How Can an Elephant Plan my Day? | FREE Printable Day Planner | Kris With a K | Writing Coach

By Kris Windley

Daily Routines Day Planner to help you  wrangle your inner Elephant.

You may not think a Day Planner has much to do with Training Elephants, but…

You have to learn how to train elephants with kindness and understanding before you can use this Day Planner.

First of all, I have to give credit for this idea where it’s due. I first heard of this metaphor (you know how much I dig a good metaphor!) from April from Blacksburg Belle. I took a course from her and Mayi from the Life is Messy world and this metaphor popped up when we started talking about creating morning rituals to make our days work better.

It didn’t begin with April and Mayi though. This metaphor has been floating around the world of theoretical psychology for quite some time – and has been explored in great depth by people like Jonathan Haidt in books like The Happiness Hypothesis. what is it?

Right! Sorry. I got sidetracked. So the metaphor explains how our minds are divided into two driving forces: The Elephant and The Rider.

The Rider represents our conscious thoughts – our thought-out decisions.

The Rider is often called the Planner or the rational side of our mind. She makes the choices about direction, strategy and longterm plans.

She loves to make ToDo lists and plan out projects and goals. She dreams BIG and she knows what she needs to do to get there…but she can’t force the Elephant to do anything.

The Elephant is big and strong – and ultimately decides which direction the duo are going. The Rider’s job, then, is to make it verrrry clear and enticing for the Elephant to go in the direction needed.

The Elephant represents our automatic systems – our self-activating actions.

The Elephant is referred to as the Doer or the emotional side of our mind. She moves forward without planning the details out or worrying about the longterm.

She enjoys frolicking in the daisies and eating donuts…lots of donuts. She also likes watching Netflix all night long, even if she has to get up early in the morning – or reading every single thing she sees on Facebook instead of working on her latest project…


She’s that part of you.

Her creative, powerful nature is amazing, and when she is pointed in the right direction, she makes MOVES…but she gets distracted and loses track of focus because it’s not in her nature to work toward the longterm goals the Rider has decided to work toward.

Daisies and donuts are just more fun, so that is what she is drawn to.

So how do we get them to work together?

I’m so glad you asked!

That is what today’s printable is here to help you do. It is a part of the VIP Brand Plan Planner set you get with the Very Important Marketing Plan day with me, but I want you to be able to try it out today.

The key to getting your Rider and your Elephant to get where they need to be is to help the Rider to make all of her decisions clear and enticing to the Elephant – so that all that Rider has to do is point, and the Elephant will ride along toward the goal.

Click to Tweet: You have to plant daisies along the difficult road you want to take, to make it more enticing.

Another way to make this team work well together is to help your Rider to pick her battles. Create habits and routines for tasks that happen every day, and add new tasks to established habits as they come in, so that your Elephant gets less chances to stray.

SO if your Elephant automatically has a cup of coffee every morning, you can plan for her to grab her ToDo Planner at the same time and make a list for the day while she sips at her coffee. After a few weeks of this new routine, that ToDo list becomes just as automatic as the coffee, and the Rider has one less decision to fight for.

The two best ways to get your Rider and Elephant to happily work together are:

  1. While you are planning, make sure to drop donut crumbs and plant daisies along the way for your Elephant to make it feel good to continue along that road.
  2. Create routines and rituals around recurring tasks so that your Rider and Elephant don’t have to argue about every single thing – all day long.

I made my Day Planner with the idea of routines at the forefront of my mind – because it’s how I make sure that I get things done every day.

Free Printable Day Planner | With a K

How do we use this fancy little diamond to make our dreams come true?

First, you have to download the printable Daily Routines Day Planner, and then I want you to start using it each day. This is the best way to get the most out of your Rider and your Elephant…and your fancy new Day Planner!


  1. Start with a focus for the day. Make sure that your Rider knows where she’s steering your Elephant. If she isn’t sure where she’s going, she won’t be able to entice that lovely Elephant along the road toward it.
  2. Try out a few different routines in the morning, after lunch and even in the evening. Once you find a comfortable and energizing routine, write down those routines on the left hand side of the Planner.
  3. Make space in those routines for some tasks. Attach them to something you enjoy (I like to make a fresh cup of coffee or a smoothie right before I sit down to the biggest task of my day).
  4. Each day, write your Focus at the top of the page, and list the key Tasks you need to tackle in the Tasks column along the right.
  5. When you get to a space in your day for Tasks, your Elephant can grab the first Task on the list and go for it.
  6. Congratulate yourself!! You guys are rocking your new teamwork. DONUTS FOR EVERYBODY!!!

Try it out this week!

But first, let me know in the comments what kinds of routines you have that help you get your work done. Conversely, what does your Elephant LOVE to be distracted by?

My Elephant gets distracted by visitors or messages coming into social media, so I have to hide it all while I’m working on tasks.

If you love the idea of planning for your projects, and you want to use cute planners like this one to make your year feel amazing, go check out my new one-on-one program

I had an amazing time with one of my new VIP clients today, and we used ALL of the planners in the pack. FUN!

Thanks as always for reading! Come back again next week for more goodies and tips, or sign up for Tuesday Tips in your mailbox (that green box above my face in the sidebar) and never miss a freebie.


Kitten K_K Red Fill


Kris is a writer, editor, illustrator, teacher, mother of two amazing young ladies - and enthusiastic cat-belly snuggler. A certified teacher, long-time blogger and experienced brand consultant, she writes about Writing, Business and Blogging...and sometimes about Changing the World.


  1. My elephant made me click over here from Twitter, but I’m glad I did, as yet another piece of the puzzle has fallen into place. I will usually start off the day with a bang, but then I tend to fall off that wagon after lunch (which is why I was on twitter lol). After reading this I think I will be able to figure out a way to be more on track in the afternoons!

  2. Awesome Kris!
    Some days it feels like I am driving a team of elephants and they all have ideas about where they want to go. I am a long time planner user. I can’t function without it, and i give it full credit for the progress i have made this year.

    Thanks for sharing your lovely biz kitten goodies with us!!


    • You bet, Richelle!

      I let go of the reins in January, and I’m STILL herding my elephants back to the track. It’s taking a lot of daisies and donuts to get everyone in line around here.

      Luckily, pretty printable planners are like a field of daisies to me 🙂


  3. Hi Kris, I was going to comment this morning but then decided to print out “Daily Routines” and see how I got on with it. Wow! The only reason I was reading your blog this morning was because the elephant was in control (although the rider knew there was HEAPS to do). But I am so glad the elephant steered us in the right direction, because after that elephant and rider were in perfect harmony. I have had the MOST AMAZINGLY PRODUCTIVE day (that’s not shouting in caps there – just joyful singing). I have had an idea in my head for a long time and today I broke the back of it – in one day! You are a miracle worker and I am just so glad and grateful that April helped me to find you 🙂

    • Ann-Marie! You just completely made my day. I’m so happy your Elephant found her way to this post and that your Rider let her frolic here for a moment 🙂

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!


  4. Thank you for sharing the printable. I was just thinking today that I needed this with my regular every day routine and my other to dos together but not together in the same list . I’m easily distracted by everything since I work for myself and there’s always so much to do. I started blocking sites during work hours to keep me away from social media and Pinterest.

    • Ahah! Perfect timing then; I am glad that it will work for you. I think I will look into this site blocking…it would probably help me out A LOT too.

      Thanks Kelly!


  5. I love this so much! And I love the wee little kitten head on the planner. 🙂

    Routines: I love a nice hot shower to start my day, followed by a cold bottle of water…I don’t really enjoy the water, but I know it’s good for me, lol. Then it’s a load of laundry in the wash, and making sure the kiddos are getting their breakfast, cause that ensures they’ll be occupied for a least a few minutes for me to get something done! lol

    Elephant likes: My email…I had to train myself to close it, because if it dings I feel COMPELLED to read it right then & there. I also keep my phone permanently on silent/no vibrate, and if I’m working it’s laid face down so I don’t see incoming messages. lol

    • Aww I’m glad you like the kitten 🙂 She’s working very hard.

      My Elephant is a big ole email junkie too – and social media. I have to start using one of those apps that shut off the nasty time-eaters during my working hours.


  6. Yes, again! Your posts just always seem to hit home with me . . . right when they seem to be most useful! You help keep me and my elephant happy. If you read my latest blog post of last night, you will see I used the word Elephant. Coincidence? I think not. You are awesome! ♡

    • Hahahah Elephants unite!

      I’m glad you feel it, Nancy. I hope the planner and metaphor help you to juggle your busy busy schedule. I know what you’ve been up to lately, and I know there are a lot of tasks on your calendar 😉


    • Thanks Amanda! I added a little colour to it today…because I just can’t STOP with the cuteness. I’m making more too – for your VIP Day on Saturday. Blogging Planners are coming your way, my lady!

      Can’t wait to show you 🙂


  7. Hey girl!

    I luv me some routines! But I do get distracted by….SQUIRREL!

    I worked on my Mac all weekend & it likes to *ding* & notify me of peeps commenting on my FB posts & any incoming emails. My poor rider kept getting jerked around by my elephant running off to see whut’s up! Yep, going to turn off that cute little notifier! =D

  8. Great post, Kris! I am a big fan of routines! I want create more of them (especially around working out and eating healthy)! For now though, my kiddos and I have a great morning routine and mornings run on auto-pilot (almost). Nights have a routine too, but that routine needs more practice. I have to really DO IT so my kids follow my lead and take it seriously.

    Turn on coffee, make smoothie, take vitamins, check calendar, feed dog, do dishes, put in a load of laundry, take a quick shower, brush/floss/hair/makeup, get dressed, What’s for Dinner?, get out the door.

    Get coffee prepped for a.m., pack lunches, wash hair, baths for kids, move laundry and/or fold, more dishes, set out clothes for a.m., feed dog, check calendar for a.m.

    These routines are basic, but they work great for me! xoxo, Jen

    • Basic is PERFECT! Even Elephants like basic routines 🙂

      Also – I will be happy when it gets warm enough outside around here that drinking a smoothie is an option again. Right now, the last thing in the world I want is a cup of frozen anything 😉

      Kids totally up the Elephant quota in a household too! It’s like you have one Rider and a half dozen Elephants, running around eating donuts and frolicking. Good on you for leading the way for them!


  9. Kristie, you’ve somehow managed to do it again! I literally, just this morning, was explaining to a colleague how I am great at the planning and the lists but I tend to lose a little of the motivation when it comes to the doing. And then, low and behold, I check my inbox and after a quick laugh about you and your elephants, I open the email to see that you’ve once again snuck inside my head and knew exactly what I was going through – and how to fix it!! Incredible! Thanks for all you do Kristie!!

    PS: Direct quote of my message to my colleague this morning: “I’m great at the planning and the organizing. The doing is where I sometimes get hung up lol”.

    • Hahaha! Sarah your comment is hilarious!

      “…after having a quick laugh about you and your elephants…” That makes me smile a lot. I am a huge fan of laughing from the trenches, so to speak.

      I’m glad you got something from the post. It’s a huge thing for me too – the follow through after my elaborate planning sessions. My elephant is STRONG and loves those daisies.


  10. LOVE it! Yesterday my elephant kept dipping back into email so much that by the end of the day hardly anything really useful had been done. Closed that window one hour before Nathan came home and pulled out the watercolors so it wasn’t a whole loss, but it’s so easy to get pulled in when those enticing emails come in! I love the idea of sprinkling donut crumbs and daisies to keep the Elephant on track. Yes. That needs to happen. Now I want a donut. Your blog makes me hungry. 😉

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