The tools we choose
Originally published on my website, 28 Jan 2022
The best investment in my creative world, my most stalwart companion, trainer and boss is my yearly organiser/diary.
I purchase this in December each year. It’s a big deal for me. I spend weeks making my decision. I annoy all my friends by cruising from shop to shop, examining options. Short-listing. Reflecting. Revisiting.
It has to be the right diary/organiser. The right balance between inspiring and functional. It has to have the right weight, the right feel, the right energy.
I’m willing to spend that little bit more for something pretty. I like pretty. Pretty is important at 4am. I’m going to spend a lot of time looking at this book in the next 365 days. Not a day will go past where I don’t open it and jot something down, even if it’s a “zero” for those rare days where I am not in the space to do anything creative at all.
Having a creative diary/organiser helps in so many ways:
- It tracks deadlines for when things are due, allowing me to work backward from a deadline to give myself lots of warning so I don’t have a “turn the page and OH GOD THAT’S DUE?” moment.
- It allows me to track my outcomes. Sometimes my outcomes are hours, or words, or projects started or completed or submitted.
- It allows me to set goals for myself and reminders to reach those goals.
- It keeps me on track. As I flop into my seat, squinting blurrily at the screen, I don’t need to kick my brain into gear. I have a list of creative tasks I can do in this hour before work.
- It nets those bright ideas that skim past my mind. I’ll be listening to an online resource or reading something and think “that’s a cool idea, gotta try that!” The diary allows me to jot down a note to do that on a day when I have adequate time.
- It catches wisdom from training/workshops. How often do we hear something and think, “gotta do that”. We do it for a week, then forget. The diary/organiser allows me to make notes to review training/workshop notes or set a reminder to do a practice/routine in a month, two months, three months time.
- It allows me to organise my time. I have a beautifully chaotic creative mind that spins off wild and colourful ideas at all angles. Some days I have an hour to do my writing, some days I have 8 hours to write. The diary allows me to park tasks to where they are best placed.
My diary/organiser is the backbone of my creative practice. It acts like a map for the week ahead, keeping me on track, showing me the path when things are dark or foggy or lacking any landmarks or horizon. It grounds me on those days when my mind is fuzzy and my motivation is floppy, giving me a clear instruction of what I should start. It holds a record of everything I have achieved, of all the things that worked and all the things that didn’t work and allows me to shift my strategy month to month, week to week.
How do you set and track your creative goals?
What does your choice of tool say about you?