The ultimate planning system for creative rebels

ultimate productivity and planning system for creative rebels

I have a secret to share: I have tried – and failed – at almost all the productivity and planning systems out there.

I am in awe of people who can schedule their time and plan out their days almost to the last minute. All the BuJo mavens, Pomodoro ninjas, Getting Things Done (GTD) warriors. The ones who make SMART goals – or any goals! – and ace them.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that when the productivity gene was being handed out, I was fast asleep.

Or maybe, like my father would say, I’m simply the rebel without a cause. Show me discipline and routine and I’ll show you anarchy and chaos!

Over the last year or so, though, a lot of different people have told me they are in awe of how much I manage to accomplish. That had me scratching my head. Accomplish things? Me? I’m sitting here without any systems or SMART goals, no timer on the table, no distraction free environment, heck not even a to-do list. Most days I feel like I wasted too much time chatting with friends, scrolling through social media, playing with the cats, or reading a book. I always feel like I should be doing more.

But then I looked at my planner – yes, I have one of those – and noticed that I had, actually, done quite a bit. And it made me realize that while I may not Pomodoro or GTD, I had actually taken bits and pieces from a whole lot of productivity systems and hacks and cobbled together a “system” that works for me. {Gasp! It’s not all anarchy and chaos here, after all!}

How to create a productivity and planning system that works for YOU - especially tailored for all the creative rebels and anarchists in the room - a.k.a. the ones who think they cannot plan. Click To Tweet

My productivity and planning system for creative rebels

So, here’s a quick look at my DIY planner.

Month and year at a glance planner pages for creative rebels

I have a month at a glance page {taken from the BuJo} where I track the things I want to track {another thing I learnt and adapted from the BuJo}. Initially I only tracked art dates, but soon used the symbol ideas from the BuJo system to track other interesting things. This is an aspect I plan to revise and use a little more from next year.

And I have a week at a glance pages. Here, instead of creating to-do lists, I track all the things I accomplished on a particular day. So notes of what piece of art I was working on; blog updates; lunches with friends and the like.

For a while, I had a rough and tumble version of the GTD in my reminders app, where I maintained a running list of things I wanted to learn or tasks I wanted to do. It’s another matter that I rarely looked at it and now the app has been offloaded from my phone. Oops!

The ultimate productivity and planning system to organize your life and goals for creative rebels.But I do like the idea of having a list of the projects that are most important to me. My super simple hack – post-it notes! I jot all my ideas down on post-it notes and paste them into the planner, and move the post-its from month to month.

The other thing I did this year, which was super fun, was to write down all my depth year ideas on strips of paper and put them into a bowl. I let serendipity determine what I would focus on, since I found that I could very easily get stuck debating what I should do first! {Hot tip: this is typical procrastinator meets anxiety behaviour.}

I haven’t finished up those projects yet, but there are still two months left to this year. And 2020 is going to be another year of going deep, so I’m not overly worried or concerned about that!

So, there you have it. My planning system without a system. The perfect productivity and planning system for creative rebels and anarchists! 😉

Do you follow a productivity system or have any favourite productivity hacks? Please share them with me in the comments!

Posted in Journaling, Mindset for artists.

I’m an artist and art educator, podcaster, tarot reader, and writer. I share my discoveries along the path to inspire you to live a more creative, soul-centered life. Receive my love letters for more of my musings on life and creativity. P.S. I love Instagram - join me there?


  1. As I started reading your post, I thought you were talking about me. 😛 I am the same but then when I read further, I knew I was a step ahead. The post it notes sounds doable but having a planner for the month is a different ball game, Shinjini. You are the star! No wonder this is working.

    • It’s good to meet another person who thrives in chaos! 😉 The monthly planner is also a reverse planner – I’m just noting down what I do on a particular day. I’m not forward planning. 😉

  2. You have described me perfectly here. I can so relate to everything you have written here. My planning is a mixture of everything. But of late I have started doing a daily planning exercise. And a review at the end of the day. I have stopped worrying about what I didn’t get done and have started celebrating what I have done. And surprisingly that is a lot!

    • Daily planning hasn’t worked for me. When I tried daily planning (which for me was basically 3 to-dos every evening, after work), I didn’t feel like doing anything on my list that day! I’m glad it’s working for you, though. And I agree – it’s better to celebrate what you did do, rather than beating yourself up for what you didn’t!

  3. I can’t function without to-do lists. I have 3 permanent ones (on the Colornote app on my android) –
    1) Daily tasks (it remains the same, I just keep striking items off)
    2) Today’s list (made the night before, for the specific day’s tasks)
    3) General list (for the not-so-urgent tasks)

    Apart from these, I have started making a blog calendar separately (in plain and simple excel).

    I don’t keep a notebook though… will never have time to go back to it, so no point for me. Plus, phone is accessible any time, any where.

    • Wow, that’s really organised! Hats off to you! I also kept a blog calendar this year on excel. I didn’t stick to it, though, but it was helpful to plan out some posts/topics in advance. I’m going to try again next year!

  4. Just like most others here, I could relate to this. I’m mostly on the go and if I am planning something then it gets to the if else and goes to a, b, c and more. Better to go with the flow I think. Though I wish I followed one of the techniques you’ve mentioned here at least once in this lifetime from now.

    Such a lovely post Shinjini. I’d love to try the to do posts for 2020. I tried it for my wedding planning and it worked well. Easy with all fluttering colors. I love your journal and I remembered I have a similar one and I will be using that for 2020. ? You saved me from buying another one.

    The best part about the planning exercise is pasting it to the next day if we couldn’t do it the previous day. ? Haha. It’s a good thing and a bit of laziness too. But I like to see the goodness of it. ? Lovely post.

    • I like going with the flow too. I don’t even have to-dos for the day, really. More for the month as a whole, with a couple of things that are time sensitive (like the tarot spreads I create for each new and full moon).

      Glad you found some inspiration to make planning work for you! 😉

  5. Oh my…I’ve never tried ANY of those systems. Yikes! Literally the only thing I use to track any of my progress is the word-count feature on my Scrivener writing tool. I know word count isn’t the only goal I should have. I should probably start trying out these other techniques.

  6. You are miles ahead in this game Shinjini- what a perfect system. I love the idea of putting down your projects on a strip of a paper and then keeping them in a bowl to be picked out at random to do. I have failed miserably at keeping a planner, despite being gifted three 😉 I love making to-do lists as they make me feel accomplished but in reality the procrastinator in me tears it all down. I am going to take a leaf out of your book and try this bowl method for the year- sounds very exciting to me.

    All the best for the next two months-here’s hoping you get much more accomplished from your list 🙂

    • Have fun with the bowl method. I really enjoyed this way of focusing on/choosing my next big project. A tip for the to-do list is to let it be a big list for the month, for example. Choose what you feel like doing from that list instead of giving yourself a set of tasks for each day. 😉

  7. What a coincidence! I am have been trying to design my own planning system recently. I have realized that I have way too many to-lists and task lists and sometimes I never go back to them! Obviously the important stuff gets done, but even the little things that we might miss should be taken care of! I have a long way to go!

    Is it just me or does placing that tick next to a task bring in such a wonderful sense of accomplishment?

  8. You had me at the title! 😀

    Daily planning doesn’t work for me too. I plan things for a month at random and just hope that it gets done 😛

    More often than not, it does.

  9. I used a Bullet Journal for a while to build better habits – it really helped. Now that the habits are ingrained, I’ve stopped. I’ve been considering finding something similar, but with more flexibility. There’s always loads of stuff on my to-do lists and I don’t really have a way to prioritise *all* of them. So I tend to be carrying stuff forward a lot of the time, which is both time-consuming, annoying and draining of energy – as it reminds me of what I’ve not done rather than the other way round. So, I largely stopped. I like the idea of using post-it notes and, as a stationery addict, different coloured post-it notes are a win-win. Thanks so much! 🙂

  10. the only planning sorta thingy in my life is a very simple note app. I too tried various things but I don’t think I can ever get used to this sort of order in my life. :PI actually loved your jar idea. That is so me.

  11. Creative people are usually unorganised and chaotic. They find a method in the madness. I, on the other hand have OCD of organising. I used pen and paper to write my to-do list.

Leave a Reply