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A planner is more than a calendar.
A planner is a tool to help manage projects.
Those projects can vary from keeping your house in order, to operating a business from home; from keeping your ministry accountable and out of the red, to balancing school and work life.
To-do lists can be as varied and unique as individuals are, therefore a system for managing those tasks should be designed to meet those needs.
My unique need for a project management system, which I call a planner, came as a result of losing my cognitive abilities. My memory, both short and long term, were affected. Read the story here. As I began the arduous task of rebuilding my life, I quickly realized the need to relearn many skills that had once been second nature.
At that time, my sister introduced me to the creative community of decorative planning and I quickly realized my brain worked differently as it healed. Some days, analytical tasks like reading, list making, and counting were too difficult or incomprehensible and I leaned heavily on the creative skills associated with the right side of the brain and could surround myself with light and laughter. Other days, color and sound were distracting and overwhelming, causing anxiety and sending me into a panic attack so I leaned towards quiet, solitary activities that gave me a sense of calm and order like reading or listmaking.
I began studying how others approached project management for productivity. Soon, I discovered that while humans use both sides of their brain for different tasks, we have a natural bent towards relying on one side or the other. Some of us are more artistic in nature and operate from a right-brained perspective. Others are more analytical in nature and operate from a left-brained perspective.
Before the trauma that led to a cognitive decline and memory loss, I believed myself to favor a left-brain perspective and therefore engaged in traditionally left-brain activities, rarely pursuing those requiring a right-brain nature. During the healing process, I read much on the subject of neuroplasticity and how to “remap” the brain by continually challenging myself to learn new things. I learned, through trial and error, how to work through the anxiety and panic of not being able to think through, and therefore follow through, with simple activities.
Bilateral Planning is HOW to plan for productivity and success.
I needed to have a project management system that worked with my brain whether I was able to think with the right or left side on any given day. I believe this approach helped me heal quicker and regain much of my former cognitive abilities. While experimenting with different ways to “remap” my brain and learn information, I created a project management system called bilateral planning.
Bilateral Planning is a system of task management that allows for flexibility while maintaining efficiency. I utilize a framework for left-brain task and time management in addition to a space for creative thought processing. This system has allowed me to accomplish goals that would have otherwise been out of reach.
Take this quiz to discover whether you are left or right brain dominant.
Pageant Queen Principles are WHAT you plan.
Incorporating Pageant Queen Principles within the Bilateral Planning framework creates a balanced system for efficiency, productivity and ultimately, success – whether your goals include capturing a crown or corraling a kindergarten class.
“Behind every impossible achievement is a dreamer of impossible dreams.” -Robert K. Greenleaf
“Your brain has the ability to change and develop physiologically, and it does so based on how you use it. You have the ability to strengthen and develop your brain by thinking about a compelling future for yourself, by regularly and repeatedly thinking about an inspiring vision where you emotionally connect with the life you desire. You can train your brain to act on your vision just by thinking about it. The first step is creating an inspiring vision and learning how to stay connected with it.” – from 12 Week Year
For me, training my brain to act on my vision is found in the routines. We are creatures of habit and as Henry Ford is quoted as saying, “whether you think you can or you can’t you’re right.”
What you think about – you bring about!
This happens whether you are being intentional with your thoughts and actions, as with following a morning routine, for example. Or whether you are unintentional with your thoughts and actions, which by the way turn in to habits…
the habit of sleeping in because you can …
the habit of taking a shower whenever you think about it …
the habit of sitting on the couch all day, because “Why not? I have no where to go.”…
the habit of self-imposed isolation which can and does, lead to depression.
For the 31 Days of Planner Fun Challenge, I am sharing my morning routine with you here along with a free printable you can use in your planner to help you get started with creating your own morning routine. Or if you already have one, perhaps this can help you keep it front and center whether you actually place it in your planner or hang it on your wall next to your bed so you see it each morning (I may or may not do this) 🙂
I find scheduling my morning routine into my planner helps me stay accountable to myself, my vision. The truth is, whether you have a morning routine or not, your body and life will show it. Having a routine will help your brain TRUST that you will take care of it…this goes for other routines as well, evening and sleep routines, work routines, family obligations and chore routines, the list can go on and on.
When your brain trusts you, it is free to turn off the “flight or fight” survival mode and focus on strengthening and growing in the areas you are being intentional about. Your vision and goals become a reality when you are less stressed or have an effective routine for dealing with stress.
A morning routine can help to start the day in an optimal state. I focus my routine on three areas of my life, Being, Body, Brain. Actually, all of my planning and routines revolve around these three categories.
When I am consistent with my routine, I am more alert, engaged, productive and able to handle the stressors of life. Because let’s face it, stress happens but how we respond to stress determines the outcome.
Download your FREE PRINTABLE here and tag me on social media with how you are implementing it.
Join me this month for all things planner related, OneBookJuly2018 and 31 Days of Planner Fun on social media at:
Facebook and Instagram as @theorganizedmiss
YouTube @Deanna – The Organized Miss and check out
You don’t have to be Miss America to use pageant queen principles to prioritize your life. These principles will help you organize your time, manage your business and get things done!
Pageant participants realize that only one girl will walk away with the crown. While it is a competition, the true competition is with themselves; being the best they can be. All the preparation they put into the competition helps them focus on their strengths and passions preparing them to seize all of the opportunities that cross their path whether they are awarded a sash and crown or not. They understand they are always wearing an invisible crown and operate accordingly.
So how do pageant queens manage to juggle school, jobs, oftentimes a small business, community service which can number in the hundreds of hours, family and relationship obligations, all while maintaining a health and wellness routine giving them the confidence to cross a stage in a swimsuit?
Balancing all of their responsibilities requires preparation. They prepare in 4 areas that are pretty consistent across various organizations and I have identified them as Being, Body, Brain, and Success. As a result, I set my planning routine around these major categories and coach others to do the same.
I like to start with Success.
Pageant Queens understand that a “crown” merely provides a platform for delivering their message. In order to have a successful pageant season, they must identify their passion and purpose which will drive and motivate them to reach their goal. Then they envision reaching their goal by employing the strategy of visualization. They dream of seeing themselves standing on stage, hearing their name called out, walking in their evening gown with new sash, crown, and flowers while waving to the audience and thanking the judges. They even practice their “I can’t believe I just won” face…why?
Studies show visualization improves motivation, coordination, concentration and has been understood since Aristotle described the process over 2,000 years ago, “First, have a definite, clear, practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends: wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.”
Once she has the vision, a Pageant Queen will assess her strengths, weaknesses, and resources. She will create a plan of action to reach the crown and set up a system for tracking her results based on her identified passion and purpose.
Since titles are passed on to a new Queen each year, her deadline is clearly defined and she can set up a timeline for reaching mini-milestones that will all take her to her ultimate goal. Sharing her vision with others…that journey may or may not result in a crown and she knows that. Her actions align with her purpose.
Mini-milestones are defined in three major areas of Being, Body, and Brain. Her planning routine is broken down to reflect this all while moving her towards her intended goal … the coveted crown.
Being covers her spiritual house, so to speak. Her relationships with others and is also known as her network. It includes her platform, also known as her community service, and how she intends to make the world a better place. She will need to track sponsor relationships and fundraising in addition to her volunteer hours.
Body covers her physical house. Her health and wellness, nutrition and fitness routine and trackers for maintaining an appearance ready physique and giving her the confidence to stand tall, smile and shine the light of her crown on what matters most to her: her goal of helping others.
Brian covers her mental house. This is her scholastic focus and personal development and may include entrepreneurial goals.
As you can see, each of the identified areas allows for a framework of creating a self-management system that is flexible enough for Pageant Queens to tailor but structured enough to provide a guide for reaching her potential. This empowers her to prioritize her life, organize her time and manage her business and it can do the same for you.
Let’s break the title of this article down into manageable sections.
“How to…” – I do not claim to be an expert at productivity. The opposite is true, actually. I am very well versed in the art of failure and as a result, have learned numerous ways of how to and how not to do things. My aim is to show you how to move forward with your goals by using a planner.
“…successful…” – After much trial and error, I have learned that the first step to success in setting and reaching goals is identifying the end result. I set values-based SMART goals which allow me to able to focus in on the tasks I set for myself. Who am I? What do I believe? What do I stand for? Hopefully, you have identified those values for yourself. Assuming you have, you need to ask yourself, “What do I want to achieve?” Be specific. How will you know when you have achieved it? Set a standard by which you will measure your progress. Document your starting point. Once you have identified your starting point and your end goal, ask yourself, “Is this attainable?” Are you able to reach this goal in one effort or do you need to break it down into smaller goals? Is this a realistic goal to work towards? Or do you need to gain additional skills or resources before you can start working towards it? What is the timeline for reaching this goal? When do you want to reach this objective? Remember, a goal without a deadline is a daydream.
“…daily…” – Repetition is key. Once you have established your goals it is easy to determine if you should begin a certain project or not. Will it help you reach your values-based goals? If yes, it is time to identify the daily tasks that will create momentum and do them.
“…steps forward…” – How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
“…good habits…” – Whether you realize it or not, you are already engaged in a variety of habits. And while they may or may not be BAD for you, they may not be serving the purpose of helping you achieve your goals. Each time to watch television or eat a meal or sit down at your computer, ask yourself, “Is this helping me reach my goal?” If the answer is yes, repeat it daily. If the answer is no, stop doing the thing that is standing between you and your goals and replace it with one that will help you reach them.
“…planner.” – Show me your calendar and I will tell you what your values are. A planner is more than a calendar. A planner houses your calendar, for deadline specific events and tasks, and your project management system. Project management can be as simple as a list of to-dos for your annual spring cleaning or as elaborate as a forecast and analysis of your instances of headaches to days of rainfall. Planning systems and styles are unique to each individual, but I have identified the two major categories of planners based on learning styles: left and right brain. Most people are either a logical list-making, left-brain planner or an intuitive, creator-designer, right-brain planner. Some are a combination of the two and utilize what I call a “Bilateral Planning” approach. I use this style of planning and it has revolutionized my life…this is not an understatement! It seems simple, but you would be surprised how many people struggle with using a planner to organize their hopes, dreams, and wishes into actionable projects. If you think you would benefit from bilateral planning, check out my series on YouTube to learn more.
For the sake of this article, let’s set a SMART, values-based goal.
“I will let ten pounds go by summer.”
One of my values is to be healthy, strong and flexible. The goal is specific. It is measurable, as I can stand on my scale and record my starting weight and in 3 months, at the end of my timeline I will stand on the scale again and record my progress. Since summer is 3 months away, this is an attainable goal and realistic because I do have ten pounds I could give to the universe. (Notice I didn’t say lose, because I have no intention of finding these ten pounds after they’re gone.) Now what? Pray that the scale moves in three months? No! I must set a plan of action in place and create tasks to help me in my endeavor. I will call this my Summer Body Project (“Body”).
Within the project section of my planner, I will have a section tabbed “Body” in that section I will list out all the actions that will need to take place in order to reach my goal.
- Diet – What kinds of food will I/won’t I eat? How often will I eat? Will I intermittently fast?
- Exercise – What kind of physical activity will I participate in? How many days a week?
- Rest – When will I schedule my body time to recover?
Once I have determined all the components necessary to reach my stated goal, I will add at least one task to my calendar, daily. At the end of each day, I will review how I did and what worked for me/what didn’t and either repeat the day’s actions or make a change. At the end of each week, I will gauge the outcome of my efforts and decide how I can improve for the following week. When I reach my deadline, I will evaluate my progress. Did I reach my goal? Did I fall short? Did I surpass it? What will I do moving forward?
What planning and organizational style do you employ to manage goals in your planner? Tag me (@theorganizedmiss) on social media with your goal planner and use the hashtag #bilateralplanning!
Need a way to track your health and wellness goals? Check out how I track my fitness goals!
Ask people closest to me and they will tell you that I am a highly creative person and have a ton of great ideas. In fact, someone very close to me, my brother-in-law, made the following statement yesterday. “This is the first time I have ever known you to complete something you have started and you have been staying on task for the past year now.” True statement. Starting one project after another is not a challenge for me…it never has been. What has been a challenge in the past was completing those projects and accomplishing those goals. So what is different now?
I have found the organizational system that works for me. Oh, I have tried so many ways (think Franklin Covey) to stay organized in the past but to no avail. Why? Because I was trying to think the way someone else thinks and therefore I failed every time. I didn’t fully understand how my brain worked and as a result felt I like a failure. My daughter pointed out that I have taught her how to fail and keep trying again. Each failure was a lesson in what doesn’t work for me.
The challenge then became about learning what would work for me. We are all different but there are some similarities we can focus on when determining how to set and reach goals. I am a highly creative individual who thinks outside the box and needs an organizational system that works with my thinking style. My brain vacillates between a left and right brain thinking styles so I am not predominantly a left brain, list making planner, nor am I predominantly a right brain, visual planner – rather I am a mix of the two and fluctuate on a daily basis and therefore need to have separate systems set up to help me stay on task when my brain changes gears. ←- This was a HUGE “aha” for me!
Because I didn’t understand that I needed the two different styles, I would fail to reach objectives when using a left brain, list-making logic-based approach and my brain starting thinking in its creative right hemisphere. Now, I have a planning system, Bilateral Planning, that allows me to alternate between the two formats as quickly as my brain shifts gears…that can be pretty fast…and I am able to stay on task and reach my goals.
Are you a predominantly left brain, list maker who needs to see everything, structured and in black and white, or in digital form? Are you predominantly a right brain, creative who needs a lot of real estate on your paper to doodle, draw or color code? Or, are you like me and need a combination of the two? Knowing this one aspect of yourself, how you think, will help you tremendously in your goal setting process.
Learn more about Bilateral Planning and receive a FREE printable to help you start designing your own organizational system!
The brain. We all have one and use it every day. But how often do you actually think about the thing that helps you think? Aside from an occasional headache, deja vu or perhaps a dizzy spell, you may not give it a second thought. Instead, allowing your brain to operate and orchestrate the myriad of bodily functions it is in control of. Breathing is the first activity that comes to mind and is an important (dare I say THE most important) function that affects every other aspect of your life.
I admit I didn’t give a lot of attention to my brain health before 2013. All of that changed in what seems like an instant to me but actually spans the course of approximately 10 years. I say approximately because I don’t know. I can not actually recall, in order, many of my life events from 2008 to 2016. That’s not to say that I don’t remember anything. I do, actually, and I am remembering more and more as time goes on.
While I have been in the pursuit, along with medical professionals, to determine the cause of the cognitive malfunctions and memory loss resulting from severe headaches (for lack of a better word), I embarked on a brain improvement journey near the end of 2016.
This journey, or science experiment as I like to refer to it, lead me to try many new things as brain exercises during the past year. After much researching, I discovered I was actually giving my brain the best chance at recovery by aiding in its plasticity.
Enter OneBookJuly2017 and my dive down the rabbit hole of all things planner related, paper organization and habit tracking. Over the course of July, and the ensuing months of 2017, I learned what would work best for me. While planning and organizing thoughts are unique to individuals, I discovered something about myself and noticed a pattern emerge within the planning community.
I found that part of the time I planned and benefitted from using a traditional, list based, heavily worded system. The other part of the time, reading and writing words and therefore following the system was overwhelming or just plain difficult due to my struggles with recall and retention. As a result, I began looking for or creating stickers to create word-picture associations in my mind.
I quickly discovered the need to dual plan my time using two weekly spreads and began “Bilateral Planning”. One weekly spread communicated the information in a language my creative right brain would understand using pictures when the left side was not connecting properly and reading words was difficult. Another one communicated to my logical left brain, the events and tasks needing my focus when the nerves in my right brain would misfire, and looking at colors and pictures were distracting.
Both of these layouts communicate the same information for the week of October 30-November 5, 2017.
This “ah-ha” moment led me to research planning styles and I decided to incorporate both and identify it as “Bilateral Planning”. For me, the repetition in planning aides in memory recall and improves my retention.
If you or someone you know struggles with completing tasks, whether it results from a memory issue like mine or some other challenge, I believe bilateral planning can help.
Sign up for my Newsletter and receive a FREE printable to start Bilateral Planning.
FACT: Being active is associated with a lower risk of brain issues.
Want to track your health and wellness to encourage and promote activities geared toward creating and maintaining a healthy brain? Check out my Health and Wellness Tracker
I have finally turned the camera on during my planning sessions to show “HOW” I plan. Making a video (series of videos) on my planning structure has been on my to-do list for a while but it wasn’t until I watched a video by MissVickybee titled, “Where is Planning?” that I decided to do it. In her video, she mentions all the “Plan With Me’ videos available online and how beautiful the art of pretty planning is but she wanted to see the structure, “what was being planned” too often she would see planners that were decorated but not set up.
I am all for decorating and pretty planning for the sake of self-care and creative expression (I love stickers) but planners need to be functional or else they are not planners but scrapbooks. This is where I should mention that I love watching scrapbook process videos, but when I am interested in personal development and looking for new ways to be more productive or efficient with my tasks, I want to watch and learn from a planner who is employing replicable organizational strategies and techniques.
In addition to my “How I Plan” video series, I am making my Weekly Review questions available for you to use in your own planning routine. To learn how I use this invaluable tool, check out my weekly review video.
I have a confession to make. I love stickers! I love using them in my planner. But, I really love designing the stickers. Did I say LOVE? I may be bordering on complete infatuation with all things adhesive. Having admitted this out loud here, I want to share with you why I use stickers in my planning and organizing routine. Creating word pictures with stickers help me associate information in my (still healing) brain. Using colors and images to assign importance or priority to tasks and events helps me to be able to recall the information and increases my retention.
In the coming weeks, I hope to share more on my learning style and planning/organizing routines but today I am sharing a tutorial video on how I design stickers using Inkscape.
This week found me a tad bit busier than last week and not feeling 100% but I was able to stay on task, due to prior planning, and get the things done (in a timely manner) that needed to be accomplished. I didn’t get many personal things checked off my to do list but that’s okay with me. This week highlighted the importance of having a flexible planning system.
Observations and changes made this week:
The first and most recognizable change for me this week is the TN cover itself. I have been struggling with the LOVELY TPS Floral TN since my initial set up. While I love, love, love it, the 1.5″ spine is just a little too small for my needs right now.
I am using my One Book July to experiment with tracking all of the things that need to be done this month, both personal and professional. As the festival and pageant are at the end of July and the first week of August, I have little to do and lots of time to do it…STRIKE THAT, reverse it!
The next change I have made is the addition of a dump book. I have one dedicated to all the details that I need to stay on top of this month in preparation for the festival and pageant, however, I didn’t have something to capture all the other items. So, I dedicated some of my self-care time to creating an insert and have already started collecting items to be organized after my Incompletion Trigger List review.
My weekly spread is where the “work” gets done in my One Book July. I noticed that I didn’t consistently use my dailies but went back and filled in what I accomplished, instead of using it for pre-planning. I used stickers to create “word pictures” to help with my memory and this resulted in aiding my recall. Therefore, I have decided to pre-set up my dailies this week. Let’s see how that works for me. I have had a new memory and discovered a 20 year gap…this blank spaces do not mean I don’t remember anything for those 20 years, but rather all instances relating to a specific memory group (i.e. an annual picnic that I have no memories of or the location it has been held in, although I apparently have attended it numerous times). This leads me to look for ways to re-associate people, places, and things in hopes of being able to access the memories eventually. So, I am attempting to use more stickers in my planning routine to create word pictures in my mind. Well, see how this works. This week will be the first time I include the sticker associations in the “guts” of my planning and I am hopeful I can report a success next week!
This Michael’s Recollection’s Hourly Vertical Planner sits on my desk and does double duty as my memory planner.
This is the weekly box spread in my One Book July and functions as a weekly overview of my events and appointments using pictures.
This is a printable from Ray Blake at My Life All In One Place and functions as the “guts” of my planning. I have not previously utilized stickers in this section as it houses tasks…this is where I take my “To Do’s” to “To Done” and document any changes to my planned schedule of events with actual events.
Finally, I have decided to set up my dailies for the week to see how I can better utilize them in the TN. However, I typically use my hourly planner for itemizing the details of my white spaces.
How are you using your One Book July? What have you learned so far? I would love to know how has this “experiment” helped you stay on track to reach your goals.
See you next week!