I get it. Life can feel overwhelming with all the appointments and things to do. And buying a planner for the first time (or replacing your existing one with a new one) might seem like the productivity solution to all your problems.
But (and I might get kicked out of the #planningcommunity for saying this) planning isn’t the answer for reducing how stressed out you feel.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed & think buying a planner is going to magically make you feel at peace, I’m here to say that it won’t. Today, I’ll share why I think that is as well as offer suggestions for ways that you can use planning to help you reduce stress (if that’s your true objective).
Planning Won’t Make Your Stress Disappear
Here’s why: it’s not so much the PLANNER itself that you should be focusing on as much as the PLANS that you’re going to be putting into that planner.
And in order to figure out those plans, you have to ask yourself a couple of questions:
- What are your intentions with your planner?
- Are you going to cram it with a bajillion appointments & to-dos?
- Do you think if you get more done that you’ll feel less stressed?
- Where do you want to prioritize your time?
Honey, look. I can say this because I’ve been burnt out before & I’m here to tell you that when you’re already overwhelmed & feeling stressed out, it’s a sign that you need to SLOW down & do LESS, not more.
Getting a planner shouldn’t be about helping you get it all done.
Instead, it should be about helping you realize that you only have so much time & energy each day. Use planning as a tool to help you get the RIGHT things done.
How to Use Planning to Reduce Stress
Before doing anything else, I strongly suggest taking a look at all your obligations and commitments and figure out what can go. Can you delegate some of it to another person? Pairing down your responsibilities alone will release of stress off your shoulders.
Then, figure out where you have small 1-10 minute windows of time for you to dedicate to just taking care of yourself.
And finally, keep your planner in a place where you’ll know to look at it frequently. Your planner shouldn’t be something you look at once per week, especially if you’re trying to develop new, daily habits that help you reduce stress.
Suggested Plans to Add to Your Planner
Don’t skip this section! I’d argue that if you don’t listen to a word of what I’ve said so far, you at least consider these simple self-care suggestions to implement into your plans so that your new planner truly helps you prioritize your desire to reduce stress:
- My mood is greatly affected if I don’t stay on top of taking my vitamins & supplements. If you’re like many others and keep forgetting to take yours, schedule it in your planner. Simply jotting down “vitamins” in your planner might be enough to prompt you to take them, but only if you remember to look at your planner at the right time.
- Part of why many of us feel stressed is because we have so many things on our mind. I’ve been journaling with just a lined notebook and pen since I was a teenager and always feel more at ease afterward. How about grabbing one of those notebooks you’ve got lying around and start using it to write down any thoughts, feelings, or gratitudes you want to express. There is no need to write neatly or use stickers or highlighters to make it cute. It’s only for you to see so let it all out on the page. I like to do this daily before bed and keep my journal on my nightstand as a reminder.
- Would it be a stretch (pun intended) for me to ask you to maybe unroll that yoga mat, take a seat, and breathe in & out for a minute or two each day? Notice how I said a minute or two. I’ve been practicing daily yoga since the beginning of 2021 and I (as well as my family) have noticed a dramatic difference in how well I handle stressful situations as a result. The point is just to sit and take a minute to pay attention to how you’re feeling. Plus, the act of mindfully breathing deeper helps turn on your body’s parasympathetic nervous system. I like to practice my yoga in the evening as a way to wind down and let go of any lingering stress from the day.
- I don’t function well without good sleep and often feel stressed out the day after a poor night’s rest. Our body does a lot of restorative processes when we sleep, so that’s why it’s always preached about. Figure out what time you need to get to bed each night so that you feel fully rested in the morning. Then, do EVERYTHING you can to protect that time before bed so that you ACTUALLY fall asleep instead of your mind spinning a million thoughts. I like to avoid using my phone within 2 hours of my bedtime (although lately, I’ve been slipping with this habit). That’s when I’ll shower, do yoga, journal, and maybe read or watch a show. I’ve learned that when I protect that time before bed, I fall asleep quickly and wake up feeling recharged.
I hope this post has helped you understand why a planner by itself isn’t going to help you reduce the stress you feel in your life. While having a place to jot down things so that you won’t forget is extremely helpful, adding self-care plans like yoga, taking your vitamins, and journaling into your planner is a great way to help you stay focused on your desire to reduce stress.
However, I would like to point out that adjustments like these will take time for you to notice. Don’t give up. Keep showing up for yourself. Seek out other ways that you can take care of yourself (check out my self-care blog posts for other ideas).
And remember: use your planner to help remind you of what’s really important – your peace of mind.