Weekend: Butterflies, habits, BLP!

My Best of Both Worlds co-host, Sarah Hart-Unger, launched “Best Laid Plans,” a podcast devoted to planners and planning, about a year ago. A listener suggested she try a “planner matchmaking” episode, much as the “What Should I Read Next?” podcast matches people with books. I volunteered to be Sarah’s first test subject — for an episode that aired today.

Why me? Well, first, she knows me pretty well at this point, so that helps with the matchmaking. But also, I am in that likely small group of people who has an extensive planning system, but does not use a traditional planner. I use a normal notebook, and split each weekly page in a particular way: weekly priority list at the top, daily to-do lists on the bottom half. Sarah’s task was to match me with a more elegant planner that would still honor my system.

I wound up choosing (spoiler alert!) the Whitney English week-on-one-page format. It’s an academic year calendar so it starts in July. I will report back. I ran out of pages in my current notebook, so for this week I’m using a random page in the back of another notebook. As mentioned on Best Laid Plans, I only play a Type A person professionally…Anyway, please give the episode a listen! And subscribe to Best Laid Plans. I always enjoy listening. If you use a particular brand of fancy planner, please let me know about it in the comments.

This weekend we had tentatively decided to go to the beach. But the weather wasn’t stellar, and I found out that the Philadelphia Flower Show, which we usually go to in early March, had been rescheduled for an outdoor venue over the past 10 days or so. So we got tickets and went to that on Saturday instead. Everyone enjoyed the butterfly exhibit (well, almost everyone…the 11-year-old was a bit sullen after 10 minutes, but since we had a 15 minute limit in there…). We also got ice cream and bought random things from vendors like lemon-flavored olive oil.

I ran both weekend mornings, albeit not that early. I got started around 8:15 a.m. both days. Nonetheless, this means that, coupled with my early morning run earlier in the week, I did run three times “before breakfast” this week. As I always say, three times a week is a habit. I could lament how challenging it is to run early during the week — which it is — or I could note that I did run in the morning three times. Which is not bad!

9 thoughts on “Weekend: Butterflies, habits, BLP!

  1. I’ll be curious to see what you think of the planner you selected! I hadn’t heard of that brand. I feel like I plan somewhat similarly to how you plan so I need to look closer at what you picked and see if it might be a fit for me. I don’t use a fancy planner right now, either. I use a Leuchtturm 1917 bullet journal. I’ve really cut back on planning since having kids but I feel like 2022 is the year when I will go back to using a nice planner. Previously I used an Erin Condren planner but I won’t go back to that brand.

    Thanks for the reminder about 3 x’s/week being a habit. I am getting back into running after not running consistently since getting pregnant w/ our first in 2017. It’s been a very slow and gradual return and I don’t run as often as I would like but 3 x’s/week is a good goal. It’s been incredibly hot and humid here, though, so it’s harder to fit in. I know some people will get up early to exercise when they have very young kids, but our son isn’t sleep through the night and I would have to pump to run comfortably and I don’t want to do that! But it won’t be crazy hot like this forever so eventually it will be easier to fit runs in during the day.

    1. @Lisa, I’ve been doing treadmill runs a lot this spring. I really fall off the running wagon in the winter (when a treadmill makes the most sense!) and didn’t run much at all this winter. For most of April I ran outside, but since having kids I’ve been really sensitive to heat/sun and it has been a very hot/humid spring where I live. I don’t run well in the mornings, and my preferred time, 7:30ish PM is quite challenging now that my kids stay up so much later (and my husband and is on work calls most evenings)…so I’ve been doing a treadmill run whenever it’s convenient; often just before lunch or supper – times when it’s pretty hot outside.

      I’ve only been running outside 1-2x/week and the rest is on the treadmill. I don’t go very far on the treadmill, but for short distances I’ve found it really great and I’ve decided to ditch any guilt about “having” to run outside when the weather is nice!

      Obviously, if you don’t have a treadmill at home this won’t work…but if you do, it might be something to think through in terms of convenience and avoiding heat issues!

      1. @Elisabeth – the treadmill can definitely be key for making running/exercise a habit. It’s really convenient to just jump on when you’ve got 20 minutes or so. And since it’s kind of boring, it is more enticing to go fast, which makes for a good workout. There are a lot of interval workouts that only take 20 minutes or so but are real doozies.

  2. @Laura: I can relate! After years of using a “serious” planner, COVID really changed my strategy. About July of last year I officially abandoned my 2020 planner – it was just too depressing to see everything written down we were no longer able to do.

    This year, I’m using a monthly planner from the DollarStore ($2) that I use for long-range and concrete tasks and appointments (including yearly goals all recorded in the Notes section; it has a long sidebar for monthly to-dos as well); I consult it almost every day. For the minutiae (read: the majority of my day), I use a pad of scratch paper (also from the DollarStore). Each week I assign every day of the week a consecutive page. I absolutely love this system. I always minded my planner looking messy, but since I pull off each day when it’s over and throw in in the garbage, I can just scribble things down as they come up.

    Anything important that I’ve accomplished I write in red pen in the monthly planner view, but all the rest (pick up dry cleaning, mow the lawn, spend 30 minutes on that business proposal) I can just get rid of.

  3. I have gone from a notebook with a few goals to a much more complicated system in the last 5 years. SHU has definitely influenced this and now I really cannot survive without daily pages in a planner. However, I don’t keep my calendar in my planner. I keep a shared electronic calendar with my family and then when I do my weekly planning (mostly on Sundays but with a look ahead on Friday afternoons) I bring in my weekly schedule/appointments so I have MY calendar for the week (no kid stuff that doesn’t involve me) in my planner. I have tried weekly planners (including the Golden Coil mentioned on BLP which was beautiful) but I love having a daily page to lay out how my day will go. I currently use the Wonderland 222 (a SHU rec) which not only has page for weekly and daily but good monthly review and quarterly planning pages that I like. I think I will re-up for 2022.

  4. Three times a week is a habit is one of the most valuable tips I’ve gleaned from you, Laura. I do better with that than with the more rigorous “you must do it every day–don’t break the chain” that works for others. I’ve been trying to get back into the habit of practicing sketching/art journaling and three times a week helps me make slow progress…but that’s better than NO progress. I also like the more positive mindset you’re talking about–focusing on what you did, rather than what you didn’t do.

    I’ve listened to (and enjoyed) several of Sarah’s planner podcasts, and will be sure to listen to yours. I have used various planners through the years, and I currently use a Filofax A5 binder with a two-page month-at-a-glance section and a two-page week-at-a-glance section. For the past two years I’ve bought printed calendar pages from an Etsy shop rather than the standard issue Filofax brand. I also recently discovered that I prefer a vertical rather than horizontal format for each day of the week. Who knew it would make any difference?

    1. @Kathy – so glad that tip is helpful! I have enjoyed my daily streaks, which are truly daily, but for many things, expecting daily is ridiculous. And I’d note that many people who claim to do things “daily”…don’t. They might do it Monday-Friday, or possibly even Monday-Thursday. So if four times a week is “daily” I maintain that three is not bad at all!

    1. @Marcia – thanks for the recommendation! That layout is actually pretty similar to the Whitney English, so my guess is they’ll function similarly. My only real big switch will be having my weekly priority list on the right and daily to-dos on the left, as opposed to priority list on top and daily to-dos on the bottom. Hopefully not too big a change!

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