If you’re anything like me, you have that one thing hanging over your head that you’ve been putting off for months. Maybe it’s because the process for completing the task is unclear so you’re avoiding it, or maybe it’s just annoying and you relish in that temporary relief you feel from pushing it forward another week.
But I’m here to tell you—YOU’RE PLAYING YOURSELF.
And here’s why.
Annoying to-do list items are like the shitty opposite of compound interest. One annoying to-do task may seem manageable to procrastinate, psychologically, but two frustrating or annoying to-do tasks exponentially compound how overwhelmed you’ll feel trying to get both done—even more so if one involves an unexpected expense or super time-consuming process.
And the lovely thing about life and being an adult is is that there's almost always something lurking just around the corner. Whether it's a flat tire, a big deck for an upcoming presentation, or a flood in your bathroom—there's always something waiting for you (ominous, I know) that requires you to, more or less, handle it.
Allow me to take you on a journey of the ‘postponement’ nature.
I’ve been meaning to get a passport for a while. And by a while, I mean I printed the application in October and slowly started compiling the stuff I needed (birth certificate, social security card, etc.). Every week, I’d tell myself I’d get it “on Friday at lunch.”
But guess what kept happening?
I kept going to Chick-Fil-A on Friday at lunch instead and saying, “Eh, I’ll do it next week,” effectively prioritizing chicken nuggets over international travel.
Then I found out my taxes got lost in the mail and I have to redo them.
Then I got a speeding ticket in another state and had to pay $200 to do a four-hour online defensive driving class to keep it off my insurance.
And all of a sudden, having to get a passport felt 10x as overwhelming. On their own, none of these tasks are all too unmanageable (just annoying as shit), but taken together on tight timelines (all needed to be accomplished by early April), it suddenly became unnecessarily stressful.
This week I decided I was going to get my adult shit together and just get it done. No more excuses, no more postponing, no more 8-ct. nugget entrées—just sitting down like the grown ass woman I am and knocking out each task one by one.
And you know what? It felt good. The U.S. government now has my passport application and birth certificate (hoping that doesn’t get lost in the mail, too—cue nervous laughter), I completed the four-hour driving course in one afternoon, and now I’m slogging through the 1040 form, cursing the IRS with each and every confusing, federal government jargon-laden step.
The temporary relief you feel when you postpone that one thing another week is just that—temporary—and nowhere near as satisfying as the relief you’ll feel when it’s off your plate for good. I know you all have at least one thing that falls into this category.
Don't be like me and wait until you have two or three more annoying things to do to knock it out.
The best way I've found to keep track of this stuff (aside from the project management app Trello) is by keeping a physical planner. If I were an inanimate object, I would be a planner. I love them. I write shit down that I've already done just to cross it off, and color-code based on category (social is pink, productivity is yellow, and health is orange). Does this paragraph make my OCD look fat?
There's something so satisfying about having an actual agenda that you can open up, page through, and look back on. It almost functions like a journal if you write down the fun stuff, and you can look back on your weeks to get a better sense of how you're doing overall. All in the name of #ContinuousImprovement.
The best planners in the game for busy betches
As a self-proclaimed list obsessor, I’ve tried just about every planner in the Target school supplies aisle and those boujee enough to have their own Instagram accounts. I’ve consolidated them here for you in the hopes that it’ll help you get a little more organized. Nothing like a fancy, beautiful book you can tote around that’ll make you feel more in control of your life, right?
They range in price from $20 to $60 (depending on how much motivation you need to commit), but I’ve used all of them and can speak to my favorite and not-so-favorite parts of each. In my opinion, these are the best in the biz.
A lot of women like those Erin Condren planners—and I don’t blame them, they’re cute and personalized. But I think they’re overpriced and don’t have anything special in the actual planning pages themselves. Humble opinion.
If you click on the names below, you'll find them on Amazon niiiiiiice & cheap.
The Passion Planner, $30
Guys, this one might be my favorite. It's a highlighter-happy queen's dream, and it breaks down the day into 30-min. increments, starting at 6:30 a.m. and ending at 9:00 p.m. (because who only plans stuff from 8-5?).
It's special because it allows you to chart your Personal To-Do List and Work To-Do List at the beginning of each week to keep things straight. It also has a 'focus' for each week (#HUGE) to keep you intentional about how you're approaching your life. Y'all know I'm all about this.
For my personal focus, just for insight, I always write: Stay hydrated, do your squats, love yourself. 2018 motto.
For work, I write: Be a simplifier. Deliver when you get the ball. Work smart.
They're just nice mantras to come back to.
Next up is the Day Designer.
The Day Designer Original, $64
This puppy takes an intensely micro view of your day.
You'll notice from the image above that it calls out a DAILY top 3, what you'll eat for dinner, a full to-do list (I'm sorry if you require all 25 lines each day), and a "Dollars" section in which I used to write my checking account balance in college each day because I was broke as a joke.
The one downside to the Day Designer is that it's harder to see a weekly overview or look ahead quickly. Since each page is its own day, it's good for people who like to get into the nitty gritty of each day but don't have super longterm stuff due.
I'd say the Passion Planner is better for college students and the Day Designer is better for people who work full-time (and the price points reflect that) or are self-employed.
There's a Blue Sky version of the Day Designer that's cheaper, but effectively you're just paying for a lower quality version of the same planner. The Original is solid and big, the Blue Sky version is smaller and not hardback. Here it is:
The Day Designer Blue Sky, $27.99
You'll also notice that the daily pages lack some of the same boxes that the Original has (shown above), but there's a column for notes, which is nice.
I'm also very much into this gold speckled version of the Blue Sky version.
I hope y'all like some of these recommendations—after all, it's only March, so there's still plenty of time to kick 2018's ass. Even if you didn't start the year quite on track, it's never too late to force yourself to sit down for five hours, do your taxes, and take online defensive driving school.
I'm so curious what y'all have been putting off on your 'do it later' lists. Let me know.
Thanks for reading, and happy planning!