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Find a balance of flexibility and being ready to bolt for vacations in 2021

The only certainty in plans for 2020 was that there was no way to make certain plans in 2020. But we’re all hoping for better things in the new year. 

Katie Henry, Chief Marketing Officer at The Happy Planner, said the second half of 2020 has seen many of her customers planning outside the normal scope of what they do. Many have taken time for what Henry calls “memory planning” – journaling and recording what they were doing in their homes or virtually in this very odd year. 

“They wanted to lean into how they were feeling,” Henry said. “We’ve never experienced anything like this, so I think documenting it – good or bad – was helping people relieve anxiety or stress.”

Planning is more than just recording work, family and volunteer appointments on a calendar. Henry said creative journaling is used by many as a way to slow down and even as a form of self-care. 

For the new year, we all have to find that balance of maintaining flexibility and being ready to bolt for vacations and the other parts of life we have missed and will no longer take for granted. 

“It’s important to respect the time we’re in but find something to look forward to,” Henry said. 

For short-term planning, consider keeping an old-fashioned check-off list. Write down the day’s tasks and take a moment to reflect on them at the end of the day.

“Write down accomplishments, even small things,” Henry said. “It’s always nice to cross something off the list.”

For families who are juggling work, home and virtual schooling or homeschooling, getting the calendar – even it’s a schedule of Zoom meetings – in hand is critical.

“Start small,” Henry said. “You don’t have to get it right the first day.”

If it all seems overwhelming, remember to think big for long-range goals, post-pandemic dream trips and more, but zoom in on your calendar until it feels manageable.

“Do things in snackable bites,” Henry said. “If you can’t plan the month, plan the week. Take everything in your brain that’s keeping you up – all the lists – and do a brain dump. Write it all down.”

Then, break those lists down into priorities. What must get done first?

“Once you look at it that way, it’s less stressful,” Henry said. “It doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you take it one step at a time.”

“Plan a Happy Life” a book and podcast by Stephanie Fleming, creator of The Happy Planner, includes strategies for prioritizing what is important to you and nurturing your creativity. Visit