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How to Use Your Planner as a Mindfulness Tool.

By Guest Writer: Darin Villanueva

“Every Day is a Fresh Start” | Pexels Stock Photography | @thngocbich on IG

The zeitgeist of the moment right now is to be productive and take advantage of all this time at home. People are starting a side business; they’re learning a new skill, rearranging their furniture, and some people are even launching podcasts.

It’s hard not to feel pressured into thinking you need to be ultra productive and creative. I’m here to remind you that you don’t have to come out of this pandemic an entrepreneur nor do you have to have an Instagram perfect pantry. Your linen closet is fine the way it is.

I don’t know about you, but there are some days or weeks where I am ready to conquer everything; then I suddenly hit an abrupt wall and find that the only thing I can do is slow down, reflect, absorb, and feel into my emotions as I realize that things may never be the same again.

This chaotic switch between the productive excitement to the numb laziness can be somewhat exhausting and I’ve had to find ways to anchor myself down into the right headspace. With a bunch of things running around in my brain, I love using my planner to organize my thoughts and keep my motivation fresh.

Here are some techniques you can use in your planner to help you stay grounded while sheltering in place:

Focus on your habits

“Habit Tracker” | Adobe Stock Photography

Right now, a routine can be the most grounding thing when days seem to morph together. Choose three habits a week to focus on. Why three? Because you want to actually accomplish them. Set yourself up for success by taking tiny steps. Try to focus on your most basic needs for physical, mental, and emotional peace.

Think of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Motivation. In order for a human being to perform at their best, they need to have the most basic needs in place: food, water, warmth, rest, security, safety. His theory proposes that when the bottom of the pyramid is solid (basic needs), then self-actualization, self-esteem, and motivation are at their peak performance.

Let’s translate those into habits:

Making the bed Taking a shower (no seriously) Food intake - tracking, planning, prepping Journaling Meditating Going to bed at a certain time Tracking daily expenses Going for a walk at a specific time every day Water intake

As you test out your habits, reflect on these questions: what was the best time of day to work on this habit? What got in the way of completing this habit? What motivated you?

Remember: It takes 21 days to make a habit.

Use it as a Journal

“Journal” | Pexels Stock Photography | @secretly_canadian on IG

If habit tracking overwhelms you, use each day as a place to log what happened. Journaling doesn’t mean you have to write a novel each day. Sometimes even just one sentence describing how you are feeling, a daily highlight, or a gratitude reflection is enough.

Other short journal entry ideas:

Daily Mantra Daily quote Gardening progress Food Journal Summarise what you read for the day: a novel, an article. Did you learn anything?

Celebrate Your Wins

“Monthly Bullet Journal Layout” | Pexels Stock Photography | @thngocbich on IG

Do you feel like your work has doubled since quarantine? Now that most of us are working remotely, the background noise of keeping up with news updates, performing survival tasks such as wiping down surfaces, and groceries adds to the morphing monotony of endless days, making time seem fast and slow at the same time.

Work tasks mixed with home tasks and the illusion of “having all day” can make for a frustrating time when you find you’re not really getting as much done as you thought.

When this happens, I like to spend some time (usually before bed) writing down three things I accomplished that day. I like to write this down in the monthly box view of my planner, especially now since there is nothing to plan.

At the end of every day, especially the frustrating ones, take a minute to celebrate 3 simple wins.

Simple, yet impactful wins can look like:

Called Mom Paid the bills Went for a walk Woke up early and didn’t snooze. Didn't Eat Junk Food.

Centering yourself around the small or big things you’ve accomplished will help you gain control over the spinning thoughts going on in your head, and ground you for the next day.


Consider your 2020 planner as a mindfulness tool. Let your daily routine and tracking of habits ground you while you use the power of pen to paper to physically and visually reinforce your daily mantras. Give yourself grace and remember to congratulate yourself on each simple win. Hopefully, these tips will carry you through quarantine, and beyond - 2020 is still your year.

Author: Darin Villanueva | Lifestyle Blogger & Creative Website: Twitter: @urbnsuburbangirl Facebook: Instagram: @urbansuburbangirl

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