Most of us are spending more time at home than ever these days, and with that comes a specific kind of life transition. Whether the COVID-19 quarantine has you missing your favorite fitness studio or weekly happy hour meetups with friends, we've all had to adjust to a new routine.
This shift has not been without its personal and emotional impacts, but a well-structured routine can be the key to establishing a sense of safety and stability. "Times of transition and crisis inevitably rattle our minds and bodies, making it extra difficult to manage fluctuating emotions,” explains Dr. Sarah Kwan, a clinical psychologist.
A monthly planner can help keep you on track, and as the days and months at home start to blend together, a monthly subscription, especially, can give you something to look forward to each month while providing a reason to reset. And unlike the typical annual planner designed for a fresh start at the beginning of the year, you can start using a monthly planner at anytime.
What can I use a monthly planner for?
Use it to practice self-care
As we focus on taking care of ourselves and our families throughout the coronavirus pandemic, health and wellness are more important than ever. Unprecedented events such as COVID-19 can lead to change on a personal and global level that requires careful attention to self-care, Dr. Kwan says.
"This is a time to revisit internal coping skills, such as positive self-talk and grounding, as well as external coping skills, such as asking friends and family for help and engaging in activities that fill up your cup," she says. "This pandemic has shown us that self-care is critical to each and every human, even if that self-care looks different.”
Journaling in your planner can be a good self-care exercise, as it can allow you to find a moment of mindfulness, focus on gratitude, or hone in on goal setting.
Track your mood
If you haven't done so already, now is the time to take inventory of your emotional health. While COVID-19 has caused some of us to experience a clear form of loss (loss of employment, for instance, or in the worst case, loss of a loved one), we've all temporarily lost the carefree life we once had.
The "new normal" is still anything but, and it's natural to feel wistful, anxious or unsettled. If you haven't allowed yourself to acknowledge these emotions, you may not even realize that they are subconsciously manifesting themselves in other ways.
A mood tracker is a valuable tool for monitoring the ups and downs of your emotions. Are you feeling tired today? Happy, sad, nervous, energetic, angry? Logging your emotions in a monthly planner can help you see these daily changes as well as patterns that emerge on a month-to-month basis.
"A monthly planner can help cut through the spiral of emotions by tapping into our intentional and wise minds, enabling us to take logical and thoughtful steps toward personal growth and future goals," Dr. Kwan says.
Build an at-home routine
If you're spending all day at home, it's important not to let yourself fall into the cycle of living in your pajamas or pick up other habits that don't make you feel great. A healthy at-home routine consisting of a regular wake-up hour and bed time, indoor workouts, and stretch breaks can keep you feeling focused and motivated throughout the day.
If there are a few key habits you want to maintain or build on during this time of transition, you can use your monthly planner as a habit tracker. This will help you focus on your goals, and allow you to keep track of your consistency and dedication to new habits like a home exercise routine.
Improve your work-from-home productivity
Many companies have allowed their employees to work from home as businesses take the time to figure out how to safely reopen their offices in the COVID-19 era. If you're part of a remote work team that's accustomed to face-to-face meetings, a planner can help keep you and your team on track at work, too.
Especially if you're balancing homeschooling in between your ever-growing schedule of Zoom meetings and project deadlines, it might be time to adopt a written planner and organize your to-do list with productivity frameworks that help you define your most urgent or important tasks.
Monitor your finances
For those who have experienced a change in employment or seen business levels decline, it's important to know where your finances stand. Whether you were furloughed temporarily, laid off entirely, or are seeing less cash flow as a business owner or independent gig worker, you can use your monthly planner subscription to help you keep track of your personal finances (Silk + Sonder's expense tracker is great for this!) and, if possible, ensure that what's coming in is greater than what's going out.
If budget planning and monitoring expenses sounds like an intimidating task, know that using expense trackers can actually be fun when you're bullet journaling. If you'd like, you can create a personalized finance tracker template in your monthly planner to record your monthly credit card statements, utility bills, or discretionary expenses.
How do I choose the best planner for my needs?
Do you need to plan out every hour of your day, or do you prefer to look at the bigger picture? Determine exactly what you want to keep track of in order to pick the best planner layout for you.
Most commonly, planners will feature weekly or monthly calendars, while some include daily calendar entries and other resources. Silk + Sonder's monthly planner does hold space for daily to-dos, but it also includes features like a gratitude log, pages for reflections and intentions, mood and habit trackers, recipes, inspirational quotes, and much more. It's a complete self-care experience.
Make sure to also consider the planner size, weight and binding that fits your everyday needs, and select a design that makes you excited to use it.
Is a monthly subscription right for me?
If you're already a planner user, a monthly subscription can be a new way to switch up your routine.
Monthly planner subscribers tend to find it refreshing to receive a new journal before the first of every month. Each new month is a chance to reinvigorate the goals you've set and look at them through a new lens.
"Subscribing to a monthly planner can help with personal accountability, making it easy to check in with fluctuating moods, develop new routines, keep up with goals and reinforce coping skills," Dr. Kwan says.
Especially if you’re a fan of receiving snail mail, what could be better than a gorgeous, personalized planner delivered to your door each month?
Planner kits with stickers, washi tape, and other goodies.
So you've selected your planner. Now, what about planning supplies? Serious planner addicts love to enhance their journal with DIY-style accessories like stickers, washi tape, sticky notes and paper clips. These decorative tools can serve as page flags, date markers, stick-on labels, or a fun way to cross off your to-do list.
Companies like Studio Calico and Erin Condren sell planner sticker subscriptions for those who want to jazz up their planners with new accessories on a monthly or quarterly basis. As beautiful as they are and as exciting as it is to receive a new pack of sticker sheets each month, the benefits of sticker kit subscriptions go beyond aesthetics.
"It can be helpful to make your planner your own by using drawing and painting tools or other embellishments such as stickers and washi tape in order to keep you motivated and engaged," Dr. Kwan says.
If you have a monthly planner subscription, how has it helped you stay on track during these times? Comment below or join us on Instagram to continue the conversation. And as always, make sure to subscribe to Silk + Sonder today for a guided self-care journey designed specifically for you.