At some point in your planning career, you fall behind. You forget to write down your to-do list, you didn’t fill out your habit tracker, or you forget to check your schedule. One thing leads to another, and suddenly it’s been weeks or months since you cracked open your planner and followed your organization routines. It happens to everyone. As each day passes, it gets harder and harder to jump back into planning. You begin to feel terrible for falling off the wagon, and your negative feelings start to get in the way of productivity. You want to go back to planning and stop the mad scramble that your life has become, but it’s so difficult to get back into the groove. So what do you do?
I’ve been dealing with this myself lately, and it’s not a fun feeling. After painting, filming, and editing every single day for A Month in Color, I was exhausted and needed a break. That itself is fine – it’s great, in fact, because taking a break is sometimes necessary for your mental health. But after I had a nice long weekend away from my planner and blogging duties, I just couldn’t start again. I wanted to jump back into planning so bad, but I kept putting it off until tomorrow. This went on for nearly two weeks before I decided to put my foot down. While two weeks might not sound like a long time, you’ve gotta remember that I also make my living from this blog – which is largely about planning. My income is tied to this part of my life, so two weeks is too long.
Why it’s Hard to Begin Again
There are a lot of factors at play when you struggle to jump back into planning. Let’s explore what might be holding you back from getting your planning mojo going again.
Your Routine is Disturbed
I don’t know about you, but I’m a pretty delicate creature when it comes to my routines. I have very specific routines set up that are tuned to my maximum efficiency. If one little thing gets pushed out of place, the whole equilibrium comes crashing down. Usually, my planner (especially my habit tracker) is my rock in helping me get through that sort of disturbance. But when my planner is the part of my life that’s out of orbit, then I’m royally screwed until I get it back in place. That’s one of the biggest reasons why I take so long to jump back into planning after I’ve been on break for a while. I need to get momentum going again.
When you stop planning for a while, it’s easy to start thinking negative thoughts about yourself. There’s a nasty little voice inside that makes terrible remarks about your abilities as a professional/parent/spouse/student. Why start when you are only going to fail again? What’s the point of trying if you’re so awful at everything? That voice can eat at you and cause you to wallow in self doubt, making it so much harder to start again.
You Simply Forget
As each day passes, you have less and less thoughts that say, “Hey, I should grab my planner!”. You get further adrift in the flow of life and forget how much nicer it was when you had an active planner. Chaos becomes normal, you begin to get accustomed to the mad scramble you experience every day. You occasionally remember your planner, but it’s always at the most inconvenient times and you totally forget when you have the time to do something about it. You just forget again and again to go find your planner and rediscover organization in your life.
How I Rebooted
As you may know, I create a monthly set up every month to keep me organized and track all my information for the month. For November, I just… didn’t. I went about my daily life, struggling to reconnect with my productivity in a consistent, meaningful way. Sure, I had short bursts of productivity, but for the most part I was at a loss. After some reflection, I realized that it was because I hadn’t set up my November monthly layout. I’m so used to framing my whole month in my planner that going without it meant that I was mentally in the wrong place.
So I decided yesterday to sit down and just do it. I hesitated to take the time to do it because of the aforementioned self doubt. I feared it wouldn’t help me with this planning funk, or that I would waste precious time working on it. So I told myself that I would keep it simple. No crazy designs, no big decisions on colors, no new elements at all. Just the basics. Done not perfect.
Once I committed to setting up this monthly spread, even though I was two weeks late, I felt myself getting absorbed into the project. As soon as I got past the first step of penciling out the boxes, the feelings of anxiety and doubt were gone. I chilled out listening to some Ella Fitzgerald and let myself enjoy the process. By the time I finished, I felt much, much better. I reconnected with my planner in a very real way. For me, it was just a matter of sitting down without time restraints or high expectations and just enjoying the process again.
How to Jump Back into Planning
The best way to get back into your planner is to just sit down and do it. Block out an hour or two to be alone with your planner and keep things as chill as possible. I’d highly recommend you turn on some medium to low energy music to ease into the mood. I listen to Prime Music, which is ad free and filled with amazing music. You can try it free for 30 days and get all the other perks that Prime members enjoy, like 2 day free shipping (which is essential for life at this point). Along with music, make sure to grab something comforting like a cup of tea or a latte. Settle in and wear your favorite socks. Light a candle. Do anything and everything you can to remind yourself that this is not a chore, but something you actually enjoy.
Then think about what, if anything, is stuck in your craw. For me, it was the November monthly set up. For you, it might be simply picking up on dailies again. Or it could be that you started getting bored with your planner. Whatever it is, just face it head on! Do that thing you’ve been itching to do. If your planner is too boring, spice it up with fun new pens or watercolors. If it started getting too over the top artsy, dial it back with a more minimalist style. Try writing a list of what stuff you’d like to work on and pick one thing to focus on today, or even go for a List of 100 if you’re feeling frisky. Then just start. You don’t need a bunch of prep for this one. Right now, you just need to break through and get back into it again, even if it’s not perfect.
Don’t Overthink It
In the end, don’t stress about your planner too much. Everyone has off times where they just lose their planner mojo – even me, and I’ve been at this for years. You aren’t a terrible person, you aren’t sloppy and lazy, and you aren’t abnormal at all. When you’re ready to jump back into planning, you don’t need any fancy techniques or methods. Just try to identify what is holding you back and face it head on in the most relaxed manner possible. Force yourself to sit down and work with your planner, but don’t be a hero. Take baby steps to get back into your habits and make it work. Keep in mind that this part of your is something you want and enjoy, not a life-or-death situation. Take a breath. Say an affirmation. And remember that it’s just a planner.
You got this.