Monday, 18 January 2016

Stationery and Paper Planning Gives Me Life! (My Answers to Your Questions)

Wow - what a wonderfully positive, varied and interesting response to my latest video about paper planning! I had a strong feeling that a lot of my viewers were as paper-mad as me, and so many of you came forward and revealed yourselves, much to my delight! I have personally found that my life has become much more colourful and purposeful since perfecting my planning system. I find that I waste less time these days, and I have a clearer idea of what I actually spend my time doing. Before perfecting and utilizing my daily planning system, I often found that I wasn't really sure what I had been up to or where the heck my time had gone! I would feel frequently disappointed when considering the things I hadn't accomplished rather than feeling pleased and proud of what I had achieved. Dedicating myself to a paper planning system changed all that, and there's no doubt that it also helped me to be less forgetful and more focused.

If you haven't yet had a chance to check out my paper planning video, you can watch it here:

And you can also check out my original video about spiritual stationery here:

I have noticed a few questions underneath the latest video and I have also noted that there are particular areas of interest which popped up underneath the first video too. I wanted to take this opportunity to answer some queries and to offer some further tips and musings to help you make the most of the paper planning experience. I hope that my answers provide some useful insights.

- How do you stay inspired to keep using your journals, planners and diaries?
When it comes to using the daily planner in my Filofax, there is no inspiration needed - I actually just require a planner to keep my time organised. I keep my time-sensitive appointments in there and a running list of the things I need to get done. Without my planner, I think I would be a little lost! I have so much in my head all the time that key priorities and errands can get lost beneath the weight of ideas, thoughts, memories, emotions and musings! Creating a decent planning system has really enhanced the quality of my life.

In terms of journals, art books and creative ways of using paper, I actually don't think that inspiration needs to strike in order to keep adding to them. In fact, a journal/art book can be used as a tool to create a sense of inspiration where it might be missing. The way I see it is that I don't owe a notebook or journal anything. I am not obligated to fill it with ingenious things all the time. If I pick it up when I'm not even in the mood to add to it and I just start scribbling in it whilst feeling decidedly uninspired, the creative juices actually do begin to flow after a while.. A notebook works for me rather than me working for it. It usually helps to have one or two little notebooks on the go for times when you're not really feeling it and you've gone creatively dry. Use those notebooks to just write/draw whatever comes to mind. Chances are you might just be a bit creatively blocked, so a random 'unclog yourself' book can help with that.

- What would you recommend for maintaining a daily journaling habit?
One thing I would definitely direct your attention to is Julia Cameron's 'morning pages' exercise which she outlines perfectly in this video. The aim of the morning pages is to clear a path for creativity to come into being, but writing three full, long-hand pages each morning is actually a great tool for simply having the best possible day, enjoying conversation more and making more effective decisions. It's like clearing away the cobwebs. Once all of your petty and/or automatic thoughts are out on paper, you will find that you then have the space available to consciously choose what kind of attitude you want to have and what kind of day you're going to construct.

But I would equally recommend starting very small, particularly if the notion of three full pages intimidates the heck out of you! Start, for example, by writing just one sentence each day for a few weeks. Anyone can manage one sentence, right?! You will find that your habit can extent from there, but one sentence daily is a good first step which is totally manageable and realistic.

I also think it's worth remembering that you get to decide what makes it into your journals. You are not obligated to write about what happened in your day or whatever. If that doesn't inspire you, don't do it! I don't journal about daily stuff like where I went, who I saw or every little drama that happens in my life. I would feel so pressured if I convinced myself that I had to write everything down like that. You can just write about your spiritual experiences if you want. You can just write about politics if you want. You can choose to only write about one relationship, or only about your past, or your goals, or work.. Whatever is helpful and interesting to you.

- How do you choose a purpose for a book, especially if you feel like doing three or four different things with it?
If you tend to have a real issue with choosing the purpose for a book that you have purchased then I would recommend banning yourself from purchasing any! I know this may seem extreme but it's far better to abstain from purchasing a book until you have a specific purpose in mind for it than to keep purchasing books and being perpetually conflicted. I only purchase a notebook if I already know exactly what it's going to be used for. Knowing the purpose of a book in advance means that I can select the best type for the project. When it comes to journals/notebooks which are purchased for me as gifts, I simply keep them until I have a very strong inclination to use them for something. There's no pressure to fill a book or start using it. You can absolutely save it for a rainy day. The purpose will become clear in time.

Remember that a notebook/journal can act as a good all-rounder. You don't necessarily need to choose one key purpose for a book - it can just be a 'catch all' for shopping lists, wish lists, doodles, creative musings and long, angsty journal entries. Why not?! Also, remember that ring binders provide you with a wonderful opportunity to keep adding and subtracting different things, finding your sweet spot over time rather than committing to a bound book which may make you feel pressured to settle on just one purpose.

- How do you find the time for all this journaling and record-keeping?
I actually answered this question in video form a while ago - you can check it out here:

I think that the key thing to consider is priorities, pure and simple. If it's important to you to make time for something, you will. For me, creative expression through journaling and making art is important. It's a priority. Don't ever let other people tell you what your priorities should be. Maybe some other people in their thirties don't think it's appropriate or 'normal' to prioritise collage and scrapbooking or writing about their feelings for ten pages, but I am not them and they are not me. I choose what's important in my life. I don't want to get all the way to my deathbed and realise that I didn't spend my free time the way I wanted to because I was worried about what other people would think!

Too many people tell themselves that they don't have the time to do something creative or cathartic or expressive.. It is always the very last thing on a long list of things to get done, and it is therefore always left by the wayside in the face of more 'important' things. But choosing your own priorities is a key part of obtaining autonomy in adulthood. When I was a kid I believed that I was going to grow up and do whatever the hell I wanted. To a large extent, that has turned out to be true! Ok, sure, there are lots of complexities and duties in adulthood which I couldn't have foreseen as a kid, but there is a tonne of freedom too! I use that freedom to my advantage.

- Don't you get confused with all these different books?
Actually, for me, using different books for different purposes eliminates the confusion, and it's what feels right for me. But it's a very personal thing. Everyone needs to find their own particular blend of organisation and creative inspiration. One person's journaling and/or planning system is going to be totally different to someone else's. Some people would get seriously stressed out by too many books whilst others feel hemmed in when just using one or two!

- What is your archiving system?
Ahh, 'the archive' makes it sounds a lot more elaborate and intriguing than it actually is! Bound books are kept in boxes which are stored in my mum's loft once they are completed. (Thanks, Mum.) Filofax paper and other forms of paper which are not in bound books are kept in storage folders underneath my bed in date order. Bound books such as journals, books of shadows and art books will be kept for life. Filofax paper such as project notes, wellness journal pages and planner pages are kept for one year and then recycled.

- Do you still have a personal journal for non-spiritual musings, like the ones you had as a teenager?
The journals that I kept as a teenager, which I showcased in this video scrapbook, were a mish-mash of words and pictures including collage and personal drawings. I no longer keep journals in that way. For me, there is now a straight line of demarcation drawn between art journals and written journals. There isn't much crossover anymore and that's how I like it these days. I do have a journal to write about my emotions and personal relationships, but I honestly haven't written in it for months. At this point in my life, I don't seem to need it. My focus, in terms of journalling, has become much more spiritual. My Book of Mirrors gets the most action as a personal written record of what I'm going through, and that's because I am always addressing my personal life at the altar and in sacred space.

- Have you thought about what will happen to your journals after you die?
When I was a teenager I wrote something quasi-official which left all of my journals to my best friend at the time. Since then I don't really think about it much, actually..

At this point I don't like the thought of my magickal and spiritual journals being available to the wider witchcraft community. I am a very private person in many ways and I have always been protective of my practice and the techniques I use. If I died out of the blue right now, my partner would take possession of the books. Should I be privileged enough to discover that I am dying and have time to organise things rather than dying unexpectedly, I will certainly take the fate of my magickal/spiritual journals into account at that point. It's likely that I will either leave them with someone I trust or burn them before my passing. But I could change my mind.. I'm a bit impulsive. Discovering that I am dying could probably put me in a different headspace, so I might end up scanning all of the pages and uploading them online, haha! Like, 'So long, Poptarts - here, have my combined magickal experiences and understandings as a parting gift!'

- Do you share the content of your journals with anyone?
Yeah, I shared some excerpts from my old Book of Mirrors in this video along with some explanations of the content contained within it..

Usually my spiritual books are totally off-limits. One would not be permitted to touch my Book of Mirrors or flick through it, but if I'm in control of what one actually gets to see/hear then that's fine!

When I was younger I used to read my journals to close friends and lovers, or allow them to flick through and take a look, as a mark of my trust and my intimate relationship with them. Nowadays I still do that with my art books and whatnot, but other books are off-limits. I no longer feel any need to use my journals and notebooks as a way to connect with other people or give them a portal into my world. It's much more a solitary process nowadays. Perhaps this is partly a testament to my own emotional intelligence. As I have evolved as a human being, I much prefer to communicate my feelings in plain words where necessary, and I am just as much a fan of keeping my feelings to myself.. keeping my own confidence, so to speak..


Want more? Check out these oldies from the archive:

- My Truth About The Moon
- Holy Hunches and Suggestions for Brightness
- 10 Lessons I Learned on My Journey as a Witch