Aspiration, Ideals, Lifestyle

UNDER THE CLOCHE

I’d love to accomplish more, and I’ll be the first to say I can hyperfixate on one thing to the exclusion of everything else. Returning to the subject of grid paper and the idea that we can give too many things too many squares in life and lose our balance, we’ve created a new, letter-sized Juliet Rome day planner you (and I) can download, print and use.

It comes from a new approach we designed for a client last fall to keep the planning process more dynamic and agile in our current environment. Working together we determined how many squares the client would give to five new planning categories and then populated them with their plan-to-do, must-do-now, stop-and-affirm, fix-what’s-broken and improve-essential-disciplines lists.

A few weeks ago I introduced the process to another client who had asked to start planning again so he could get everything out of his head and either parked (a strategy we use for things that aren’t viably next) or organized. He called soon after to say how well it is working for him and how eager he is to get to the office to work his buckets:

Stage—decisions or things coming up on the calendar that require steady development work or due diligence (careful and complete appraisal).

Push—those things that have highest priority or require immediate attention.

Celebrate—taking a timeout to affirm good work or thank partners for a successful initiative, etc.

Evaluate—the followup phase of a completed initiative, event, etc. that involves focused assessment and refinement or a necessary reset.

Persist—operational or relationship-based tasks that may not have a deadline but that are important to a best-practices organization.

This morning, he emailed to say, “I am making headway working with our new planning and workflow methodology and am continuing to like it. I love that you showed this to me.”

You say bucket, I say…

The only bucket I could think of in the visual development of this for Juliet Rome readers is an English antique fire bucket, a beauty my folks gave J. long ago for Christmas, and it doesn’t translate well on paper. But there is the cloche. Humankind has used them for a very long time. French for “bell,” gardeners on the other side of the pond used cloches to protect fragile plants from bleak cold and frost. If you love them in your interior, as I do for ball topiaries, you’ve seen them shelter cupcakes to collectibles and precious objects or still life in between.

I love their use in this day planner because they are a metaphor for deliberate focus. See them as mutually exclusive or as a logical flow of thought and activity—a system for bringing order to chaos. Used simply, your day planner for Monday might have you staging a Friday birthday party, pushing forward to buy paint for the week’s DIY project, mailing a card and onesie to celebrate a new baby, evaluating a new appliance you’re concerned you might need to return (unfortunately then returning you to staging) and persisting on your self-care routine, piled-up laundry, garage organization or anything else that invites procrastination. Tuesday might look new and different on paper.

Use it in a logical, circular fashion to track an initiative over a few weeks or months. If you’re planning to remodel your kitchen, you might stage for weeks as you pin ideas, create a budget, talk to contractors, get estimates, consider how to handle the disruption to your life and build the ideal schedule. You’ll move from staging to push when you give the project a green light and stay there during the life of it with everything from daily cleanup to final inspection. In the spirit of joie de vivre, you’ll celebrate its completion and the value it adds to your life. You’ll talk about it, evaluate all aspects of it and maybe even determine whether to move back to staging with another room in your home. The persist squares are important…they’re the muscle squares…the firm attendance to a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition squares, the long obedience in the same direction squares. How often does the butcherblock island need to be oiled to keep its lustrous finish or the stone travertine floor need to be resealed? How many more switchplates need to be replaced or painted? What cleaning products will give these new materials their best life?

You may ask why the concierge hand and cloche icon sits at the top of the day planner. My answer is that focus in life requires our human “agency.” We can’t typically wish something done. We must choose to bring acts of love, service or even revival to the things that matter, to the people who matter.

And finally, on the matter of balance, J. advocated for space between and around each cloche on the day planner. When we focus on the right next things, we win the feeling of relief. We win time and freedom. “You win margin,” he smiled, nodding to my work-before-play wiring, “to take a London Fog downstairs to the common room to read.”

Click here to try it. I hope your day rings like a bell.

About Laurie

Laurie Carney is a strategist, writer, editor and account executive in her professional life. She is at home with her husband Jeffrey, also a strategist and creative director/writer, and papillion Freddie. She has four beautiful children now that her son and daughter are happily married.
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