A Very Rough Draft

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I reach the word count limit of 3750 words, but I haven’t finished the article. I highlight everything in the last subsection because I know I need to revise it. I estimate that have at least another 600 words to go, so I will have go through the manuscript and make it more concise. That’s actually one of my favorite editing jobs, trying to convey the same message with fewer words.

I have to admit this article is currently a rough draft . . . a very rough draft. It’s so rough it deserves the empty descriptor “very,” the kind of word I would immediately cut out of a draft. It reminds me of my life in general. Right now, it’s a rough draft . . . a very rough draft, and I still need to do a lot of editing to make it more concise.

Fortunately, this is the last week of classes for the summer and then I have a short break before fall. It won’t be three weeks of vacation, though. I scheduled a four-day trip to Orlando with “the little,” but the rest of the time I will spend planning for the academic year ahead. The difference between dreams and goals are action steps, and I will need to schedule a whole lot of action steps to get where I want to go.

I hit the save button and close my article for the evening. Although being productive is important, so is resting and regenerating. Tomorrow, I will wake up early and start again.

Rituals for Living by The Dragon Tree

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I dump my colored pens onto the table and open my new planner. I uncap the orange pen and start to answer the first question: “What are you longing for most in life?” With each consecutive question, I uncap another pen, filling the planner with a rainbow of color.

This is not just another planner, it’s my new Rituals for Living Dreambook and Planner from The Dragon Tree. I have written before about my struggles to commit to my weekly planner. Although, I love the concepts of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the planning tools, though effective, felt a little too linear for me. I wanted something that was more like an art journal. I feel like I have found it with this new tool.

The Rituals for Living Dreambook and Planner starts with probing questions about core values and your vision for the future in many key areas of your life. It then uses a mind mapping technique for goal setting in 1, 3, and 10-year intervals. The ritualize section helps you break down your dream into actionable steps, then monthly and weekly calendars help you stay focused on those long-term goals on a day to day basis.

I am really excited about using this book because I feel like I can use my right brain and left brain together. I feel like there is plenty of room to make my planner colorful and personalized. More importantly, it fits in my backpack, so I can use it review it often.

RIP Sunday Journal?

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It sits of the bookcase wilted and lifeless, like a neglected house plant. It’s my Sunday Journal, a fancy three-ring binder full of page protectors and vinyl page dividers. Colorful title pages mark the purpose of each section: Weekly Planner (Short-Term Goals), Monthly Planner (Mid-Term Goals), Annual Planner (Long-term Goals), Self-Care, and Creative Projects.

I started my Sunday Journal with the best of intentions, to implement the principles I learned from Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People . . . again. It wasn’t the first time. It won’t be the last. I have experienced, first-hand, the improved focus and productivity that comes with a proactive approach to time management. The core value of Covey’s book serves as my quality of life mantra: Schedule your priorities, don’t prioritize your schedule.

Maintaining consistent effort is difficult for someone with a neurodivergence like mine. With bipolar disorder, I have weeks full of energy and optimism, and weeks of exhaustion and just getting by. Although the intention is to spend just a few hours every Sunday reviewing the past week and planning for the week ahead, sometimes Sunday afternoon is my only time to just relax, and for me, creating structure has always felt like work. Enter narrative therapy . . .

If I want to revive this dusty planner, I need to rewrite the story I am telling myself. I need to make planning . . . fun? Yeah. It sounds unlikely, even to me, but that’s the old narrative steering my emotional reaction. So, (I pull off my royal blue hoodie and sit up a little straighter) how am I going to change the story I am telling myself? Let’s begin.

Old paradigm: I am too busy doing to spend time planning. New paradigm: There is a saying among carpenters—measure twice cut once. The same is true of time management. If you spend time planning you will spend less time doing. Without a plan, life is an endless game of catch up.

Old paradigm: Planning is boring. New paradigm: Well perhaps the way I have been doing it—with an Excel spreadsheet and an eye on efficiency (a dreary hold over from my days in corporate management). Instead, I need to make my planning process more creative, with doodles, colors, and images. I need to keep my eye on balance and overall happiness.

Old paradigm: Planning is restrictive and suffocating. New paradigm: Oooo this is a tough one for me . . . thinking . . . thinking . . . a plan is not a box that will trap me but a scaffolding I can climb. Hmm, that sounds like a good metaphor, but I still have to work on that one a bit. I’m not quite buying it, yet. Perhaps I need to draw a few images of a stick figure climbing up the side of my weekly schedule.

With a deep breath, I take out all the old planning pages from last October and November and get ready to begin again. Fall seven times, get up eight. A friend of mine says that all the time. I’m sure he won’t mind me borrowing his favorite phrase today. Time to get my colored pencils.