Thursday, December 30, 2021

In A Planner Choosing Frenzy

In A Planner Choosing Frenzy © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist
 I thought it would be easier than this.

Always seems I am doing it this way and I should have learned by now.  The year flies by and the next thing I know, it's December.  Where did December come from?  Meaning, wow I didn't realize how time was flying.  And now that means a new year is about to begin and I need to be organized and ready.  My husband calls me a Type-A Wannabe.  He's not wrong.  I create this facade that I am organized.  It gives me comfort and a sense that I might be in control.  I figure this is my way of  being somewhat prepared when life starts coming at me from all directions.

A stack of my planners from previous years.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

Contemplating which one to use for 2022.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

Perfect timing and I made time for it!

Earlier in December, I joined in a free workshop on Facebook, Soul Smile.  It was hosted by Alice Sheridan and Megan Woodward Johnson.  Such a blessing!  For the past few years, I had to choose what I could make time for and many times missed out on art opportunities.  Excitedly, I joined in with other artists and we shared how we have weathered the months of 2021.  We found we had so many shared thoughts and emotions.  For quite a while I have missed having interaction with other artists and the social distancing has made it a challenge to fill that void.  We talked a bit about how we all organize our creative work time.  There was mention of bullet journals and The Maker's Yearbook, The Get To Work Book, The Legend Planner, and Dingbat Planner.

So that's where I realized it's past time for me and the planner choosing process.

[This is a lengthy post and so giving you fair warning's just that I have SO much to tell you.  I can't leave any of it out.  It's all really good!  And there are many photos to show along with the tell.]

My work table set up for Soul Smile workshop online. © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

My handwritten notes and tablet for watching the livestream.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist


A bit of a side note here:

I was already familiar with Alice Sheridan.  She and Louise Fletcher host a podcast, Art Juice.  I began listening before the the pandemic.  As I worked my then job as a nanny, I would do laundry and tidy the kitchen with a podcast playing that is art related.  Art Juice quickly became my favorite.  And then when the pandemic had us all closed up in our homes for months, I listened then also and found a connection to similar struggles.  I had a hard time creating art for quite a few months in 2020.

If you haven't hear this podcast before, give Art Juice a listen.  I highly recommend it for creatives!  Maybe you'll feel like you've just had a cup of tea and a great visit with a couple of artist friends.

Screenshot of Art Juice on Beanpod app.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

The pandemic has taken its toll on all of us.  As a creative, I found it a feat to recapture my energy and drive again.  I figured out that I needed to get a grip on the stress and anxiety levels.  I understood that creating art should be one of my ways of handling the emotions and thoughts that were giving me a tough time.  Through some spiritual battling, taking care of myself and remembering how to grow strong again...I was able to see better days full of hope and joy.

I am stronger and more grounded than I have been in a long, long time.  There should be months of creating ahead of me and yet I know life is unpredictable.  Just when I think it's all smooth from here on out, there will be some event or circumstance that shakes it all up for weeks or longer.


My Eccolo 2021 planner with cork cover.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

Above:  the Eccolo planner I picked up from TJ Maxx last year.  I love the cork cover so much.  I also loved using it because it's a manageable size for me.  Dimensions are 5.25" by 7.5" for reference.

It's up to me to make creating time a priority.

Instead of feeling cheated because there are no blocks of time left over in my schedule, I do something very different now.  Back then, I begrudgingly gave up my precious art making time for family appointments and commitments.  I hated that I felt upset and wanted to blame everyone else for not letting me make art.  Then I realized how that could change.  There is always time for both family/personal commitments and creative art time.  Always.  What matters is HOW I approach it.  I made a simple and effective change to how I handle my schedule.  

Below:  The notecard "Wake up and be awesome" came in an order (from where I do not remember) BUT I have been clipping it in my planner to be a fun reminder each morning.

View of my opened planner for 2021.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

Blocking time with a highlighter and writing tasks down.© 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

Block it off now before life crowds in.

I began using a highlighter, a pen, and my planner to block out several hours per day for art.  I would plan out several weeks at a time.  With a list of what I would like to do, I would make a highlighter colored box outline and then write in what I planned to do.  If nothing else, it would just say, "Art" or "Paint" and then that time was reserved ahead of time.  I built the schedule of appointments around those blocks of art time.  I planned to have time already reserved BEFORE all the other appointments.

Below:  My new 2022 cover with a leather-like cover in a soft tan color.

My Eccolo planners for 2021 and 2022.  2022 planner has a leather-like cover.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

I guess I should add here that what is necessary is to NOT cancel that creative art time.

Unless it's a serious emergency, which can happen, keep that time commitment to creating as precious.  Because it is more valuable and beneficial than anyone could really know.  No need to prove it as important.  Just matter of fact, make it a new practice to schedule creative pursuits.

How could you start trying this in 2022?

For any of you who are also creatives, maybe you'll find comfort and excitement in trying this tip.  Sit down with your calendar and give it a go!  Even choosing 2 days a week and creating a 2-3 hour block of time for each of those days.  Make appointments for yourself with your creative outlet.  Do it in advance before you're having to work around other obligations.  You are giving yourself what you need and spending this time is such a great way to take care of yourself.  No more neglecting that vital part of who you are!

Bringing this topic back to the planner-choosing-frenzy.

I realized that I need to choose and order a planner for 2022.  It would be easy to just reorder the one I used last year.  Why would I take the easy way?  No, I decided to rethink my planner situation.

I have saved many of my planners from previous years.  I have two 2021 planners.  One large blue wire-bound planner, The Christian Planner.  It's beautiful and I had a 2020 planner from the same company.  The other, a smaller planner with cork cover from TJ Maxx.  I found the smaller one easier to carry with me and handier for daily use in the art room.

I watched numerous You Tube videos in the past few days to get an idea of what planners are available now.  That was quite a rabbit hole to go down and it did help me get a better sense of what I need for my own planning.  One tip that came up often is to think about my own preferences for whether I like horizontal or vertical daily planning.  I found I prefer vertical daily planning in a weekly view.

I soon noticed that whichever way I decide to go with this year's planner, it's an investment.  I really would like to get away from a large and bulky book.  I do want to be able to carry it with me easily, especially if I take it with me on weekend camping trips.

As I looked at what is available, I chose a Webster's Pages Traveler's Journal with a faux leather cover.  This one is selling out quickly in all color options.  Searching for "traveler's journal cover" brings up a large number of other styles available from other companies.  And because I have been having such good success with the planner from TJ Maxx, I looked up that brand (Eccolo Ltd.) and ordered a new Eccolo Designer Agenda Planner  for 2022.  There are 15 different cover choices.  I have not had a Traveler's Journal before and look forward to being able to fine tune my setup to have just the options I will use often.  I do not have this yet so I will be inserting item description photos from the listing.  The best I can figure is that if I can add extra small notebooks for project notes, sermon notes, prayer lists, and others...then this will be very helpful and productive.  As notebooks fill up, I switch them out for new ones.

I ordered a Webster's Pages Traveler's Journal on Amazon.  And then a day later, I went to the Webster's Pages website and found their prices (on sale) were SO much better.  I made an order with more covers, notebooks, and a vinyl card holder insert.  What I love about this method (for me) is that the cover will last more than one year with new planner inserts and notebooks.  For me, this makes more sense.

Webster's Pages products from my order.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

Three covers ordered from Webster's Pages.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

My Traveler's Notebook cover filled for 2022. © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

One of my main concerns was with how much time some planners can take to set up and keep going on a regular basis.  I didn't want to use another one which requires me to add stickers or write in the months and days.  I know many people just enjoy embellishing their planners but that comes way too close to scrapbooking for me.  I wish I were more excited about scrapbooking personally but if that were the case, I would be painting a lot less.  Time is a precious commodity in the end.  I did come across the Carpe Diem "Bloom" mini stickers and ordered them for a fun little accent.  These are easy enough to add but not necessary as a must do...optional as time allows!

My planner cover filled with planner and notebooks. © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

I just love this setup!  This is going to work for me.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

A side view of this filled beauty!  Two planners inserted here.© 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

So much contained in this cover yet manageable.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

A view of cover open and all I have inserted for my use.© 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

Elastic bands inserted into middle of planner hold it inside the cover.© 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

The cover has elastic bands for holding the planner and notebooks.  I chose the Eccolo again because it's familiar and working well for me.  It is a bit larger than the notebook cover but I don't mind at all.  I am using separate notebooks for art workshop/video notes, Sunday sermon notes, prayer journal, tracking my social media posts and traffic, and more can be added later.  The brown kraft paper covered notebook shown comes included with the cover.  The notebook inserts dimensions are 4.25" x 8.25" for reference.  Again, the Eccolo planner is 5.25" x 7.5" for reference.

The Webster's Pages traveler's notebook cover as it comes new.© 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

Assorted traveler's notebooks from my order.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

Inserting a notebook with the elastic band.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

Carpe Diem mini sticker pack in "Bloom" © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

So if I can give some tips, here goes!

1.  How much time do you want to commit to planning?  Think about how you do best at staying organized with a calendar.   What kind of layout appeals to you?  How much space for writing?  What types of pages do you prefer?  Do you want to track things like reading, drinking water, exercise?  What types of information do you want to collect and record?  All the planners available offer many different methods for journaling, checklists, meal planning, and on and on.  Choose which of these you would like to have in your planner.  Which bells and whistles matter for you?

2.  What style of planner is best for you?  Hard bound book?  Smaller soft bound book?  Maybe a snap binder cover with filler pages?  What size?  What format?  You'll have to do a bit of looking around at what is available and narrow it down to which styles appeal to you most.  Be honest with yourself.  This is a tool.  Pick the tool that suits you best.  

3.  Consider starting with a very basic set up.  There's less money invested and this gives you opportunity to find out more about what works best for you.  I think for me personally, there's less guilt at not using all the bells and whistles in the planner.  As you are shopping in store or online, have a look at what is available.  I wish I had looked at the back-to-school sections in the fall because often those are very affordably priced, beautifully designed, and not necessarily only for school use.

4.  Pick up a pack of highlighter pens for yourself.  Find your favorite smooth-writing pen.  Begin blocking out a few hours of time once or twice a week.  Set aside that time for yourself in advance before everything else trickles in to fill it up.  Keep that time sacred for your creative self.

My recommendations for very basic planner to start off:

The following are a bit more investment but great quality:

Those four I have used and can say are all great planners.  It just comes down to which is best for your own personal needs and style.

I was very overwhelmed at all the available styles of planners available but I came out of it with better understanding of what is likely to be very effective for me.  Spending the time to see what I could use and then reflecting on which match my style of planning brought me to narrowing down my choices.

Are you committed to a specific style of planner?  Still searching for a style that suits you best?  Feel free to add your own tips in the comments!  You may have additional thoughts to help the rest of us still perfecting our planning strategy.

"A goal without a plan is just a wish."    - Larry Elder

"If you don't plan, you become part of someone else's plan."    - Terrence McKenna

"A dream written down with a date becomes a goal.  A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan.  A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true."    - Greg Reid

That's all for this time!  Thank you for being here and spending some time thinking on creative journeys and time for making art.  Here's to 2022 and looking for the lovely!


-She must make art.

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