Halfway Through a Year (Plus My Secret Hippie Productivity Tool)

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Can you believe we are a little over halfway through a year already? I can’t. I’m in the mid-July haze when things are hot and slow, I’m soaking in sun with half-closed eyes, feeling all loose-hipped and rubbery. Maybe I’ve got some energy for a bike ride in the streets on the nights when the temps have gone down, but mostly I’m kicking back with a margarita on some porch or patio somewhere.

Despite my mental and physical lollygagging and laziness, realizing WE’RE HALFWAY THROUGH 2012 is kind of a big kick in the pants. When I put it that way, it’s enough of a milestone for me to get my contemplation on: am I wasting this year? Am I on track to create and achieve what I set out for myself? I am enough of a type-A human to have those question running in the background of my mind a lot more than I care to admit, and I apologize if I’m harshing on anyone’s summertime groove here!

But I figure it’s a good time to check in. I’ve always been a big goal-setter: I generally like to spend some time in December evaluating my year and figuring out my plan for the next. This year I tried to be a little more relaxed about it, but in the end, I like rituals and systems and strategies. Still, systems and strategies? It sounds like such a drag, doesn’t it? I used to keep a crazy, multi-paged Excel spreadsheet that had complex color coding to write down and plan out my goals for the year, but I stopped doing it because, despite all the colors, it was kind of a killjoy. I associate Excel with temping and other horrible office things, so just opening up that program was soul-dampening.

But I’ve hit upon a way more fun way to plan out my goals these past few years. One of my secret goal-setting weapons has been Leonie Dawson’s Creating Your Year workbook and calendar. (It’s kind of amazing how many of my secret weapons are from my secret hippie side. Anyway, that’s a rare affiliate link there…I don’t often recommend stuff, but this workbook and planning calendar is something I’ve used a lot, and I’d big-up it for any go-getter with a secret hippie side. And: it’s not crazy expensive at all!)

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Leonie’s PDF workbook is a 100+ page colorful, sparkly extravaganza that takes the type-A out of planning. I’m not really a granola, Goddess-type of human, but I loved the happy energy of Leonie’s work, which she combines with a very clear-headed, get-down-to-business earthiness. What I love about it is that it combines both hippie-dippie head-in-the-clouds big-picture dreaming with the nitty-gritty of plans, tactics, and strategies — and it’s so happily, joyfully colorful, making it a real pleasure to fill out.

I first did one in mid-year 2011; feeling a burst of renewed energy, I wanted to get going again on my year’s momentum. A friend of mine told me she did Leonie’s planner. At first I thought it was too late, but she assured me there was enough big-sky dreaming in it to make it worthwhile, and she was right. It helped focus my energy for the rest of 2011 and laid out solid plans for what I wanted to accomplish, and most of it got done because I took the time to write it out, think it through and give myself a structure to mark my progress and adjust my course. I was really impressed with the blend of woo-woo with brass-knuckles practicality, and so I signed up for the 2012 one when it was released.

So far, the one I filled out at the beginning of 2012 has been really a key tool for me to keeping on track with my goals. I took the 2012 printout and cut and paste it into a lovely fun notebook, and used the extra pages to create plans, timelines, lists, etc. I check in with it every month to plan out the next stage, essentially keeping in touch with my dreams and hopes and projects on a regular basis. I make my monthly check-in as fun as I can: I order a giant chai latte, play great music, go to my favorite cafe, and maybe drink a glass of wine afterwards — so I always look forward to the occasion.

And I really do get a jolt of happiness every month when I do my check-in because of the super-vibrant illustrations and colors of the workbook. (It’s taken me forever to reconcile this about myself, but I am just not an elegant, restrained Moleskine notebook girl. I like colors! Cute Sanrio characters! Whimsical colorful decorations!)

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Anyway, I cruised over my DIY planner recently with the half-year milestone in mind and realized that I’m really actually on track for a lot of things I’ve wanted to make happen: more short stories, running and riding goals, fabulous romantic interludes, taking classes I’ve been meaning to take, launching and re-launching sites, career strategy and philanthropic stuff, more meditating and playing my guitar, the whole kit and caboodle of life. I’ve still got a ways to go, but it’s nice to realize this year has gotten such a lovely lift so far.

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But in reevaluating, I’m also realizing some things that perhaps weren’t really priorities to begin with and are shedding them from my list. (Okay, so I won’t exactly run a 10K this year or work on my jumping at the stable, but it’s been fun to explore other things in the meanwhile! And yes, I will belt out another novel by year’s end, and really make headway in the whole “getting published” thing.) So I’ll be crossing some things out and rewriting, but it’s nice to have the evolution of it all in one happy, lovely place.

And knowing I’ve got slightly less than six months left, what are the most important things I want to do in 2012? All good questions to mull over — while lazing at the side of the pool with a margarita, of course!

7 thoughts on “Halfway Through a Year (Plus My Secret Hippie Productivity Tool)

  1. I have never been able to find a planner thing that I like in the USA. In Japan I could. I like a vague “morning-afternoon-evening” kind of setup, rather than lines for every hour, and I like cute pictures that fit the seasons and holidays. Easy to find in Japan, impossible here.

    Kat, I remember you’re a recovering insomniac, and you’ve had some success. Do you have any resources to recommend? I’ve been trying to get into a more normal-human sleep schedule for the past two weeks and it is really not working so far.

    1. hi john! sadly, i don’t have resources to recommend, per se…i remember doing research on the idea of “sleep hygiene” that helped me a lot, which sounds really weird but is really just a way to talk about establishing an evening routine that signals to your mind that it’s time to sleep. my problem was that my mind was so overstimulated by the end of the day that it would just not shut off, and i’d do things like forget to take out my contacts and then get into stupid debates with myself about getting up to take them out or just falling asleep anyway. (it sounds irrational and it is, but it seems perfectly normal when it’s 3AM and you haven’t slept in 24 hours.) there are other things to do to help my mind switch off: i keep the lights low, i don’t read new fiction in bed anymore, i don’t browse the internet or look at anything with a glowing screen, i don’t listen to certain bands. in short, i am the most boring human in the hour or two before i go to bed. i think i get so bored i just go to bed! and of course i do all the stuff they say, like sleep in a cooler room and get lots of exercise earlier in the day. and sometimes (this is so funny to admit) i do a meditation before i sleep, too, stuff like ocean sounds, etc. it is so woo-woo, but it can be helpful for me.

      but your problem may be different, i don’t know. i think it helps to know the persistent emotional and mental pattern underlying the physical pattern. it’s not as easy to figure out, because when you’re tired but you can’t sleep is not really an optimal time for self-awareness!

      oh, and finally the thing that reset me ages ago was moving out of my fifth-story walkup in new york, which was so physically arduous that for the first time in years i fell asleep before midnight! it’s kind of extreme, but maybe there’s a physical equivalent for you?

      anyway, i’m sorry i don’t have anything more specific for you! one thing i discovered is if you can get extremely specific about why you can’t fall asleep, it is much easier to find a solution. a friend of mind, for example, would suddenly get a burst to write before he slept, but he realized it wasn’t necessarily inspiration but a kind of guilt b/c he’d neglected it during the day (he always said he produced nothing good writing at night.) so he made more time for it during the day and that helped. but the trick, he said, was realizing there was a guilt there, a sense of something important to cram in, that kept him from sleeping properly.

      xo k.

      1. That’s OK! Thanks for your thoughts. The good news is that I’m having a little mini-vacation this weekend so I don’t have to worry about sleep schedules at all for a couple days.

  2. Love this calendar. Just got one for myself. Every year, for xmas, my friends and I get each gifts that consist of “our favorite things” that we discovered over the past year. I’ve got this one bookmarked, as it’s a great way to start a new year fresh.

    Thx!

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