Long time no see! Although I’ve kept busy with custom pieces and teaching classes, I felt like there were so many blogs out there I wouldn’t have much new to say. This blog has always been about sharing the things I learned along my planning journey the barriers for posting became higher and higher as I talked myself out of feeling “worthwhile” to post. But, screw it, here we go!
I’m cutting out all the bells and whistles in hopes to just get posting again. While I don’t have a ton of design ideas here to look at, I hope the prompts help re-frame how you approach your own.
Creating Balance and Self Care in Your 2020 Planning
It was refreshing to see 2019 be the year we critiqued how much the economy has commercialized self care. What started out as a movement to prioritize rest and tending to our own needs became opportunities to market spa treatments, justify spending too much on XYZ (#treatyoself), and selling books. This has worked on me countless times.
Though I love a good massage and indulge in those time to time, here is a snapshot of my thoughts on actual self care:
Self care is more like doing the shit you don’t want to do (phone calls, purging your stuff, replacing that stupid battery, introspection)
Self care places full responsibility on individuals instead of the systems we are part of. Society gives US more stuff to do to take care of ourselves rather than having a work system that cares for its employees and doesn’t demand production that is much higher than our capacity or compensation.*
Self care can be about one-off nights or girls-weekends (one of my favorite things of my year), but is more about the pace you live your life. I expand more below.
Self Care as a Pace
Planning is powerful because we can design our lives and take control where we can. There are many ways we can try to slow down our pace and use our planners to help do so!
I have a lot going on at any given time, socially, professionally, and otherwise and it will sometimes build into chaos. I realized that when I go too fast in my life…
I waste money on grabbing quick snacks on the go, paying for parking nearby, last minute gifts or supplies because I didn’t plan ahead or look for a sale
I can’t focus on shit because I have 290834 tabs open in my head (and browser)
I crash when I have open time, meaning I don’t have energy to work out or a fun project because I’m exhausted and then scroll on Instagram
I don’t take care of my living space
I’m not fully present when I am with people or doing tasks – thinking about the next thing. This means I miss important cues from people around me about how they’re doing – I miss the facial expression, tone, the things they’re really saying underneath their words. This makes me a worse friend and colleague.
My anxiety and depression symptoms go haywire, probably made worse by the bad food I’m eating
It doesn’t happen all at once, it gets faster and faster week by week. So I’m wanting to make more structural changes in my life to slow this down. Instead of constantly living at 75 mph (and then crashing down to 25mph), I want to aim for a more consistent 55mph.
This means setting up boundaries. Which is hard because it means disappointing people.
Self care is managing disappointment.
This is the main barrier that gets in my way of actually taking care of myself. I create to-lists miles long because of things I want to follow through for others, I commit my time and energy to others, etc. Slowing down on my follow-ups and saying no to those commitments makes other people sad – I don’t like this feeling. So we make it work.
This is especially true for my fellow Enneagram Type 2’s out there, the Helpers who love to feel needed by other people but ignore their own needs. Or perhaps you’re an Enneagram Type 7, the Enthusiasts who feel intense disappointment and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) if they don’t go to the latest social engagement and miss out on their own needs.
Whatever the root cause is, you have to deal with letting that go so you can prioritize your own stuff. At first, this shift will feel disappointing because you may not respond to emails as quickly, complete tasks as often, know all the latest movie or inside joke references, but it gives you more time and capacity for yourself.
With technology, marketing, and ever more events and products, the world is moving faster than our minds can even process. So it’s going to take a lot more energy to resist that movement. Even though I’ve named what I think the issue is, I am struggling hard to resist it myself.
Slowing Down in Our Planners
So how do we slow down? What are concrete things we can do? Some ideas:
Be honest about transition time between meetings, events, etc. Let’s stop lying to ourselves about Apparating to our next back to back meeting or how we’ll drift through rush hour in record time. If you can, schedule 30 minutes between meetings to travel, go to the bathroom, process the information, actually talk to the people you’re there with. Take that 45 – 60 minutes between events so you don’t have to rush. Be honest with your next person – they probably won’t be as disappointed as you think they would be.
Create a generic “Self-Maintenance” sticker or digital calendar event that you can physically block off in your time calendar. This can mean whatever you need it to, but to acknowledge there are a few hours every week that should go into caring for your living space or thinking ahead about what you need to put in your car or errands you can run en route.
Even better, think about what kinds of maintenance your life needs each month or week. 15 minutes of vacuuming a week, 15-30 minutes on dishes a week, 2 hours for laundry a week, 30 minutes to meal plan, etc. Taking stock of this can help understand what you’re deciding whether to commit to another task or event that week. You can then plug these things into your hourly planner or Google Calendar.
Create an overview of your year or months to see where your energy and time is going. This is CRITICAL for me as a teacher; I know the cycle of my grading workload, so I plan events around that rhythm. I avoid scheduling major events or tasks around Week 7-8 and 10-11 of the semester knowing it would be incredibly stressful to balance everything out. I also use project charts to see when tasks pile up so I plan around those times as well. This can also be helpful to plan your finances.
As part of your planning routine, you can influence how these things happen. For example, requesting that people meet up closer to where you will be (and getting over feeling “needy” by doing so), suggesting an affordable option for social events (coffee instead of a speedy brunch, a walk instead of food), or coordinating a potluck or gifts. This intention can give you time, money, and additional thoughtfulness.
Take care of as many logistics at once as possible. This is similar to batching, where you can stay in one mind-set to maximize flow and get all those annoying details figured out as soon as possible (so you can be present to one space instead of planning out parking for the next thing)
Batch your errands, intended purchases (to look for deals), and other similar work together.
Have a list of the projects or work you have on your plate. In totality. This can visually anchor you when you’re asked to take on something else new. I am so guilty of forgetting about the other 183043 things on my list that exist when I say, “Oh I can totally add that.”
Lots to read, but perhaps this will resonate with some of you as it has with me. If you have other ideas, tips, tricks, please comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jessica is.a Minnesotan handlettering artist, leadership educator, and bullet journal blogger. She is passionate about working with people to uncover their personal power and potential through connection, creative planning, and calligraphy. You can find her at a local ice cream shop, teaching, on Instagram (@prettyprintsandpaper)
Great post, lots to think about and implement. The lettering looks beautiful.
Thank you so much. I hope it can be helpful 🙂
My big problem is I take on a big project (without realising how big it is or how much planning is needed) and then i get overwhelmed by how big it is and I never finish it. Logically I know I’m supposed to break a project down into smaller chunks, however, I don’t know how to do that. It’s frustrating.
I don’t subscribe to many blogs so anything you post is interesting to me. Thank you for a great year and im not going anywhere so keep posting!
That really means a lot to me <3 thank you for reading!
This is a really important post for me and at a great time. My workload varies wildly throughout the year too (I’m an ex teacher and the schedule is different but just as polar) and as I sit down to plan for next year I’m really mindful of just when I’m going to need to conserve my energy.
A really thoughtful post, thank you for writing it!
Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts!! I feeeeeel for you as a teacher. The load can be SO overwhelming at different times so I’m hopeful this will help. I need to do this for myself too!
Great post. I love your perspective on how to really take care of ourselves.
Thank you! I hope some of this can be concrete enough to use 🙂
Great post. You are not alone. I relate entirely. My challenge is the same for 2020. My BuJo has definitely focused me on the self care I need to do for the last three years, but this year is about fine tuning my time, improving my batching and so on.
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