Planning Strategies for Free Spirits and Creative Thinkers to Get Shit Done
For years, I’ve been working on this idea for a planner. Actually, I’ve been obsessed with planners for a couple of decades as I’ve tried to create strategies to help cope with ADHD, autism, and major depressive disorder. But it doesn’t work as a planner, because it’s really a method. A series of strategies for existing in a world that does ever think it can to make us conform.
I’m a non-conformist by nature, and over the years, I have developed strategies that work so I don’t have to give in and get a job, I can do what I do and live as I want to live. The strategies don’t keep me constantly productive – that’s not a goal in my life, and it’s not healthy, either. But they do allow me to make significant progress on projects and goals while I have the mental, emotional, and physical capacity to do so, regardless of how long the gap between those times.
For instance, I’m coming out of a months-long depression that followed a really rough year where I spent most of the year physically ill and made less than $6000 and dealt with a whole lot of chaos in my life.
And because of my strategies, I know exactly where I am on every project I was working on, and I can pick right up where I left off. I don’t have to make a lot of decisions about what to do because the strategies pre-decide what to do for me on any given day.
For instance, it’s Thursday, and because I pre-decided the themes for my days, I know that Thursday is the day to check in on my finances. Look at the bank account, go over expected expenses, go over expected income, and strategize ways to fill the gap.
This saves me from decision fatigue. Every decision you make during the days puts a bit of strain on your brain. And let’s face it, we make a whole lot of decisions every single day of our lives.
Habits are an attempt to ease the load. Habits are decisions we’ve made so many times that they’re now automatic. Our brain no longer needs to know if we want to do that or not, it just assumes that we do, and it does it.
Choosing themes for my days is another way that I ease that decision fatigue for myself. There’s an endless list of things to do in my life, and because my days are pretty freeform – no job to go to, I work for myself, and I’m starting an urban homestead – it’s really easy to get stuck trying to figure out when to do certain things. It’s not like I have a boss to report to. As long as I make enough money to cover what I need to cover, I can do whatever I want, and that much freedom frequently leads to decision paralysis, which comes after decision fatigue.
I chose my themes based on the astrological days of the week. Our days are associated with certain planets. For some of the days, the planet is right there in the name.
Each of these planets are associated with certain life areas. Assign tasks to the days accordingly, and when a task comes up on your list as you’re planning the week ahead, you no longer get stuck trying to decide when to do what. And because the week keeps starting over, you have a fresh chance to touch that life area again, even if you skipped the previous week. Or months. Or year. *Ahem.*
Now, you don’t have to be as esoteric about it as I am. Some of your days might already have themes to them if you pay enough attention. Is there something you do on a specific day every single week? Maybe it’s related to work or hobbies or kids or whatever. Maybe it’s a therapy appointment every week. Or a kid’s soccer game. Or payroll. Whatever.
Those are anchors. Sometimes, life selects our anchors for us. Other times, we can choose our anchors ourselves. Anchors occur regularly – Days of the week, months of the year, New and Full Moons, Mercury Retrogrades, seasons, etc. There’s a reason our calendars are based on lunar and solar cycles. They’re reliable ways to get our bearings as to when we are.
For me, following the seasonal and astrological cycles is fun. It feels right. It works for me. But if it doesn’t work for you, that’s okay. The point of the Hummingbird Planner is to do it in a way that works for you.
Anchors can also be habits. Artificially created cycles and rhythms. What’s something you do every single day? How can you build onto that? Or, if it’s something you want to stop doing, how can you interrupt it?
I’ll get more into this as I continue to post – posting is a link in a habit chain that I’m building.
I have this one habit that I do every day. I post my daily Inspired Action Sprints post in my Facebook group, Why The Fuck Not Today. I do this almost every day. There have been only a handful of days in the last three years since starting the practice that I haven’t done it, and when I don’t, one of the regular Sprinters posts and tags me to make sure I’m okay! They’ve come to depend on that as an anchor in their day as much as I have!
It’s such a well-established habit that I’ve decided to use it as an anchor in and of itself. It doesn’t occur at the same exact time every day – my mornings are wobbly and no matter how much I’ve tried to dewobble them, it doesn’t work, so I’m shifting my focus on creating an anchor outside of the wobbly bits.
How does that work?
I have a habit that I so consistently do that I’ve only missed it a few times in three years. THREE YEARS.
Since it’s SO reliable, I’m going to add one link. One thing that I’m going to do immediately after I do the sprint post.
Write and publish a blog post.
I’m only doing one link right now because habits aren’t easy to establish. I can plan the other links, but I’m only focusing on one right now.
I haven’t been writing consistently for a long time. Well, I have. I write every day. In my journal. On Facebook. But nothing substantial. Nothing that’s actually going to build something. And I want to change that. So every day, after I do my Sprint post – which I do consistently already – I’ll write and publish a blog post. This is day one.
I’m building a chain for my anchor in what will hopefully turn out to be a very fruitful spot.
Because that’s where we want our anchors to be. We want them to hold us in calm waters that are teeming with fish for us to catch. Whatever the kind of fish we’re trying to catch. We want to anchor in Success Pond, whatever that looks like for us.
Sometimes, we’ll drop an anchor and discover the spot isn’t so great after all. That’s okay. That’s the beauty of anchors: we can pull them up. We can cut the chain and lose them completely. We can adjust as needed.
Because “start the Sprint post” is so well-established, I know that it’s in secure ground. I know that it’s secure enough to hold whatever links I need to chain to it, but only if I don’t try to create that chain too fast.
This is just one part of Hummingbird Planning. It’s a whole host of strategies I’ve developed for making progress on goals and life improvement while dealing with neurodiversity in a world that doesn’t like diversity.
And I’m using it to create the link on my anchor chain by spending the next 30 days blogging about my Hummingbird Planner system that allows me to keep track of dozens of varied projects, plans, and goals, and keep my life moving forward, even when my mental health slows things down.
I’ll share my unconventional strategies for working with goals, overcoming obstacles, and setting course for the life you really want to live, while working your way out of the life that was handed to you.
My life’s not perfect. I’m not at my final destination. But I’ve finally found a calm enough pond and a strong enough anchor to build on, after years of weathering storms that blew me all over the place. And I’ve made it this far because of the strategies I’ll be sharing here.
This, of course, isn’t the only thing I’ll blog about. That would be boring and my brain hates boring.
But blogging is the first link in a chain to build something. What that something will be remains to be seen. <3 <3 <3