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A Therapeutic Approach To Planning The Day

Updated: May 12, 2022

Who knew planning could be about more than productivity ☞

I have found a way to create a mindful practice around scheduling the day that has given me more of a sense of self-love, and gratitude. Until recently I was a strictly digital planner. Paper planning just seemed so inefficient. But then I came across Bullet Journaling. I had been trying out several different ways to organize my Asana tasks and was continually feeling overwhelmed. I loved the simple organization of bullet journaling and the potential to create beautiful spreads.

If only I could draw this well!

Planning started to become a relaxing time for me. I would spend hours picking out designs and carefully creating them by hand. I loved this for a while. It wasn't until I was exploring the idea of selling planners, that I tried my first templated planner. At first, I didn't like it but now it's my preferred way. I love the added organization of the printable and creating new spreads constantly by hand was becoming a burden.

Having a sheet I could just print allowed me to focus on the most therapeutic part of the experience of paper planning for me. More on this below.


I was listening to an audiobook by Byron Katie. There was a moment in the book where Byron mentions that if she wanted a hug from her husband and he didn't give it, she would go and hug herself. I remember a lightbulb going off. The idea of physical self-love like that seemed so weird to me. If I can wrap myself tightly in a blanket and hug myself whenever I needed, what else can I do without relying on another? This led to some exploration. I started to look at all the things I would blame my husband for not doing enough of and looking for where I can love myself instead.


The first thing I implemented was my WINS section. Typically this is the place where you write what you accomplished for that day. This felt a little incomplete of an experience to me. So I defined this section as two things:

  1. A place for self-praise.

  2. A place for Gratitude.

The self-praise part I defined as "throwing a party for my amazingness". Things I write are:

"I paid bills like a boss."

"I was a mom rockstar at playtime today".

"I am the comeback kid".

"I got several things done today. I'm effin amazing".

And as I wrote these out, they would become physical parties too. I would catch myself jumping up and down after I stocked the toilet paper. I would walk into the room and announce to everyone what I just rocked at. And this translated to my children as well.

And the magical thing is I suddenly became less angry at my husband. I demanded less of him. In the moments I felt arise where typically I would wish he would acknowledge something I did, I didn't wait for him. I would just go up to him and tell him how proud I was of myself.

The other part of my WINS section is gratitude. This is especially important when self-praise isn't flowing. Sometimes all I can write is, "thank you for giving me this challenging day so that I can practice gratitude". The WINS can be filled out at the end of every day or periodically throughout the day as you feel inspired. There is no set formula on whether you do self-praise or gratitude. It will be different every day.


When it comes to layouts of my printables, I prefer to keep things more minimal than not. I honestly can't handle the PANDA planners. Just like how bullet journaling started to become a burden, I don't like having more responsibilities than I can handle. So other than tasks, schedule, and wins, I don't have much else on the page...except for a few really important lines:

1. Training: I decided to write training because I think the important thing is for humans to experience GROWTH. Some days that might be a really hard workout or a dance practice. And some days it might be the growth of the mind. This is where you fill out essentially how you are going to push your mind and/or body today.

2. Body Care: For surprisingly a long time, I didn't grasp the true meaning of self-care. I would go get my nails only to find myself stressed about the money I just spent. I would go see a movie and then panic at how much time it took away from my day. I wasn't in tune with myself. I think making sure you maintain your body is important like taking a shower, stretching, sweating, etc. But these don't always fill your love tank up which is why I added the line below.

3. Happiness Bucket: This is the one thing you will do for yourself that truly brings you joy. For me these days, it's working on the house. I might hang up pictures on the wall or re-organize my closet.

4. Love Another: This is the one thing you are going to try today to show someone else your love. For me, it's usually towards my husband whether I make his coffee in the morning or rub his back at night. Or it might be to facetime, my mom. It's hard as a mom because you spend your whole day giving but that can feel like an obligation at times. This line is for the thoughtful choice you make to love another.

How You Handle Tasks Can Change Your World

Here is where the bulk of my therapeutic process happens. When I started using paper for my planning, I noticed how satisfying it was to take the time to write out the thing I accomplished. In the digital world, reading something that has been typed just doesn't have the same effect. And when you click it completely, it fades away so quickly, that there is little acknowledgment. I found myself in a loop of, "What's next? What's next?" and feeling so unaccomplished by the end of the day. And did you know writing with pen and paper is an actual form of therapy?

Under the same theme as self-praise, I started to seek more ways to acknowledge how amazing I am. Here are the things to do when handling your daily tasks:

  1. Write your task out as completely as you can. Give those few extra seconds and take the time to acknowledge what you did. Don't rush. Be mindful when you are writing things out.

  2. If you did something that wasn't on your task list, add it anyway. I don't care if it was doing a load of laundry. When you see just how big that crossed-out list is at the end of the day, you realize you get a lot more done than you've been acknowledging.

  3. Use a red marker with completed tasks instead of scribbling it out. The contrast of the marker and pen is beautiful. The marker creates a clean, single line instead of chaotic scratches.

  4. Inspired by INBOX 0, make sure everything is processed at the end of the night. Move unfinished tasks to the next day or if you realize it's not that important, move them to a separate list away from your week's schedule. Your paper should look like a bunch of beautiful red lines and a paragraph of WINS by the end of the day.

I honestly throw the daily sheet away once it's completed. For me, it served its therapeutic purpose. This is another huge difference why I switched from my journal when I was doing Bullet Journaling and prefer these printables I can throw away. I still keep my journal for beautiful vision board-like pages (more on that in another post). I just don't like the look of holding on to old, scribbled papers so I like to keep things separate.

The Difference A Great Writing Tool Can Make

One of the most basic things you should have in place is a great writing tool. I tried to avoid buying new pens in the early days only to get frustrated with the bleeding of ink or the lack of glide on the paper. If you are needing to write on both sides of the paper, Micron Pens are great. Now that I use my printables and only write on one side, I love the G2 Gel pens. I have even found great ones at the $1 store.

I also use my

I would love to know!

Have you been able to find ways to incorporate self-love into your planning?

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