I have tried so many different planners and organizers to bring order into my days. I would set  deadlines for myself. I tried desperately to plan my day according to the pre-printed times in my planners. 

I WILL submit the proposal by 9am. I WILL finish that commission by Friday. I WILL meal-prep for the entire month.

As if mere willpower would magically free up time in my day and force my two young boys to play peacefully and independently when I needed them to.

Strangely enough my daily schedule never fit into what I had so rigidly planned for myself and I ended up frustrated instead.

I know it sounds ridiculous as I say it out loud but my attitude was “It’s in the planner kids... I scheduled you in for being quiet between 2pm and 4pm so please plan your dirty diapers and tantrums accordingly.”

And would you believe it, it didn’t work?!

My rigid planning just led to frustration and getting nothing done.

I needed a new way of planning my days. Something flexible. Something that would bring peace instead of stress over unmet deadlines. I needed something kind.

That’s when I started creating a rhythm for my days, rather than a minute-by-minute schedule.

Rhythm over minute-by-minute

It has made a world of difference. I NEVER get frustrated with my children anymore and I ALWAYS get everything done on time. Okay. Not really. But things have definitely improved and I’d like to share with you what works for me. I also want to help you take steps to achieve this in your own life, if my struggles sound familiar to you.

The first thing I did was think about what I want my life to look like. How do I want my home to feel? What mindsets and values do I want to instill in my young boys? What jobs on my day-to-day list are actually important to me, and what things would be okay if they fall by the wayside? What fulfills me?

I wanted my home, my life, my family to be peaceful, content and creative.

It is more important to me that my children are confident and happy than top of the class high achievers.

It is more important to me to spend time teaching my kids to cook than to have perfect meals on the table every evening.

It is more important to me to have time to be creative than it is to keep the house spotless at all times.

Once I realized what my end goal was, the to-do lists suddenly got a lot shorter.

So what does that look like?

Unfortunately, not planning out everything in great detail does not mean that I suddenly have no more piles of laundry to take care of. Of meals to prepare. Or floors to mop. Or an office job I go to every day. Those things are important and valuable and need to be handled.

But they don’t define my day anymore. They don’t define my life anymore. My life is defined by who I am as a woman, a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend. The tasks of the day need to fit around that, not the other way around. And if my to-do list doesn’t get finished that day because I’m busy being a good friend, a caring wife or a talented seamstress, then I can live with that.

What do you want to define you? What do you want to make of greater importance in your life? Give these things priority and your days will become more and ore fulfilling every day as you are doing the things that make you you.

How many things are you doing because you feel like you should? Because that’s what others are doing? What parts of your day should not be there? What things are distracting you from living your life?

A daily rhythm appears

Without so many things to distract you, you will start noticing little pockets of peace appearing throughout your day.

You might have an extra few minutes to enjoy your first cup of coffee in the morning and enjoy watching the world wake up around you. You might notice that there is a pretty consistent time in the afternoon where you could withdraw to your studio (corner of the spare room?) and put pen to paper or paintbrush to canvas.

Perhaps the rhythm of your evenings slow down and you can use that time to slow down and recharge.

“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.” —Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Without all those things cluttering your day and your awareness and your peace, the things that make your life uniquely yours will start shining through.

Look back over the last year. What things renewed your energy? What things made you feel like the real you? How can you incorporate these things into your new year, your new rhythm?

Do I still use a daily planner?

I do still use a planner because I am scatterbrained and forgetful, and without a planner I would never show up for any appointment, ever.

But these days I like to keep my planner layout very simple and unstructured. That’s why I love the layout of this paintable calendar. It gives me the space to write down the tasks I’m hoping to accomplish without making me feel boxed in.

Without making me feel like I failed if I didn’t reach my goals by 11am. I can use it to plan my day in a way that works best for me. If I don’t get a task done today, I just try again tomorrow. Of course there are certain things that need to be done at certain times, but by cutting out the not-so-important things, these tasks suddenly feel a lot more doable.

A gift for you

To help find your rhythm for your days, your weeks and for your year ahead, I wanted to create something beautiful to help you assess where you are and where you would like to go.

Of course you can just think these questions over and answer them in your head. But I find there is something real about putting pen to paper. It forces you to slow down, to consider your answers. It can be confrontational in a way. And sometimes that is just what we need.

My hope is that you will be able to pinpoint the things in your life that are eating your creativity and joy. That you will let the things that don’t belong in your life ebb away. That this process will reveal a rhythm in your life that boosts your imagination and inspiration and make your life beautifully yours.

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE PROMPTS WORKSHEET PDF

Lottie Aldarwish
Tags: planning