I think it’s about time that I share a major update! I’m glad to announce that I have been using the same planner system daily for THREE years. WHOOO! Planner Peace!
It’s such a miracle considering how I used to buy planners just to abandon them after a couple of months. Knowing what I need and experimenting with that has finally paid off.
My planner is basically a notebook that uses a layout similar to this beautifully functional weekly planner from Wisdom Co. I have four days of the week on the left hand pages and space for notes on the right. I also borrowed various elements from the Bullet Journal system, such as the future log, index, page numbers, signifiers, and collections. I describe this set up in more detail in my post I Totally Revamped My Bullet Journal.
My favorite notebook to use with this is the Midori B6 grid notebook. It’s the perfect size for me. I can use it on my desk, but it also fits in my purse. However I am curious to see how it feels to use this layout in a bigger notebook. Maybe one day.
What amazes me about this setup is how well it weathers the ups and downs of my life. As I was figuring stuff out, I kept running into how changes in my life meant totally changing planners. Sometimes I needed more planning space. Other times I needed more note space. Then there were times when the planner I was using was too small and then too large. What I have now hits the sweet spot of what I need. It has the extra planning space or the extra note space when I need it, but it’s versatile enough to be used in other ways when I don’t.
But besides figuring out my system, this journey has helped me to see that there are times to make note of my plans, but then there are also times to go with the flow. I feel as an INFP, going with the flow of life needs to be the priority because that is where I shine the most. My intuition is one of my strongest traits, and it’s essential for navigating life as it happens.
I think it’s important to acknowledge this because when you have a planner, it’s easy to fall into trying to plan out everything. However, as an INFP, I’ve found that my natural spontaneity not only makes detailed planning hard in the first place, but overall things run more smoothly when I follow the part of me that is attuned to the present moment. It’s as if my intuition picks up on what needs to happen next more quickly than my logical brain, sort of like how an emergency responder can sense what needs to be done in the moment to control the situation.
My intuition is here to help me successfully deal with the gaps in my plans and pull possibilities out of the unknown. If I over-plan, I won’t get to use this amazing part of myself. The part of me that’s like, “I’m not 100% sure what’s going to happen next, but I think if I take this spur of the moment option, things are going to be awesome.”
I think of times when I’ve looked at my plans for the day and sensed that something was off about them. But I ignored that feeling and tried to push through the plans anyways, just to find that everything on my list had the wrong timing. It’s like everything I attempted was hitting a wall.
At first I used to get upset when this happened, but as I built awareness, I noticed that this universal pushback was a clue that I needed to be doing something else. So instead of pushing my agenda, I just let it go and did whatever I felt needed to be done next. I’ve turned frustrating days completely around by switching to trusting my intuition.
In fact sometimes I get nudges that I need to do a task on a specific day of the week. I’m like, “I don’t know why, but I feel like I should clean the microwave on Monday.” So I follow the nudge and write it on my calendar, and most of the time it works out.
So now my calendar consists of appointments, tasks I must complete on specific days, and anything that I feel called to do on a certain day. It’s not unusual for me to have just two or three to-do items for an entire day.
I do keep an extra notes page of everything else I think I need to do, just to keep my mind clear, but honestly, I rarely review it.
All of this is just to say that as an INFP, it’s essential to leave space for following your intuition and doing what you feel like. Not only will your days flow better, but it’s also way more fun.
In the same line of thought, I’ve realized that trying to do more faster causes me to get less done. I burn myself out and make clumsy mistakes. Even the emotional pressure of that kind of approach creates internal resistance that makes it harder to accomplish anything. To get things done efficiently, I need to slow down. Resting, pausing, and taking time for contemplation is what makes me more efficient.
Slowing down gives me momentum.
I know as an INFP, the allure of the “doing” energy from inferior extraverted thinking can make getting stuff done feel like the Holy Grail. And getting things done is important. That’s how we reach goals. But at the same time it’s important not to forget the beauty found in noticing and responding to the subtle cues of the present moment. This awareness has taken me from always chasing what I need to do next (which is exhausting, BTW. There is ALWAYS more to do.) to deeply appreciating where I am now.
And more and more, I’m finding being gently aware of my goals and making simple life changes that align with them works way better than trying to chase down and grab what I want out of my life.
I believe overall, using a planner/calendar really is about awareness. It’s not about controlling your day–life is too unpredictable for that. Like, can you seriously control all the events of each day? Can you control the future? Not really.
It’s more about bringing awareness to what will need your attention and making yourself available to address that, if possible. So those are my insights from finally getting this planning stuff sorted. For now.
And just for completeness, here are the books I wrote as a result of my planning experiments. Just maybe you’ll find them to be helpful companions on your own journey towards managing your time better: