This year I want to really figure out what works for me and what doesn't, as a creative person but also just as a person. And the best way for me to do that is to leave a paper trail. I've noticed that the best way for me to avoid the (extreme) feeling of overwhelm or anxiety is to put my thoughts on paper. Apparently I had a lot of those.
I might've overdone it a bit because I went from using 1 sketchbook and an occasional planner to...well I've listed them below.
1. Sketchbook This is my "ugly" sketchbook and it's actually a notebook. And that's mainly why I feel like I don't have to be so precious with what I draw in it. It's not a sketchbook anyway so it wasn't meant for good drawings, it was meant for scribbles. And after all an ugly drawing is like a scribble's cousin, isn't it? So it's all good. If a cute drawings shows up instead, that's just a bonus.
2. Sketchbook This one is (obviously) my pretty sketchbook. Because it's handmade and hand-painted I feel like I'd be disrespecting the sketchbook if I didn't fill it with good drawings. Fortunately I already "ruined" it accidentally by drawing something very ugly so anything goes now. I think I need to stop buying pretty sketchbooks.
3. Another sketchbook Last one, I promise. The other two are A5 and this is an A6. It's also a notebook, but I use it as a "travelling" sketchbook. I like to throw it in my bag whenever I head out just in case inspiration strikes while I'm in the waiting room at my dentist's.
This is a book dummy that I bought for very cheap and I didn't like the paper for drawing so I'm using it as a blank planner, following Furry Little Peach's planning method. Essentially at the beginning of each month I look at what I have to do, then break it down into weeks, then into small little tasks that I can sprinkle throughout the week. Each day I prioritize my urgent and important tasks so even if I don't go through everything that I had planned at least I get the important things done.
I've never actually successfully kept a journal until now. Well I guess it depends how you'd define "successfully". I don't use it every day, but I don't beat myself up about it. I just like that I have this safe space to turn to when I have something to get off my chest, when I need to wallow in self pity, where I can give myself a cheesy pep talk or where I can empty out my brain. I'm actually surprised by how beneficial I'm finding this practice after only 2 months of doing it on and off.
6. Gratitude journal
I put this on top on my planner so I see it every day and don't forget to write something in it. It doesn't have to be huge, it just has to be honest. Today I'm grateful for... and then I fill in the blank with whatever comes to mind. I try to be specific and not say things like my health or my family, but rather small things like waking up feeling very rested, great feedback from a happy client, an amazing cookie and others like that. I like reminding myself of the things that I can be grateful for. It's almost like you get to enjoy the thing twice, once when you experience it and once when you write about it. I picked up this practice after I listened to Neil Pasricha on Ologies.
This is a Frankenstein notebook that I once used to take notes during an SEO class, then I used it to write down some Dutch words I was learning, then I drew in it a little bit and then I found a few empty pages and that's the space I'm now using to write down my daily gratitudes.
Ok that's it. Those are all the notebooks, sketchbooks and Frankenbooks that I use to clear out my mind and keep myself organized, creative and less anxious. I know I'm always curious about other people's habits so I hope this scratched that itch for you.