Best Laid Plans

BLP Ep #111: Thinking Through the Holidays, Habit Tracking, Collecting Memories Long Term, and 2 Planner Matchups

September 12, 2022

It’s a Q&A Episode!

Topics include:

1) Planning sustainable and enjoyable holiday seasons

Going to take a card from Kendra Adachi of Lazy Genius fame and say: start by NAMING WHAT MATTERS (to you!)

I will also add my own card which is:  Space out the fun!

Sit down on a quiet afternoon SOON (yes September!) and write out what is important to you this holiday season.  You might choose:

  • decor
  • a special meal with family
  • hosting
  • travel
  • cookie baking/exchanging
  • community celebrations
  • gift giving
  • sending cards

Be honest – are some more important than others?  Are there things you have held onto just b/c you were doing them before?  Are there things that could be simplified (example: use an app and do a gift exchange instead of a million individual family gifts, or just do uniform gift cards for all?).  Are there budget constraints which make a lot of this stressful, and places you could pare down?  

Then for the ones that DO matter, create a realistic timeline.  The point of this stuff is that it’s supposed to be FUN!  Not just for others but for you, too!!  

Set boundaries in a kind way, and with enough notice.  Example — hosting others:  Is there a way to place boundaries around this?  Either decide on meeting at a mutual place instead of your home, or shortening the duration?  OR, if people are staying, creating some shared responsibility around mealtimes etc?

I think the fact that you asked about it is a great start towards being intentional this year!


  • holiday cards – will work on updating address list in Nov (put note in planner)
  • will send cards electronically
  • will delegate hanukkah gift buying (lol . . but to the extent possible) and stick to an ‘easy’ framework
  • will enjoy making 1-2 dishes for thanksgiving 
  • will try to take at least one full day off WITH childcare (camp) over winter break b/c I know I will need it!

2) Tips for tracking (and not forgetting to track)

First – tracking is optional!  Do it if it helps you or brings you joy. DON’T do it if it doesn’t 🙂

Here is my prior episode on tracking: (#88) – Tracking: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Personally I do find it motivating though tend to stick to shorter term trackers more reliably! I definitely support working on tracking just one habit at a time if tracking has been difficult or you are trying to figure out what works.

If you use a weekly planner and look at it regularly, it’s probably the best place for your trackers!  My suggestion is either to use the monthly calendar OR if you’re more likely to actually turn to your weeklies, make a mini tracker there!  You could make a tiny grid with the habits (maybe no more than 3) on one axis and the days of the week on the other.  

You can also build tracking in as a ritual — for example, you could link tracking your reading to something you do right before checking email for the first time each day, or when you plan out your day.

 ALSO: sometimes having an end point can help!  Seems like a more finite less overwhelming project

Personally: Reading is something I have mostly enjoyed tracking on a monthly spread so I can see the progression!  ALSO remove any pressure to be perfect.  I am definitely highly imperfect with my trackers! Maybe work on the idea that if you miss a day, it’s fine to pick up later 🙂

3) Planner matchup request: daily pages with gridlines + colorful tabs?



Whistle & Birch

Golden Coil (so much customization!)

You can also ADD tabs! My Hemlock & Oak (affiliate link, use code BLP for 10% off!) has rainbow tabs from EC on it 🙂  And pages could easily be dressed up with stickers etc. 

EC colorful tabs can be added to any planner!

4) A system to keep special memories + achievements long term

OOOOH I love this idea!

One idea would be a 5 year journal – but even that can have a lot more than just “highlights”.  Sort of love the idea of a book that goes from year to year, perhaps one with removable pages that captures highlights (and yearly lists all in one place — swoon!).

I think a binder might be best!  Something durable and nice that you can add pages to over time.  Maybe an Erin Condren ring agenda filled with blank paper Maruman or if you wanted to go SUPER luxe/special, I’ve been looking at Plotter (

Finally – could do a special “long term” notebook where you put things to celebrate.  Would be a really cool scrapbook to build!  Could have sections like:

  • work victories
  • highlight reel (photos)
  • personal achievements
  • experiences to remember

5) Planner matchup request: planner for a middle schooler

1- Mochithings makes great and fairly portable planners with weekly layouts!  You could get them a (cheap on sale) 2022 to try, like this one.

Weekly 2022 Planner via Mochithings

2- Erin Condren Academic! Pricier but lovely quality and very functional: here. This is what Annabel has currently!

3- Passion Planner: lots of teens love this layout – perfect for tracking lots of time commitments and activities but also prioritizing fun.

4-  Amanda Rach Lee’s bullet journal style planner is great but no academic release (only yearly).

5- Jibun Techo or Hobonichi Weeks are great options too.

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Planner Peace

Keep your submissions coming — or submit a speculative entry about what didn’t work this year and what you HOPE might bring PP in 2023.


  • Reply Amanda September 12, 2022 at 6:41 am

    Since you use them I assume those tabs stay on well? I got the ink and volt ones last year and they all fell off. Very disappointing.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger September 12, 2022 at 7:47 am

      They stay on TOO well- you can’t move them once you place them but they are very secure.

  • Reply Chelsea September 12, 2022 at 9:50 am

    I’m a Questioner, and I do extremely little tracking. I will do it if I feel like I’m getting actionable information out the other end (I do a lot of workout tracking – but that happens automatically via my watch) but I just cannot get into tracking just for the sake of tracking. So #solidarity with other non-trackers.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa’s Yarns September 12, 2022 at 11:42 am

    So for the tracking question, I only track things that I can verify through my fitness tracker – so I track days with 10k steps or more and workouts. I like to see how many I do each month and then I also graph them because I am a numbers/data dork. But if I didn’t have data from my Fitbit to help on days I forget to track, tracking would be more hard and I would need to set reminders to track.

    The Holiday question made me think about some of the work I did in therapy in the fall of 2020 about setting boundaries and letting go of guilt. So I would suggest therapy if she struggles with setting boundaries!! At that time, I was working through guilt around boundaries to protect me/my family from getting Covid and we got a ton of pushback. But we had named what mattered and my husband and I were in complete agreement and the therapy helped me deal with the fact that my family can be disappointed in our decisions but that doesn’t mean you need to change your decision. Holidays are just so tricky… I think we know what matters to us or can figure that out pretty easily. It’s the communication of what we want to do and the fallout that can result that is difficult, at least for me since I have a big family and how we spend holidays can differ drastically from my siblings.

  • Reply Nicole September 12, 2022 at 1:03 pm

    One thing for #4 would be Gretchen Rubin’s Memento Keepsake Journal. I can’t personally vouch for it, but it sounded like a maybe match for this need.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger September 12, 2022 at 1:40 pm

      Ooh good call!!!

  • Reply Megan September 12, 2022 at 9:44 pm

    Another suggestion for #5: the Bloom academic planner is working great for my middle schooler so far this year!

  • Reply Coree September 13, 2022 at 4:16 am

    I use the Counter app for things I want more of in my life – more bike rides, more outside time, more calls with my mom, more social events, more books read to kiddo. Because it’s just straight numbers, I don’t feel bad if it’s a rubbish week, but I do get to see the numbers grow over the course of the year. So I’ve done 304 miles on my bike, read 380 books to my kid (picture books), had 57 social events, spent 458 hours outside.

  • Reply AW September 13, 2022 at 10:16 am

    Great post! If you’re up for sharing (and completely understand if not), I’m curious if your nanny is still with you. You mentioned camps for winter childcare – I know your nanny probably has family she wants to be with, so it could just be that, but wasn’t sure if there was a change to your childcare now :).

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger September 13, 2022 at 11:04 am

      No change in childcare 🙂 but she always takes vacation around Christmas break!

  • Reply Jessica September 14, 2022 at 7:09 pm

    For the tracking question, you mention putting it in a place you’ll definitely look – my boyfriend has a printed page habit tracker on the fridge! If the question-asker doesn’t mind the look of something like that, they will definitely look at the fridge or similar places frequently! Perhaps for a more hidden place, use the inside of a cabinet used for your morning or nighttime routine – like a page taped to the inside of a bathroom cabinet or where you keep your coffee.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger September 15, 2022 at 1:53 pm

      Love it!!!

  • Reply Sydni September 17, 2022 at 2:10 pm

    I love that you mentioned Kendra Adachi and naming what matters when kicking off holiday planning. She also offers a resource called The Holiday Docket that is very much planning-adjacent and may be beneficial. It was included as a preorder bonus a few years ago when The Lazy Genius Way came out and I’ve used it ever since.

    Also, have you considered Kendra as a podcast guest? Her own planning philosophy sort of confuses me (chairs, bunting, etc.) but could be super interesting to hear about in the context of your podcast.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger September 17, 2022 at 2:59 pm

      Ooh yes forgot about the holiday docket!
      Kendra came on Best of Both Worlds a few months ago! I’d LOVE to have her on BLP. Will try 🙂

  • Reply Kate March 6, 2023 at 2:05 pm

    What is the 5 year planner you use? I can’t find it listed in your notes.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 6, 2023 at 2:15 pm

      Hobonichi 5 year 🙂

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