… or why choosing a diary is the most important creative decision I make each year.
People don’t usually get gushy about their diary, however mine has always been very important to me, and selecting my partner in crime each year is a case for careful consideration. I hold my potential suitor in my hands, imagining my year panning out and vacillate about what colour to get. Last year I found out for the first time what choosing the wrong one feels like, and it strengthened my resolve to not let that happen again!
The other diary
I went out on a limb in 2017, leaving aside my usual Moleskine to buy a small, but chunky peppermint-green leather-bound diary from Kikki-K, because I thought it looked cute. My new crush. Well, the branch broke. Not only did the weeks not ‘run’ the way my usual Moleskins had (resulting in me messing up ticket bookings for Saul at the Adelaide Festival), but I also couldn’t see to write in it without my glasses. This partner was cute but it sent me confusing messages. It wasn’t a good lead in helping me take new steps in creativity.
The weekly quotes would’ve been great, but I didn’t even realise they were there until half-way through the year because they were so tiny I couldn’t read them. This little book completely discombobulated me! I could even go so far as to say, it stuffed up 2017 good and proper (well, it’s a good excuse). What amazed me was that I stuck with it, being the loyal diarist I am, and limped on with a substandard item for the whole year, not even considering separation, divorce or even an affair with a more inspiring squeeze.
My soulmate: a Passion Planner
So when a discussion on a Facebook group began in earnest amongst business-minded misfits centring around people’s choice of non-digital planning tools, I pricked up my eyes. One little gem that was mentioned and seconded by many on the thread was a Passion Planner. Users sounded delighted with their significant other. I googled, watched YouTubes, downloaded the templates, tested them out, and purchased one that day! A step in the right direction of my improved creativity.
Organising time is one of those things that is crucial for someone like me with days of unstructured time stretching before me like a magic carpet. It is easy to get carried off to some crevice of the internet and get stuck down there for hours, so any tool that assists one to keep on track is really important. A central place to keep all of one’s intentions, personal and business, is key. Like a friend who constantly asks you about your latest pet project, I am finding that a Passion Planner is really keeping me honest. I haven’t been able to stop raving about this little bible since I received it in the new year, and two friends have already gone ahead and bought one after they’d seen mine.
When I’ve told people about my new flame, they’ve told me it seems a little like a bullet journal – the first time I’d heard of one of those was at a Melbourne Writers Week Moleskin Coffee and Create session in 2017. Madeleine Dore of Extraordinary Routines hosted Sam van Zweden and Karen Andrews to discuss their creative routines. Even after that conversation I was none the wiser about a bullet journal, and besides, I think I’ve found my perfect match, so I’m not too sure I’d even want to contemplate another. I’m sure though that their conversation left me ripe for a change of heart from my little peppermint brick to my light blue dreamweaver!
How do you use a Passion Planner?
Well, the premise is: writing down one’s goals is the first step to achieving them. You begin by setting out your Passion Roadmap – your wish-list for today, 3 months, one year, 3 years and lifetime goals. Then you create from this a passion plan and then insert these steps into your monthly and weekly openings. A Passion Planner helps you map your new steps in creativity by breaking down the tasks into smaller parts.
Each month, there is an opening for the month-long planner. There are boxes allocated to define the month’s focus, the people you want to see, the places to go and the most important thing for me so far – the ‘Not to do list’. Also there are personal and work project spaces in addition to the month-long planner. Finally there is a space for a mind-map of this month’s game-changer. I’m using this space to use some cute little ship stickers I bought in France. They symbolise 2018 – full steam ahead!
Heading into the weekly openings, once again you can choose a focus, fill in Personal and Work ‘to do’ lists, let your creative drawing run wild in the Space of Infinite Possibility and progressively list the good things that happen. An extra bonus is the inspirational quote for the week plus a little activity to do based on the quote. Mine last week was Maya Angelou’s, just when I needed to hear it!!
“When someone shows you who they are believe them the first time”.
If this isn’t amazing enough, each day’s column is headed by a box for the day’s focus, and then proceeds in half hour increments from 6am – 10.30pm. And this goes every day. For freelancers like myself, this is vital. A diary that only considers you work on weekdays is like a boyfriend who gets grumpy when you catch up with your girlfriends – problematic and it cramps your style! And while on the topic of girlfriends, I have noticed a new and helpful capacity for tracking my monthly catch-ups and social outings. I have been grateful for the way this diary is showing me what wonderful women I know and what a rich social life I have – all through the process of listing good things and taking stock of each week. A Passion Planner is much nicer company than a grumpy boyfriend.
There is lots of space to give your Passion Planner your own special creative touch. A friend looked on Etsy for stickers she could use, but instead of buying the stickers, she copied the little icons, and it looks just the same, giving her pages an arty/graphic designer kind of feel. You can get lots of wonderful ideas on YouTube from expert and passionate planners who go to town with Japanese washi tape, fluoro markers, stamps, stickers etc. There are so many ideas for tracking new habits, lists, holiday planning etc. And one of the things that tells me I’ve got my mojo back, is that I’ve re-discovered my penchant for decorating my planner with cute or pertinent cut-outs from magazines – something I began doing in the 1990s! So here are some of my pages to give you an idea.
Once you’ve had your month, there is an opening devoted to your Monthly Reflection. You look back and note the most memorable aspects, biggest lessons, how you are different this month to last and what you’re grateful for. You take stock of your priorities, and note the things you want to improve and the concrete steps you’ll take to get there during the coming month.
Then once you get past the diary itself, you’re into 20 blank pages followed by 23 pages of graph paper. There are no maps, no holiday calendars, no world holidays, no international dialling lists, no international paper sizes, no conversion tables, no weights and measures table, no Staff Leave charts (who has staff???), within cooee of this little gem of a book. Nothing exists in this diary/journal that you don’t either need, or design yourself.
I have been using blank pages to write lists – 2018 Books I’ve read, 2018 Books I want to read, Things to Remember about 2017 etc. The whole reason for writing this post though, was to celebrate one of my pages – Year of Firsts. There have only been six weeks so far, but I have delivered a Webinar, began aqua-aerobics and presented at an outside broadcast on radio for 3MBS Bach Marathon at the Melbourne Recital Centre. What a great way to celebrate my passionate firsts.
Other creativity benefits
Another useful tip the planner suggests is to share your passions. Find that in-real-life friend who will keep you honest about your goals and tasks for the week. This has been a great source of inspiration, motivation and solidarity. We talk by phone once a week for much longer than our allocated 20 minutes, but that’s the nature of good, supportive friendships, isn’t it!
Just to keep it real, there is one drawback for me. Just as your steady, sweetie pie or darling might have a few things you’d like to improve, the Passion Planner is no exception. Although, unlike the real version, this little dreamboat has only one. I’d love it to have the beautiful cream-coloured pages of my ex, the Moleskin. But I’m willing to compromise, as is important in any ongoing relationship.
What version of diary is your beloved for 2018?
PS: I haven’t been given anything by Passion Planner for spruiking how great they are … YET! If anyone wants to purchase one, if you mention you heard about it from me, I might get a free one next year. Just saying.
Check out some of my creations in my shop.