I wanted to share the life updates so many of you have asked about: are you still working for Day Designer? Are you still using a daily planner to organize your days? How are you juggling all the things when life shifts and seasons change? To answer those questions, I’d like to invite you to wander down memory lane with me for a moment and let me tell you about the new Whitney English planner.
Starting A Planner Company
Remember when I created a planner in 2010? If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you’ve heard the story of the scraps of paper and sticky notes all over my desk and the pile of dusty planners in the corner. I needed something with my schedule and my to-do list side by side and couldn’t find a daily planner on the market. Everything clicked and fell into place and was pure magic and we named that baby Day Designer when she was born.
Remember when I launched her in July of 2012? Well, maybe you don’t. It was quiet. I wrote one blog post and turned on the Etsy shop and waited–it was crickets. I sent some to people I admired and they were sweet, but not overly enthused. But little by little, people found it, used it, loved it, and the magic grew and blossomed and it was SO FUN. On January 1, 2013, we rapidly sold through the remaining stock of the first round of planners and started making plans for the next run.
We had a small but mighty team of women in Oklahoma City shipping planners the second year. It was pure joy. And then, something happened. I’ve never talked about it, and I’m not going to talk about it here–but I’ll tell you this: my heart broke. Ripped to shreds over something related to that planner, and I no longer had the spirit to pour myself into it. But I had started something, and I needed to finish well. So I finished finalizing the trademark, and the day the trademark was finalized, I wrote another email about how I’d love to sell the company or collaborate with someone on something.
Wonder of wonders, ya’ll: TARGET HAPPENED. Because of that blog post. I had tons of people respond with alarm: how could you sell your company? What will happen to the brand? But it was all only going to be good. And because Target happened (we actually had the most successful end cap in Target planner history EVER), other opportunities started pouring in and positioned the company for a sale.
Selling A Planner Company
Building the Day Designer brand was such an amazing lesson in brand-building, overall. And about how to talk about wanting to sell a company. I learned SO MUCH. That’s really another post entirely, so I’ll just summarize it here by saying, Day Designer grew up and went to college, and then it was time for her to branch out onto her own. And in that season, a buyer was standing there, ready to join her on her adventure at that juncture, and so, I sold the company–lock, stock, and barrel as they say. The whole kit and kaboodle.
The sale closed in 2016. It seems like forever ago and yesterday all at the same time. I settled into a consulting role for the Day Designer brand, a position that would last for the next three years. And I poured my heart into being a mom, which was such a balm for my soul.
And Then A Daily Planner Was Too Much
The day after the sale closed, everything changed. My daily responsibilities instantly shifted from looking at numbers and reports and checking in with team members and talking strategy to simple, slow, good motherhood. And I no longer had a need for a daily planner. Empty pages started to make me feel guilty until I found myself right back where I started: a pile of dusty planners, sitting in a corner, unused.
Here’s something you may not know about me: I love creating systems. (I’m not a huge fan of keeping them running, but that’s another blog post entirely, too, ha!) From business tools to interior design textiles. From worksheets that help keep you keep your kids busy in the summer months to planner formats that transform how you balance your days, I love creating things that make life a little easier. Whether it’s work projects with my team or meal planning with my family, I’m always on the hunt for ways to find balance, create meaning and chase beauty.
It’s something about the planning process that sucks me in. I analyze all the pieces, figure out which ones need to connect, and then get to work finding all the ways to tie it all together, efficiently and beautifully. Form and function constantly trade places, each being equally important. I wouldn’t call the process easy. There’s a lot of gear shifting from the right brain to the left brain. And oh my word, does that feel messy at times. But I love it. Maybe I’m an inventor, at heart.
This new season of consulting and motherhood left the door wide open for the creation of a new system. Instantly, my brain went to work, taking note of the rhythms of our days, observing our routines and habits a family. If there was one thing that stood out, it was this: repetition makes recurring task lists MUCH shorter, which explained why I was leaving so much empty space in my daily planner.
It was then that I began to realize this truth: different seasons call for different systems. As a busy business owner and working professional, I had needed a daily planner. As a mama relying on routines and rhythms, I had less need for lengthy to-do lists to help me manage my time.
And Then Life Happened. Again.
About a year into my journey as a wife, mom, and business consultant, my husband and I received some devastating financial news. We buckled down and faced the realities ahead of us. And again, we learned SO MUCH. We stepped back to analyze the different habits and patterns of our life and started to recognize one terrifying recurring theme: a lack of balance.
My creator/inventor brain instantly went to work on this problem. Why was the lack of balance a recurring problem in our lives? It wasn’t even the first time I had asked myself this question, but this time, I had the time and space to chew on the question a bit more. The short answer was: the order in which we set our goals and prioritized our days was wrong.
Which led me to the next question: could it be possible that in rearranging our priorities, our life would balance out? As a family, we put this question to the test, using the HEART Goals framework you’ve probably heard me talk about. And little by little, things started to fall into place.
I consulted for three years for the Day Designer brand, and when I learned that chapter would be coming to a close, I started to take stock of my assets, and ask myself what would be next. Here is what I knew:
- Different seasons call for different systems
- Life balance is possible if you organize your schedule and tasks in the right order
- It is next to impossible to keep me from creating new things
Where I Am Now: An All-New Planner!
If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you know this fall has been exciting on the ‘creating all the things’ front. I launched a brand new 2020 planner, available exclusively through Whitney English! It’s an all-new format, an all-new style, an-all new planner venture.
This new format has been in the works for a while and I could not wait to get it out to the world and into your hands! The response to the new planner format has been incredible and I so appreciate the support.
What’s a Planner Format, anyway?
When we say we need to get organized, planners are one of the tools we often first reach for. That’s why I had a stack of dusty ones in my office, back in the day. But when we say we need a planner, it’s not actually a planner we really need–it’s a particular format. There are a gajillion different planner formats, but very little information out there about which one is right for you. Even if we find a planner that works perfectly for us, we don’t anticipate that our planner needs will change if our season changes. But different seasons call for different systems.
So I’d like to introduce you to the concept of a planner format. What season are you in, and what format does that call for? It’s a question you’ll hear me ask a lot going forward because I’m already dreaming of creating some additional formats to meet your needs.
A lot of people I meet will say things like, “I’m not organized, like you!” I laugh and explain that I’m not organized either, that’s why I create planners and organizational systems! And it’s the truth—I love designing systems that meet people where they are in life, whether it’s busy or slow. And I firmly believe, and now know from experience, that different seasons call for different systems.
Different Seasons, Different Systems
The latest system I’ve created is the Week On One Page format. This is the planner for list lovers, those that need a lot of space to jot down notes. It’s for those that have more to-dos than daily appointments. It’s the perfect spot to get your thoughts, projects, and action items out of your head and onto paper in an organized and easily accessible fashion. It combines your weekly schedule and space for all the lists in one simple spread and you can try the new Whitney English planner for 2020 here.
The Week on One Page format is the planner I need right now. I can guarantee my needs will evolve and change as the seasons of life change. And I can also guess that some of your needs might look a little different than mine, now or in the future. That’s ok, that’s life. Different seasons, different systems. What I’m trying to say is this: the Week on One Page is the first format in a line of planners I’ll be working on launching in the coming years.
And, because I also firmly believe in giving credit where credit is due: this format came to top of mind for me when my friend Lindsay of Lindsay Letters pointed out that it was the best format for her as a leftie, and she could never find it anywhere, so was always just printing her own. Without her suggestion, I don’t know that this format would exist, so I want to publicly thank her for sharing this idea with me and encouraging me to move forward with this project.
What’s your season?
If you’d be willing to share, I’d love to hear about the season of life you’re in right now and what type of system could help you best. Drop me a line at email@example.com, shoot me an Instagram DM @whitneyenglish, or leave a comment below. I truly want to know what you’re struggling with and what kind of systems might help.
In the meantime, I’m going to keep creating all the things because I know that thoughtfully designed planners can transform how you live your days. I know because they’ve changed mine. Balance is hard. Busy and burnout are often the name of the game and sometimes we need a little help. I’m here cheering you on!