Recycling Planners in the Name of Art!

Last week, I lost my day job. Now I’m not looking for sympathy, it’s a part of my life as a writer (we’re always the first to go, it seems), but I realized something. Today was the first day I spent looking at all the things I took home from my old office. Earlier today I carefully dragged the three boxes of paper, books and the colorful nicknacks that adorned my desk and bookshelf. I went through the boxes and carefully pulled out much of the bits and bobs that I wasn’t going to be needing for the “next” job and set them aside. About 99% of that pile was papers. Papers from meetings, project planner forms detailing jobs and lots of one-on-one forms. Looking back at all those forms is like looking back at 50% of my life in the past year. I wrote manuals, created fliers, and had plans for brochures and newsletters. And like most people who leave their jobs, things like these papers get tossed right into the recycling pile. (Come on… we all know that these forms get tossed or recycled. I’m not the only one here.) Well, not today.

Instead of saying adios to my last job by unceremoniously dumping the papers into the trash, where they make a great THUMP sound, I’m keeping many of the project cards and one-on-one forms that helped me focus and stay productive on my job. I’m going to use these forms to decorate my walls or paste in my journals. (I’d rather turn them into journal covers than let them decompose slowly in the cold.) Those forms helped define and shape my career over the last year. In effect, they ARE journal entries and creative memories of what I did in my life to pay the bills. Who says your art and journal entries need to be clean and messy. You now have permission to reuse those forms, save them from the landfills and go make art with them.

Recycling forms to make creative and original paper art is easy and fun. It focuses on the bits of papers that you aren’t planning on keeping because they’re not important enough to archive in a shoe box or scan into DEVONthink. I’m talking about using the daily forms that we commonly think of scrap papers. You know, those sheets that we find ourselves with more of and are constantly tossing into the trash. Yes, I am now telling you that you don’t have to recycle those forms. Instead, you can use them to:

  • Create notebook covers. Transform your used planning pages into some real nifty works of art. Get a composition book and a trusty glue stick and start sticking those forms all over the cover of the journal. Print out a name for your journal and stick it on the cover. Coat the whole thing with modge-podge or another type of art sealer to protect the art from the elements. Or leave it and allow the natural use of the notebook to wash away the past. Use the notebook to record your thoughts on what makes you most productive. Or use it to keep track of work related meeting notes and action items.
  • Turn them into collages. Paste a whole slew of used forms onto a canvas or heavy card stock and write down your thoughts on productivity. Quote passages from Getting Things Done (or other productivity gurus!). Paste images people’s work spaces, that you admire. Frame your art and hang it somewhere on your walls. Let it inspire and remind you to be productive.
  • Use them as backgrounds. Make personalized calling cards. Cut your forms up into business sized chunks and place a larger sized sticker that has your name, email and phone number on it. Think of a calling card as a personal card that you can give to anyone you want to hook up and network with.
  • Bind them all together and use them as backgrounds for an art journal. This is becoming more commonplace in the DIY book binding market. Many artists are reusing forms and papers and even text book pages for the backgrounds to their own journals. And now you can too. Fold your planning pages in half and sew them together to make a single signature book. Or you can get trickier and sew multiples together to have a small mini-journal next to you where ever you go.

Now you have a reason to reuse your forms rather than just recycling them into the dumpster. Save the landfills, and the recycling community by turning those papers into wonderful pieces of art that express your love (or dislike) for all things work related and productivity! Stop reading the forums, go grab that last batch of forms you chucked into the recycling bin and make art with it. Paste them into your journal. Scribble over it or date the entry and let it be shown that your planner now becomes your art!

Do you have any other ideas for recycling your planner pages and binders? Feel free let us know with your comments.

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