When 2021 started, I had no idea that I’d be where I’m at today. And part of my mental health journey has everything to do with my recent incorporation of planning into my life.
I started the year using an Erin Condren weekly planner. But in the spring, in my EC surprise box, I received a daily planning pad and my life changed even more. That’s when I branched out into using a daily planner and I don’t see this new habit ending anytime soon.
Before that pad could run out, I looked around for a daily planner and settled on a six-month Plum Paper daily planner. In the five months since that purchase, I’ve noticed several benefits I didn’t expect.
In today’s blog post, I’ll share with you three ways daily planning has mentally benefited me. My hope is that by sharing my experience with you it might help you decide if daily planning could be right for you in your own mental health journey.
1. Prioritize myself
My focus this year has been to develop healthy habits that allow me to prioritize self-care. Part of that was figuring out a way to make sure I actually do the things that I know are good for me, the things vital to keeping me in a good headspace.
One way that daily planning has contributed to my focus is by giving me a physical location to write down the things I want to focus on each day. In doing so, it’s allowed me to keep my priorities – my self-care – in focus.
Most days, my main priority is to just do my daily yoga. Does that mean that’s the only thing on my to-do list for the day? No.
But, by pulling out the most critical items and making them my focus, it helps me deal with days when I don’t get everything done. As long as I’ve focused on what I needed to that day (sometimes it’s rest), I feel good about how my day went.
And ending my day on a good note, feeling good versus defeated, is a huge win for me mentally.
2. Reduced distractions
As a mom of four with three school-age kids and a toddler at home, my attention is constantly being torn between my toddler’s needs and my to-do list. Using a daily planner helps guide me by refocusing my attention to what I’ve planned to do that day.
As an overthinker, I also have lots of thoughts that randomly pop in and out of my head throughout the day. In a way, I have another toddler running around my head interrupting my train of thought constantly.
These thoughts can easily sidetrack me and pull me away from what I’d planned on doing. By having a daily planner, I’ve been able to minimize a little of that distraction because I can just look at my day’s plans and be reminded of what’s important today.
Before having a daily planner, I would pretty much let these thoughts guide me through my day. Then at the end, I’d feel like I didn’t do anything that was important. Plus, I didn’t have a record written down to look back on to see that I did, in fact, do a lot.
Again, for me, it comes down to feeling more accomplished at the end of the day – no matter how much I actually got done.
Having that visual has helped me stay focused during the day, but has also helped me reflect at the end of it and feel good about the progress I made.
Before, my thoughts would constantly have me believe that I didn’t do anything because it was always reminding me of all the things I still had to do. The proof is now in my daily planner, proof that I did do a lot and that my brain is lying to me.
In that way, I feel stronger and more in control.
3. Focus on just today
Starting on a fresh page every day fills up my soul because it reminds me that each day is a new beginning, that I can forget about what happened (or didn’t happen) yesterday and create a new plan for today.
One thing I learned from using only a weekly planner was that I felt overwhelmed looking at my whole week at once, multiple times per day. As a highly sensitive person, daily planning helps ease my sensory overload by allowing me to only look at today’s plans.
By removing that constant visual reminder of future (or past) events, I’ve experienced less anxiety because my mind can focus more on today.
I sometimes don’t finish everything I planned and I often carry tasks over to the next day. When I only used a weekly planner, seeing all the arrows of things I’ve moved made me feel like a failure, feel like I couldn’t get my sh*t together to actually do what I needed to do each day.
Of course, that wasn’t true. I’m not a failure. By switching to daily planning, I don’t have to be reminded of how many times I’ve carried something over because each day looks like a fresh new list. And for some reason that I’m sure a scientist can explain, my mind is just happier this way.
To recap, today I wanted to share three ways that daily planning has mentally benefited me.
- By designating daily priorities (my self-care), I no longer feel bad if that’s all I accomplished that day.
- Writing down my day’s plans helps me keep a record that I can use to help keep me on track (when my mind gets distracted) and serve as proof that I’ve actually gotten stuff done (versus the story my mind wants to make up about how much I still have left to do).
- Starting with a clean page each day helps my mind focus on today (versus the past or future) and reduces my anxiety and stress during times when I have to carry tasks over to another day.
Overall, daily planning is something that I believe I will continue to do for a very, very long time. Using a daily planning pad for a month followed by a daily planner for five months has really helped me not only stay on top of keeping my house clean but to create a healthier mindset around how I spend my days.
My Plum Paper daily planner ends on October 31, 2021, but I’ve already received a new six-month undated daily planner, one that’s focused on self-care, that I will begin using soon. My hope is that my new daily planner will continue to support my mental health journey by providing additional tools that my current planner lacks.
If you aren’t already, follow me on Instagram so you can learn more about my new planner when I’m ready to post about it. On Instagram, I’ll post photos and share a few thoughts there before I publish a full review post here.
My plan is to use the planner for at least a month before I write a review post sharing my thoughts and opinions to help you decide if you think it might work for you, too. If the post goes out in early November, you should have plenty of time to order one and have it before 2022 begins (although I’m still wondering where 2021 went). Be sure to subscribe (see the form below) so you can receive that email notification when my blog post goes live.
Anyway, mama, I hope that you found today’s blog post about my experience with daily planning to be helpful to you. If you’ve been using a daily planner and would like to share your experience and the benefits you’ve witnessed, I’d love to read those in the comments below. Of course, if you’d prefer, you can send me a DM over on Instagram instead.