Find a time to sit down and plan out the week ahead. Start by copying all your Google Calendar meetings into your notebook. Cross them out as meetings get rescheduled or canceled, so that by Friday your agenda looks like Picasso’s Guernica. Having a constantly outdated physical copy of your schedule will give you visual clarity on how you’re spending your time, so you can get your life organized and under control.
A good planner motivates you with a few words of wisdom. But what if your planner doesn’t come with pre-printed inspirational sayings? In that case, you’ll want to spend a few hours browsing Etsy until you find a shop selling handmade vellum planner inserts embossed with quotes from famous dead people. Order a variety of sayings taken out of context from celebrities with different outlooks on life, like Karl Marx and Ayn Rand. You never know which dystopian vision of the existential conflict between billionaires and the working class will inspire you on any given day.
Once you’re feeling appropriately motivated, use your planner to make a list of everything you need to do. Buy milk. Return library books. File last year’s taxes. Get the lump on your neck checked out. Reconcile with your estranged father. Find a soulmate. Write it all down. The longer you spend making the list, the longer you can put off having to do anything on it.
If your to-do list starts to make you feel overwhelmed and under-accomplished, add in a few easy tasks you’ve already completed, like waking up, hitting the snooze button three times, or changing into your less dirty pair of sweatpants. That way, you can cross them out immediately and feel like you’ve already been productive today.
For an extra jolt of fulfillment, use stickers to mark off tasks as you complete them. Finding the best stickers will require several days of online research, including reading every reply on a thousand-comment Reddit thread about whether white polypropylene or glossy laminated paper stock is the superior printing substrate for stickers. You may need to start your own Reddit thread on kiss-cut versus die-cut printing if the existing discussions aren’t detailed enough for you to make an informed decision. Once you’ve chosen the perfect stickers to use in your planner, you’ll be that much closer to getting your life organized and under control.
Think about your long-term priorities. Use a blank page in your planner to make a vision board of where you see yourself in the next five years. Better yet, make a 3D pop-up vision diorama of how you see your life unfolding over the next five years. For this, you’ll need to pick up some origami paper, polymer clay, and doll-sized furniture from a crafts store. A thirty-minute stop-motion movie featuring an accurate scale model of your dream house will take roughly three to six months to make. But having a fully thought-out vision of your future will really come in handy when you’re trying to make big decisions, like whether binge-watching HGTV or scrolling through Zillow McMansion photos will better manifest your goal of eventual home ownership.
To get the most out of a notebook planner, you’ll want to have a well-coordinated color scheme so you can decorate every page of your calendar to look like the Book of Kells. Scour Kickstarter until you find a startup that has designed a pack of highlighters in exactly the right forty-eight shades of mauve. The pale iridescent colors come from minerals found only on the dwarf planet Makemake, which is why the company is fundraising $5 billion for an asteroid mining mission scheduled to launch in 2033. Donate, sit back, and wait.
Once those pastel pens arrive in just ten to twelve short years, you’ll finally be able to get your life organized and under control.