Note: In case you missed it at Berkshire Family Focus, here’s my post on my new bullet journal — Love it!
So, you’ve probably all been waiting for that obligatory new year’s post. You know, the one where I vow to make all these resolutions about how I am going to become a better mom, a better writer and better person, etc. in 2014.
This is not that post. This here, is — sort of.
Nope, this post is about my personal quest over the years to find a system for organizing my life: work, kids, exercise, volunteer activities, writing deadlines, etc. I’ve tried it all — white board calendars, large mommy calendars, date books, electronic calendars, merging Google calendars with my husband, creating daily to-do lists and checking them off as I go along, yet still, I regularly felt disorganized and unable to, well, “keep my shit” together!”
On Dec. 11, I even posted this …
… on my Renaissance Mom Facebook page.
And from my approximately 380 followers there, I only received two responses (I’d like to think no one else responded because they, too, are also in search of a working organization system, rather than the fact that they just don’t pay much attention to RM on Facebook anymore). The two responses (thank you Jill and Karissa) suggested: 1. Go digital; and 2. Wall calendars. The two commenters had their reasons for these suggestions … “I always carry my iPhone and can link to household members and use at home on iPad”; and “I get to see the whole month at one time.” Which once again left me with the same dilemma: How can get everything I need to do into one place? So I did like I always do when I get overwhelmed. I did nothing at all and remained extremely disorganized throughout the holidays.
Then something magical happened (cue the angels singing). I found THIS post on Rocket City Mom which then led me to THIS post on Miss Zoot, both of which were writtenby Kim Holmes (aka Miss Zoot) on “bullet journaling.” It just so happened that these were posted at the beginning of the new year, I found them one week into 2014 and I began my own bullet journal on the second week of the new year (Jan. 6 to be exact), BUT this post is not about new year resolutions. Getting organized is an ongoing goal of mine — and I just might have found an answer to my prayers. Yay, me!
So here’s a little synopsis of what I have learned about bullet journaling, how I’ve tweaked the recommendations to meet my needs and how, thus far, it has been working! But before I begin I should give you the Miss Zoot definition of a Bullet Journal:
A great system for list-makers. It’s a simple concept. You start with a journal of some sort, and you write all of your lists inside that journal with an index guiding you to them.
1. Start by purchasing a journal that inspires you: If you buy something that causes you to retreat in horror each time you see it, chances are you won’t use it. There’s a gazillion possibilities out there — basic no-frills journals, journals with quotes on the cover, hard cover journals, journals with art on the cover, journals with lines, no lines, graph-paper-like lines. I chose this simple soft gray journal with quotes that inspire me on the cover for $5 at Staples. I also bought two others with different quotes and different colors, one of which I gave to a friend, the other I keep on my desk because I love the quote and plan to use it as my 2015 bullet journal.
2. Create an index page: This is supposed to help you find everything as you begin to fill your journal. Honestly I haven’t used this much. I wrote January on it that first day and that was it. I might write February on it too, but I’ve chosen to use Post-it tabs to Mark what I need that I also bought at Staples, and my journal has a bookmark, so I haven’t used the index page much. Maybe I will later, but so far, I don’t need it. But if you feel the index page will help you … then go for it. Start with January and as you index others, write down the name of the page and the page numbers (i.e. January, 1-10).
3. Set up your Calendar: Now there are two ways you can do this. One, create a calendar that will fit your journal the way you need it to (there are small one page month views templates you can use that fit my journal here or I may create my own in the future to fit across two pages). There is also the list format where you write the month at the top of the page and then each day of the month on each line like this … 1M (means Monday the first), 2T, 3W etc. Obviously, the first day of the month isn’t always a Monday, so adjust accordingly. T
I chose to use both options. The big month view I use for family events and appointments. As I said earlier, I think I will make a larger calendar that fits across two pages for next month, because with three kids, there’s a whole lot to put on there. I also used the line (list view calendar) for my work meetings and writing deadlines. The original design says to write one day on each line, but I think for February I will skip a couple of lines between each day to give myself room to write more than one event, neatly and large enough to see.
4. Make a to-do list for the month: There are always things I have the whole month to get done — pay bills; call about a question for my health insurance; set up doctors appointments for the kids, contact writers for assignments on Berkshire Family Focus, etc. I write all of these on these pages (I set aside a couple pages for this in case I think of things to add to it later). I also tweaked this a bit, because I also like to write weekly lists. So now at the beginning of each week I try to remember to take a page and make the weekly to-do list (See the two sample pages below.)
4. Now get journaling: Either at the end of each day or first thing in the morning over coffee I browse my monthly calendars and to-dos. On the first blank page I write the next days date (or that morning’s date depending on when I do this). Underneath I write all the events I have going on for that day (family and work) preceded by a circle to remind me they are events, with a time after the event description (although in the example below I didn’t but a circle or the time for Kenna’s doctors appointment because I was making it first, then the circle and time were at the bottom of my page). Then I use my weekly calendar to write my days to-do lists, from grocery shopping and making dinner or doing laundry, to updating calendars, making phone calls and writing articles, posts, etc., preceded with a square check box.
There’s nothing like checking things off as I go along to make me feel like I’ve had a productive day.
Throughout the day I also write notes of things I want to remember with a bullet preceding them. I’ve also put a quote or two on a page or doodled as I went along to make it more personal. Some people choose to use different colored pens or scrapbooking items etc. I’ve taped an address and a committee list on a few pages, but that’s all the creativity I have at this moment to waste on my journal.
My journal is a work-in-progress, but I’m telling you it’s been a life saver. I carry it wherever I go, and for the first time in a LONG time I’m feeling pretty organized.
Now I’m off to check “Write RM post” off today’s to-do list.