Snug stretches when she wakes up. She has perfect posture, and never slumps. She finds inspiration around her, and doesn’t rely on technology. She loves to play. Be like Snug. But maybe don’t bark as loudly as Snug.
(role) Model: @samoyedsnug
15 Planning Tips in 12 Minutes
Instead of my usual deep dive into a specific planning topic, here are 15 quick planning tips!
Use Erasable Pens
This takes a lot of pressure off. I recommend MUJI’s!
Estimate how long tasks will take
There’s a column in Passion Planner for this. I assign tasks that take 60 minutes or less – anything larger needs to be broken down.
Get a Planning Puppy
Not really a tip but puppies are soft [and sometimes make filming YouTube videos difficult so I try to just go with it…..]
The most important part of planning! I reflect on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Reflecting is where growth happens.
Go on a Planner Date
If you keep putting off planning, or any task you’re avoiding, find a way to make it lovely. Try a new cafe, or pair the task with a favourite snack or beverage.
If you’re building a habit, schedule that habit into your day. At the weekend, I write REST across the page at 3pm. It might get rescheduled, but I write in erasable pen. 😉
Song of the Week
I track my favourite new song of the week. This challenges me to listen to more music, and helps jog my memory of the week when I look back.
Start with Verbs
Instead of ‘groceries’, write ‘buy groceries’. Starting with an action word makes it easier to take action.
Make time for your Obsessions
I schedule in Survivor every Thursday morning, because if I don’t, I’ll feel guilty when I end up watching it anyway. Make fun time as fun and guilt-free as possible!
Clear out the back pocket of your planner
I do this weekly. In mine, I keep scrap paper, one sheet of stickers, and extra letter writing supplies.
Organise your thoughts and neaten up empty spaces with pretty boxes to contain lists!
Only set goals that you’re passionate about
Don’t get lulled into setting a goal for the sake of it. Find out what you want to pursue by exploring, not by following an arbitrary goal you don’t care about.
Draw your wardrobe
One of my back pages is filled with illustrations of my clothes so I can see my whole wardrobe at a glance. Capsule update coming soon!
(Not a tip, but I was asked to share my weekly layout, so take a peek in the video!)
Articulate obstacles as questions
If you’re struggling with something in your planner system, articulate the problem as a question. Often asking the question will lead you to the answer. On that note… leave me your planning questions in the comments!
THIS is the year that I will finally set a fitness routine!
…said I, for the past five years. And I have the Passion Planner ‘Year in Review’ reflections to prove it.
This year is no exception, but this time I’m focused on figuring this out once and for all.
It’s not like I haven’t tried. But I think I’ve been going about it the wrong way.
The main difference this year, is that I’m going slowly. So slowly that I can assess, learn, and adjust.
Crafting my Dream Fitness Routine
First, I’m figuring out how I want fitness to fit into my life. My dream fitness routine… These are the factors:
- Time commitment – fitting fitness into my calendar
- Effect on my other projects – how fitness influences my creativity and work
- Enjoyment – what form of fitness is fun for me?
Daily Fitness Goals
I’ve tried weekly bouldering or yoga, but I find daily routines so much easier than weekly habits.
My friend and yoga expert Kayla taught me that it’s better for your mind and body to do yoga a little bit every day rather than one longer session once a week!
Fitness Habit History
IN HIGH SCHOOL
My daily routine in high school was to run for 10 minutes on the elliptical as soon as I got home from school, do a 10 minute yoga video (the same one, from a DVD), shower, and do my homework.
At uni, I promised myself to go running every day at 3pm as long as the temperature was above 15 degrees Celsius. It was particularly appealing to run at Oxford, as I had a favourite quick loop through town, around Christ Church Meadow, and back to college.
My other rule was ‘Go climbing; no excuses’. I would always show up for OUMC climbing nights, and let myself leave whenever I wanted to, but I had to at least turn up. It didn’t matter if I didn’t feel like it, if I felt a cold coming on, or if I had work to do.
When I lived with my parents outside Boston, I did Blogilates regularly, and attended early morning yoga classes in the city.
These rules saved me so much decision-making energy that I simply did not have time to muddle with. These routines were also specific to my life situation, and fit into my schedule.
I’m less motivated to go to the climbing wall without a club. I am less inspired to go running now that I don’t have a beautiful loop along the river where Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was first told out loud.
I’m less motivated to go to early morning yoga when I don’t also have to leave the house, and my 19th century flooring is not the most suitable for floor exercises (Plus my cranky downstairs neighbours would kill me).
Daily Fitness Habits I’ve been building over the past few months:
I’m treating my Fitness Routine like a video game. I start small, with one manoeuvre to master, and every month, I level up.
In December, I committed to doing the morning stretches my chiropractor prescribed me. These take up less time than a Taylor Swift song.
In January, I added on evening stretches. One yoga pose minimum for it to ‘count’. The point was to start, even if the practice was 10 seconds long.
This month, I am adding a minimum of 4K steps per day. Looking at my pedometer app, I hit 10K, or I get around 2-3K. When I don’t prioritise walking, I feel it. 4K is so reasonable as long as I prioritise it.
What really excites me about this is that it’s cumulative. Years ago, I tried sticking to Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project rubric, adding on different habits in different categories each month. About halfway through the year got so overwhelmed trying to keep track of everything. Sticking to the fitness theme declutters habit tracking for me.
The barrier to fitness entry
Going running or to a fitness class requires so many hidden steps: I have to get there and back, do stretches, get changed, take a bath. The whole process takes hours. So I’m starting with just the stretches.
I’m building up my daily fitness commitment one tiny piece at a time, like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.
My morning and afternoon stretches are placeholders as I try to identify when and how I want to bring more fitness into my daily life.
I’ve already learned that if I’m going to spend a few minutes doing yoga, those few minutes are better spent in the afternoon to break up work than just before bed.
Enjoy the aftermath of the habit
I spend much more energy resisting doing exercise than actually exercising. I’m working on this.
I pay attention to how my body feels when I take 2 minutes to do my morning stretches, or when I do just one yoga pose in the afternoon.
It hasn’t taken long for me to learn – just by paying attention – that my body feels better when I do my routine. I mean, I thought I knew, but now I know. For sure.
When I do my stretches, my back doesn’t ache so much when I work.
When I do my stretches, it’s easier for me to maintain proper posture throughout the day.
When I get in enough walking, I think better. I create better. When my body doesn’t ache, I sleep better.
This self-knowledge is far more valuable than the stickers I give myself on our Paddington bear calendar (although that is fun too, and marks my progress). I have a rule of twos – if I skip a day, that’s fine, but I need to get back on track the next day.
My daily monthly fitness goals are the bare minimum. Everything else is extra credit.
That said, I do now live minutes away from our local volcano that inspired me to move to Edinburgh. I aim for a weekly morning walk there with Snug, and have found that this walk is not just good for my body, but an excellent creative ritual for letting my thoughts breathe.
I’m subscribed to ClassPass lite, so to make the subscription fee worth it, I have to go to at least one yoga class per month.
Steve, Snug, and I have also gotten into a habit of a weekly family walk outdoors. I started a Snugventures page in my planner to keep track of dog-friendly walks, including commute time, so we can choose one. This ranges from an hour-long loop around a local park to a day trip to the Cairngorms to to scale a small mountain. Adventure is a requirement – the rigour of it depends on the day.
Consider your dream fitness routine, and how you want it to fit into your daily life.
Commit to the tiniest first step towards that vision.
After you do exercise, reflect on how it makes you feel, and how it impacts your other projects.
A little while before Christmas, Steve and I talked about how my family goes to the movies on Christmas Day. This tradition doesn’t work so well in the UK, where cinemas are closed, but we thought maybe Boxing Day would work out.
We could have looked up the times online and known immediately. But on Christmas Eve I was going to be over by the Cameo, one of my favourite cinemas in town.
And so, I enjoyed the anticipation of wondering what would be on. I spent those minutes I was going to spend anyway in the most delightful, curious way: walking an extra three minutes around the corner to pick up a paper brochure.
At home we looked at the listings together and made our Boxing Day selection (Green Book – my new favourite Christmas movie, as part of it takes place on Christmas. technically.).
Delaying gratification of knowing what movies were on, and spending maybe an extra minute going inside the lobby to collect a brochure is what I call a Mini Adventure.
If you can spare one minute each week towards turning your life into a series of mini adventures, join me in Everyday Wonderland.
Each week I send you a digital postcard with a 1-minute call to adventure that will add play to your daily life (Play is our theme for the month of January!).
The gates close tonight (at midnight of course). Join me for $7/month.
Something I’ve noticed from recording videos and podcasts:
The hardest part is to get started, but if you have a few words planned out, you can use the same ones over and over again. Mine are ‘Hi everyone! I’m Xandra Robinson-Burns…’.
The same applies to everyday life. Here are some social scripts I use to avoid awkwardness, overcome social anxiety, and to just get started.
When asking for assistance, in person or on the phone…
Often when I’m phoning customer service, browsing a shop with a certain item in mind, or have a complicated question at the box office, I stumble over my words. Am I talking to the right person? Before blubbering on, I ask just that:
‘I would like to [fill in the blank], …are you the right person to speak to about that?’
Or, ‘I’m looking for [fill in the blank], …are you able to help me with that?’
Start with a statement.
Lead with a statement rather than a question makes me feel more confident and grounded.
‘I am interested in’, instead of ‘Can I?’ Or ‘May I?’.
I’ve started to notice myself asking for something that I know the answer to.
Instead of asking, ‘Can I pay by card?’ I say, ‘I would like to pay by card, please.’
When asked for your email address at a shop…
To avoid the frustration of spelling Xandra out loud (Not ‘Sandra’, not ‘Candra’, not ‘Andrea’, not ‘Xander’…), and to save the shopkeeper the grief of figuring out what I’m saying, instead I ask:
‘Shall I type it in?’
They’re plugging it into a computer anyway, and can usually turn the screen around for me to type myself.
One time I asked this, a wave of relief passed over the person’s face, and she said to her co-worker, ‘Why don’t we always do this?!’
Knock on the bathroom door.
When at all uncertain as to whether a bathroom is occupied, I knock. For some reason, this one took a while to become habit. I used to feel so awkward and nervous approaching the door. Maybe a knock would be disruptive?
When really, it’s more disruptive to rattle the door handle to see if it’s locked. And even more disruptive to try the door and find that it’s both occupied and unlocked!
Instead of getting all worked about this, now I always knock, as politely as possible!
Take your time.
Pause to process and to breathe. Don’t be so afraid of wasting people’s time. There’s no need to rush.
Sometimes if I’m in a long queue and get to the front, I am flustered, and try to be quick to get out of there, and to progress the line along for the people behind me.
Escape Rooms have taught me that rushing through something rarely actually saves time.
To avoid that pedestrian side shuffle…
We all know the one: when you’re walking down the street, and someone else is walking towards you. In general, I go with the road traffic: veer to the left in the UK, and to the right pretty much everywhere else.
More importantly: instead of holding eye contact with the person heading in your direction, gaze in the direction that you want to walk. It’s like a turn signal with your eyes. Side shuffling avoided!
Identify sticky social situations that keep coming up.
What simple script or rule can you use to ease into them?
What social hacks do you use to navigate avoid awkwardness?
P.S. Next week, I’m hosting a free class on bringing more meaning to your everyday life. Join me at Heroine Training 101!