I Know My Planner Is Excessive But It Makes Me Happy

I Know My Planner Is Excessive But It Makes Me Happy

While I've heard over and over again that my color-coding systems and lists are too much, I know that it makes my life easier and happier.


Anyone who knows me even remotely well can tell you I live and breathe by my planner. Often referred to as my most important possession, my planner is an all-encompassing look into who I am. I write down absolutely everything, often to an excessive amount. I write things down in my planner often enough that I trust it exclusively. I look to my planner before my own mind, my peers, or anyone else. In high school, I would have peers asking me when assignments are due or whether the date of an exam was changed because I track everything so exactly.

My calendar for November 2018.Sophie Ciokajlo

I've had teachers and family members mock my color coding systems or the time I put into my planner, but as ridiculous as it sounds, it's an integral part of my life. I've spent years trying out different pre-made planners, building my own, and reading about every planning method under the sun. I still spend so much time altering my process and changing my approach to make it more productive and helpful. I am constantly developing new ways of tracking various things and spending more time on my planner. I carry it literally everywhere with me and rarely go a day without spending time sitting with the notebook.

As someone who obsessively strives to have control over every aspect of my life, I constantly need to write things down or organize. I spend most of my time trying to obtain the utmost control over my schedule, my to-do list, and absolutely everything else. My planner gives me comfort because I always know what happens when and why. Writing things down and organizing my thoughts allows me to be more mindful about everything I do. Taking the time to organize my lists and schedules gives me the opportunity to decide what is really important. It allows me to prioritize and consider what tasks and responsibilities make me happy or are worthwhile.

A week in my planner.Sophie Ciokajlo

I also stand by the fact that I would never achieve a goal without my planner. I become so specific about how I can move forward with things I want to accomplish. I can break them down into the tiniest tasks so that making progress doesn't seem like so much effort or like it takes so much time. I actually get incredibly excited, weird as it may sound, to sit down and check off my tasks at the end of the day or to build my month or year. The fact that the new year is coming up means a whole new planner and a new opportunity to make my process better and more useful.

I know that it may seem neurotic, obsessive, or too organized. But color-coding and list-making truly make my life easier and more enjoyable. I'm calmer and more collected because of the little bit of extra time I devote to getting my life in order. It genuinely makes me more centered and improves how I spend my time. I'm more efficient and effective with my energy because of how much I write and organize in my planner. So I understand why people tell me its too much or I put too much effort into it, but I really would suggest developing your own system to anyone in my life.

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.

When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try out or audition to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples-to-oranges comparison.

At a basketball tryout, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential castmember will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little payoff for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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Writer's Block: A Road Block We've All Hit

In the corner, the deer head is mocking you.


It's two hours before your deadline and everything you start to type sounds terrible. You get five words into a sentence and you immediately hit the backspace button or throw your notebook across the room.

You think you have something solid and then you read it out loud and it's worse than you originally thought possible. Nothing sounds right to you and the clock is ticking. Minutes pass, but you can't seem to find anything that works.

You look all around the room for inspiration. In the corner, the deer head is mocking you and in the other corner, the hole in the ceiling is just reminding you of how empty your brain feels at the moment. Nothing is coming to you and it's no longer silent because your brother is upstairs singing in the shower and your sister is listening to music as she falls asleep.

Another half-hour has passed and you're drenched in sweat. Your pen is slipping out of your hand and you are stressing. Your fingers are sliding across the keys and not in the cool confident way. Your eyes are burning from the sweat droplets on the corners of your eyes.

It's writer's block and we've all been there.

In fact, right before I began this, I was experiencing it myself. I tried moving to different rooms in the house, asking three different people for ideas and listening/watching multiple platforms: acoustic music, sports, Amazon Prime TV, etc. Nothing was working and I was sure that I was going to miss my deadline and have nothing to turn in.

I honestly thought I was going to end up in a ball of tears.

However, I turned my problem into my solution and wrote down everything I was feeling.

Now, this may not always work, especially if you're writing something for school on the War of 1812 or Abraham Lincoln. One thing that will work is taking a deep breath. Write whatever comes to your mind and don't delete it, even if you think it's absolutely terrible. Some of my best writing has come from what I thought was terrible.

But most importantly, remember: Writer's block is real, but it's also overcomeable and you've probably dealt with it more than you realize.

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