My Life in Lists: Using a Planner to Organize Your Dreams + Enter the Giveaway!

My Life in Lists: Planner Page 1

~Links to products in this blog post may be affiliate links. This means that when you click and shop, I make a small commission at no cost to you that goes towards the upkeep of this blog.~   Bella Grace Field Guide to Everyday Magic Blog Hop

I love my lists. Every time I feel a little unfocused or I just want to clean out my brain from the things I have to remember, I sit down with a piece of paper and  pen and I start unloading all of my burdens on the page. I list every single little thing on that page until I have covered everything that I am stressing about and everything that I thought I might forget. My last page was 11 x 14″ and I filled both the front and back with purple gel penned notes to myself. And when Saturday rolled around, I got to work chipping away at that list of things until I no longer felt overwhelmed, but instead felt empowered to get even more done.

That is the power of a list — it transforms a cluttered mind into an organized (or unorganized) list and it translates thinking into doing.

A list is a starting place for magic. It can start as a brainstorming and end with a project that you never thought possible. The lists described below are not your normal Honey Do Lists, they are so much more than that. They are a way to voice what you want in life and put it down on the page. These lists are a way to organize your dreams into steps and plans so that the life you want is no longer a daydream, but instead a practical assessment of steps needed to embrace your everyday magic.

My Life in Lists: Planner Page 2The “Rules” for My Lists:

  • Write quickly while you are dumping. The goal is to empty your mind of the clutter. The items on your list can be the things that you have to accomplish, but also list all of the things that you dream about doing someday. Is your dream to ride in a helicopter? Go for a walk on the beach? Finally write in your journal everyday? Write down these tasks to transform them from being dreams to tangible goals in your life.
  • Don’t be afraid to write on different parts of the page. I write the “Have-to’s” at the top of the page and the “Want-to’s” at the bottom of the page so that I have an organized list of priorities, but also leave room for fun things like painting my nails or giving myself a facial.
  • Breakdown tasks into 10 minute increments. If you think that cleaning the floors will take 30 minutes, then breakdown the task into “find the mop and bucket and prep the cleaning solution,” “clean living room,” and “clean bedroom” so that no task takes more than 10 minutes. You will feel so much more accomplished when you return to your list and can check off three items instead of one!
  • My Life in Lists: Planner Page 3Give yourself a break if it doesn’t happen the way you planned. For example, I worked all day Saturday on updating my blog software and still only finished half the project. The important thing to remember is that I put in the work and I can be proud of what I accomplished. There’s always next weekend for finishing the project. I got something done and that is all that mattered. 50% finished is better than never starting at all.
  • Leave room for the artistry of life. I put doodles, quotes, and tons of washi tape in my planner to keep my lists beautiful, inspired, and motivating. There is nothing worse than seeing a long list of to-do’s in black pen with nothing colorful or creative. If you take a ten minute break during the day, add some color and your mind will thank you for the beauty that you infuse into the mundane tasks. Washi tape is also a great way to whittle down the overwhelming blank spaces on the page. Fill in some squares with washi tape to remove any intimidating white space from the page.
  • Remember to look at past lists. I keep most of my lists in my planner. When I look back on what I’ve accomplished this year, I see that I got my blog running, emailed industry contacts about getting my fiction published, played in the pit orchestra for a production of Guys and Dolls, and took Mr. Darcy from a hyperactive puppy to an advanced training graduate! I never finish 100% of what I plan for the week, but I have gone leaps and bounds beyond what I thought was possible because I chipped away at each list until I made progress.

My Challenge for You:

My Life in Lists: Planner Page 4First, sit at a table or desk with a piece of paper and a colorful pen.

Think through all of the things you wish you could get done this week, this weekend, or even this month. Give yourself the freedom to dream. Do you want to sing karaoke? Write it down on the list. Want to repaint all of your bedroom furniture? Write it down. Wish you had time to roller skate in the park? Write it down.

List your thoughts with rapid-fire committment. Apply the rules above so that you write on different parts of the page, breakdown tasks into 10 minute increments, and add some decorative elements (washi tape borders is a favorite design choice of mine).

Commit to spending 1 hour on your list this weekend. You’ll be amazed at the clarity you’ll gain about your life from taking the time to work toward your goals. You’ll build enthusiasm to keep going, pride for the work you’ve accomplished, and you’ll hold in your hands the very magic that you’ve dreamed of.


Ready to try your own list? Leave a comment below to share your dream/goal/wish with us and you could win a copy of the Field Guide to Everyday Magic! 

The Field Guide to Everyday Magic is the perfect place to start your lists. It includes heartfelt questions and prompts to help you find your everyday magic and to capture your favorite moments on the page. Use it as a way to capture some “me time,” reflect on your dreams, and find a comforting bit of magic to hold near your heart for the day.

A special thank you to Stampington & Company for providing the prize for this giveaway.

*Contest open to U.S. residents and International residents. International prize winners are eligible to receive a free digital copy of Bella Grace instead of the Field Guide to Everyday Magic. Contest ends 9/30/17 and winner will be randomly selected from the comments below and contacted via email.

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  • Kim Collister
    August 29, 2017 at 10:58 am

    I use to feel like I was held a bit hostage by my lists, like if I didn’t complete them I was disappointed or it felt difficult to move forward with so much on my lists. So I quit doing them for awhile. Then one day I picked up an older planner and I was reading my lists and I realized how much I really did accomplish and how far I have come from those days if dreams and thoughts. I loved reading thoses pieces of my dreams and desires, all the things I felt empowered to do. I missed those lists and now I still do them, accomplished or not, they are a “stamp” of me! This field guide is perfect to record my journey!

  • Kat
    August 29, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    “Is your dream to ride in a helicopter? Go for a walk on the beach? Finally write in your journal everyday?”

    Man, I feel this quote. I really gave daily journal writing a shot earlier this year, and I really liked it, but somehow didn’t keep up my momentum. I’d really like to get back to it. I need to make more time for myself too–elaborate Korean skin care rituals, doing artsy-fartsy stuff, watching my favorite movies. Thanks for the reminder to prioritize myself and my hobbies!

  • Ahna
    August 29, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    I am such a list girl, so I really enjoyed your blog post. If I have anything to plan, whether that means meals, errands, or doctor appointments I will grab a pen and paper and go to town. Lists are necessary to me. My favorite kind of list is planning some kind of party for my friends. Last year I hosted a fall party and many a list was made. It helps me feel order and organization in the midst of tumbling ideas constantly coming into my mind. It helps give me direction. It helps give me a release.
    ?A list of dreams/goals/wishes of mine?
    overcome my fear of flying
    Live more intentionally, more quality time with my husband, children and family
    Go back to school
    Read more
    Take more pictures
    Write the book!
    Become a professional at random acts of kindness
    Visit cities, go to art museums
    Exercise regularly. Get healthier.
    Get another tattoo
    Be awesome

    • Sarah
      September 6, 2017 at 9:46 pm

      Yes! Everything on your list is fantastic and I encourage you to go after your dreams. Great list!

  • Kathee
    August 30, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    You got my mind going. I had just purchased some fun colored pens and they needed to be drawn into the pages but all I had was a blank page. To sit and just dump ideas I like, short list, week list, month list and breaking it down specifically is more rewarding. I have used SMART goals before but to bring some fun into will bring it to life. My red pen is posed above the page red to capture my lists. When I made lists before I hated just marking then off, I wrote victory over them. Thank you for the inspiration to start my lists.

    • Sarah
      September 6, 2017 at 9:42 pm

      I will definitely be writing VICTORY on my lists this weekend!

  • Melanie B.
    August 30, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    My wish is to complete a number of half begun projects. They include constructing a cloche from chicken wire to deter a determined groundhog, restyling a pair of vintage earrings for a dear friend so that she may get use from an otherwise dated, yet lovely set and reupholstering a thrift store ottoman with printed burlap. Now that I’ve listed them for you, perhaps I shall tarry no more and make finished projects out of each and every one!

    • Sarah
      September 6, 2017 at 9:42 pm

      I like to go back to my lists to figure out which projects still need finishing. I try to pull a project out every holiday weekend and finish it so that I can finally check it off the list!

  • Gretchen
    August 31, 2017 at 9:39 am

    I love my Erin Condren planner and all my colored pens and highlighters! I put stars next to completed tasks or highlight them in fun colors to keep it cheery in my planner. After finishing my summer Bella Grace (so I can start my Autumn issue on September 1) I felt compelled to start a “Reaching Goal List” – these are things to strive for and that will not be completed in 10 minutes….could be a year but know that when they are accomplished I’m going to feel pretty amazing! Here’s the start of it:
    1. Get published (photography or writing) in Bella Grace
    2. Learn chalkboard & creative lettering
    3. Increase photography work with small organizations (local businesses, preschools, etc.)
    4. Run the Hot Chocolate 15K
    5. Encourage my boys to try out for the school talent show
    6. Take guitar lessons

    I love lists and love to cross things off when tasks are completed. It gives me such a sense of accomplishment!

    • Sarah
      September 6, 2017 at 9:41 pm

      Wow, love your whole list! My max is 5K though (I’m getting close to 15 total though!).

  • Tracie West
    August 31, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Hi Sarah, I’m not leaving a comment for a chance to win, I’m part of the blog hop too, I just wanted to stop by and see what you had to share. I love your prompts for lists and your encouragement. I have never been a list maker so much, I’m working on it and I do agree, when I do things get done, that’s for certain. I love that you are a local girl too! Purple gel pens are so awesome.

    • Sarah
      September 6, 2017 at 9:45 pm

      Thank you so much for checking out my post. I love your post on loving who you are, where you are. I put a lot of pressure on myself to get things accomplished and to be successful, so I’ve been making time to just look around and see that everything is okay. It’s easy to feel like nothing has gotten done or that I’m failing at something, but when I look around I can see the progress and I can see that I’ve built a good life. It is those moments that I just take it all in and breath.

  • Susan F.
    August 31, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    I’ve been keeping a bullet journal for almost a year. It’s a good place to keep track of all the lists I used to have scattered everywhere.

  • ginnydeiling
    September 3, 2017 at 6:43 am

    I absolutely LOVE lists!!!!! I keep fun pads of paper and pens in almost every room in my house. I keep dream lists, quote lists, book lists, etc., ETC. Keeping lists is a fun way for me to try to remember everything, as well as keeping myself centered and less stressed about life!

  • Heather Shafer
    September 29, 2017 at 7:01 am

    Timely post for me, I just started using a weekly planner spread to document everyday bits of life, what i notice, what i did, where i rocked it or how i fell.
    I LOVE lists and am a huge braindump list fan.
    Some of my goals are to promote a prompted journal I finished
    Work on a journal/book that my father and I were working on before his passing (and ultimately to publish it)
    To release massive amounts of clutter to be able to create space for truth and good things in the future.