Planners mentioned in the episode

The Happy Planner

Passion Planner

The Productivity Planner

The Full Focus Planner

Elefan Planner

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Lisa Woolfork  0:00

Hello stitchers Welcome to “Stitch Please,” the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where black lives matter. I'm your host, Lisa Woolfork. I'm a fourth generation sewing enthusiast with more than 20 years of sewing experience. I am looking forward to today's conversation, so sit back, relax, and get ready to get your stitch together.

Hello everybody, and welcome to a special episode of the Stitch Please podcast. This episode is not so explicitly about sewing, as much as it is about helping you get your stitch together as we head into the end of the year and turning into 2021.

This episode is about planning and planners and making plans. And specifically I was interested in how people use paper planners. I am a big paper person; I really like writing things down. I wrote my entire dissertation by hand in a series of notebooks, and then I typed it over again--because for me--paper--that paper and pen interaction….

I remember when I would read an article: I would summarize it in blue, I would write the direct quotes in red, and then I would write my own commentary in pencil. And then I would merge all that together. And I know for sure that red for direct quotes came from my upbringing as a Baptist. And all of--all those--in our Bible, all of the words from Jesus were in red, so for me, I was using like, direct quotes that--that--I still remember that system, and I still have some of those notebooks. But the point for me today is that--is to help us explore this connection between the tactile processes of writing something down on a sheet of paper, and sewing something, which is similarly tactile.

So I am not alone today!  I am joined by some fantastic charter members of Black Women Stitch. And if you are a Patreon subscriber, you will get a chance to see the video of some of these people heckling me as I am making the introduction to this episode. I am joined today by Deborah, Nikki, Toni, Queenora, Shana, and Naomi. There'll be some other folks maybe popping in and out. But welcome to the program. Everybody, you can unmute yourself and say “Hey.”

Nikki  2:32



Thank you.

The whole dissertation?


Yes, yes.

Lisa Woolfork  2:38

It’s something about writing something by hand….


No, no.


Deborah  2:48

NO. I wrote mine on my computer. I made notes by hand, but I wrote my dissertation using the computer.

Lisa Woolfork  2:52

I can't I--it's just something about that pen to paper, pen to paper--the sound of the pencil scratching along. It--it feels like I'm making something. So I’m really deeply attached to pens and paper.

[Crosstalk, laughter]

We had--we were all almost like all making the same facial expression when you were like....


Naomi  3:13

I just ordered a ream of paper from Amazon because I like paper. But no.

[Crosstalk, more laughter]

Was your dissertation three pages?

Deborah  3:23

Barack Obama just said that he wrote his entire 700 and some page--page tome by hand on legal pads and pen. He said that's the way he wrote it. And then he--he has his this whole thing up on Instagram talking about his writing process, which I found fascinating.


Uh huh, uh huh. [Indistinct]

I do believe there's a connection to pen and paper wired into my brain. So I do love that. I love notebooks. I love paper; I love planning.

[Crosstalk, indistinct]

My dissertation was 300 pages, and I wrote it on a computer.



Mine was five hundred pages.

Naomi  3:53

I don't remember things if I don't write them down. I'm a firm believer in pencil and paper. How and ever!  A whole dissertation? [Laughter] That I write a whole dissertation?

Nikki  4:06

A whole book….



With color changes?

Shana  4:09

[Indistinct, incredulous crosstalk]

There’s something about the feel of typing feverishly.

Nikki  4:13

And y'all she used three different instruments.

Queenora  4:17

Yes, you had color changes.

Shana [Possibly Lisa]  4:19

Correct, the Red….

[Crosstalk, laughter]

If it wasn't in red, Jesus didn't say it...but I had like….

But y’all!

Nikki  4:26

But y'all didn't she have--she had three different sewing machines setup.

Lisa Woolfork  4:30

That's true. I used to have three machines set up and I don't right now I only have the sewing machine and the serger. I put away the cover stitch thinking oh, I'll just pull it out when I need it. Which is apparently never.

Nikki  4:46

It’s the same thing. You did the same thing. Three different instruments. That's just like changing machines.

Shana  4:52

That's a thread.


Nikki  4:53

Good for you Lisa; good for you, Doctor.

Lisa Woolfork  4:56

And I--and--I like on Deborah's page, I love notebooks; like all of the planning for the podcast takes place on notebooks that are this size. And I have four of them over there from the first--I think we've done 76 episodes so far. And for me, I just like that feeling. And I connected to paper because paper and fabric are connected. They're both--they can be natural fiber--they have warp and weft. Warp and weft; you can tear a paper in a certain direction. It has similar properties. So there's something about it that I do absolutely love. We're getting started to think about our planners. And I thought I would start--this feels more like this is a confession.



But this is just a small sampling of the of the planners that I have known and loved for one sentence, and then discarded--



[W]hen I got this, which now reminds me of some giant clown college manual. It's gigantic. With the big rings. I went all out; I made stickers. I--I made custom stickers for myself, I took you know, like, all of my appointments and stuff I did. I did almost like a journal style.

So I can look back and--oh, look at this one!  So this was the month in 2018, where we--it was my birthday month--we went to Hamilton on Broadway--we--I went to the African American quilt guild retreat--I had all these different meetings and other kind of work-related things. And so very--I'm like, really involved--really into it. And then next thing you know, like--April rolls around--conference-- [pause] more April, and the rest of his book is--is blank.

Shana  6:42

I have three--three years of books just like that. That's like three years. Every year I bought a new one. I bought a fancier one. I'm gonna get it together this year.



And if I pull them out, they're just like that--January, February, heavily populated. I was gonna do which--empty the rest of the year, I might have popped back in August. I'm like, Oh my gosh, I'm a planner, and that’s what’s up now!


Lisa Woolfork  7:07

Oh I'm sorry, keep going.

Shana  7:09

No, I was just gonna say that it was over again.

Lisa Woolfork  7:10

And it's funny to me because you are a planner like that's your job as a project manager means that you'd have to like, do a lot of stuff and plan it out. And yet you are the rest of us mortals with the….

Shana  7:24

Yeah. It's something about--my husband calls it making the donuts. I think there's like a donut-- that Dunkin’ Donuts commercial years ago where the guy was just like--  “It’s time to make the donuts--time to make the donuts.” And it’s just like, once I finished doing that all day for other people, and then them not getting they stuff done and having a rest--like you would think I'm very organized. But that is not the case. But can I keep others organized? Yes. But when it comes to me, I'm just like meh, I don't feel like it anymore. Like, I don't want to make any more donuts.


That's right.

Deborah  7:59

I mean, I use mine, I was knocked off the rails with COVID. And life changing. I started I like this one, I use a Passion Planner. This is a plain one from last year.


Imake stickers and print stickers. So this is my January. And I use different boxes. This was Founders’ Week, so of course, I had lots of people.


Uh huh, uh huhhh

And yeah, make stickers, print stickers, buy stickers, but I like it. I will stay with something if it works for me. So this one is like 80 per cent there.  I like the spacing. I like how it's organized. And I am not one of those people that needs a separate book for every activity.


Uh huh

So I have to pick a book that I can put everything in.


Um humm

So this was my birthday week. So I got glitter on my birthday. Yes, I keep up with my studio work from um, artists, I keep up with people's appointments, birthdays, folks that I'm responsible for helping.  Work stuff only goes in here because it overlaps with my actual life. Otherwise, I keep an electronic calendar for that--I can pick up from anywhere on my phone. So this one is one I'm finishing up for this year. And I think y'all know I repurpose pages I don't like so they have a bunch of questions. But I plan like my paintings and stuff in here. And I just covered the sections I don't like with washi tape. And I think y'all also know that I like to do vision boards at the start of the year. So my vision board actually goes in the front of my planner. So I have one just about uh, life in general. And then this one was about my business.

And that way if it's always with me, I can stay focused. Then this one I went bigger this year. This is my book for this year. And I've already--because it had a logo, I don't want their logo on the front of my planner so I drew somebody; and I got a bigger one so that I can have a little more space to do planning, and so I will start--I’ll decorate the cover. And then in December, I will do some of what I call conscious clo--closeout, where I've asked myself questions about what happened over the year; who knows what this one's gonna look like this year. And then I'll do the vision board, and then I'll start planning for the year.



...You even got...

Shana  10:17

I think it's funny that you said that COVID threw you off of your planning and COVID had the opposite effect on my planning. And the planner that would normally have gone empty is full. Like, I use the planner all year long. Every week, it's like--I went back through it to prepare for this conversation, every week, I consciously sat down and made a plan. And again, I just told you, I couldn't get past February before. [Chuckling] For whatever reason COVID made me go, “Let's write this stuff down and make sure I get it done.” And I've got multiple different types of checklists.


And yeah


Deborah  10:56

Yeah, I can do that. But I know for mine, it's not as decorative. So basically, this is what it looks like. Now it's black and white. I have my workouts in here, stuff I'm tracking. And it's much simpler. It just took me a minute to adjust to what life was like. And so I just stopped for a minute. But you're right, writing it down to not have to pull it out of the sky all the time, but know what's coming, it does make a difference. That's why I like to do it. So…..

Nikki  11:24

That's very cool, Deborah--I--what I heard--Deborah say was you have your digital calendar, that's what I can't do. I have to have everything. So there's no--like when I was working, it was--


Working for someone else.

Yeah, I had that digital calendar. But I have to have everything and it takes me so long. So if they stopped making this, I have to search for another one. And if you can look--I usually--like this year, I didn't find this one until January. But--a minute. I didn't find it until January. And it's full. It's like, it's like, mad full. Because I put everything in it. Everything--every page looks like this. And it gets really crazy. And I like the little stickers and stuff. But that's just another task. Umma try it because I think--just think it looks good. [Laughter] And this is my main tool. I buy these by the case. I've been using these since ‘97. And if PaperMate ever stopped making these I'd be in trouble. I draft with these. I--so this is part of my planning. But, and I have to have the pages--like here's the month--I have to look at the month because I'm visual. If someone asked me, “What are you doing next Friday?” I can see it in my head, because I've been living on this. But then there's pages [pages turning] behind that I can take notes, and plan [pages turn], and all of that space. So I have to have everything [phone dings] in one place.

Shana  13:13

Is that a particular brand of planner that you prefer, or is it just that you couldn't find it for a while.

Nikki  13:18

No, it's not a particular brand. I usually start at CVS, and I end up at whatever other store….

[Laughter. Pages turn]

And because they'll start like in October, and go through the next December,


So that’s like an 18-month one.

Yeah, and I just look for it. And I don't care what it looks like, I just have to have the pages that I need. And sometimes because it goes out or whatever, I can't find that same exact one. So I end up with another so if you look at my last three of these, they're all different, but they still had the same capability on the inside. That makes sense?


Uh huh

Umm hmmm

Same pages. So, but I like those--I like that sticker thing. I think I was introduced to that at the retreat with Toni.

Shana  14:06

Yeah, Toni does wonderful. She’s like… Planner! She's one of those planner girls. Yeah….

Toni  14:12

I only have--I don't believe in buying a whole bunch of sticker books. I only own 20 sticker books.


That’s an only?

Lisa Woolfork  14:23

Can you ever say I'm only gonna buy 20 yards of fabric today like….

Toni  14:28

I only keep 20 sticker books. I've seen other planners have like, hundreds of sticker books. I only keep 20 because I'm like, “The space that all those sticker books can take up.” And I use them to have inspiration with the stickers and just sometimes you just want to have something that looks nice. I'm not as artistic as Deborah, that I could sketch all that stuff. So sometimes I want stickers that look like me, or I'm celebrating somebody's birthday and I want to put that in. My planner holds my finances, my monthly budget, and it holds my weekly and--and--and usually my fitness, and--but my Bible planner holds just my scripture writing and readings, because it was a planner that was gifted to me. And I love it because it's lavender and has a zipper. So I only have two planners. And that's it. I won't have 10 places [laughter] to be flipping through. Because if you don't see your planner, you're not going to use your planner.

Queenora  15:31

Yes. That’s so right Toni, I was one of--I’m one of the ones….  One of the ones that had a whole bunch of planners, at one for my finances, and one for health and wellness. I had one for the business, I had one for sewing, I had my phone that houses like all the kids' appointments and all that type of stuff. And in my mind, I was like, “Oh, I can keep everything straight because it has its own book. It has its own place.”

Let's just say that ain't last all of three weeks.

Deborah  16:01

that becomes a job. Just to keep up with all the different planners. That's why--one for me.

Lisa Woolfork  16:07

It's like you need to hire Shana to manage your planner life, Queenora. Like, she will help you develop [Indistinct]

Shana  16:13

I would be better with that than I am with managing my own planner.

Nikki  16:17

You need a project manager to help you manage your planner!

Shana  16:21

Plan your planning….

Queenora  16:22  It was too much.

Nikki  16:23

I have other books like I have my sketchbook that I do sewing sketching and I've got like just little notebooks like the acid dying that I do I have a--I took a--this if you ever need a book, you can go put your hand on a blank book because I never throw them away. You get a journal--somebody gives you something--I have a girl that gifted me a blank pages journal and she had my name on it--ain’t no way I can throw that away.


Shana  16:52

So that way the multiple planners for next year now that I've gotten this one planner thing down, because the planner that I've been using which is just--it was just one of these happy planners from JoAnn’s and in the way I started planning out my makes and my sewing and creating the sewing plans and how I was going to break all that down every week--I like the format of this. But the way I need to plan out my life and my individual goals or my professional goals, or things of that nature don't really fit in here. And my sewing  plans don't really fit in the other planner that I've chosen to work out my life plans in. So I'm contemplating multiple planners.

So this is something I was asking. And I wonder what you think about this? In what way do you make your planner more than just a to do list? What is the difference between having a to do list and having a planner that has things where it's scheduled that has like, why would someone even need to buy a planner when they could just get 79 cent notebook and write stuff down?

Lisa Woolfork  18:09

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Queenora  19:04

Stuff in a to-do list.

Shana  19:06

I feel like for me, what I did was the list has these little sheets that you can put in. So I put my sewing plan here. So I think this is from November, like here are the patterns I plan to make here in the makes I plan. And then my goal when I sit down every week, then I plan out the tasks I'm going to do.  So like here: If I cut out the pattern like--this--today, I'm gonna cut the pattern out. Or I'm gonna--this is for the coat class--I'm going to cut the coat fabric. So that for this week, I know the steps that I need to take in order to complete the plan that I have for the month.



Uh huhhhh

It’s like I have a to do list for the month but then I break that down into the task that I need to complete every day of the upcoming week in order to get the to-do lists done. So for me, that's the difference between like just having a to do list, and then recognizing the tasks that it takes to complete those to dos.

Lisa Woolfork  20:11

So what is that a to do list does not have to be an alternative or even in competition with a planner that you--that basically a to do list can be incorporated into an overall plan.

Shana  20:26

Exactly. And that's exactly what I did. Earlier in the year pre-COVID--There were--I--I literally have here the five to-dos I have like the five things for this week. And so these are the five things I need to do. And then through that week, I break down the tasks to get that done. So it's--it’s incorporated into the planner, physically by this little slip. But even if I didn't have that, everything that needs to happen is still here as well.


Okay, yeah--

Deborah  20:59

I do the same thing that Shana does, I think that helps you. So I have a to do list, I have the main goal, the tasks that allow me or the steps that I need to, I think I need to follow through it to get there. I put inspirational quotes in here, I have recipes. And I can also cross reference from month to month. So I use the month, big month calendar as an index for what's happening in case I need to go back to refer to something. So yeah, because it's one thing to write a list. But if you don't break down the list into steps to make them achievable, then you're just making a list. And then you find yourself carrying over the list from week to week, because you haven't set a strategy down to accomplish what it is you want to accomplish.

Lisa Woolfork  21:47

Hold on a second, Deborah, and stay with that a minute. I really like that because you are planning to use your planner in a way that sets you up for success. And so I do sometimes do this--I--like I'll have a to do list, or I'll have a list of ideas, I'll write it down, I'll keep adding and adding. But then I've not done anything with it. And then I have to go back to it and figure out like what I'm going to do next. I think this idea which reminds me of what Shana was saying about breaking things down into their components, that the way that you're using your planner is it's I don't know, it's just like such an it's almost like it's like a recipe book for success. And that it's really innate to you. And the way that you were I couldn't go and pick up your planner and have it work for me. Because customized it to just you. And so I'm wondering if you think that there's some kind of connection at all between planning something down on a sheet of paper, and then taking practical steps to control the way time works in one's life?

Deborah  22:55

I do. I think, for me, when I write things down, and when I set a plan, I'm calling things into my life. I'm calling in the things that I hope for and dream for. It's one thing to sit there and, “Oh, I wish.” But if you want to do it, how are you going to do it? And so I do think that there is a there's a connection in doing that. And that's the other reason why I like to have the vision board in the front too. So I can look back and see Oh, those things happen. You're not always conscious of it at the time. But I actually achieved even this year, a good--probably 85% of the things I hope to do. Yeah.

And I agree I did. Again, when I went back and looked at this planner-- at all the things that I've checked off. I was like that visual confirmation that I was getting stuff done. Even if chaos reigned I was getting things done, which in previous years, I could get to the end of the year and really be like, “Well, what’d I do this year?” But I had no record of it. There were I didn't have a plan for it. I never record for it, which again, is why I was like this works so well. And I feel so accomplished by what I set out like just going back through and looking at all the things that are crossed off or checked off, or-- And then opening up my closet and looking at all the things I made, and I was like, “Shucks, look at that!”  Obviously I have more time, but the fact that--that is that I planned that time, and then I executed in that time. And being able to see that plan had inspired me to go okay, “I did that.  I was consistent in that; I am consistent in that. Let me see if I can apply that to the rest of my crazy life.


I feel like go off the rails for me like a large part of my actual professional work is planning for every minute of every single day, which helps to keep my classroom running smoothly. And then it goes completely off of the rails. From my personal life, like I, like I said earlier, I like to write things down. And so I have a nice, like a nice hefty book that I use as a planner. And I've used this particular style of planner for, I think three years now. So this one is--I always get them to run from July through December of the following year. And I wind up getting the--the next one, I never get to September, October, November, in the following--in the following year, because school starts again. And so I gotta ramp up for school. So the end, really, in this book, it went to hell in March, there were many things. And then, basically all I did in this planner from mid-March through the through the end of the school year was, like, write down how many days--what day of virtual school were we on--it was--it's just a book of sadness, honestly, when I was just flipping through--and what did the last year look like--and put that over to the side. But yeah, like, y’all saw at the very beginning, I love a post-it. And so I have little serial killer notes all over the place on post-its because I'm like, Oh, I need to put that in my planner, if I don't have it right at fingertip, oh, I need to put that in my planner. And I wind up with a bunch of lists that just go from month to month. So since March--I been saying--I had--[Laughing, indistinct] Oh, it’s so sad--the list of all--all my sewing that I was gonna get done, when I felt quarantine was, gonna be two weeks, I had two--two post-its full of things that I was gonna get done.

Naomi  26:52

Of the things on this list, I have accomplished--one-ish, one-ish, yes.

Because it's just a list. So it never goes from this is what you want to do, break it down into the parts that you need to do to get it done. And I think that a large part of that is because that's what I do for like work all the time. I don't want to I don't want to do it.

Shana  27:24

You don't want to make the doughnuts.

Naomi  27:27

From my personal life, but I still have all these things that I want to do. And so I just keep taking my post it and my post it has gone from the old book into the new book. And….

Lisa Woolfork  27:40

do you think Naomi that this is a structural limitation based on the planner that you've chosen because I'm thinking just that just--I only mentioned that because I have a planner similar to the one that the Shana was just showing. And it has this ability to take a list or even a sticky note that's formatted for the book, and you put it in there. And then it's--it's there. And I guess I could certainly pass it on from month to month, but at least I would see it and incorporate it. That's what I thought was interesting about what Shana had described. Like, I think essentially what we're all trying to figure out or what--I'm--what I am trying to figure out is how do you turn a to-do list into an actual plan, not enough just to write it all down. And sometimes it's good to have reminders of the things you're interested in. But if there's things you want to accomplish, everything you write on that list has to have a plan behind it.

Shana  28:35

[Indistinct] [Y]our list because in the front of this planner is the larger list of--here's all the things I want to sew this year, and it's three pages long.


Um hummmm

But then every month, I would go through the list and pick out here are the two or three or five or however many I thought I could accomplish things I am going to sew this month, they would go on the monthly plan [Indistinct] monthly--right, this is the November plan, every month, they would go on the smaller one. And then I would move them from the larger list to the more focused monthly list. And then the plan--I would break the plan down from here. If I was gonna even here I started even in this list I was gonna do was in 5525. It was like cut the pattern, cut the fabric. These are simple things like it's not it's not I didn't get detailed. It's literally like one night I gotta sit down to cut the pattern out; one night I gotta sit down and cut the fabric out, right--right, then the weeks just literally go Monday: That's the night I'm gonna sit down and cut out the fabric. Tuesday, that's the night--and so by doing that, the hope, or the plan is that by the Saturday and the Sunday which is when I would concentrate on the majority of that sewing Yeah, everything thing that I needed to get done to do the sewing had already been done. And then I could go back and mark it off the smaller list and then go back in, mark it off the larger list. So even if you start with that larger list, just breaking it down to a smaller list and then breaking that smaller list out to task.


Um hmm

Deborah  30:19

To me, there's a psychological component of it too. Because as Shana was saying, when you break those things down, you make them manageable when they're bite-sized. And then, as you check things off, you have a sense of accomplishment as far as you want to do more, you have a plan. And I've had this experience before that Naomi was describing, I have all these things I want to do over the weekend. And then the weekend comes and there's so much I want to do I get paralyzed, and I don't do anything. Now what I started doing was reminding myself, here's some of the things I want to accomplish. And then I'm like, Oh, yeah, I wanted to do that. And then I already have it broken down. And I can go tackle that. So that helps me not suck up so much time trying to figure out what, um, it is I want to do--


I want you to mind your business about my weekends, please and thank you.

Oh, mine used to be before I started keeping a running list, and I have a master list. And then the list gets broken down by month. And then I break things down. So that helps me, keeps me inspired. It keeps me motivated to keep going. Yeah, but I realized not everybody wants to do that


Shana  31:24

Things come off on that larger list. [Indistinct] Like Deborah said, I’m like, “Oh, look at me, I'm getting stuff done. Let me grab a couple more. Let me plan those couple more. Yeah, it gives you momentum. To keep going.

Nikki  31:39

I have to do that for myself. And even though all the big rocks are in here, but--I love the post-it notes that go on the wall. Okay, so that one, here. Those are the big rocks, and I got a bunch of checkmarks that I've done. So daily, I can look and say “Did I get this done?”  So this sheet doesn't change, except it's like the big major stuff that has to happen. And then the bottom sheet is weekly. If I'm doing what I'm supposed to do. The bottom sheet gets changed weekly, because these are the big projects that I'm working on. Now that one project may go on next week sheet. I need that daily “What did I do today?”

Shana  32:27

I think that's just proof that planners can take a lot of different forms. Yeah, it doesn't have to be this Happy Planner from wherever or it can take any form that works for you.

Deborah  32:39

Mm hmm.

Nikki  32:40


Queenora  32:40

just finding what it is that works for you. And keeping up with it, because similar to Deborah and Nikki, you have all these things that you want to do. And you're like, Okay, I know I wanna to do it on Saturday. And then Saturday gets here, and you have this whole big thing you want to do and you're just like, “What am I supposed to do? How do I do it?” And then it comes to where you have these deadlines. And I'm just like, and Nikki and probably a lot of people, you have these deadlines. And if you're like me, you will pull an all nighter to make sure you get the deadline done.


Get it done

that I had to do this week, for instance. And it's not a consistent--it's not what you want to do consistently in your business. It's not a good habit to make. Umm trying to do all nighters and doing things at the last minute. So hopefully, I got this new planner and before I show you this planner, y'all don't laugh.

Lisa Woolfork  33:30

What do you think?

Were we able to do it without laughing? Here's what we said,

Nikki  33:34


Lisa Woolfork  33:35


And here's what happens

Queenora  33:37

Cause this is the planner.

Lisa Woolfork  33:39

Wait, let me pin you! Let me spotlight you because I'm having trouble believing what I'm seeing. Hold please.

Queenora  33:44

The planner--y’all when this planner was delivered, my husband's like, “What, did you get a college textbook?”


That is a telephone book!


This is the planner. And I got it because it goes to what Lisa was saying where you don't want your planner to be a to do list and when I saw her ummm--

Lisa Woolfork  34:04

I said don't make your planner a to-do list. I didn't say go buy you a whole new Bible!

Nikki  34:11

[Indistinct] planner for intentional living.

Queenora  34:14

She has these different pages like this one where you write down what you intend to do on the month, and then you break down those intentions into these bite-sized pieces, how y’all were saying--what are you going to do to achieve it? And so she has all these different things to help you like really write down like--why do you want to do this? Why is this goal important? How are you going to get to the big goal and putting it in those like bite-sized pieces. Like, there’s six pages every month. Taking your big goals and putting them in bite sized pieces.



Deborah  34:48

That's too much for me.


Unknown Speaker  34:53


Shana  34:57

I would just be overwhelmed by the book. Overwhelmed by the size of it. I just woulda looked at and be like, I wouldn't want to just say, “I can't do this.” It looks like work. It is a lot.

Deborah: [time stamp?]

I know; me too!

Toni  35:05


Nikki  35:08

Oh. Em. Gee.

Queenora, Would you travel with that?  Queenora, would you travel with it?

[Indistinct group incredulity]

Lisa Woolfork  35:14

That's beautiful. It's really beautiful. And Queenora, I guess for me you chose that, because you believe it's going to work for you. And I like what Toni was saying. And Toni said, and I don't want--and please clarify, Toni, if I'm misquoting you: “If you don’t see your planner, you won't use your planner.” Yeah, right. And so I'm--

Uh huh, um hmmm

Oh, umma see this.


Nikki  35:36

Naw, that thing--in the middle, y'all notice that she didn't open the middle. That thing has more hours than the day.

Naomi  35:41

How much does it weigh?

Queenora  35:43

Girl, this thing--

Deborah  35:45

It’s gotta be--at least three pounds, at least.

Queenora  35:48

It’s gotta be. Like, this is a lot. This thing is heavy. Yeah.

Shana  35:51

I'm very interested in how that--how it works for you. It just--

Unknown Speaker  35:57

It look like a lot.

Naomi  35:58

I would like to propose a weekly check-in on it, for sure.


I may need it. I may need it. But I'm hoping that like really writing it down in one place. That was the other thing. Because I went from five of these.

Queenora  36:12

Yeah, like five of these to now one, which I guess makes sense. Six of these equal one of this. But--  [Book slams on surface]

Nikki  36:23

Good luck with that.

Queenora  36:25

This is my golden book.

Lisa Woolfork  36:26

Yeah. I think it's really it's--compatible with what you are looking for. Or if you have the opinion that if you have this plan, and it's going to change your life, you want it to not be the size like this. You want it to be hefty and substantial. because your life is substantial. I can see why that would be an attractive thing. I'm excited. And I only--

Nikki  36:47

[Indistinct] [G]onna come to next year's meeting look out--

Shana  36:50

Like using whatever works for you. Yeah, like they won that Jill introduced us to-- the Full Focus one that is broken into quarters. I thought that was genius. I don’t want to say I immediately ordered--but I did some research, and I immediately ordered it! I was like, I can chunk out three months, it doesn't feel as overwhelming. And I was like, No, if I just sit down and focus on these three months--this is how we do things in life. That is how we do things at work. We always--we plan quarterly--like it works for us; it's very efficient. So--why not try to figure out my life that way? Yeah, whatever works for you. So I'm very interested to see how that system is just like I'm very interested to work this ‘Full Focus’ process and see how that one works for me, but whatever, whatever works for you--

Nikki  37:43

You had me at intentional living. I like that if that content--lends to that content, you're a winner with that one.

Lisa Woolfork  37:51

And I--the thing for me that I find so exciting. And one of the things--I--why I wanted to do an episode like this using the paper planners, is that it was through talking with Deborah and Jill and other folks--I think Toni does this as well-- If the book doesn't totally suit you 100 per cent, you can modify it


Umm hmmm….

and make it do so. And I don't know why I felt like I was today years old when Deborah showed how she had completely transformed some--like terrible advice that was in the planner that she didn't like, and covered it with washi tape. [Group chuckling] And I was like--no, it's funny because I went from my planner looking like this--and I like this productivity planner. That's what I was using. And I used this all of like 2018 and 19 and it does time-chunking which is like the Pomodoro method to this, where I was able to like--  “Blecch, that quote is so repressive. And I hate it.” Now I can cover it with this beautiful tape that I got from Capitol Chic. The black- woman-owned-one that’s in [Indistinct]. So like now it's so much better.

Unknown Speaker  38:58


Lisa Woolfork  38:59

I thought of reminding people too that we don't--you don't have to like in sewing we don't have to follow or color within the lines. You can do that same thing for your planner and let that also be like a metaphor for your life. Like you get to do with it what you want. Do you have any advice that you would offer to anybody as we move out of 2020 and into 2021 that a planner might help with? Do you have an idea of what I guess some people call it “planner peace,” where you find a planner that like--meets every need all the time? It might be the one Queenora’s got  [Group chuckling] because she certainly gets the award for having the biggest one--is there something that you think okay, if I really get into--this will help me get off on a strong start? I don't know if you think in those ways at all about your planning.

Naomi  39:51

So I--the idea of the Full Focus planner for me is appealing, but I have some habits around starting things and then not finishing them. So before I committed so financially to the Full Focus planner, because--I felt like it was about 60 bucks, I went right on down to the Marshall’s and said, “Okay, I have my one planner that I use. And it's really just a list of things.” So before I-- before I go and go off buying something else, that I'm only gon’ halfway use--I'm the queen of serial killer notes.

So I got like--this is a pattern that I cut out. And also some math instruction and what's happening here too. But I started to write out-- “What do I actually want in a planner?” And like--it was in like--in the polos when those conversations were happening, I keep coming back to this little note that I wrote, I want to have a weekly view on the calendar that I can break into three parts that are like--birthdays and stuff that I want to remember, like a schedule, so I know where I need to be. And then my to-do list because I really do like lists, I like making lists. So I know that's something that I need to have in a planner, because I want somewhere to have my lists so that I can [pause] put them somewhere where I'm going to see ‘em. But the idea of having the vision board in the planner instead of something that I will partner with girlfriend and make, and then never put on the frickin wall, so I never look at it. Every year, I'm like, “Oh, that was my vision board for the year,”  I want to have a monthly sewing planner in there, I want to have some habit trackers. So when I had this list of things that I wanted in a planner, when I went down to the Marshall’s to get my little $6 book that I'm gonna--I'm gonna use it side by side with the planner that I have. But the little one that I bought--it has some things in it that I'm wondering if they can turn into a real way to organize myself in a way that's gonna work. So you don't have to spend a whole bunch of money instead of buying this--the $60 Focus Planner that I would need to buy four of to get me through the year, I got the little $6 book down the Marshall’s. And I know what I want to put into--I know what I'm hoping to get out of it. So maybe that will make it something that's more functional in my life. So that would be my advice. You don't have to jump into planning with the washi tape and the bullet journals and all that. Yeah. First think about what you want out of the planner, and then find the one that fit those things for the you.

Deborah  43:04

Yeah, that's where I was gonna go with it. Because--I had my first question to myself is always, “What am I trying to do?” And what are the tools I need to help me achieve that. And so I'm in between--mine was I think like, 30 bucks. This is, like I said, the Passion Planner--it usually says Passion Planner, but I drew over it. And it really meets all of my needs. I'm even moving my sewing drawings into the back of the book. So I have one book for studio--for sewing. And for me, there's also not one perfect book, I think a lot of times, the--the planning piece gets taken up by trying to make the process and the book perfect, and it's just not--so find something that is close to what you think you can use, and then go from there. And like we've already said, you can customize it or whatever. And the last thing for me to get started in a new year, I always like to do what I call the “conscious closeout.” I think I said this, I can't remember--where I just review the year, ask questions around “What it was I was trying to achieve?” Did I achieve it?  If I didn't what kept me from doing it? And I have different categories that I work through. And then once I close out the year, then I move into “What do I hope to do for the coming year?” But for me, there's no perfect book. Pick one.

Nikki  44:18

I would recommend if we're thinking about streamlining some of the thing about streamlining or whatever or it just go into a new process. If there's something that's working for you 100% and never fails you whatever that one thing is maybe build on that to maybe streamline because I think that's what I did. Because--I had--I was that person with three and five books. Okay, it’s in this book. Okay, it’s in this one. Oh, yeah. Now it's in this book, because I didn't take this to a client's meeting. But now my life has changed--there if there's something that you do because it's got to fit your personality also. And so if there's one thing that you do, like maybe build on that, okay--I like this about this and then there's something--I like about that--just maybe identify the things that you do love that do work for you--that do match your personality--and build from there. And everything she said. And she said.

Shana  45:12

and I would also add it on to everything she said, is to plan to plan. And one of the things in the Full Focus videos, they're like, one of your goals every week should be to plan the week.


Yeah. And so, for me, it's your personal office hours. conversations about having a plan, just a planning time, we just get together and plan. So plan to plan and I realized, when I went back through the planner has it on Sunday nights--I'm climbing to bed with the planner and plan the next week, and say, “Okay, here are the patterns I want to work on. Here's what I need to do.” So plan to plan, and it'll start to form consistency, because that's where I got the consistency that I have issue that I didn't have before. It's because I was just like, “Oh, I need a planner, I got one.”  But I never made a plan to even plan in the team and use the planner. So plan to plan. I love this plan to plan. Otherwise, your planner, it will end up like quite a few that I have here at my house that have one sentence written in them. And that's enough of that. Let me go buy another book before I go ahead and lose this one. [Laughter] Plan to plan i think is a really smart idea. You all are amazing. Thank you so much for joining us for today's conversation about planners. And come back next week and we'll help you get your stitch together.


Bye bye.

Lisa Woolfork  46:40

You've been listening to the Stitch Please podcast, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where black lives matter. We appreciate you supporting us by listening to the podcast. If you'd like to reach out to us with questions, you can contact us at If you'd like to support us financially, you can do that by supporting us on Patreon, “p-a-t-r-e-o-n” and you can find Black Woman Stitch there in the Patreon directory. And for as little as $2 a month you can help support the project with things like editing transcripts and other things to strengthen the podcast. And finally, if financial support is not something you can do right now, you can really help the podcast by rating it and reviewing it anywhere you listen to podcasts that allows you to review them. So I know that not all podcast directories or services allow for reviews. But for those who do for those that have a star rating or just ask for a few comments, you can share those comments and saying nice things about us and The Stitch Please podcast, that is incredibly helpful.

Lisa Woolfork  47:48

Thank you so much. Come back next week and we'll help you get your stitch together.

Hosted by Lisa Woolfork

Lisa is a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast who learned to sew while earning a PhD in African American literature and culture. She has been sewing for more than twenty years while also teaching, researching, and publishing in Black American literature and culture.

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