My November — or, as I was calling it, my Know-vember — wasn't quite the self-affirming 30 days of saying "no" to distractions I thought it would be.
I cleared my schedule so I could get home early most days, but I just found too many other random things to do that distracted me from larger goals, like working on my latest obsession: folding my clothes in tiny rolls like Marie Kondo suggests in The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
My December wasn't as deliberate as I wanted it to be, either. Instead of spending my staycation working on the first three chapters of my novel — the whole reason for my Know-vember adventure in the first place — I spent a few extra days in New York helping my parents get ready for the holiday. Before I knew it, it was Christmas Eve.
Poof. Time gone.
Eliminating unnecessary distractions doesn't mean an interruption-free life. In between running from here to there, I still wrote down my inner thoughts and goals and kept track of lists in my Passion Planner, a journal/daily schedule that helps you record your feelings as well as keep up with daily activities. But the problem with the Passion Planner is that it's more big picture than micromanager.
Enter Jamila Payne.
Three years ago, Payne created the Daily Success Routine planner (dailysuccessroutine.com), a way to manage commitments while working on long-term personal and professional goals in 90-day increments. She's sold close to 10,000 of her planners at conferences — including the Pennsylvania Conference for Women — and online. Each planner is $35. Customers tend to buy four in order to cover the entire year.
In time to set 2018 resolutions, Payne is offering Daily Success: The Box. The $97 achieve-your-ambition kit includes a daily planner, a small notebook designed for writing down big ideas, access to Payne's online course, affirmation placards, and a portable vision journal because, Payne says "you should carry your dreams with you, not let them collect dust on your bedroom wall."
"People feel torn between executing their day-to-day responsibilities and working on their bigger dreams and goals," Payne said. Her planner aims to change that.
"It's not about becoming a different person," Payne said. "It's about fitting your goals and dreams with the framework of the day that you already have. It's about putting routines and habits in place to get more of what you want."
Payne and I are far from the only ones finding that balancing work, life, and dreams is hard.
There has been growth in date products and planners, according to Leen Nsouli, the NPD Group's industry analyst for office supplies. Despite our reliance on our phones, this increase in consumer interest is due to a convergence of two trends: a growth in handmade products and a focus on mindful living and happiness.
And there's no dearth of products to choose from, either. Recently, I asked my social media followers what their planner style is, and I received a flurry of responses that went beyond the calendars in their smartphones. In addition to the Passion Planner, the Bullet Journal method and Danielle Laporte's Desire Map were popular responses. My mom's friends keep it simple and swear by the whiteboards in their kitchens to keep families organized.
What's interesting is that a lot of these products also have places to record your mood or measure your happiness. These planners aren't just about being organized; they're about staying sane, as well. Payne's product lets you record your happiness level each week on a one-to-five scale.
Payne, who writes things down because she likes the tangible feeling of crossing things off a to-do list, didn't intend to develop a system for entrepreneurs to balance work, life, and happiness.
In the early aughts, Payne, of West Philadelphia, launched Milla by Mail, one of the country's first online shopping sites. (That explains the box's deft mix of fashionable pink-and-white stripes and polka dot prints.)
In 2006, Payne earned her MBA from Drexel and by 2007 found herself teaching seminars to hopeful entrepreneurs who wanted a business like hers. As her lectures began trumping her day job, she quit Milla by Mail and started teaching her classes full-time.
"This is how I realized that we all had problems managing our schedule," Payne said. "It was bigger than just me."
She developed detailed worksheets with areas to enter the day's goals, financial milestones, and, most important, the actual time it takes to get things done. She handed these sheets out to her classes and they started to see results. The worksheets eventually became the heart of the Daily Success Routine planner.
Then in 2013, at 36, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a wake-up call.
"It put the wind under my butt to really accomplish, to work on the things that I wanted to create, something that would be able to make a big difference," Payne said. "When you are faced with your own mortality, it makes you get really clear on what you want to work on."
So, in 2014, she put 100 planners together and sold them at a women's conference called the Wise Symposium, and the Daily Success Routine was born.