I'm into bright colors, so I went with this limited edition version rather than the traditional black.
I've tried planners before, with little success. I always start out strong, but my engagement peters off within a few weeks--or even days. For the past several years I've been using a combination of my iPhone's default calendar app and the ultra-snarky Carrot to-do list app to stay on top of things, but both of those keep me on my phone more than I would like. My work requires me to stare at screens most of the time, so I've been trying to find ways to stare at them less. And now that I'm moving into freelance writing, it's crucial that I organize my schedule well. This change, along with Meg's enthusiastic review, convinced me that I ought to give paper planners another chance.
The Passion Planner is designed with engagement in mind. It was created by Angelia Trinidad, an artist who, like most of us, felt a little lost after college. Instead of wallowing in despair and confusion, she created and Kickstarted a planner that would serve as a compass to help people find their way in life. All Passion Planners begin with a mapping exercise that allows you to determine your future goals. After you've named your objectives, the exercise forces you to break down the concrete steps it will take to achieve those objectives, which you then add into your calendar as tasks. It's somewhat overwhelming to see all those steps in map form, but once you write them down over many months, they seem more manageable.
From there, the planner gets more traditional--but only slightly more traditional. There's a series of month overview pages, then a much heftier series of week overview pages, followed by extra blank paper and graph paper. But there are all sorts of unique features as well. Each month is followed by a set of review questions, which help you determine what habits you need to change to be more efficient next month. There are separate to-do lists for personal tasks and work tasks, along with a not-to-do list. There are boxes where you can write all the good things that happened to you each week. There's a "Space of Infinite Possibility," which is for whatever you damn well please.
My color-coding skills are on point.
If you're thinking that this sounds like a lot of work--it is! Especially when you're getting used to the Passion Planner's many quirks. It takes time to plan each day in such minute detail. And much of the fun of it is supposed to come in customization--their Instagram features Passion Planners that have been turned into gorgeous works of art. Mine will always be ugly in comparison.
That said, I've already noticed some improvements to my life. For one thing, I'm following my schedules religiously. Seeing each task physically blocked out in my day is enormously helpful--I procrastinate less, which means I actually get to relax in the evenings because I'm not playing catch-up. And since I made the schedules in the first place, I don't feel too guilty if I have to switch something around. The other positive change is that I am definitely spending less time on my phone. Since I'm crossing off my daily tasks instead of swiping them on an app, I don't get distracted by Facebook and Twitter notifications. This is a big deal for me, as I consider myself a social media addict.
I suspect the biggest challenge for me will be learning to trust my Passion Planner. As regular readers of my blog know all too well, I'm an extremely anxious individual, so I'm prone to constantly dwelling on--no, dwelling is too mild a term. I'm prone to constantly stressing about everything I have to get done, keeping an ever-growing list of chores in the front of my mind. But if I can learn to trust that I've already written the list down, that it exists in a safe place where I can refer to it whenever I need to, I can hopefully learn to clear that stressful list from my mind. What a wonderful thing that would be.
I haven't been using my Passion Planner for long, but it's easily the most useful planner I've ever encountered. If you're looking to up your organization game, Passion Planner is a safe bet. Plus, for each planner they sell, they give one away to someone who can't otherwise afford it. Good karma! Can't go wrong with that.