by Marybeth Whalen

September 2017

“We’re all mad here…”The Cheshire Cat

(Mad for planners, that is!)

In a few weeks I will mark an anniversary that means nothing to anyone but me. It is the anniversary of the day I fell down the rabbit hole into the planner world. One Saturday morning, looking for a way to consolidate my rather haphazard planning system, I got on You Tube and searched for Ryder Carroll’s bullet journaling video. Underneath that video, was a link to a video by a woman named Gretchen Hope. From the thumbnail image, I could see that, while Ryder Carroll’s bullet journal was utilitarian, her bullet journal was pretty. Being a girl who likes pretty, I clicked on it. And then I clicked on another, and another, and another.

I spent that weekend in a frantic haze of video watching and Instagram subscribing. I had discovered a whole world I didn’t know existed—a world of people like me—people who love to plan. Back then I’d seen washi tape, but had no idea what to do with it. I’d never seen a traveler’s notebook. I thought stickers were something for kids to get at the doctor’s office. I’d never heard of happy mail. In short, my life—and my bank account—have never been the same.

So in honor of this anniversary, and in homage to this plannerland I fell into, I wanted to share four things I gained by falling down this particular rabbit hole:


One of the things I love about the planner community is the inspiration I receive there—inspiration to plan more efficiently, with materials that not only equip, but inspire at the same time. The colors, the stickers, the little artistic, creative touches, the idea that you can create a planner that makes you want to plan, that makes you happy. In plannerland, planning is play. It is not a drudgery.


Through the tips and wisdom of fellow planners I am motivated to not only plan, but to push myself in areas of life I’d never considered. I’ve created a home management binder, a business planner, and I’m journaling more than ever before. Even things like adding stickers or journaling cards with motivational quotes on them serves to spur me on—to do more, to do better. And though they tease me relentlessly about my planner obsession love for planners, my family benefits greatly from all I’ve gained.


When I stumbled into Plannerland on that auspicious day, I had a rudimentary system that I knew could be better. Two years later, I’ve got a system (ok, many, many systems… I love them all!) that serves me well, keeps me on track, helps my brain not get overloaded by trying to hold too much information, and frees me up to do other things. I am more productive, less stressed, and I am having fun doing it. I’ve come to realize that not only is planning a necessity, it is also my hobby. It is so nice to blend the two. If I have to do it anyway (and with six kids, a husband, a career, and a house to maintain I do have to do it), why not have fun while I’m doing it?


Probably the best thing I’ve gotten out of these two years is the celebration that comes with planning—and not just the big days (though planner girls celebrate those like no one else!) but the little ones too. There are stickers for pool days, happy mail, girls’ nights out, date nights, even ordering pizza. With each new season comes a whole new reason to celebrate, the reminder that all of life is to be marked, to be noticed, to be observed. There can be as much joy and cause for celebration on an ordinary Tuesday as there is on the 4th of July. If not for planning I might’ve forgotten that.

If not for plannerland, I might’ve missed so much.

Marybeth Whalen is the wife of Curt, the mom of six, and the author of seven novels. The newest one, When We Were Worthy, released on 9/12/17. She is also the cofounder of She Reads,, a site devoted to spotlighting the best in new women’s fiction. When she’s not chauffeuring children or at the grocery store (again), she can be found either reading or planning. You can find her on Instagram, where she shares about planning, books, and life as a mom of many @marybethwhalen.


One thought on “Plannerland

  • September 14, 2017 at 8:00 AM

    I was fortunate enough to buy a pre-loved TN from Marybeth. I am obsessed! I’ve been a planner since I was in middle school as that was the only way my ADD brain could keep up with assignments/tests/projects but only found this community a couple of years ago. I am so glad I did!!


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