Formalizing a Daily Planning Habit

I’ve written about the importance of planning before, but after attending the Dallas-Fort Worth Writer’s Convention this weekend creating a habit has never seemed more important.

I’ve always been bad at it. I’ll pick up a planner and use it for a week or so and then, like all of my habits, it’ll fade away. Across keynote speakers and casual one-on-one conversations throughout the conference, it seemed that success seemed to be a matter of luck. Some person just happen to read and enjoy a writer’s work at the right time and right place. And while that seems disheartening at first, the behavioral hack behind the scenes was the same: all the writers kept constantly sending work out into the world.

Luck can be gamed. And the key is to, as Brandon Sanderson said in one of his lectures, “always be working on something else.”

That makes complete sense but is utterly beyond me without having a long-term planning system that’s solidly in place.



As soon as I get my coffee and sit down at my desk, I’ll spend just a few minutes going through my bullet journal and updating lists or reading and ranking what I need to do that day. I’ll do a bit more on Monday for the week, but even if I just open up the journal every day the habit will still count.


A) Positives
The ability to make this a part of my life will help me fill the world with writing arrows, hedging my bets to make success happen. It will also alleviate the feeling of living or dying on one proposal or pitch. This is immensely emotionally important to me. It will also help me significantly improve my craft. It will bring some amount of order to my generally chaotic life. It will help me plan for productivity experiments, and will prevent wasted down time.

It will also help me become a better person.

I think in relationships the concept of mental load is important - it almost always falls on females. I am a person who exacerbates this. I don’t plan for trips, I don’t get what I need done because I’m so disorganized, I don’t have my shit together. This forces the people around me to take up immense slack that I just assume they will carry. To both be free of that nagging feeling of constantly ignoring something in the background and to lessen the load the people I love shouldn’t have to carry is incredibly positive.

B) Obstacles
Not carrying my planner when I go on trips. Grossly overestimating time. Not having a pen on hand. Not feeling like I know it all now, when I think this will be a process of growing and adapting to what works best for me.

B-1) Workarounds
Luckily Lydia is a master of this, and I’ve already interviewed her for best practices. I think I’ll start with the basics and then add different aspects - like the 3 Ships concept or whatnot. A surprising amount of these best practices mimic what process composition writers like Jack Hart and Shani Raja describe when they talk about bringing structure to articles.

I intend to write another post on the ins and outs of this. It’s really a very foreign concept to me, but I can see it doing a lot.