Best Laid Plans Habits

BLP Ep #38 Show Note & Insta Break

April 12, 2021

Today’s episode is another Q&A episode! You get 3 audio questions and a bonus ‘regular’ one.

Q1: What do you do with info that you know you might need later . . . but don’t know when?

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of keeping big reference files. I’m very grateful for incredibly effective email search engines for just this kind of thing! Sometimes I will even send myself an email in gmail just to have the info in an easily findable place.

If it’s more of a key contact, then saving on your phone with a good descriptor can be helpful. And if it’s something you really don’t want to forget, then perhaps it deserves a place on a “Someday/Maybe” list of sorts. I have one in Apple Notes!

Q2: How do you balance the Urgent vs Important when it comes to getting research done?

Can’t claim to be amazing at this myself, but the strategies that help me are specifically blocking off time (“Deep Work” time, to use Cal Newport’s term), and creating artificial deadlines (or real ones!) to add some urgency.

An artificial deadline = a meeting with a colleague to review a draft.

A real self-imposed deadline = knowing you want to submit an abstract to a certain conference.

Being really clear about your goals to publish or share your work can help bring this work into the Important and Urgent sector.

Q3: Any advice for planner shopping online when it’s so hard to see things in store, especially during the pandemic and especially with harder-to-find specialty brands?

Yep – YOUTUBE. I use Youtube almost exclusively for watching planner reviews (um . . . don’t judge). My go-to channel is Amanda’s Favorites.

The other possibility is to order off-season at deeply discounted prices so you can play with a product. I got my current EC weekly for under $20 since it was 3.5 months into the year already! But there are still many months to go, and I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t expect to want something new for the beginning of 2022 anyway. (Or before then. Lol.)

Remember, you can leave your own audio question – I’d love to hear more voices (including male voices . . . come on guys, I know there are at least a few of you listening). Just click the Speakpipe link below!


I did it, you guys.

Hobonichi 5-year of course

I posted to Insta that I would be absent for a bit and let everyone know where else to find me (in case they were directed to Insta through another source). Laura is going to take over the BOBW for now, and I am going to keep that godforsaken app off my phone for . . . well, let’s say at least until Q4.

Maybe until 2022.

I will allow myself to look at Insta on the computer at prescheduled times (literally only if I have written it down in my planner and scheduled ahead of times!) so I can stay up to date with the planner world, primarily for BLP. This week, I have scheduled myself 30 minutes for Friday night while kids are watching a movie. That’s it for the week.

Honestly, I’m excited. This is by far the most addictive thing on my phone (and I will not be seeking a substitute). I have zero regrets about ditching FB entirely in January 2016 so we will see what happens with IG over the long term. Does it give me more than it takes away?! Time to find out.


  • Reply Elaine Sanderson April 12, 2021 at 6:40 am

    Thanks for sharing your break from insta, it was the motivation I needed to deactivate my account so bubba doesn’t see me staring at a screen all the time. Not to mention the questionable 3am breastfeeding purchases I was making after scrolling or the pressure to bounce back. I hope you feel refreshed and find more pockets of time for the things you enjoy without it 🙂

    P.S Love your response to the research question, after years of struggling with research timeblocking at the start of the day when I am most fresh was the key to pumping out a few papers

  • Reply Katherine B April 12, 2021 at 7:17 am

    I’m quite a bit older than you Sarah (just turned 57) so have not really got into social media at all. I have never used either FB or Insta. Maybe I miss out but then again maybe I don’t. I love reading your blog and a few others and listening to a few selected podcasts. As a full time lawyer with daughters 21 and almost 17 but both still at home due to the pandemic, with house and garden and thousands of books I want to read and a love of watching live sport on TV I honestly don’t know where I would ever have found or even now could find time for either. Maybe when the girls have left home and I retire?! But huge good luck to you on reclaiming your time back and not feeling you are missing out on anything!

  • Reply CBS April 12, 2021 at 8:39 am

    Thoughts on the academic question – from a fellow academic, although one who teaches intermittently. I find for me that teaching expands to fill the time you get it. If I give myself all day to write a lecture, I’ll spend all day, if I give myself 3 hours, it takes 3 hours. Teaching takes less energy for me for writing, so I’ll often batch and write lectures on Fridays when I’m kind of knackered anyways. Also Gretchen Rubin/LV inspired but I find a power hour super helpful for dealing with teaching admin. Often I can just power through all student emails at once, and if the emails are similar, I can often use similar text. In pre-pandemic times, I’d often do student emails on my bus commute.

    I also do a weekly writing day with colleagues (now virtually) and I will fiercely protect this time.

  • Reply Ana April 12, 2021 at 10:16 am

    Ha! I wondered if I was the only one not wanting to write teeny tiny in my planner. Haven’t listened to the whole episode yet—hopefully soon.

  • Reply Rebeca April 12, 2021 at 10:42 am

    I am hopelessly addicted to TikTok. So much more engaging and enriching content than Instagram. But a time sink nonetheless.

  • Reply Jen April 12, 2021 at 3:22 pm

    Good for you for taking action on Instagram. It’s been bugging you for a while. I have found using the app timer to be really helpful. I do like Instagram and I admit that i like even mindlessly scrolling and looking at pictures – i don’t mind having this built into my day. On weekends i might give myself 15 minutes extra but overall it’s funny how I can change or remove the timer but i usually respect the ‘time out’ when it happens. I’ve put it also on a couple of games i enjoy but don’t want to side track a whole day because i need ‘just one more level’. But maybe you inspire me to shorten the timer on Instagram, specifically.

  • Reply Evi April 12, 2021 at 4:15 pm

    Hi, I am sorry in case I missed it (I am only following you since November, but very consistently since), but have you already reviewed ‘the full focus planner’? I am considering buying this one for 2022.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 12, 2021 at 6:03 pm

      This is old -I need to update! But I think it’s a really well done planner. I’ve used it a few separate times. Was lovely for the beginning of pandemic when I really wanted to recenter and focus on each day at a time. I’d happily use it again. I think this may need to be a full pod ep 🙂

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa’s Yarns April 13, 2021 at 8:38 am

    I hope the break from IG is good for you! I always take the break from social media for lent and it’s so good for me. I also took a break last November because election stuff was stressing me out! I limit myself to 20 minutes between IG and FB. That is helpful in making sure I don’t waste a ton of time. So if/when you add the ap back to your phone you could use screen time to prevent you from wasting too much time! I have a love hate relationship with IG. On one hand, I love seeing pics of friends/family and it makes me feel a bit more connected to them. On the other hand, it’s a big time suck and can be a comparison trap!

    You have changed planners so much in the last 1.5 years! I think you were loyal to Hobinichi for years before changing things up. Do you think changing planners is related to having a planner podcast? Or the pandemic? Or being more engaged in planner social media accounts/knowing what is out there? I’m just curious – no judgment as this gives us insight into the different planners you have tried! I am still leaning towards W222 in 2022 – I have small writing my so I think the size will be ok? But we will see! I’ve been using a bullet journal since 2017 but I think I’m ready to plan more intentionally. I have myself a break when I got pregnant/had our boys because I didn’t feel like I wanted to plan much besides meal plans but I think/hope that will start to change next year!

  • Reply Jen April 13, 2021 at 6:52 pm

    Thank you for the Amanda’s Favorites recommendation, I can’t wait to dig in!

  • Reply Evon April 15, 2021 at 1:04 pm

    Hi Sarah, Will you be posting your pictures here if you aren’t to be in Instagram? Sorry if I missed your explanation of how that will work.

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