I’ll be honest: The Dear Diary changed my perspective on everything.
I’ve always had issues with being organized and planning ahead, but 2017 brought about some major changes in my life and I needed to perform better on this front in order to tackle the challenges of finishing my Master’s Thesis, studying for my final exam and getting a full-time job. Oh, and don’t forget about travelling and travel blogging (we launched our doomed travel blog together with M back in January, and then November came and hey, here we are!) – these things usually need a little effort planning-wise.
I saw the ad of the Dear Diary on Instagram and while the pictures were all pretty and appealing, what made me really fall in love with it was its creative structure. My previous planners have all been the same: functional, but boring – and since I didn’t want to carry a heavy book-sized planner with me, they lacked the necessary space for my notes as well.
The Dear Diary, on the other hand, had everything I needed, and after a whole year of using it, I think I’m qualified to provide a review for you if you’re interested in having an amazing planner that will make your life easier!
TOP 5 FEATURES OF THE DEAR DIARY
1. It has an Introduction
OK, maybe it’s not the detail you’re looking for when choosing a planner, but believe me: when I opened my Dear Diary in the last days of December, the introduction – a little letter written by the creators explaining the purpose and the motive behind the Dear Diary – made me instantly connect with them and thus my planner. I felt that this item has been made with love, and it is really here to help me. Also, this way I felt like part of a community, a secret group, if you will – who experiences that just by opening a planner?!
2. It’s reflective
This is much more than just some white space where you can write down your tasks and meetings. It’s even more than a notebook where you can let your imagination and ideas roam free. This little book guides you through the year and makes you reflect on yourself and your growth as a person. It starts with a 2-page review of the previous year, which I really enjoyed filling out, since it made me think and analyze my life in ways I wouldn’t have tried otherwise. This took a little time and effort, but it paved the way for a recurring feature in the planner: a reflection on your week and month. Thinking about the highlights and the challenges of the week takes just a couple of minutes each weekend, but it brings you to an instant mindful mood – something that is really needed when you always spin at maximum degree.
3. It has a two-page monthly view
While most planners have this feature, they don’t always include enough space for you and it’s rather a page you just leave blank or circle dates in, not something you get maximum use of. I’m a very visual person and thus prefer to see a whole month when planning ahead, especially when I’m travelling and would love to see how many days I’ll have between two trips. Although I could just do the quick math, seeing the days helps me better figure out whether I’ll manage my time and find a good balance between work and traveling/personal life.
4. It helps you set goals and track your habits
These are two functions, but I think they go in one. In the beginning of the year, there’s a 2017 Vision section where you can state your goals for that given year regarding the following areas in your life: Personal, Health and Fitness, Work and Career and Relationships. After you name your goals, it helps you break them down into steps, a.k.a. an action plan to actually achieve them. While stating that you’d like to get back in shape or get on a healthy diet can sound vague on its own, thinking about smaller steps to achieve these goals helps you avoid getting overwhelmed and makes you focus on the progress in a positive way.
The monthly views and the weekly views have sections where you can state the respective (monthly and weekly) goals, so that you don’t just forget about them after you wrote them down in January. Moreover, you have a cool “tracking my habits” section, where you can tick off each day you sticked to your goals. So, if your goal was getting back in shape, and you wrote down “working out” and “no fast food”, for example, as steps to achieve it, then you can track whether you did, actually work out the amount you wanted that week or managed to avoid fast food (something I really need to work on this year!) While this might sound time-consuming at first, marking your progress will make you feel really content after a while, believe me!
5. It has creative “pick-me-ups” for every week
I won’t lie, this is my favourite feature in the whole planner! As the creators state in the How to Use This Diary section (oh yes, there is a whole user’s manual), these are “a mix of simple tasks, inspirational quotes, little challenges and just quick reminders of the things that matter the most”. I created a Happiness Bank back in January and tried to write down little highlights of my days every now and then, and you know what? It was really nice to read them at the end of the year, reminding us that it’s not just the big events that matter. I wrote a letter to my future self, addressing the most important questions in my life, something I will definitely read again in a couple of years.
I wrote a Summer Bucket List (and then did everything on the list!), learnt a couple of new recipes, colored a little travel map and wrote down my Christmas present ideas, read about the benefits of journaling and essential oils and got tips on how to be productive in the morning and how to practice mindfulness even when you don’t think you have the time for it – all this, just by using the Dear Diary. If nothing, this feature will make you want to open your planner every day, without having the feeling that you only have tasks and “work stuff” written down in there.
One drawback: the daily section
After providing a review on everything that makes the Dear Diary special, I’d like to mention the only feature that could be improved in my opinion: the amount of space left for the daily notes. I understand that the above-mentioned features take up a lot of space in the planner and thus having those AND a whole page for every day would mean a War-and-Peace-long book. I also appreciate that there’s space for notes at the end of each week and a whole page at the end of each month, I just feel like for those who really need/want to write down everything, this would still require a separate notebook.
Considering the one drawback I just mentioned above, I still think the Dear Diary deserves a 5/5 and would repurchase it anytime! (Speaking of which, I’m so late with buying the 2018 version!)
Have you used the Dear Diary before? What are your thoughts on a planner that also guides you through the year in a mindful way? Share your comments below!
Disclaimer: this post is not sponsored.