By: Lauren Ladouceur

May is often a challenging month for me. It’s not (quite) summer for those of us in the north, many goals I set on January 1 are long in the rearview mirror, and my favorite times of the year are just ahead. Additionally, May is also Mental Health Awareness month. When I think about the many things I’ve tried – and failed – to find balance and equilibrium with my mental health, planning has always helped me the most. It’s the gold standard for helping me find balance.

Let me explain. I’m Type A, but I also have ADHD. My brain thinks in non-linear ways, and I often jump from topic to topic to topic. Without structure, I get overwhelmed easily– there are too many thoughts competing for limited bandwidth. Planning helps me make calm out of the chaos; I let my brain run freely, putting every idea, thought, task, and project down on paper. Then I can make a plan out of the wonderful mess of all of it. 

Planning allows us to be intentional about how we design our day. We can be more purposeful and proactive. But, ultimately, planning makes me a better person.

A few tips:

  1. Start where you are. Don’t buy a planner to prove to anyone–including yourself–that you’re organized. Unless you need a planner, you’ve just acquired a heavy and expensive paperweight.
  2. Even if it’s planning your day on a sticky note, make a space on paper where you can take a pen or a MILDLINER and get to work.
  3. Keep it simple. Your brain isn’t capable of filling 10 days worth of work and activities, let alone the next 10 hours. Don’t overwhelm your day with aspirational ideas of everything you want to get done. Focus on 3 top priorities for your day.
  4. Make a list, and cut it in half. I do this with every task list I make. It forces you to prioritize.
  5. On days when you’re too tired, busy, or unmotivated to plan, use your planner to recap your day instead. Instead of forward-planning, you’re reflecting on today and hopefully writing about something good that happened!

Whether you’re new to planning or you’ve planned your daily schedule for twenty years, it’s worth remembering how planning makes you feel. For me, I feel in control, motivated, and above all–impressed at what my brain can do. Even a little action, like planning your day, can give you a huge boost.