DESIGN PRINCIPLES

Structured, flexible, evidence-based practice

The Method

The Method to the Madness Life Designer is the result of years of experimentation with how to manage my mood disorders and represents a distillation of what I’ve learned through therapy, research, trial, error, and epic failures.

The ‘Method’ part of the product name refers to the fact that I’ve applied a Do-it-Yourself design-thinking approach to developing the process and support tools. The vast majority of printable journals and planning systems offer very generic and limited templates for processing our life experiences. The MTM Life Designer’s unique value is that every aspect of it has been intentionally built for people who have mental health challenges. There isn’t any fluff; it’s a stripped down DIY approach in which every component has a specific, verifiable benefit.

The Madness

Some may find my use of the word ‘madness’ to describe mental health challenges offensive and insensitive. I am writer and avid reader, so I know how much words matter, and my use of madness as a noun comes from a love of literary traditions that feature characters who struggle with mood disorders or mental illness. I have nothing but compassion for the mad people in our world, and for me being called ‘mad as a hatter’ is just fine, as long as whoever calls me it is authentically in my corner and supportive. LINK TO MORE ON THIS TOPIC

For many people who struggle with mood disorders, open-ended journaling is difficult and can become a repetitive chore. The Daily Pages provide a structured, but flexible, approach to journaling  that can be integrated with other parts of any self-development or wellness process. Each section is based on evidence-based practices (LINK TO ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY TO FOLLOW) that research has shown support human development and mental wellbeing.

No Right or Wrong Way

You don’t have to complete each section and there are no right or wrong ways to write about your life and experiences. The pages can be completed in as little as five or ten minutes, but there are no rules about how much time to spend writing or how many sections to fill out.

The value of physical processing

Research demonstrates that taking notes by hand has a significant positive impact on knowledge retention, the quality of our writing and verbal expression, and our ability to think critically when problem solving.

I tried dozens of apps and digital journaling tools, but none of them are really designed to support people who struggle with mental health challenges. Plus, especially with apps, it always became an out of sight-out of mind scenario.

Easy to use

When coming up with the physical designs to support the process, I was determined to remove barriers that had previously discouraged me from actually sitting down and writing. There are thousands of different physical journals on the market, and while a lot of them have fancy covers or are made with exotic materials, I struggled to find a journal that would lay flat enough for me to comfortably write, and the bindings were often so tight that I ended up not being able to use the full page. I wanted something that I could lay flat without force and pages with enough space to make writing less of a chore.

I also wanted something that was more of a notebook so I could remove pages I no longer need. I start each week with seven Daily Pages and at the end of the week use them as source material for my Weekly Summary. Unless the pages contain notes for another project or idea, I pitch them in the recycling bin. This prevents me from accumulating a bunch of paper that contains repetitive themes or reflections that have served their purpose.

Method to the Madness Daily Pages


Method to the Madness Decatastrophizing My Thoughts Worksheet


Method to the Madness Thought Analysis Worksheet


Method to the Madness Heatmaps

Method to the Madness Weekly Review Worksheet