"Every Minute Spent Organizing is an Hour Earned." - Confessions of a Self Proclaimed Planner Addict

Lifestyle Design
One of my resolutions for 2020 is to get better at creating a written plan for my day.  It never fails, anytime I consistently use my trusty planner, I'm guaranteed to accomplish more than when I wing it from the top of my head.  Here's my problem.  Planning works so well that I start to believe that I'm a naturally productive person.  Then I enter this slippery slope of thinking that my productivity will stay the same even without a written plan for the day.

The truth is, if I want to have an uber-productive day, week, or month, using a planner a sure-fire way to achieve that.  Since I'm on a mission to reimplement the habit of daily planning, I thought I'd reach out to someone who embodies this habit. Shara Simmons is a card-carrying member of the budding planner community.  I've followed Shara on IG for years.  From afar, I've seen her launch her nursing career, buy her dream car and acquire a beautiful home.  If I had to guess, I'd theorize that her dedication to jotting down action items has influenced the direction of her life.

 I follow an entrepreneur who launched her own clothing line several years ago.  Over the years, her company has flourished.   One secret she revealed in a vlog was how she always keeps her planner nearby to document everything she needs to accomplish. 

Let's take a peek inside the mind of a person who's dedicated to the art of planning and see if we can gain a few takeaways to apply in our own lives.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and give us a glimpse into your daily life.
I was born and raised in beautiful Miami, FL. I'm married with a 6-year-old son. Currently, I work as a Registered Nurse in a busy Trauma Unit. A typical workday for me is pretty simple. I’m up at 5am to make it to work by 6:45am.  I work 12-hour shifts so I leave work, at the latest, at 8:00 pm at night. I arrive home at around 8:45pm. Workdays are long and tiring. On a typical day off I’m up at 7am during the week to get my son ready for school (I’m up at 8am on the weekends). Once my son is situated at school I usually come back home and have a cup of coffee and get into a bible study session or a planning session. Later in the morning, I like to write for my blog, workout and clean. We just purchased a new home so in the afternoon I like to visit some of my favorite stores to shop for the home. Because my job takes a huge toll on me spiritually, mentally, and physically, I prioritize alone time for myself. I like to watch Netflix, do my nails, indulge in skincare, and grab a nice meal. Once everyone is home I spend time with my family (homework, dinner, conversation, etc.), and prepare for the next day.

2. You recently launched From Shara with Love, what inspired to you create the blog and what is your vision for it?
Writing is my passion. I have several journals I’ve kept over the years. I would write all the time as a way to escape and unload my thoughts. After getting married, becoming a mother and a nurse I realized I had so much to say. I would still write in journals and through captions on my Instagram. Because I was writing so much and had a bunch of ideas and thoughts I wanted to get out into the world, I decided to start my blog. Also, I wanted something that was mine. There’s no way to tell how long IG will be around so I wanted to secure something I could always have and go back to. My vision for FSWL is one of transparency, inspiration, and community. I want it to grow into a space where real conversations can be had and where people can find inspiration for their lives.
via @sharasimmons

3. I've followed you on Instagram for a while; one thing that's apparent is your love for planners and productivity tools. How did that begin?

OMG! Planners are life!!! Lol! I remember being, maybe, six-years-old in my room drawing a calendar to put on my wall. Did I need a calendar at six? No... but I’ve always had an affinity for calendars, planners, and pens. I could never go to Walmart or Target without passing through the planner and pen aisles. It’s just one of those things that have stayed with me.

4. Tell us about your weekly/daily planning process.
Let me start by saying that I am not a daily planner. Meaning, I don’t update my planner every day. Daily planning takes commitment and I am not committed to that type of planning process. However, I do plan weekly. At the beginning of the month, I write down every single task, activity, appointment, etc., for the month. At the beginning of every week, I make updates as a way to keep up with everything that is happening. This is the process for both my personal and financial planners.

5. What are your favorite planning tools?
High-quality fine point pens and good highlighters in different colors are a must. My pens and other planning essentials are usually purchased from Cloth & Paper, a luxury-planning brand. Cloth & Paper has been a huge part of my planning journey. When I am finance planning I have to have a physical calculator (not the one on my phone) to run numbers for budgets and finance stickers to mark certain things off on the calendar. I also keep deposit and withdrawal slips handy. Sometimes I find extra cash in the budget that can be deposited into savings and I find I can save myself time completing the slip at home versus at the bank. Planning is not only about the organization but saving yourself time as well.

6. Talk to us about the impact of having a dedicated planning process in your daily routine?
Benjamin Franklin has a quote that says, “For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.”  I really dislike being unorganized so there is no other way for me to go about life. I am hardly ever caught off guard with anything. The impact is being more aware of how I’m spending my time and resources.

7. Have you used your planner for achieving big goals or mainly to log tasks/appointments? Is there a difference between daily planning and planning to achieve goals?
You’re going to find this to be the weirdest thing but stay with me. When I’m planning for a huge goal it is mostly mental/in my head. I keep track of everything step by step in my mind. I may jot a couple of notes down on my dry erase board in my office or a small note in my planner but for the most part, everything it’s all in my brain. Don’t get me wrong; if there is something super important pertaining to the goal that I need to remember then it definitely gets logged into my planner. To answer your question, I usually use my planner for tasks and appointments and my financial planner to keep track of resources (budgets, savings and checking balances, shopping lists, wish lists, etc.).

There is a difference between daily planning and goal planning. Goal planning is more complex in that it requires a strategy, action steps, and a specific deadline. Planning for goals can definitely be implemented into your planning process if you choose.

8. What advice do you have for those of us who've tried using a planner but couldn't stick to it?
Don’t force it. Do what works for you. If you’ve tried using a planner and it did not work out, try using iCal or Google Calendar. If that doesn’t work out maybe you’re a simple list person. Making a list of things to do can be just as effective as using a planner. I know how it feels to want something to work for you and it doesn’t, especially with planners being all the rage right now. But if it doesn’t work it doesn’t work. Work what works for you!

9. Do you have any special tips to share, from your experience as a Master Planner, that make the planning process more effective?
Consistency. Like with anything else, consistent planning is effective planning. It gets your planning momentum going and that is the only way to master it and figure out your planning style. We spoke about planning tools earlier; the only way I knew what my most effective planning tools were was through consistent use of my planning process.

Be consistent.

10. Finally, what's your advice for a newbie who wants to get into the world of planning?
It would save you a lot of money to know if you’re more of a digital or paper planner. That way you can go straight into thinking about what types of planning system you’d want to use. There are so many different planners and types of planning systems it’s unbelievable and can be overwhelming. If you find you’re a paper planner, then you have to decide if you want a spiral/bound planner which leaves very little room for customization versus a 6-ring planner system where you purchase planning inserts for different categories and customize to your liking. Because the choices are unlimited and there’s so much out there to choose from my best advice would be to know your aesthetic, decide if you’re a paper or digital planner (or possibly a hybrid) and then go from there. It’s also
okay to change your mind.

If there is someone out there looking to get into planning, here are some accounts to get you going:
@cloth_and_paper, @crossbowprintables @madyplans@sessavee, @shopmintedsugar

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