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Planners & Disability: When Two Worlds Collide Effortlessly

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Photo of a few planner supplies: a mini sized discbound planner with a big crystal pen, a sticker of my likeness sipping wine, and a postcard of a bluosh-purple crystal.

My fondness for all things stationery began as a child. Pens, notebooks, journals, stickers, markers – you name it, I loved it. Lisa Frank everything – had to have it. At the height of the gel pens hype, I had all sorts of notebooks that allowed my friends to write notes to me with metallic and pastel colored pens. When I entered high school, we were given planners at the beginning of the year, and that was how I kept up with assignments and events for each class.

Discovering the Planner Community

Until 2015, I had no idea there were others, particularly women and femmes, who shared a similar appreciation for planning as I did. A close friend (whom we call in our community: #PlannerFriendsMakeTheBestFriends) introduced me to what I know now as the planner community, a community that is fascinated with paper planning, stickers, washi tape, pens of all tip sizes and colors, etc. I was shocked to see adults be playful and creative in their planners, and it made me realize that I could do it too.

So I wheeled down the rabbit hole of all things planner related over the past 3 years. I have tried all styles of planners – coiled, discbound, rings, traveler’s notebooks – and I am probably the rare form of planner girl that likes them all and uses them for different things.

  • Discbound allows me to add and move things in my planner as I deem fit.
  • Coiled keeps it all together neatly.
  • Rings, similar reason as discbound, but the portability is ideal.
  • Lastly, traveler’s notebooks are good for travel, particularly the pocket size version that I cannot wait to use on an international getaway.

I have tried the big brands and the up-and-coming ones. I have yet to find something that I don’t like or cannot make work with the 50-11 roles, opportunities, and tasks that can be found at any given moment on my to-do list.

A Planner Girl Gotta Attend Planner Conferences

This year, I decided to attend 2 planner conferences. Planner conferences are events where planners get together to do creative workshops, listen to speeches by brand creators and influencers in the community, and get swag – the bonus aspect of these events.

The first conference I attended was BWWPC, Black Women Who Plan & Create, in Atlanta in October. BWWPC is the group founded by and created for Black women and femmes who love planning. It was the 2nd event this year where I was in a space of women that looked like me and it was so affirming.

The second planner conference I attended occurred this month, Winter Planner-Land. Given the name, you can guess its theme – wintery everything (with a splash of Holiday cheer). This conference took place in Buford, Georgia, which is an hour from Atlanta. This trip was extra fun because I went with the friend who introduced me to the community, and it was our first planner girl trip together.

My Belief As To Why the Planner Community is Open About Discussing Disability & Health

At both events, as well as being a member in the community, I realized one thing: there are many disabled planner folks in this space. It has amazed me, in a good way, at how many planner shops (that are usually found on Etsy or Shopify) have merchandise that centers on mental health, chronic pain, trackers for migraines and moods, inserts to track symptoms for doctor appointments, and so forth. Not only do the consumers of these products share about their usage of these items, but the shop owners themselves disclose how they use their own inventory in multiple ways and why.  My belief to why health and disability are so commonly discussed is because the community is heavily women and femme dominated. We are more open, for example, to share about how our mood trackers help us with our depression and afford us the chance to detect patterns to be aware of.

We are also quick to shut down any traces of ableism when it comes to what people put in their planners. In a group I’m in, someone made a comment about people tracking activities of daily living like showering and brushing one’s teeth in their planner. The original poster (OP) came across judgy (I’m calling it what it was – #NotSorry) about why someone would need to do this. I, along with others, swooped in to state that some people need to track such things for their mental health. Some commented on how notating activities like bathing, washing their hair, brushing their teeth, even eating, were important to track their depression and what they have achieved or not during that day or week. It felt good to see people respond to the OP with facts about how is not gross or silly it is to track what they deemed as “simple” tasks – what is simple to one is monumental to another. Though the post was not intended to be a “The More You Know” moment, it turned into one; I hope others will pause and think before passing judgment on what someone scribbles in their planner.

Realizing That Cripples Love Planners – Who Knew?!

Watching people speak out and share their truths in this moment has been a trend I have seen lately, especially among women and femmes of color. It got me thinking about how planning is important to disabled people, and the vitalness of it. I say planning is vital because without it, many of us would not be able to keep up with our medications, various doctor appointments, tasks for work, meal planning and when to eat, socializing with friends, responsibilities we have to our children and significant others, etc. Planning gives many of us the organization we need to make our lives function (almost) smoothly.

After attending Winter Planner-Land, and seeing how many disabled people were there and some of the swag goodies that could be used for spoonie purposes, I started to connect how the two worlds wove together and I wanted to get a better sense of how disabled people used their planners and why. I put out an ask on Twitter, and received a number of responses that you can read here: Planners & Disabled People.

Some of the highlights are as follows:

Keah Brown (@Keah_Maria):

Without a planner or at least the Calendar app in my phone I would never get anything done and I think that’s because I try to do multiple things at once because that way I feel more productive so it helps me plan out each day so that I can stay on track for deadlines.

Melanie (@bedboundbabe):

Omg! I have to put everything on my schedule because I will forget things. I write down one time appointments or plans and I include recurring events because I don’t know how I’ll feel or how my memory will be when it’s time to do something.

As the planner community grows, I hope to see more disabled people attend the conferences and meetups that are popular in this space. We are here, whether you see us or not. Planning matters to us and it is affirming to see shops provide items that allow us to keep track of the hustle and bustle of life.

If you’re curious about my 2019 planner layout, here are the planners I’ll be using. Each planner has a purpose, whether it’s a catch-all, gratitude, business, projects planning, fitness, witchy things, etc. (Note: I am not affiliated with or sponsored by any of these brands. I either paid for these planners with my own money or received them as swag gifts at a planner event.)

Yellow Paper House Weekly Planner
Happy Planner Year in Bloom – Classic/Monthly
Happy Planner Healthy Hero – Classic
Happy Planner Empowered Woman – Mini
Sew Much Crafting A5/HalfLetter Weekly – Ring Insert
Erin Condren Deluxe Monthly Planner
Llewellyn’s 2019 Witches’ Datebook
We’Moon 2019:  Fanning the Flames  

Plus a few goals planner booklets and notebooks I will be using to journal and/or track my progress in the areas of my life I’m focusing on.  These tools, along with the plethora of stickers I have within my reach, will get me in formation and closer to becoming an amazing me.  

Sharing my love for planning, and seeing its connection to disability and health, is one way of becoming BOLD, which is my word for 2019.  It’s comforting to see other disabled planners, both within and outside of the planner community, boldly express their love for this creative and organizing outlet too.

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On my Patreon this month, I will be interviewing a fellow Planner friend who shares how she’s using her planner for her mental health.  If you want to read the interview with Tarchelle B (who has an amazing playlist of Mental Health Management Planning videos on YouTube), consider subscribing to my Patreon here:  Ramp Your Voice! with Vilissa

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