We've all seen pictures of beautiful pinterest-worthy planner spreads and hoped we could one day make something as stunning.  I'm guilty myself of occasionally "planning for the picture."  Hundreds of thousands of planners are sold every year and a disproportionately high number of the "pretty" ones wind up on the internet.  For me, sometimes, what is behind the camera is another struggle entirely.  Even though I'm new to this, some people have told me they find MY plans inspiring, which I still find hard to believe!  

Have you heard of imposter syndrome? It essentially means that success, in our own minds, is attributed to luck and other right timing factors and not actual achievement or talent and that is accompanied by a fear of being found out as a fraud.  This is just my observation, but I think imposter syndrome may be more prevalent in the planner world as there are a lot of high-achieving type A women around, myself included.  This only creates more pressure as folks try to gain instagram followers or open an etsy shop and then either (a) succeed and don't give themselves credit for being social media mavens or (b) fail and feel terrible about themselves.  What once started as a fun outlet can quickly become a pressure cooker nightmare if you're not true to yourself.
Occasionally I love the process of creating and organizing my week and showing it off is a bonus.  Other times, I am overwhelmed by it and wonder if people who expect to see me post on Instagram or a group will be disappointed.  In reality, I realize it's silly, but when my head space gets out of whack, it makes me feel inadequate.  Like anything else, too much of a good thing can take the fun out of it.
So today I thought I'd talk about getting back to planner basics.  All you REALLY need is a notebook and a pen or pencil.  If you really want stickers, head to a teacher supply store.

I like to return to my "planner roots" by making lists. It starts with a brain dump.  Literally, just write anything that pops into your head onto paper. Don't worry about how it looks or is organized or even if it's a note (noun or sentence), a task (verb or doing words), or encouraging quotation.  If you have a planner, don't be afraid to "ruin" it or use it!  That is what it is for.
Then, take the brain dump and categorize it.  Your categories may look different, but some examples are: to do, to schedule, to buy, to clean, or self care.  Occasionally I make a separate list alongside my categories of everything that is making me anxious.  I include a column that has a time component off to the side.  I've found that my anxiety triggers have a time element to them and they resolve or pass naturally.  Acknowledging them is all I need.
The categorized and anxious list is enough to get me through most of the time.  At this point, I may transfer to a "planner type" layout with set boxes but it's ok not to.  Just writing down the days of the week along with appointments or what tasks must be done that day is basic and will keep you organized.
Even if you never look at it again, studies show that just the act of writing will help.  Over time, you'll learn what works for you and when you are struggling, return to that go-to method.
I hope these few simple rules help you when you feel overwhelmed.  
  • There is no one correct planning style
  • Planning did not start with stickers, brush pens, and color schemes
  • You don't HAVE to do anything
  • Start small
I've fallen into the trap of thinking [insert hyped up product here - newest latest greatest planner perhaps?] could solve my problems, but let's face it, that just isn't true.  Like anything else, a planner is a tool.  Buy them because you enjoy nice paper and writing things down, not because you want to feel better about yourself.
You are wonderful, just as you are.
Keep on keepin' on, planner friends.  Let's support each other because that's what good humans do.  You aren't alone.

Disclaimer: This is all just my experience.  I have sought professional help on multiple occasions throughout my life and you should too if you need it.  There is absolutely no shame in taking care of yourself and your one beautiful life.