For all its utility in tracking our planetary revolutions, earthly seasons and our personal development from one sunrise to the next, time may be the human construct that inspires the most anxiety. If you find conventional planners too rigid, digital calendars too ethereal, if you seem incapable of committing to a routine of tracking your time or if you’ve noticed that self-proclaimed mindfulness adult coloring books actually make you mindless as they distract you from your problems, Anna Tucker has the planner for you.
The 2016 University of Virginia graduate with a degree in media studies and English just completed her Kickstarter campaign last month, raising more than $6,000 to fund her Nevermindful 2017 Weekly Planner + Journal + Coloring Book. On the Kickstarter page, she describes it as “a Swiss army personal planner for space cadets and loony bins who like to fixate, for those of us who get driver amnesia, ask questions to be repeated and doodle in the margins.”
Tucker argues that most adult coloring books advertise themselves as mindful but are actually the opposite, encouraging consumers to zone out. In an e-mail, she writes, “I find it very sad to see industries capitalizing off public anxiety and an individual’s willingness to make changes by providing them with flimsy and temporary solutions to escape or treat symptoms rather than examine the root of the problem. Nevermindful is first and foremost a satirical self-help guide and intro to mindful thinking, but it will also hopefully be a way for people to empower themselves by taking the practice of sustainable stress relief into their own hands.”
The Nevermindful planner sprang from a perfect storm of ideas. As a transfer student from the University of Georgia, Tucker says she came upon mindfulness at the right time. She was adjusting to difficult classes at UVA and enjoyed being intellectually challenged but needed something to prevent burnout. She took a class on mindfulness at UVA’s Contemplative Sciences Center. Meanwhile, in her own planners, calendars and class notes, she was always drawing.
“I’ve always illustrated while writing because it helps me remember,” says Tucker. “I’m a visual person that way. People have always commented on [my illustrations], but I never thought about it until my job this summer.”
As the project coordinator for the vice provost for the arts at UVA, she makes calendars and to-do lists, as well as marketing and promotion materials.
“I kept getting compliments,” she says. “I never realized they could be helpful for someone else until I received positive feedback on them.”
And since graduating, she has had more time on her hands. For the Nevermindful project she commissioned 11 different artists to contribute their art to one month of the year. (Tucker is illustrating April.)
“I asked each person to capture their personality in a way through their art that could be enlightening to people to respond to,” she says. “I told them to try to be like a funny self-help book, what you would tell your best friends if you had a unique insight or mantra that would help people reconsider or reject something.”
She explains that while the planner is illustrated, it allows for coloring and includes games, riddles and tasks, with room for people to add to it in their own way. “It’s a more satirical way to point out that mindfulness and mediation are about confronting things in the present moment,” she says. “We’re trying to combine a calendar and timeline of living with fun things, creative prompts to keep us thinking.”
And Tucker purposefully instilled Nevermindful with a self-consciousness that most planners lack.
“We didn’t want to have a lot of straight lines,” she says. “It’s supposed to capture the idea that we think we can control the future by planning things. But we might as well have fun with it.”
For Tucker, it’s meaningful to have a physical plan and a record of how she spent her time that she can hold in her hands, rather than access digitally.
“It’s more personal to record things in your own handwriting,” Tucker says. “You can learn from yourself in the future and see how far you’ve come. And part of the idea of the book is that planning is stressful, but writing it out makes you feel better to have it outside of your body.”
Tucker has sold 200 copies through Kickstarter, with 10 percent of sales to fund mental health resources for students and community members at the Contemplative Sciences Center. She hopes to have the first batch printed in September. More information is available at never-mindful.com.
Anna Tucker’s Nevermindful planner combines task lists with whimsy, but don’t call it mindfulness. “By taking on the smaller, arguably harmless, target of adult coloring books, we are hoping this test case will give consumers a BS detector for this kind of advertisement in other areas of their life,” she says.