So here’s a little update on my journey to get myself organized.
I wrote a few weeks ago that I was feeling overwhelmed with everything that needed doing. I spent some time to get myself organized. I’m so glad I did because it’s working.
I spent several evenings searching for printable pages for a planner. I found some that I thought would work for me from Scattered Squirrel. I wanted a full-page planner because I can read my writing better when I don’t have to write tiny. I bought a 1/2″ binder to put my planner in as well as some pocket dividers and tabbed dividers.
Most of the printables I found weren’t really right for me. I don’t have that many appointments on a daily basis, even when things are busy at work. At most, I have three places to be at any certain time, and most days I have zero appointments. Having half the page taken up with appointment schedules was a waste for me. What I really needed was a prioritized to-do list.
I considered doing a weekly list, because most of the things I need to do aren’t critically time-sensitive, but I went with a daily format to keep myself focused. I’ve been using the Daily To-Do and Monthly pages quite successfully so far. They’re bright and colorful, if you choose to print them in color, but the Cobalt color prints well in black & white. I like the “Top Three” idea for things that MUST get done that day/month. I don’t always have three things that are super duper important, but that helps me keep focused. I use the “Daily Focus” block to write what we’re having for dinner that night, and that helps me with the meal planning. (I do think it’s hilarious that dinner is my daily focus.)
For the weekends, I’ve enjoyed using the Sunday Checklist from Emily Lea. I love the style of these printables; they’re so simple and clean. I also used the Brain Dump Checklist for just listing things as I think of them, the Month of Gratitude for a positivity journal, Party Planning Page to plan birthday parties and the Blog Planner to help me organize my ideas for this blog. I’ve found the Meeting Notes page to be super helpful in meetings at work.
On the monthly pages, I’m keeping up with birthdays, large tasks, meetings and Dr. appointments. I punch the right hand side of the daily pages so they can lay flat next to the monthly page and I can quickly see big projects and daily tasks to work on.
For overall planning, I’ve made a weekly Master To-Do list. There are things I need to do each week, some that I want to do every other week and some that I need to do monthly. This page helps me keep up with things I need to do and remember to put them on my daily pages.
I printed out a week at a time on Sunday evening and got myself ready for the coming week. Using those pages still tends to leave a lot of wasted space for me. I don’t make a lot of calls, I don’t usually have 24 things to get done in a day and if I have something to do on a different day, I write it on that day’s sheet. Most of the right hand side of those daily sheets go unused on a regular basis. I tried playing around with a format that would have two days to a page, but have each day in a separate column so it could be folded in the binder, but that didn’t really work well for me, either. (And its time consuming to customize all these planner pages.)
I started finding more and more posts about Bullet Journals. There’s tons of information on pinterest about it. I saw some ideas and thought it might be a useful addition to my planner.
I bought a notebook. At first, it was really just a book of lists. My lists get indexed on the front pages and categorized using washi tape. The washi tape is really fun and brings some color to the pages. I’ve printed out different little coloring pages to tape into my journal for when I need a break from all the craziness.
Then I decided to try out a daily planner format in my journal for a week. With a bullet journal, you hand-draw your “spreads” as you need them. Some of them can be pretty elaborate, and I think it would be very easy to spend so much time drawing the layout that you don’t have time (or inclination) to actually do the planning. My daily spread is pretty simple.
I have a place for the dinner plan, my top three for the day and two columns of task lists for home and work. This format is actually working *really* well for me. Since I did the daily spreads for one week, I found I was using my bullet journal every day while my planner notebook sat untouched in my laptop bag. I went ahead and made my daily spreads for the entire month of March. I even rewrote my Monthly Master Todo List and my important dates (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) in my little journal.
It was at about this point in the process that I found this blog post. It was an eye opener. Suddenly, not being able to draw elaborate spreads every week was ok. The bullet journal is intended to be a minimalist system. Use the parts of it that you need, don’t worry about the other parts, and don’t make it harder than it needs to be. If you find yourself having to search for ideas to fill up your bullet journal, you’re probably overthinking it.
I do like a few ideas I’ve seen around, though. Such as this Recipe Bank and Master Grocery List. Many times, as we’re planning meals for the week, my husband and I look at each other and ask, “What do we eat?” Thanks to the three- four-year-old getting picky, and us not wanting to make two meals every night, we try to plan for things he will eat and that’s limited our choices and put us into a bit of a rut. Having the recipe bank would put all our favorite meals in front of me and have ideas for new things to try.
It’s taken some time for me to get my planning and organizing right, and I am still tweaking things as I go along. I like the idea of using a three-ring binder because I know I’ll want to move things around and I can use full-size pages without fussing with cutting special sizes. The binder is large, though, so I can’t carry it in my purse and it’s stiff, so it takes up more space than I really want it to in my laptop bag. I also had a separate binder at home for household stuff, such as home improvement project plans, our address book, insurance information, etc. Yes, I had a separate binder for this so I wouldn’t have all that stuff taking up space in my 1/2″ binder. Crazy!
I like the bullet journal idea because I can use a smaller notebook that will fit in my purse and the notebook I have is flexible so it seems to fit better. I am using a 5 x 8.5 inch journal right now, so that may not be ideal for some purses, but the purse I’m currently carrying is ridiculously huge (and I love it!) I have everything I need in my bullet journal. For example, when Jellybean and I started seeds for the garden, I wrote the list of planted in my journal. While shopping at a garden center, I saw marjoram plants, but couldn’t remember if I had planted marjoram seeds. I pulled out my bujo, flipped to the appropriate page and had hard evidence that I had NOT planted marjoram seeds and could go ahead and buy the plant. That moment really cemented it for me.
Anyway, I seem to have gone off the deep end a little bit with the planning. It does take some time to get things organized and if you’re starting from scratch, that process can seem overwhelming. I do admire the people who can keep up with things they need to do and not get bogged down with needing to plan everything (ahem, I’m looking at you, dear husband.) I am just not able to keep everything in my head and when I get inspired with new ideas, I’ve found that they (and everything else) are quickly lost if I don’t put them somewhere. Plus, there are things that just have to get done. Somebody’s got to remember to scrub a toilet every now and then and if I have it written in a schedule, it’s more likely to get done. I get more satisfaction by checking that item off my list than I feel dread about doing the job.
Now that I’ve settled on the bujo, I can do my planning in a few minutes each week. I am keeping up with the household tasks, while still working full time. I know that if I look at my day and just can’t get everything done, I know which tasks are critical, which I need to ask for help with and which can be put off to another day. I’m still very busy, but now I also feel productive, which makes the busy-ness not so bad.
And on that note, I should really go scrub a toilet. Have a great week, my friends!