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My Story: HSP Learning To Plan

Have you ever bought yourself a neat planner and forgot about it in a week’s time? I hope I’m not alone here, because I’ve done exactly that multiple times. However, through my trial and error over last couple of years I finally got a hold of it.

My learning process started when I gave up on planners completely. For about a year straight I was organising my days through a spreadsheet. What looked like a very boring looking Excel document, transformed into more colourful organiser by the end of the year. This was motivating.

Then, feeling the confidence grow, I’ve bought a simple three-days-a-page planner for my studies for a fiver. I thought that it was perfect. But, soon I started to realise that it doesn’t quite fit all of tasks I need for the day.

Then I started to look for different ways of incorporating to-do lists into my spreadsheet to meet my needs. My planning then was quite chaotic and I didn’t understand how to use to-do lists and planner at the same time because of the overlap in tasks.

What helped me greatly, and in fact reinvented my planning techniques, was reading ‘7 Habits Of Highly Effective People’ (Stephen Covey, 1989). In this book he explains the four quadrants of Time Management Matrix.

Time Matrix (Pinterest, 2020)

The point of this Matrix is to have most of your day spent in quadrant no. 2. This meant that if I had 10 tasks for the day in my to-do list, This is how I would distribute them:

  • Two of them is going to my planner as the most urgent (quadrant 1) activities.
  • The rest eight should be in the quadrant 2 (e.g. planning, tidying, studying, working, spending time with family and building important relationships).
  • And the quadrants 3 and 4 wouldn’t even need to be on the radar because these will come up naturally (or so I thought at the time).

In September last year I started to plan with a Dailygreatness Original journal, for which I’m forever grateful to my partner. In its all glory and power, this planner revealed to me so many other aspects of planning that I never though I would ever be able to learn.

I went from having a spreadsheet for day tasks and a to-do list on my phone, to a yearly goals planner spreadsheet and the rest was planed in the journal. My goals, wishes and aspirations became so very clear to me that planning became a joyous part of my day.

With this planner I was able to take my prioritisation on to the next level. Now, instead of just dumping all of the tasks in the same pile, I understand when is the time for which type of task. For example, it’s much easier for me to do my work and finances in the morning, while family and friends fit nicely in the second half of the day.

Moreover, this journal was an endless source of motivation and inspiration for me through this year. And, now I think that this is one of the reasons why planning didn’t work for me before. Meaning that no matter how well your plan is, you might not act on it because it doesn’t put that spark in your eyes and that flame in your heart.

These days, I’m leaning to plan in rest time more effectively. It is painful to watch all of the progress fall apart when you burn yourself out or just simply not follow the plan and it fails. So, I figured that every 3 weeks I’m going to have a ‘relaxaweek’ – a week for winding down, slowing down and restoration.

I think that this is mostly to do with the fact that I, as a highly sensitive person, am quite affected by any pressure. Since I’ve only realised I’m an HSP last February, I can only tell you that finding specific time for relaxation is something that works for many HSP’s but how to do it efficiently is yet to be discovered. Why rest is so important for HSP’s is a completely different topic that I might cover in this week’s New Story.

So, in summary, learning to plan was quite a slippery slope for me. But now I can’t see my day without some planning and think that a lot of people would benefit from it in their personal development as well.

I would love to hear your thoughts on planning and whether you plan or not!

By Jevgenija Zukova

I'm a second year university student doing Accounting and Finance course. I stand together with other female entrepreneurs to bring sensitivity into the business world, fun of art and creativity into local communities, and awareness of highly sensitive people.

9 replies on “My Story: HSP Learning To Plan”

I use a monthly planner spread. It’s spread over 2 pages in my ringbinder.
It’s a grid layout of the days, which this layout works best for me, seeing the whole month in one go. I have been using this method for 3 years now, I think.
If it looks busy in a day, I will colour block some of it, as it makes is visually easier for me. I have done this with different layout diaries, so nothing new. I have been doing it since my teens, but it’s only beein my 30’s that I understood better why.
Anything highlighted yellow is the important do not forget one, but any other colour I use doesn’t have a meaning than to make it easier on the eye, if looking busy.
Some days I may feel I need to create a to do list in conjunction with my monthly calendar. So I either leave it open at my to do list section, or bring it forward and put it with my monthly calendar. Whichever I feel is easier at the time.

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I have blogged about it last year. I can share the link here if you like.
I use a ring binder system. An organsier that I changed to suit me. I have tried journal style books, but I find a ring binder best, as I can change to suit if needed.
My diary, which is a monthly spread as mentioned
I have a wellbeing section, experiences section, plan section, to do section as mentioned before and a notes section.

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I absolutely feel this struggle. It took me years to find a planning system that worked for me, then I started bullet journaling and it was amazing. But when I had my son, I found I just didn’t have the time for it anymore. Now that he’s not a newborn anymore and I’m finding I have a little more time to myself, I might pick it back up again. You’re right in saying that planning really can be joyous if it works with your personality, especially as HSPs (:

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Thank you for the comment! I can totally see how having a child can disrupt some planning rituals. It is hard to keep the plan flexible. In my life, no one else in my family plans every day like me which makes it quite a spontaneous thing from their side when they want to do something. So, I just have to make room for them and do my thing later, and I feel like with a baby that becomes an entirety of your day so you can’t get to your things ever. But, if you are returning to planning, I would reccomend taking it very easy from the start. I can’t tell you how many times I got discouraged by pushing myself to do 20 tasks a day (like I could in my best months) after a period of depression or something similar. I find the best way to come back is to set yourself tasks that you already do for a week or so (or until you feel inspired to do something else) ☀️

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I’m definitely a planner. I’ve gone through dozens of different planning types over the years, including a DayRunner at one point, but the most effective method for me to do long term planning has always been a multi-month calendar printed on a single page, actually stuck in my back pocket. I could never find one that did what I needed precisely so I just started making my own… I’m oversimplifying a great deal, of course, but for as long as I can remember whenever my schedule has gotten complicated, I go back to a simple paper calendar.

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That makes sence! If your schedule is not too crammed, having a simple organiser is a great approach to stay aligned with your responsibilities. I wouldn’t say that oversimplifying is something to avoid, because it is litteraly the idea of planning – to simplify your life. Also I love that you can fit your planner in your pocket 😊

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