, the camaraderie, and the conversation. Sometimes the conversation is just one-way, with the teacher doing the most of the talking, but it is interesting to me how thoughts and words flow with the vinyasa.

Well, this happens for me with Adriene's channel. When I have not been able to join classes, my alternative has often been video workouts. But the repetition always lost me eventually. It's not as inspiring knowing exactly what the instructor is going to say next. Because of this, last year I was often doing yoga alone in my bedroom just listening to some great Pandora channels (Nature Wilderness Channel, Zen Garden Radio, Yoga Sanctuary Radio).

Having an at-home practice is one of the benefits of yoga. It's highly portable, highly customizable. I love the option of being able to mix things up just as I please for what my body needs for the day. But one of the things I also love about taking a yoga class is that I don't have to think. I don't have to make decisions about what my next pose is going to be or what pose would flow best into the next one. I, like you I am sure, make decisions all day long, and handing off that responsibility when it comes to yoga is an extra goody in the mix!

So I urge you to check out Yoga With Adriene if you are looking for a new way way to practice or a new option to add into your yoga practice. Adriene is a great teacher and she offers these classes for free on YouTube! Her "30 Days of Yoga" series is going to remain up on her channel so that when it is done, you can revisit your favorites or do it all over again. I'm actually behind; I just did day 18 and, as today is the 28th, I'm behind. But I'm just kind of picking and choosing my way toward catching up. Some of her videos are under 20 minutes and I usually want between 20 and 30, so those are the ones I have been doing. Plus, I am not doing it every day; I don't usually do yoga on the days I run.

Turning the corner with my mood now that I'm settled in for the evening. Writing always helps. And the fact that my daughter, Maia, is making dinner for us tonight. Plus, I'm reminded that although it looks like the picture at the top of my post right now, it COULD look like this:

This was taken LAST February! We'll see if our mild winter can hang on. That's definitely something to smile about! :)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Itching to Write

Why is it that in the midst of classes - that I take and I teach - that I have this insatiable desire to get back here and write? And check out the stack of books. SOOO realistic that I'll get to all of those! And yet I come home with them from every trip to the library. And these are a lot of trips, friends. I just finished my volunteering position at the second library I was volunteering at weekly. But I'm still at one once-a-week for volunteering and I'm at studying at another while I wait for Eve to get out of a Culinary Arts class on Tuesdays. And I do study. I just study for the first hour and then "reward" myself with the last 20 minutes of browsing. That stack of books by my computer there isn't the whole of it. Nope. There's a stack of magazines downstairs. And that's next to the Spanish language books and workbooks. Yeah, I thought I'd try to improve my Spanish this year too.

And that's the thing.

I've been reading and listening and watching so many amazing things that I want to share them with you - or me - or whoever reads this blog from time to time. And I'm a record keeper at heart. Yes, I still have my paper journals that I keep. So, I don't really "need" an online record per se. But, I just want it still I guess. Obviously I must because my last post was in May and I still haven't pulled the plug here yet.

Notice the irony of that, by the way? May. When the majority of my work was done. I did take one class last summer, but seriously. I had WAY more time to write then than I do now. Whatever. The information is flowing in and I guess I need to let some of it out.
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