Internet Self Improvement

How To Plug Passion Planning Into Your Digital Routines

Tina Sieber 24-11-2014

The Passion Planner Kickstarter project has been an incredible success. While pen and paper are powerful tools 6 Simple Reasons Why Paper Can Still Be Your Killer Productivity App Paper can be a more potent tool for productivity than a computer or a touch device, and shouldn't immediately be dismissed. Not convinced? Here are six reasons why paper is still relevant. Read More for unleashing creativity 4 Must-See TED Talks On Creativity, Inspiration & Passion Creativity. Inspiration. Passion. These are all concepts of which we are very much aware, but not many of us can precisely pinpoint their source. Where does creativity come from? What is it that causes a... Read More , they have limits when it comes to implementing actions for working towards your passion-related goals. This article shows you how you can combine the power of analog passion planning with digital tools.


What Is Passion Planner?

Passion Planner is a paper notebook that works as a goal setting guide, journal, sketchbook, calendar, to-do list, and progress log. A personal planner that not only lets you organize your schedule, but also helps you focus on what you want out of life and build that into your daily planning.

Passion Planner Notebook

When launched in 2013, the original Kickstarter campaign reached more than twice its funding goal. Meanwhile, the 2014 Kickstarter has reached 17 times the backers of 2013, almost 50 times the funding goal, and it’s still running until December 3rd.

If you’re not convinced that an all paper notebook works for you, you can pick up the full 2015 calendar for a $1 investment. If you’re willing to plug Passion Planner to your friends, you can even get it for free. Finally, you can download the weekly PDF template [No Longer Available] for free from the Passion Planner website.

Why Is Passion Planner Such A Success?

The magic of passion planner is threefold.


First, many of us feel disconnected from our passions in everyday life; some of us don’t even know what our passions are. The promise of not only discovering what we truly love doing, but then having a tool that helps us work towards making our passions a key part of our life is a powerful promise.

Second, pen and paper are fantastic tools for reflection and brainstorming. Paper is Zen for our brains: It comes free of distractions, a medium to be filled with our thoughts only; just remember to turn off your phone and other distractions. Amazingly, paper works offline, and can’t crash or lose your data.

Third, passion planner offers a guiding structure. Questions direct your thoughts, while lists and a calendar help you implement the actions that will lead you towards your passion-based goals on a daily basis. At the same time, there’s enough empty space to let your mind run free and come up with creative ideas.

I wanted people to look at the big picture and ask themselves “If I can have, be, or do anything, what would it be?” and plan their lives according to their answer. I wanted to make a planner that got people to dream big, take their dreams and break them down into actionable steps and incorporate those steps into their daily lives.
Angelia Trinidad

Why Is A Paper Planner Not Enough?

Paper has one big drawback: it’s analog and you’ll eventually run out of pages. Your passions, however, will be with you for the rest of your life. A passion planner that expires at the end of the year doesn’t seem like such a great idea if you think about it. Not only is it a huge waste of paper, you also drown brilliant ideas in mundane daily schedules and task lists.


Rather than using a yearly planner, you’ll want to use a timeless notebook to write down your thoughts, take notes on your insights, track overall progress, record milestones, color-code everything with bookmarks, and build a very personal passion development resource you can return to for the rest of your life.


And how will you keep track of task lists or manage your schedule? 21st century style with digital tools of course.

Digital Tools Are A Better Aid In Moving Towards Your Passion Goals

Time is fleeting and while each action will take you one step further towards your goals, in the end each individual action is meaningless; it’s the result that counts. You don’t need a paper record of your To Do lists and daily schedules, but you do need reminders that reach you wherever you are. Which services you use is up to you. What matters is not the specific tool, but the routine you create. And of course we can make recommendations.


Digital Calendar

Personally, I use Google Calendar because this calendar syncs with every platform How to Sync Google Calendar with Every Other Platform Google Calendar is arguably the easiest, most intuitive and most versatile way to organize your day. The only problem users commonly encounter is syncing it with their devices. Read More , among other smart features. Instead of manually color-coding your calendar, as you’d have to do in your Passion Planner, you can set up individual calendars for different activities, which are then color-coded automatically.

Google Calendar Color Code

Moreover, Google Calendar can send reminders to your email, you can set it up on your smartphone, and enable offline calendar access on Chrome. Events can reoccur periodically, which is helpful for regularly blocking out time for reflection or reminding you to go back, review your progress, set new goals, and adjust your tasks.

Digital Task List

You could use Google Tasks and take advantage of task integration with Google Calendar Five Killer Ways to Use Google Tasks If you're like me, you spend more time managing your tasks than you do actually performing them. It’s all about multiple lists, offline access and getting your tasks on-the-go. Since we last took a look... Read More and your email. Google Tasks is also available offline Transform Google Tasks Into a Task Management Suite With Google Tasks Offline [Chrome] Using Google Tasks is like a love-hate relationship. The problem with using Google Tasks directly in say, Google Calendar or inside Google Mail is that the layout and the user interface is extremely simplified and... Read More . Angela has a whole system set up for how to never forget a task ever again How To Make Sure You Never Forget A Task Ever Again You're an organised person. You always add upcoming events to your calendar, and you have a decent labelling system in Gmail. But you need some automation to get them into your to-do list. Read More and it involves Google Calendar, Todoist or IFTTT. My tool of choice is Trello, a versatile project management system Trello - A Unique, Simple & Powerful Project Management System From A Good Home Does the name Joel Spolsky mean anything to you? If so, you’re going to want to read this post, because it showcases Spolsky’s latest and greatest project. And if not, you should know this is... Read More .


I’m using lists for various categories of tasks: incoming items (sorting), stuff I need to do today, tasks for this & next week, things I’m waiting on, tasks I have to do soon, and finally a list of everything I got done. Labels are used to indicate importance and urgency of tasks, but you can just as well use them to color-code types of projects or passions. Trello just introduced unlimited labels, so I might reconsider my use of them.

Trello Overview

I manage all my tasks through Trello and review the lists every day. Trello supports due dates, notes, comments (for collaboration), and you can attach links, images, and documents. Having passion projects sprinkled throughout my regular tasks reliably lifts me up and adds some sparkle to my day.

Apart from offering automatic reminders that plug into your digital routines, these tools have another key advantage: Should you ever need to look something up, you can simply search for keywords. Of course, the handwritten notes you make on paper aren’t searchable, or are they?

How To Digitize Your Handwritten Notes

If you’re wondering why you should use paper at all, let me stress again that pen and paper are important allies in the process of reflection. However, if you’d like to see the best of both words, you can either use a technology like Livescribe, which automatically digitizes your handwriting Livescribe 3 Smartpen Review and Giveaway Who doesn't want a Livescribe smartpen? Whether you're a student, a journalist, attend meetings a lot, or just need to easily record writing and audio, you can make good use of a smartpen. Read More , or you can scan your notes and use optical character recognition to digitize The 3 Best Free OCR Tools to Convert Your Files Back Into Editable Documents Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software turns printed documents into machine-readable text. Here we show you the best free OCR tools and how they work. Read More them. Both approaches will make your notes searchable.

Alternatively, you could use a tablet and stylus and a tool like OneNote to recognize your handwriting 10 Unique Ways to Use Microsoft OneNote OneNote is one of Microsoft's most underrated apps. It's available on almost every platform and can do many tricks you wouldn't expect from a note keeping app. Read More .

How To Bring It All Together

My recommendation is to obtain the PDF version of the 2015 passion planner, print or copy the planning aids into your (Livescribe) notebook, use these to figure out your passions and make a plan, transfer tasks to your digital task manager, schedule time for your passions on your digital calendar, set reminders or due dates for both, and regularly schedule time to go back to your paper notebook to do your weekly and monthly reflections.

How Do You Ensure You Work Towards Your Passion Goals?

The hardest part is to make sure you stick to your plan How to Kill Motivation Sucking Vampires & Finish What You Start Life projects that are stalled? Yes, we all have them. The story is always the same. We start with an idea but never see it through. Break the brittle obstacles and persevere with these tips. Read More  and complete the tasks that will lead you to your goals. Setting up a smart system that works for you is the best way to maximize your productivity How To Maximize Your Productivity Anywhere With telecommuting lifestyles taking off, work is not limited by hours or locations. Here are a few pointers to help you make the best of working on a notebook while on the move. Read More and reach your dreams.

Do you know what you’re passionate about? How did you find out? And what systems work for you in getting stuff done Get Things Done With 3 Tiny Changes To Your Day There will be good days and bad days, productive and unproductive ones. You can tilt the scales in favor of the productive days by making some simple changes to your routine. Read More ?

Image Credits: Bookmarks via Shutterstock

Related topics: GTD, Planning Tool, Task Management.

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  1. Brett
    January 2, 2017 at 4:58 am

    Thanks for this post Tina. Since it's been 2 years since you wrote it, what workflow are you using now? Thanks!

    • Tina Sieber
      January 2, 2017 at 9:12 am

      Thank you for the question, Brett.

      I've gone back (from Trello) to a paper planner for managing daily tasks, but I continue using Trello for long-term goal setting and planning and Google Calendar for appointments.

      Most importantly, I've incorporated OneNote into my workflow. For each major project, I keep a OneNote notebook to collect information, manage to-do lists, and keep track of progress. I dedicated one notebook to recording reflections and plans, such as my values or goals for the new year.

      Last year, I tried to do a Kaizen sprint every two weeks and I had set up a Trello list with two-week sprints for the entire year. I completed three sprints, meaning I lasted for six weeks. However, when reviewing the sprints last month, I noticed that I had actually started working on a lot of the goals I had set for myself. My lesson is that consciously thinking about potential goals will help me set in motion the ones that really matter to me.

      So for this year's annual review, I focused on setting goals for different life categories (career, finances, health, relationships etc.), like I had done in previous years. My objective is to review those goals once a month and to turn the annual review into a semi-annual or quarterly review.

      What is your passion / life planning workflow?

      • Brett
        January 2, 2017 at 6:48 pm

        wow. awesome reply, thanks. Loved this "My lesson is that consciously thinking about potential goals will help me set in motion the ones that really matter to me."

        I use a mac CRM called Daylite for my tech consulting business and have an on/off relationship with OmniFocus for my personal. I'm a tech guy, but I think i'm going to come around to a pen/paper approach to planning. Currently looking into Momentum or a Passion Planner. I think the digital approach has got me in autopilot mode where the analog way will be more organic and self-reflective. It seems to go in line with my morning routine of tea, then practice of yoga and meditation. Happy New Year and thanks for sharing your methodology.

        • Tina Sieber
          January 2, 2017 at 7:27 pm

          Welcome and thank you for sharing yours!

  2. Royleta Foster
    December 27, 2016 at 3:50 am


    • Tina Sieber
      December 27, 2016 at 10:33 am

      Something didn't transfer!!!! :)