Using a planner for better, more consistent spiritual practice and conscious, slow life.

Planners are not for everyone. Just like journals are not for everyone, or hitch-hiking is not for everyone. Why am I opening a post about planners by saying that it's not for everyone? Because I think that it's not talked about enough in the planning community. I believe that if you're interested in starting your own journey with planners, you ought to know how it all works and why so many people treat their planner as if it was the holy grail or a life savior, and why others are not so crazy about it, or drop it after a month.

A planner is a tool. You probably want to be real with yourself from the start about whether you're going to use this thing or not. Tools that actually help us with our work and life are useful tools. Tools that we use just for the sake of using them - because they're pretty and look good on IG, they're trendy or your friends use it or whatever - can turn out to be a useless chore, but they might as well accidentally change the way we operated before, if we're lucky. Either way, a planner needs things to be planned in. Obviously. If you're going to toss it away after a month, consider whether it's worth wasting money and trees (paper) on. I'm saying all these obvious things because it's really important to understand that everyone has different needs and understanding these needs in terms of planning can be a rather useful thing to do.

So, who can benefit the most from having a planner? Those who have a "freelance" hobby / job of any kind, where you organize your own time and need to carefuly plan your tasks, appointments etc. I happen to have this kind of job where I would be completely lost without my planner. Tracking all the client appointments, diagnoses, meetings, deadlines, but also days off and holidays. And I'm not even self-employed, yet. Same thing goes for those of us who have a spiritual practice of any kind. Let's say, as a pagan, it's really difficult to keep track of all the natural phenomena that's happening around the Wheel of the Year, unless you have it all marked and joted down in your planner in advance. Solstices and equinoxes, full and new moons, you name it - there's shitloads of things to track, depending on what's important to you and your practice. Some people choose to have one planner for work and another for everything else. Others might want to separate work, spirituality, travels etc - each into a separate planner. It's all up to the individual. I choose to keep everything in one place. That's because I don't treat any aspects of my life as separate from the rest.

When it comes to spirituality in the context of planning - which we will be focusing on in this post - there are some things to be considered. I had this dillema at first - I didn't want people at work to potentially find out too much about my spiritual practice by accidentally peeking into my planner. It does happen, especially when you want to plan a meeting or appointment, people will automatically look at your calendar as soon as you open it. I'm very private about this aspect of my life in the context of work (unless someone asks) and I certainly don't want strangers to formulate misconceptions about who I am based on what my planner looks like. However, that is my thing, dictated by the kind of career that I have and my need for privacy. You might as well be completely opposite in this regard - if that's your thing then more power to you!

The mistake that I did at the beginning of my journey with planners, years ago, was getting a woowoo planner which I thought I liked, where on most pages you had bits of astrology, some random spells, lunar phases, recipes, affirmations and whatnot. I didn't resonate with most of the content and I ended up making a cover for the planner and pasting sticky notes over the things I didn't want people to see. And let's be real, some people are judgemental fucks, so it's worth considering in advance whether you want to have these conversations with them or not. Either way, I'm not the greatest fan of premade planners where someone curates the content for you. If you're choosing a planner for the first time it's definitely one of the most important things to think through - whether you are into curated content or you'd rather personalize your own thing. If you're just starting out and are unsure whether or not you're into curated planners, it's definitely worth testing it out. For example, I highly recommend this amazing free "Lyrical Songbook" Cartomancy Journal printable, carefully curated by the amazing Jodi Cleghorn. I will be testing it out myself in January.

Obviously, I'm a fan of personalized planners and a huge part of the joy of planning comes from having the planner perfectly tailored to my needs. This applies especially to the content relating to my spiritual practice. I'm not a wiccan who follows the Celtic holidays, likes horoscopes, retrogrades, lists of "100 things to do in 2018" and premade rituals, which seems to be the most popular route with a lot of these planners. Doesn't work for me. And I'm guessing it doesn't work for a lot more people in this community, judging by all the reviews of popular woowoo planners where more often than not you hear "I liked it last year but it doesn't speak to me anymore, the prompts are repetitive, the design is too much, I ended up not using it after two months". That's just the way it goes. Either way, let's get to my setup and how I do it.

For a couple of years now I'm using an A5 binder planner (Filofax-style) with inserts that I replace each year. This kind of planner proved to be the most practical for me - being able to remove pages when I no longer need them, inserting printables or watercolor paper, or even fucking sudoku, being able to make my own dividers, create my own trackers, lists and whatnot. It's a win.

List of contents of my planner:
  • Weekly spread calendar section (premade)
  • Detailed daily planning section to use when necessary (dotted pages)
  • Notes section where I keep loads of cool stuff (also dotted pages)
  • Finances section where I keep wishlists and plan trips etc (dotted)
  • Contacts section (dotted)

That's it. As you can see, the weekly spread calendar section is the only section that I have a premade insert for - that's because I know this system works best for my planning on a daily basis, plus it's still adjustable enough for my needs. The rest of my planner consists of dotted, bullet journal style pages divided into sections.

In my weekly calendar section, apart from work / personal / travel stuff, I keep track of the lunar phases (full and new moons with exact times) + sometimes other astronomical phenomena, solstices and equinoxes + group  rodnovery celebrations that I attend to, my card of the month and sometimes daily draws as well.

I like to have exact times of solstices/equinoxes and major moon phases for magickal workings or ritual purposes / At the beginning of each month I have a card from my Year Ahead Spread for said month written down.

Apart from the calendar part of the planner, most of the magick happens in the rest of the sections. And that's where a bullet journal dotted insert really shines. It can successfully replace a spiritual journal or magickal log of any kind, and make it more practical than all the heavy volumes that we tend to keep. The only thing that I keep a separate journal for is my shadow work, for obvious reasons. Everything else is packed in my planner, where I can access it on the go.

Working on my #winterselfaidkit prompts / My Year Ahead Spread for 2018

I always like to keep track of all the challenges that I do. Depending on the kind of challenge, I sometimes just jot down the prompts and other times create calendar style tables to track my progress. Lists of prompts and important readings are a no-brainer, but there are also other important pages that I always keep in a planner. Some of those are:
  • Lists of books to read and things to learn / research.
  • "Brain dump" sections where I list things that inspire me, things I want to do or try, projects I want to start - all the things that inspire action.
  • Trackers! I track my workouts but I'm also considering a meditation tracker this year.
  • Wishlist. I try to keep it short and inspired, so when I write something down on my wishlist I make sure it's a tool that will aid me in my development and self-improvement or learning something new. No mindless consumerism.
"Brain Dump" page, had to cover the contents, sorry ;) / Workout Tracker page (legend to color in not included) / My Wishlist page - keeping it very short.

The options are limitless really - and that's precisely what has kept me a satisfied user for a few years now. In a customized binder planner there's a place for everything. And, most importantly, there's no place for things I do not need, do not use, do not resonate with. I'm not forced to fit my practice into a foreign system of any kind, I choose my own aesthetics and accessories. 

So, how exactly is a planner helpful in keeping your spiritual practice more consistent and positively impacting the quality of your life as a whole?

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, it hugely depends on one's needs and especially one's character and style of life management. Some people instinctively gravitate towards planners and journals, others don't understand the point of all this. Personally, I'm somewhere in between. If it wasn't for the kind of job that I do, I prrrobably would be skeptical about the concept of planning. I'm not huge into journaling (apart from shadow work - though even with that I sometimes can't be arsed to write things down, which I end up regretting), I don't do any kind of Book of Shadows etc, I don't record life events or travels. But I'm eternally grateful for my consistent planner practice. 

Managing my professional life through planning has taught me heaps about managing the other aspects of my existence. Constructive solutions that work in one field can often be transposed into other fields! Using these solutions consistently is what helps us discover, tweak or reconstruct our habits, and what's more important, creates a stable frame for growth. It is rather logical that in order for growth to appear, we need to know where's our starting point and where's the final destination - only then can we assess the kind and amout of effort that we need to put into it.

Another important aspect is being real about whether or not I'm procrastinating, cheating out of my goals or simply overloading myself with too much stuff. I can't possibly know how many workouts I missed or when I started slipping out of my meditation routine if I haven't tracked my activities. Having these kind of trackers can be an amazing self-loving aid, giving us powerful clues about our mental well-being or physical health. I've definitely discovered a few interesting "coincidental" behavioral patterns thanks to tracking some of my activities and cycles. It can be a huge help in getting rid of habits and behaviors that are not serving me, or learning where I need to accept my limitations and give myself a self-loving break.

A self-curated planner very much reflects our nature by being as minimalistic or intricate as we like it, and by providing exactly the kind of motivation and accountability that we need right here and now. It is a great tool for those of us who want to improve some aspects of our lives or could use an additional creative outlet for self-discovery and keeping our shit together.

That being said, happy NEW YEAR to you! Wishing you an amazing 2018! I'm definitely up for nailing it by having everything neatly planned - got some amazing goals to suceed at, and I bet you do too!

Got any questions concerning planners? Hit me up in the comments section! Perhaps you'd like to share your planner solutions with me? I'd love to hear about that as well!

1 comment:

  1. We're so alike sometimes! ;) I'm also somewhere in between when it comes to planners and journals. I must have a planner or a lot of appointments and important dates would fall out of my brain. But I also don't overload it with hundreds of things to track and a bunch of stickers and art and journaling stuff... That's too much for me and turns into a chore. It's funny because I love to write, but for years I would see journaling as a chore and it would drain me. I've slowly learned what kind of journal prompts fit me, and that it's okay to not journal for a week or even month if I really don't feel like it and don't find inspiration.
    Something I have noticed in the tarot community is that many people will say it's a MUST to have a tarot journal. Just... Snore! No, it isn't! I would say that tracking your most important readings can be a good idea, but journaling page after page about eeeevery Reading can really feel like a chore and make the whole practice super boring, if you're just not into that stuff. Same with having a journal of all 78 own card meanings. I've never done that because it honestly bores me, so why force it?


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