Positive mental attitudes are high on the agenda at this time of year as back to school season begins, so what better place to find your inspiration than in a new set of stationery? Judy Johnson finds the books, pens and journals that have your back
A quick look at Instagram hashtags reveals that we are nothing if not a nation of motivation seekers; there are over a million posts under the hashtag #motivationquotes, over six million with #positivevibes and it seems we’ve all got an end game in mind with over 23 million photos under #goals. There are slogan t-shirts instructing you to ‘Believe in Your Selfie’, poster prints telling you to ‘Dream Big’ and endless Pinterest boards dedicated to being, feeling, and looking better, be it with an Instagram-worthy sofa or a mug telling you to ‘be more unicorn’. Positive mental attitude (or PMA, if you like) is rife, perhaps a symptom of the social media generation who are shunning sarcasm and self-consciousness with a passion for photogenic words of wisdom and #ThisGirlCan-style enthusiasm.
But it’s not just the digital world that this positivity is seeping into - the written word has a new purpose, with stationery lovers everywhere (and they really are everywhere - another million Instagrams under the hashtag prove it’s not just the Get The Gloss office that can’t get enough) rejoicing at the excuse to buy everything from a gratitude journal to a goal-setting weekly planner (finished in rose gold, naturally). Stationery has had a motivational makeover, and now you can’t swing a Post-It without finding another notebook with encouraging slogans on to rev you up for your next project. Yes, motivationery (as we have decided to call it) is here to stay, and we’re all for it; but is keeping track of your life goals in a beautiful journal really going to help you achieve them?
"Anything that can help you order your thoughts, help you download all that is buzzing in your brain and help you re-frame your thoughts, has to be beneficial,” says Anna Percy-Davis , life coach, former headhunter and all round expert at being a goal-getter.
"Much of the motivational stationery is based on great ideas such as the 'law of attraction' (if you put out positive vibes you will get positive vibes back - a concept that essentially encourages you to re-frame your negative thoughts into positive thoughts and we all know that working on having a glass half full rather than a glass half empty can be beneficial), and mindfulness (if you clear your mind and focus on the here and now you will be calmer, more in control and more productive - another concept that is both powerful and logical if you can get it to work for you). The stationery, apps, and tools can also encourage goal setting and structures to help you get more organised such as ‘chunking' (dividing big challenges into small manageable chunks), all of which are devised to help you find better order in your working life (and often your life in general)."
It’s pretty much unanimous that everyone loves that new notebook feeling; starting a fresh book, on the first crisp new page, is always incredibly satisfying; but there’s something to be said for doing so on a page that tells you you’ll nail your to-do list, or to write with a pencil that reminds you on every glance to worry less. In a time where stress is high, emails are far too frequent and busyness is becoming a health hazard, having somewhere to collect your thoughts with the written version of a personal cheerleader heading up the page can only be a good thing, surely?
"Motivational stationery has a very useful place for those of you who respond to gentle reminders to be more mindful, motivated and organised,” agrees Anna. "But, before start journaling madly it might be best to look at your work life from the top down and perhaps ask yourself a few questions. Are you happy in your job, are you happy with your working space, are you achieving what you want to in your job? If any of these questions are not as you want them to be, you need to ask yourself what it is that you really want and what changes would you like to see in your working life."
No, a notebook with a well-meaning quote on the front will not fix your problems - but if all you need is a bit of #motivation or a well-formed list to keep track of your #goals, then it’s a good place to start. Here’s our pick of the best motivationery we’ve found on the web to help you focus, prioritise and set out to achieve whatever’s on your life to-do list; willpower sold separately.
The Happiness Planner
£40, Buy online
Less about productivity, and more about that positive mental attitude, The Happiness Planner is a journal that helps you to track and plan your happiness; from setting goals and starting the day with a positive thought, to practising self-reflection and ending each day with gratitude. There are pages to help you change your habits , bucket lists and steps to rate how you’re feeling - everything you need to journal your way to a more mindful way of living, all presented in a beautifully bound book.
Ban.Do Sticky Note Set
£9.01, Buy online
Putting the fun into the working day is this sticky note set from ban.do, with a reassurance that ‘Things are totally gonna work out’ and a big thumbs up to keep you thinking positive. Why not?
Good Vibes Only Notebook
£9.62, Buy online at C&S Designs
Etsy is, it turns out, a goldmine for good stationery, as I discovered when I found this oh-so-on-trend baby pink notebook with gold foil letters affirming ‘Good Vibes Only’. A helpful reminder for when you’re at work and cursing your manager for doubling your to-do list with one swift email. For those a little too far from the shop's California base, try this Yes You Can book from UK-based Craftformers.
I find writing in pencil rather than pen quite liberating - it sparks something creative and playful which can be handy for those long brainstorming sessions. Keep that spark alight with these PMA-engraved pencils, telling you anything from ‘Worry less’ to the slightly more abrupt ‘Get to work’. To be fair, they have a point. Pop them in this ‘I did my best’ pencil case for extra encouragement.
HomeSense Notebooks & Notepads
HomeSense (and TK Maxx, its parent company) is my favourite place to shop for stationery - you just never know what you might find and I’ve come away with many a gem in my recent stationery hauls, from a memo block with ‘Like a boss’ on the footer of every page to the ‘Good things come to those who hustle’ and ‘I don’t need luck, I’ve got awesome on my side’ notebooks that I happily take to business meetings. Prices are more than reasonable too - the only problem is, it’s all offline. Get yourself to your nearest store, pronto...
From £2.50, Buy online
Confession: I have a serious crush on Swedish brand Kikki.K. The stylish stationery powerhouse has not only put down roots in the chic cobbled streets of Covent Garden, but also has an easy-to-navigate online store which I could spend all day on. Their regularly updated products are sleek, smart and have that Scandi trait of being wonderfully functional. I love their Pause range, with notebooks to match your mood, £10, the new Thrive range such as this Inspiration Kit for your vision board , £7.50, and the matching pen , £2.50. Stationery porn at its finest.
You Got This Notepad
£4.62, Veronica Foley Designs
If you’re in the UK the shipping costs (the shop is based in the States) might make this a less sensible buy, but otherwise it’s always good to start a list with a life-affirming ‘You got this’… ticking it off will surely be so much more satisfying.