My Planner Made Me Do it!


One of the benefits to working in education is that not only do you get January 1 to start a “new year” but you also get the start of a new academic year. My goal going into this academic year was to find a planner that best fit me and actually commit to using it. After doing LOTS of research and looking at LOTS of options, I found one that I love! I could not wait to break out my colored pens, my work calendar, our family calendar, our bill schedule, and start writing everything in.

When I bought my new planner, I assumed it would just help me keep track of things. It’s been a little over a month and I am blown away by how much I have accomplished just by finding and committing to a planner! So far, it’s been the best $30 I have spent this year (a close call with my new Shark vacuum cleaner!).

Here’s how it has helped me beyond just remembering deadlines and appointments:

I drank so much more water. I always tried to up my water game but was never great at it. One of the things I have found is that if I actually commit to logging my water every day in my planner, I will drink more.

I saved money by setting financial goals in my planner. Who doesn’t want to save more money? I know I do! It’s been great to look at a month and see what is coming up (bills, social events, etc.) so that I can better plan. I also have set financial goals each week to help me stay on track. I am very happy with this first month and so is my piggy bank!

I started meditating to decrease stress. I love working at USC and a nice perk we have is the wellness center offering 20 minute meditation breaks. This has been something I have always wanted to incorporate in my week but just never got to. I decided to write it down and make a weekly goal to make it to at least two breaks. So far, so good, and it’s amazing how much less stressed I am afterwards and the wonderful sleep I get!

I went to a workout class and hope to keep it up! Similar to the meditation breaks, USC also offers workout classes during the lunch hour. I used to go to these things RELIGIOUSLY prior to becoming a mom. But, then pumping happened and pure exhaustion and I just fell out of the routine. I have been dying to get back. I made a goal to go to at least once a week and just went to my first one. I wrote it down and went (and it was so awesome!). I am hoping to up that number to three a week next month.

I have been much more productive at work and at home. There is seriously something about a to-do list that makes me feel more efficient at work. I have an overarching to-do list in my planner. This can sometimes turn into a word vomit list of all the things in my head I have to get done. With my planner, I am able to take that list and move things to my daily to-do lists. It’s amazing to be able to designate a huge list down to seven days. I feel so much more productive because I am able to prioritize. And, it’s been working!

I expressed gratitude to myself and others. Everyday, I reflect on my day in my planner. Even if it’s just a couple of sentences. I try to focus on the positives, but the negatives can be positive too. It’s nice to know what I overcame that day. I also write a positive quote or thought everyday as well. Each week, I make a goal to express gratitude to not only myself but someone else. This could be in the form of a thank you note/email, a phone call to someone, or whatever feels right at the time.

So, is it the planner that is encouraging all this positive change in behavior? I’ll say yes. To me, it’s about finding the right planner that works best for you. A planner that you do not mind visiting several times a day. A planner you enjoy writing in. I believe that is the first step. After that, it’s thinking about tangible goals, writing them down, revisiting them, and being honest with yourself. If you do not accomplish a particular goal, give yourself grace. There is always next week!

So, whether you work in education or not, I will give you the opportunity to start a “new year” right now! Go planner shopping, see what you find, and commit to something. Then, commit to your goals, and ultimately, yourself.

Do you have a planner you love? Tell us about it! 

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Ashley Byrd-White
Ashley Byrd-White identifies as a Yankee-Carolinian who was born and raised in the tundra of Upstate, New York but currently calls the Midlands her home. She began her professional career in Buffalo, NY in higher education. She continues her dedication to education at USC working full-time as a Career Development Coach to college students. She currently holds a BA in psychology and an Ed.M. in higher education administration. Moving to Columbia, SC 4 years ago so her husband could pursue his teaching career was the most challenging time in her life … until motherhood! She has been together with her high school sweetheart husband, Chad, for 13 years (married for nearly 4). Ashley is a first-time mom as of February 2016 to Oliver. She loves being a mom, is proud of her continuing breastfeeding journey, and is thankful for her mama tribe. Ashley enjoys spending time with her family, drinking coffee and wine, pinning crafts she will never have time to create, and making her son laugh.


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