As I write this, a bleak terror-creature is clawing at the place between my ribs. There is nothing that I know of that should instigate this anxiety, but it has come to call for the last few weeks, and shows no signs of crawling away.

On days like this, when my health—mental or physical—is not what I’d like it to be, I rely on the scaffolding of my morning routine.

I once saw a therapist (I only saw her once) who told me that I clung to my Filofax, which I had brought with me, and which was filled with notes and printed papers, because many people living with mental illness use planners and organizers to impose order on unruly minds. She was not the right therapist for me, but I agreed with her. I do continue to use a planner. I have my routines and rituals—I wrote about my morning rituals in this blog post—and those routines and rituals set me up for both productivity and a greater peace of mind.

As mentioned, I use a planner, which is the cornerstone of my morning and life. The folks at call it a “productivity journal,” which is more correct than incorrect—it does help me to be productive, and I do use it like a more conventional journal; I often share photos of my planner, which is a Hobonichi Techo Cousin 2017, on Instagram, because it is nice to look at. I use stickers and markers, colored pens, washi tape. Many people have asked me to explain how I use my planner, particularly as a woman with chronic illness and mental health issues, and I’ve obliged by creating a new e-book: Productivity Journaling with Limitations (The Morning Ritual).

hobonochi planner bullet journal in black ink

This e-book is a walkthrough of how I use my planner in the morning, and includes lush photographs, lists of tools and resources, explanations for why I do what I do in my productivity journal as a matter of course every single morning, and simple tips and tricks to get in gear with goals and tasks when you’re just not sure how much energy or time you have to burn. It’s beautiful, it’s easy to browse, and you can grab a copy for free if you click on over to this page. People who are already subscribed to With Love & Squalor will have received a copy in their inbox by the time this post goes up.

My spiritual mentor, Bri Saussy, says, “Limitations are more than necessary for life; they are life. We come to know our world and ourselves by contrast and in relationship to what is different from it.” I bump into my limitations daily. I continue to meet them in new configurations, and as I do so while going after my goals and dreams, I have the good fortune of being able to develop tools and techniques to share with you. Enjoy, my friends.