Three Big Tips to Actually Using Your Planner

I'm pretty sure one of the biggest questions when it comes to actually diving in to using a planner is 'well, how will I remember to actually use it?This can cause some hesitation and make you believe that you may not even really need a planner (spoilers: I think everyone can benefit from a planner!)  You may also be thinking 'that is a silly question', but not everyone can easily see how a planner can help them in their daily life.
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I think one of the keys to using, and getting the most out of, your planner is mindfulness.  I talked a lot about mindfulness last year, but the basic gist of mindfulness is being conscious & aware.  We often rush around our lives leaving our lunches on the counters & forgetting important papers on the train.  The easiest way to do more of something is to make it a priority - we must be mindful of what we want in our lives and we must take action to make it so.  Mindfulness can create routine and routine will create habit!  So here are some tips on how to actually use your planner:

Make it a habit

Remember that thing I just said about routine?  If you make using your planner a part of your morning, evening, or daily routine you'll begin to rely on it and eventually that will free up your mind from remembering all the things!

Put your planner in a place you'll see it

Do you have a command center at home?  A main desk you're always working at?  Put your planner in this location so that you'll always know where it is.  Write in important things when you know them either on sticky notes if something is tentative or on your main calendar if it's already become a  plan.  I love using Frixion pens for my planner so just in case something changes I can quickly erase it.  These sticky notes fit perfectly in a lot of different planner systems - from personal size to A5 - with out taking up too much room.  You can also use these page marker style post-it notes for shorter items.

Carry your planner with you

Each day, grab your planner from its designated home and stash it in your bag.  I used to not bring my planner with me because I didn't really use it at my 9-5.  Now I use my lunch break as a social media power hour so having my planner has become a necessity.  If you don't use you're planner as much outside of the house, you may find the more you carry it the more helpful it is.  You won't be double booking yourself on occasion and you'll have everything you need at your fingertips.....just in case.

Schedule planner time

Creating a routine around your planner will increase your chances of using it.  Schedule time to plan out your week on Sunday evenings, schedule time to check in mid week, and then schedule time to celebrate your wins on Fridays!  This can also double as a little self care time if you're getting creative or if you just really feel happy when you're working in your planner.  I love that this little functional habit actually makes me feel creative!

Make it your master plan

There are different schools of thought on what should be in your planner.  There are even debates on whether using multiple planners is necessary.  I'm here to tell you that you should do you boo boo and that my Mini Happy Planner is my master plan....it holds everything!

Vision board

If you planner holds everything, make sure it holds your vision for the year.  Create a mini vision board to store in your planner so when you open it you'll be reminded of what you're working towards this year.  You can also create smaller, actionable lists that you can refer to to make sure you're reaching your goals.  I use the Mini Happy Planner graph fill paper + the pocket pages to create mini vision boards.  Learn more about using graph paper here.

Monthly view as the big picture plan

For your master plan, use the monthly view for the bigger picture.  Create an overview of your month so that you know due dates, appointments, & activities.  This will give you an idea of when things are happening & when you're free.  It will help you schedule your time better.  Personally I have two monthly views in my Mini Happy Planner - one for family stuff (like bills, appointments, gatherings, etc) and one for social media (editorial calendar, sponsored content, etc).  I still house this all in one planner though so I can easily see what time I have.

Weekly view for plans & tasks

Your weekly view will be what you'll look at the most.  This is where you can transfer obligations, due dates and appointments from your monthly view and then outline tasks to reach greater goals.  I use personal size week on one page inserts from the Five Sixteenths shop for menu planning.  This insert also has a weekly habit tracker and two checklists on the back.  The Happy Planner brand makes these little notepads I use as a 'side bar' of sorts to store weekly to-dos that don't have a specific day.  Your weekly view is how you can make progress on your bigger goals!

Make your planner work for you

And finally, the only way you're going to actually use your planner is if that planner works for you.  The key here is not to choose the prettiest or the most popular planner.  The key is to choose a planner that you can make the most of and that fits your lifestyle.  There are a ton of factors that go into finding a planner that works for you and you may find just the right system where you only have to tweak it just a touch.

Create specific areas for specific tasks

If you're going to be in the habit of looking at your planner everyday you'll want to make sure you know where the info you need is stored so you can quickly retrieve it with out flipping all through your planner.  One of the easiest ways to do this is use icon stickers to denote specific tasks.  That way you can easily scan the planner page and then find exactly what you're looking for.  You can also create different sections in your planner for different areas of your life.  I've got a whole video on the routines & sections in my planner here.  Though it's changed over the years, that's still a video I recommend!

Add in other pages

My favorite planner, the Mini Happy Planner, allows for the adding (and removing) of pages very easily.  Six ring binder planners allow for this too.  Part of making your planner work for you is feeling like you've got control over what you do with it!  For me that means the ability to customize - I like to add in graph paper + the other extension packs offered by the Happy Planner brand but there are a ton of printables on Etsy that can help you add in pages or even build the planner of your dreams.  Check out my shop for planner printables for both personal & A5 sizes.

If you follow these three tips you'll be a planner queen in no time.  Life is too short to take everything so serious, so be sure you're having fun with your planner.  If it makes you happy you're more likely to use it, but don't feel pressured to plan a certain way!  You're the only one that will benefit from your planner so make sure it's working for you.

If you'd like to find more planner posts on the blog, click here.  If you'd like to watch more planner videos, check out my YouTube channel here!

xoxo, Moe


Essential Oils for the Spring Equinox

I'm a little bit late with this post as the Spring Equinox happened on March 20th of 2018.....but better late than never!   The Spring or Vernal Equinox is a time when the light of day and the darkness of night are in perfect balance.  Unlike the Autumn Equinox where the days get shorter and we slip into the darkness of winter, the Vernal Equinox pushes us into the longer days of summer.  Now is the time to freshen up our homes & tidy up our lives to make room for the newness of Spring.  So if you've been itching to get Spring Cleaning (and you're sure it's not the allergies kicking in) now is the time to get your butt in gear!
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Also known as Ostara, the Spring or Vernal Equinox is a celebration of fertility of the land, or newness, and of planting seeds.  This is a time to prepare & a time to plan.  I often find that I get the inspiration to set new goals or adjust the ones I set in January to better align myself with the path I find myself walking.  So if you've felt you're moving in slow motion perhaps you'll get some inspiration around this time to start planning and planting the seeds that will help you move forward!

In previous seasonal essential oil posts, I've related the seasonal changes to moon phases.  If the Autumn Equinox is the Full moon, the Winter Solstice is the Waning moon, then Spring is the New moon.  This means that it is time to discover what we'd like to work on as the moon waxes.  We're working with the energy of growth and development.....so that by the time we are at Mabon (the Autumn Equinox) or the Full moon we're able to harvest our hard work!

Essential Oils for the Season

Since this is the season of preparation, of planting, and of cleaning the scents that match these vibes are fresh & earthy.  These scents inspire openness of the heart & mind as well as happiness with self.  We're working with the Heart, Third Eye, and Solar Plexus chakras!

Light Citrus Oils

Oils like lemon, lime, and grapefruit offer a fresh light scent that inspire happiness in us.  Citrus oils work with the Solar Plexus Chakra where our center of joy and self acceptance is located.  After the long winter, these oils give us hope for the coming warmth!  When used in cleaning products, these oils purify & disinfect.  Lemon is the perfect multipurpose oil for cleaning.

Herbaceous Oils

These hearty, earthy oils will open up the Heart Chakra.  The best example I've heard on how to relate these herbaceous oils to the Heart Chakra is to think about the love you pour into cooking & preparing meals for your loved ones when you use seasoning like rosemary, basil, or oregano.  You're pouring your care and love into your creation & nurturing the ones you love!  Plus spring is all about new growth & greenery!  A lot of herbaceous oils - like Rosemary and Basil - can bring about feelings of renewal & transition.  So just as we move through to a brand new season and brand new growth, these oils can help ease emotional transitions as well.  

Florals & Firs

This set of oils connects the Heart & Third Eye Chakras.  Fir oils can still have a little bit of a chest opening (so heart-centric) and also help with movement through emotion.  For example Cypress is known as the oil of Motion and Flow and as we're going through this new growth season, we'll be breaking old habits, patterns, and beliefs!  Florals are oils I like to associate with the Third Eye Chakra.  Much like you'd want your third eye to bloom open to developing your intuition, you can imaging the flowers of these oils doing the same: opening to the sun, growing, and developing.  Since Spring is when we start to see the flowers poke through the ground reaching out to their full potential so too can we use floral oils in the Spring to open up ourselves.

Oil Blends for the Season

I find the best way to create custom blends is to group my oils by category - so a group of citrus oils, a group of herbaceous oils, and a group of florals & firs - and then grab one from each group and inhale from the bottles.  Do the smell good together?  What else might be needed?  Rosemary & Lemon make a great fresh scent for the kitchen, but if you add it something like Basil the aroma gets just a little deeper.

Lavender, Lemon, and Peppermint are thought to aid in combating seasonal allergies but you may find you prefer to use Rosemary over Peppermint.  Lavender and Citrus Bliss can be an amazing, even tempering blend but add in something like Douglass Fir or Cypress and you'll find feelings of support as well.

Here are a few Spring inspired emotion blends to get you started, try diffusing 2 drops of each oil or creating a roller bottle for yourself!

Creative Inspiration

Citrus Bliss - the Oil of Creativity // Cypress - the Oil of Motion & Flow // Basil - the Oil of Renewal
Perfect for getting the inspiration flowing & moving through the creative process.  Inspires newness & growth as well as working through old patterns.

Spring Forward

Lime - the Oil of Zest for Life // Douglas Fir - the Oil of Generational Wisdom // Rosemary - the oil of Knowledge & Transition
Perfect for feeling uplifted while trying to break old habits to allow for new ones to develop.  Give you the inspiration to move forward with a zest for life.  Great for the inspiration to spring clean!

If these essential oil blends are inspiring you, consider grabbing the free ebook about getting started with essential oils.  Personally, I use essential oils to balance emotion but there are a ton of everyday uses as well.  Check it out below!

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You can also follow along on Instagram to learn more about essential oils.  If you're wanting to learn more, make sure you like the Facebook page so that you'll be able to see when I host FREE essential oil classes!

Free & Floral

Grapefruit - the Oil of Honoring the Body // Lavender - the Oil of Communication & Calm // Ylang Ylang - the Oil of the Inner Child
Helps expand belief in yourself & get back to your natural state of happiness.  Great for a relaxing bath as you focus on self love.

Citrus Bloom

Bergamot - the Oil of Self Acceptance // Clary Sage - the Oil of Clarity & Vision // Tangerine - the Oil of Cheer & Creativity
This oil blend can help to reveal to you a creative pursuit and give you the confidence to pursue it.  Perfect for an early morning diffuser to get started for a creative spring day.

Using essential oils seasonally can really get you connected to the emotions of the changing seasons.  You may notice in each of these guides some oils overlap - herbaceous oils were also mentioned in the Fall Essential Oil guide.  But what to pay attention to here are the prevailing feelings of the seasons.  Herbaceous oils help us in the fall as we transition into colder weather where we may be spending more time indoors & with family.  These oils support our heart as we work with others.  In the Spring, we're transitioning away from this and moving into our own personal growth.  So we can use the emotional properties of herbaceous oils to support our relationships with ourselves.

Are you ready to get started with essential oils?  

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Read all the essential oil posts on the blog here.

xoxo, Moe


Four Tips to get Started with Visualization in Mediation

Day dreaming is something that I think nearly all human beings do.  We often think of something better we could be doing while typing up a long email or zone out on a thought while making our morning cup of coffee.  Raise your hand if you've ever been doing something and suddenly zoned out only to realize you've been unintentionally staring over the shoulder of someone in your office and therefore freaking them out a bit.  What if we could tap into this tendency to day dream and turn it into something productive?  Spoilers - we can.
Let's talk about visualization.  Whenever we think of an idea - what to eat, what to create, what to wear - we often visualize it first.  We pass a few images through our heads to find what entices us the most.  This imagery helps us to decipher our true feelings - do we want Italian or Thai food? - and helps us feel confident in an out come - how will I look in this dress versus this pair of jeans?  But there is a way to tap into visualization to make it a powerful energetic tool to help us align our actions and become the best version of ourselves.

Visualization can help us bring certain feelings, actions, or outcomes into our awareness.  I honestly like to think of it as playing pretend, but for big kids with big kid results.  I use visualization in nearly all of my routines.  It helps us to feel our goals & sink into a certain emotional head space.  It helps us to see the benefit of small actions.  It helps us to believe we can live our best life.  Here are some of my daily visualizations :
  • When meditating I visualize myself sitting on a big rock on the bank of a large lake in the midst of many trees.  When I inhale, the lake is still.  When I exhale, ripples form across the lake.  This visualization helps me to focus on my breath and focus on the present moment. 
  • When I've had an extremely hard day and I end up taking a long shower, I imagine the water washing away the stress and baggage of the day.  When I take a warm bath I often use a bath bomb, essential oils, and/or crystals and imagine that I am soaking in all the good feels I want to absorb.  That way, when I step out of the bathroom I'm restored and ready to face the next task.
  • When I need a boost of a little something, I often choose an oil or crystal to work with & imagine its properties - grounding, uplifting, calming, opening - hitting me where I need them.  This is especially powerful when it comes to working with my chakras.  If I want to communicate better I imagine an oil like peppermint opening my air ways and a stone like sodalite supporting the message I'd like to convey.  Affirmations can help with visualization as well to encourage you to believe in yourself.
  • The first ever example of my own visualization was when I was younger and I was told to clear my mind.  I used to (well I still do) love magic tricks, mind reading tricks, etc so the guy would say 'clear your mind....so I may tap into your unconscious. wooooooo.'  You know the drill.  So I'd imagine my mind as a giant attic with hardwood floors, white walls, and one round window.  It was a huge attic with all my thoughts stored up in it....so I would imagine all the boxes & junk being pushed aside so that there is a clear space to work.  I also used to do this when I couldn't sleep.  It seems kind of silly but it's a visualization that has helped me.

Visualization is big kid pretend with

amazing, positive results.

Here's the thing though, you've got to be open to it.  It's kinda woo-woo.  It's kinda weird.  But there is one question you have to ask yourself when it comes to this stuff: if it works for you, why would you stop doing it?  You never know until you try something.  As we grow out of childhood, logic  starts to take over.  Eventually we block out all of our connection to our highest and best self.  It is only through self healing practices - like mediation - that we can find our way back to our true selves.  So let loose and let your inner child allow yourself to believe in yourself again.

Here are three tips for a beginner when it comes to using visualization

Choose a specific space to which you feel comfortable and connected

This may be your bedroom, your craft room, your sun room, or the bath tub.  Choose any place where you feel you can be completely and utterly yourself.  There is no room for judgment or embarrassment when it comes to meditation and visualization.  For me, the best place for this is our downstairs spare room.  I've sort of turned that into my self care oasis. This is separate from our bedroom which is a space I share with someone else.  But I also find that my tub during a bath is a perfect place as well.

You need a place with out distractions where you're allowed to be you with out any judgement.  Setting the mood could mean burning your favorite candle, diffusing your favorite essential oil blend, or burning incense.  You can also choose some calming music with nature sounds or singing bowls or flutes.  Dim the lights, sit comfortably.  It is easier to get in the head space for meditation & visualization when you've made a specific time and space for it.  Eventually you'll be able to slip into this head space in your car on your lunch break.  But you've got to get over yourself first.

Don't believe yourself when you tell yourself it's silly

Speaking of getting over yourself....you're gonna sit down and you're gonna get ready to visualize, and you're gonna picture something - how it feels, how it looks, how it sounds - and you're gonna suddenly feel like a noodle for being a grown ass adult pretending to be on a rock in front of a big lake.  You're going to tell yourself that this whole thing is silly.  And your going to want to believe it.  But don't.

So here's my example, it has to do with Santa Clause.  If you've ever believed in Santa you've probably felt the magic & excitement of the holidays.  The sparkle and mystery in all the Christmas movies, decorations, stories, etc.  And as you grow up you realize that there is no Santa & that the magic and sparkle lives in all of us when we come together to give, celebrate, and love.  That the spirit of Christmas isn't in this jolly character but in the hearts of us all.  If you've ever believed in the magic of anything you've got to get that innocent feeling back.  It will take practice and you've got to keep at it.  But if you believe what you're visualizing and go through your day with that belief you'll start to notice how visualization will help you keep a positive attitude, allow you to communicate or listen better, or enable you to do what ever you visualized yourself doing.  

Start with baby steps

While you can go ahead and visualize yourself on the beach sipping Mai Thais, that may not help you in your day to day existence.  I'd qualify that as daydreaming unless your visualizing the steps you need to take in order to create a life where you lay on the beach and sip Mai Thais.  So, start small.  Visualize something that will have a direct effect that day.  Start with something like envisioning yourself on a rock to calm your mind.  Once you can hold that image and hold yourself in that space, begin to visualize small actions you can take to improve your life.

You can, of course, visualize the outcome but more importantly you need to visualize yourself working through the process.  Break down the thing you'd like to improve on into smaller steps so that you can see yourself making action on them each day.  Visualization isn't magic.  You're not instantly going to get what your wishing for.  Just like affirmations, visualization is a tool to give you confidence that you can take action and make movement towards what you'd like to improve. 

Try something tangible, like a vision board

If you're not too fond of hanging out in your head, then try something more tangible like a journal or a vision board.  Making a plan is a great way to visualize an outcome.  You can layout the whole process and follow it.  You can also physically see it and edit it when needed.  If you find your imagination is lacking, find images you'd like to embody online or in magazines.  Then you can set your mood, dedicate your time, and imagine yourself in the image.

This is one reason why I use a vision planner.  I can't keep track of all the things I want to be in my life or bring into my life so a book of all of this stuff is extremely helpful to remind me of exactly what I'm aiming for.  Breaking your life into areas you'd like to improve - like in the January Journaling Jump Start - can help you create a visual plan of action.  The more these things are in front of you the more likely you'll be able to make small actions.

Visualization is a bit woo woo, but it can also be a fun tool.  It can be a serious way to help you unwind, visualize a process, or see how something new might make you feel.  There is magic when we believe in the power of ourselves!  It is a way to encourage us to respond differently to certain emotional stimuli, help us align our actions with our desires, and help us fell confident our in our abilities.  

This tool has helped me to pull out the best in myself so I can show up authentically and compassionately for myself and for others.  I struggled previously with being self depreciating and this visualization process as well as working with the emotional balancing properties of essential oils has given me the ability to respond better under stress.  It has also given me the confidence to step out of my comfort zone, sometimes, to take a chance ... and to remember how that chance feels!

Do you use visualization for self development?  How has it helped you respond better or take action in your daily life?

xoxo, Moe