You had great plans and then...whelp, you don't know exactly what happened, but none of your targets for the day were accomplished. Your planner looks like a snapshot of someone else's ideas because it definitely wasn't the day you just lived.
You had great plans to make plans, but the baby was up all night so you missed your alarm. You threw a brief glance at your planner before you headed out the door, and now you're home again staring at a blank spread and wondering why you even tried to start using a day planner to begin with.
We've been there.
Just because we started a planner business doesn't mean we're immune to the chaos of life, or that we always have days that perfectly match what we planned. In fact, there are days that the planner (you know, the one we spent years developing) is still completely blank as the day comes to an end.
We can't make all our plans happen, but we have learned a few tricks about reflecting on chaotic days (or seasons) and pivoting to help our planned goals meet our lived reality.
By the time we're sliding into bed at night with a brain full of noise, we need some perspective. Thankfully, our blank planner is still sitting there, beckoning us to get our thoughts organized once more.
These 3 exercises have helped us turn our brains from overwhelming noise to purposeful reflection:
1. Write out in your planner all the things you did get done that day.
They're likely not big milestones: you may write in "held teething baby all morning" or “purchased groceries." Or maybe you did get a lot done because you were hit with inspiration, and you brainstormed and then sketched out your entire business marketing plan for the next three months(!!)…but it just wasn't the thing you had planned. Whatever you did, write it in. It may not feel like an accomplishment, but seeing on paper how your day played out (even retroactively) will give you perspective.
2. Evaluate how you spent your time.
Did you binge-watch the latest Netflix show? Maybe this means your brain is craving rest and you need to make space for things that will truly revive you. Or, it may mean it's time to get serious about the time that's getting frittered away and take your accountability mechanisms to the next level by hiring a coach or getting into a mastermind group. Did life throw you a curve ball and you had to pivot to meet immediate needs? Celebrate that and adjust the next few days to fit in those critical to-do items, dropping the ones you had planned that aren't essential, and rescheduling the ones you had planned that are. Make notes on what your reflection time reveals. This will enable you to plan more effectively in the future. With your planner in hand, you can even begin, right away, to apply some of the things you learned from troubleshooting your schedule.
3. Learn and plan for the future.
The more you do this, the more patterns will appear. Maybe you gravitate towards errands on a certain day, or find there's one morning a week you always miss your alarm (thanks to that weekly late night at church). You can change your plans to reflect those patterns. Plan that persistent errand-day for running errands! Give yourself that morning to sleep in (you probably need it)! Get real about how much time you have, and how much time tasks really take. Add at least 15 minutes of margin to pad significant transitions in your day (commutes, nap times, meetings, meals), and make sure you're scheduling in enough downtime (and actual SLEEP time!)
Your rhythms must inform your plans as much as your plans must dictate your rhythms.
Reflecting on days that don't go as planned is extremely helpful as you continue to hone a lifestyle that is truly life-giving.