Tending the Temple

Check-offs, Cross-offs, and Write-offs

My career as a freelance graphic designer has brought me lots of opportunities to stretch my talents and skills to their limit, and a perfect example is the Tranquility du Jour Daybook, which is the brainchild of my long-time client Kimberly Wilson. It’s a spiral-bound 12-month planner, but it’s more than that. It also features a series of daily, weekly and monthly checklists based on its author’s experience with striving to achieve a tranquil and fulfilling life. It features what she calls “tranquility tools,” and it has lots of space for journaling, contact info, important dates, quarterly “wheel of life” pages to see just how balanced or unbalanced your life is becoming, and also lots of inspiring quotes and custom watercolor artwork. If this sounds at all enticing, I urge you to have a closer look on her website (http://www.kimberlywilson.com/shop/daybook/).

For this year’s second publication, we refined the daybook using feedback she got from her many followers and fans. We made it bigger, even more user-friendly. But I’m kind of embarrassed to admit, I did not use my copy, partly because I want to keep it in “mint” condition for my portfolio, but also because the checklists don’t exactly fit my experience with striving to achieve a tranquil and fulfilling life. There is definitely some crossover, but my biggest challenges seem to be: how do I keep track of three children’s schedules? And their laundry? And the meals they eat? And the mess they make in our shared quarters? And my work life? And my (cough) personal life? And my spiritual life? I get overwhelmed just typing it, much less living it every day.

I’m incredibly disorganized when it comes to time management, or life management, or whatever you want to call it. I don’t know how I’ve made it this long without having a calendar that I use as a matter of habit. When things get really bad, I keep lists, and that helps. I’ve tried several phone apps; nothing has stuck. My strategy is to live one day at a time and pray to God I don’t forget anything important. My mom keeps a calendar religiously, and she is my backup system for family and kid stuff. It works, sort of. But surely something else could work better.

So after being the creative “general contractor” on this daybook project for the past two years, one of my “pre-New-Years-resolutions” was to practice a little self-care and make my own personalized daybook by the time 2014 started. I even wrote it down while attending one of Kimberly’s workshops in November! She’ll be happy to know, writing it down helped. I’m almost done with it, and my “New Years Resolution” is to have it printed and actually USE it!

I’ve even given it a title: “Check-offs, Cross-offs, and Write-offs.” I’m sure I’ll write more about it in the weeks to come, but the basic premise is that I can’t handle more than three routines or priorities for any given time period, whether it be a morning, a day, a week, a month, or a year. “Check-offs” are checklists consisting of three to four routine tasks that I strive to do on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. “Cross-offs” are daily and weekly areas where I can write in (and hopefully cross off) the three most important things to do on any given day and week. There are also areas where I can set three manageable goals for each month, as well as three big goals for the whole year, with space to write the action steps required to complete them. Finally, I’ve also given myself ample space for “Write-offs,” where I can put pen to paper with my ideas, hopes, dreams, musings, quotes, lessons, brainstorms, etc.

It’s also a daily planner, not just for meetings and appointments, but also to-do lists, and even meal planning and groceries. This is what it looks like today:


I’m thinking in the future I will add some sort of financial component, and maybe a housekeeping chart, but for now, the most important thing is to get it DONE (progress, not perfection) and START USING IT!

Lists can either motivate me or overwhelm me to the point of paralysis. I’m hoping this set of lists will motivate. I can’t wait to share my progress!


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