For my Passion Week last year, I tidied and decluttered my room. I had just moved out on my own and was craving a reset. Together with my organizing and sustainability coach, Jacqui Chiari of Tidy for Good, we used the KonMari method to detox my space. She helped me create my own definition of joy to choose the items that would remain in my home. With all the extra time on my hands, I decided to apply the same principles to my Passion Planner.
As I thumbed through its pages, I arrived at an inner reckoning. My Year in Pixels page indicated that I spent the majority of my 2020 feeling anxious and angry. Relief swept over me when I erased canceled outings from my planner, astonished at the absence of my disappointment. Relationships I had prioritized fell into silence while I forged friendships with people I least expected.
All this social distancing has taught me one thing: when everything falls away, what emerges is what matters most.
Inspired by the example of Marie Kondo, I am offering ways for you to dive into your own Passion Planners and begin an inner dialogue on what truly matters to you. (TLDR; version at the end!)
Given the abundance of time many of us now have, we have a unique opportunity to ask ourselves, “Does my life spark joy?”
1. Define what joy looks like in your schedule.
In one of my first organizing sessions, my coach Jacqui described joy perfectly: “Joy is the little dance you do when you see the waiter walking towards the table with your food.” (She clearly understood me on a soul level.)
Everyone defines joy differently.
If you will indulge my Harry Potter obsession for a moment, there’s this love potion called Amortentia, whose aroma transforms based on what the drinker finds most attractive. Think of joy in a similar way: its properties are as unique as you are.
For me, it’s the sleepless nights in childhood before a day at Disneyland. The thrill of secrecy as I conspired with loved ones to throw my dad’s surprise birthday party. It’s the smell of lavender wafting through my yoga studio and my fiancé asking me to marry him.
What about for you? Create a GameChanger mindmap of all the appointments, hobbies, and relationships that ignite your energy.
2. Keep what is useful. (A joyful schedule is not a perfect schedule.)
“My job definitely does not spark joy. Does that mean I quit?” I hear you. Trust me, I’ve been there. Some folks have criticized the KonMari method because of its perceived impracticality, gawking at the impossibility that every item in our home must be teeming with good vibes. KonMari is not about perfection, as some folks interpret it. I am sure it is not the intention of Marie Kondo to force you to discard your book collection or let you off the hook from critical responsibilities.
That said, I’d like to expand our definition of joy a bit. To return to Jacqui’s example, a lot happens before the food arrives. There’s the waiting beforehand, checking the price of your entree to ensure it’s within your budget, and of course the half hour of vetting restaurant options on Yelp. Not exactly joy inducing, right?
The question is not just “Does my schedule spark joy?” but also “Does my schedule position me towards joy?”
I do not derive happiness from paying into my student loan each month, but I do get excited thinking about the day when I will finally be debt free. Do I hate lectures from my dentist? Yes. Do I want to wait until I get an agonizing toothache to schedule a visit with her? No.
Joy is pleasure, but it is also a series of intentional choices.
Keep the obligations in your calendar that are useful and will hold you accountable to your goals. Creating a schedule that sparks joy is not about making it perfect. It is about making it right for you.
3. Identify the activities that deplete you.
Now comes the best part: axing the nonessential items that do not spark joy. Do you want to know why I was experiencing so much anger and anxiety this year? I’ll tell you in two words: no boundaries.
I was your run of the mill people pleaser. Sure, my Passion Planner looked nice filled to the brim with color coded obligations. But did I even want to attend said obligations? Even if they were color coded? (It is these sorts of things that keep a planner fanatic up at night.)
All jokes aside, busy might have looked beautiful in my planner, but it did not feel as appealing in my spirit.
Spoiler alert: my can-do attitude mutated into resentment. I was visibly drained and passive aggressive. I am sure my circle of family and friends were ready to throw me in a box and drive me to Goodwill because I most certainly was not sparking joy for any of them.
I had to get really honest with myself about what I had the energy for, and on what that energy was worth spending.
Use the Self Check-In page of your Passion Planner Daily to reflect on what activities (and people) have been depleting your energy. Ask yourself: what are you ready to kick to the curb?
4. Organize. (Plan your spark joy activities first, scale back on what depletes your energy.)
Now that you know your spark joy activities and activities that deplete your energy, you are ready to tidy your calendar! Of course, prioritize your critical responsibilities first, but ensure that you pencil in your spark joy activities into your agenda right after. Even if those tasks are not a formal commitment, schedule them as you would any other obligation.
That’s the whole point of Passion Planner after all. Don’t wait to reflect on Good Things that Happened; make good things happen!
The draining activities can be tricky though.
Some of these things will be as easy as crossing it off in your planner. Others will require time and planning, like preparing to leave a toxic work environment.
Make peace that these obligations may not disappear overnight, but remain committed to eventually replacing or releasing them altogether.
Before you dash off to planner tidying, I want to leave you with one more reflection. If you’re struggling to find what exactly in your life needs cleaning up, declutter following this guide inspired by the Konmari item categories.
What unnecessary expectations am I pressuring myself to meet? What hobbies and interests light me up?
How can I integrate grounding practices into my schedule? What triggering environments and situations should I stay away from?
Who makes me feel heard and understood? Who do I need to distance myself from?
What do I enjoy spending my money on that is within my means? What expenses or financial burdens can I work towards releasing?
What healthy habits make me feel good? What habits are inhibiting my overall wellness?
Passion Planner is all about building a life around what matters most to you. In this unpredictable season, I hope you take the time to plan the joyful life you deserve.
The TLDR; Version
- Define what joy looks like in your Passion Planner.
- Keep what is useful. (A joyful schedule is not a perfect schedule.)
- Identify the activities that deplete you.
- Organize. (Plan your spark joy activities first, scale back on what depletes your energy.)
Paula Votendahl is a Content Marketing Specialist with Passion Planner. In her free time she enjoys Passion Planning, practicing yoga, and watching movies.