Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Planning Passions in an Unorthodox Fashion
About a month ago, I broke down and bought the Passion Planner I've been eyeing since last fall. Sucked in by the beautifully illustrated pages that fill its Twitter feed, I needed to first make sure that someone lacking that degree of artistic talent could utilize its interior equally well.

My new purchase (with its undated pages) sat in my office for a few days as I decided what to do with it. I'm sure you're wondering why this was even an issue. I mean, it's a planner, after all. What does one usually do with a planner?

All sorts of things. As a fan of white space, I often use calendars to keep track of things besides appointments. I use a thin, inexpensive month-at-a-glance calendar to keep track of my writing and a smaller, spiral-bound, equally cheap school-year calendar (July to June) to keep track of the assignments and lessons for the classes I teach. This is in addition to the main calendar on my computer, duplicated in hard copy form on the bulletin board in the kitchen where it's accessible to all who live here.

And this new Passion Planner with its soft, leather cover was much too beautiful to use for something as mundane as word counts, assignments or appointments. Too thick to stash in my overstuffed book bag, and more journal than calendar, it begged to be used for loftier pursuits.

It didn't take long for me to dub it my "Brainstorm Book," and to create tabbed sections for projects I want to map out. Placing baby steps in individual squares not only makes big projects seem less insurmountable, but it also allows me to see progress as I check off each square as I accomplish it.

Yesterday, I grabbed my Passion Planner and started doing one of my favorite things: mapping out the summer. I pulled out my felt-tip markers and created areas on the page for the things I want to devote time to this summer, things that get pushed aside in the crush of class planning and teaching and grading. TED Talks. Reading for pleasure.

Then came the things that I want to focus on but not be consumed by. New promotional opportunities for my writing. My Thirty-One business.

Finally, I wrote in new ideas that popped up at the writers' conference I attended last weekend -- things I want to investigate or learn more about. And when I'd finished with those things, there was lots of blank space left for me to jot down new ideas that come up as the summer progresses.

Because I'm using the Passion Planner more as a project planner and less as a month-by-month life planner, I've yet to decide how to use the monthly reflection pages. I suspect that the perfect way to use them will occur to me as I continue to use the planner. Meanwhile, my I need to see it style is practically drooling over the sheer visibility of my goals laid out in a step-by-step fashion.

How about you? What typical organizing or time management tool do you use in an atypical way? How does it fit your styles?

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