Dragontree Apothecary Dreambook and Planner Review
In June, I reported that I was excited to try out the Dragontree Apothecary's Dreambook and Planner. I've had it for a few weeks, and I've really enjoyed using it. I thought I'd report back, as promised, and let you all know how it's been working for me and what I thought about it.
One of the things that attracted me to it the most was the space that it had for intentions and morning and evening rituals. Yes, I could make room for those in my other planner (I've used an Erin Condren for the past few years but decided the format really didn't work for me--meaning I didn't really USE it) but anything that takes additional work is less likely to happen. While some people have complained that it's redundant having those spaces there every day, I figured that would be a benefit. In addition to being a good reminder, it meant I wouldn't have to go out of my way to make space for them or single them out myself.
My main intention for moving to this planner, in addition to trying to do my morning and evening routines more consistently was taking control of my time and learning better time management skills. While I was still driving both of my younger kids around all the time (before my daughter could drive), I didn't even BOTHER with hourly planning. I got done what I could when in the spaces in between driving people. Needless to say, this was neither very satisfying nor conducive to making much progress in any areas of my life other than my job as cruise director. I decided I was a big girl now and could use those half-hour spaces to try and find more balance in my life.
The first week, because it was Summer and my youngest was at camp, I didn't plan ahead--I just kept the planner next to me and marked down the time as I did things, making it kind of a game to see how much I could get done and what I could do in half-hour increments. Admittedly, I was also a little bit intimidated by the whole process of jumping into a real planner. I used colored pencils to indicate the 5 areas of my life: Work, Family/Friend time, Tasks/Housework, Morning/Evening Rituals, and Reading/Study. Not only was I way more efficient with my time, but it was also incredibly satisfying to see the balance of different colors at the end of each day.
The next week wasn't so successful. More kids to throw a wrench in the plans threw a wrench in the plans. Not only did I get less done, but I noticed that there were periods of time that did not belong to any of the colored areas. In other words, I don't know WHAT the heck I was doing them. I labeled those with "MEH" and "Lack of Focus." I realized it wasn't as much chaos as uncertainty of what was going on. One of the mornings was totally quiet since my kids didn't get out of bed until late, but I spent a lot of time wondering if I was going to make breakfast and or lunch, or whether we were going to go out and run errands, or what. Not a good use of time. It would be one thing if I'd intentionally left the time unscheduled, or if it were genuine down time. But if it's time that at the end of which I just write "Meh" and have no idea what I did, that's not good.
Of course, I've realized that the point of the planner isn't to just write down what I DID, but to actually plan ahead. One of my intentions is to spend time at the beginning of the week, as the creators of the planner suggest, and figuring out what the week is going to look like. This entails listing the tasks from your larger monthly plan that are applicable to this week as well as bringing over the ones you didn't finish from last week, blocking in your daily rituals, and scheduling your time. The Dragontree team also has a lot of other good suggestions for how to be a time management ninja that I hope to bring into my toolset over the next few weeks.
One of the important skills that I'd like to implement is scheduling extra time for things so as to incorporate flow into your life. For example, it may take you 15 minutes to transition between tasks, and if you include that time in your planning you'll feel like your engine is running smoothly rather than being stressed out moving from one thing to another. Another benefit of this is that if I make a reasonable plan of events, even if it includes less than I would have liked to accomplish, at the end of the day I'll feel successful instead of feeling a sense of lack. If I know that cooking lunch, feeding everyone, and cleaning up will take a while, I can marker in two hours for it and just do it instead of planning on an hour and then feeling overwhelmed and imposed on.
I've also realized that there's no way I'm going to fill in the "gratitude" section unless I get into the habit of bringing the book with me into the bedroom at night. Yes, I can remember what I was grateful for the day before and fill it in the next day, but at least half the time that doesn't work. And what better way to drift off to sleep than having just thought of what you're grateful for? I've decided I'm also going to fill out the next day's "Intention" space each night, maybe after a tarot/oracle card pull. I've found that at the beginning of the day I have no freaking clue what my intention for the day "should" be, whereas I think that it would make more sense in the context of reflection on the day I just had. So we'll see how that goes.
Ultimately, what I've figured out so far is that I mainly would like to achieve two things--first, I'd like to have a good balance each day; it doesn't have to be an even amount of time on everything, but I need to see that the areas of my life are tended to somewhat. Second, I'd like to get to the point that what I plan and schedule for at the beginning of the week and actual reality are not that far off from each other. Those two things would make a huge difference in my personal happiness.
I totally recommend this planner. The size and shape is really pleasing. It's not too big, but not too small, and you can purchase covers for it from the Dragontree store. Without the cover, it fits in one of the EC neoprene sleeves, which I believe you may even be able to get at Staples now, so if you like to carry around your planner with some other accessories like stickers or pens, this might be a good bet. One reasonable critique of the planner is that Saturday and Sunday are half-sized and don't have the hours of the day marked down. This is not useful if you that's something you need; personally, I enjoy having the two days free from that kind of structure. I hear that the 2018 version of the planner will have full weekend days.