Hi! Happy new year! I’d like to write about my planner/journal/calendar set up for the year. I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time watching youtube videos, hovering over productivity blogs, and looking for #bulletjournal ideas on instagram until I couldn’t take it anymore, ha!
I have always been a paper and pen person. When I had my first smart phone, I switched back and forth between paper and electronic calendars and reminders. Electronic calendars – with its bells, whistles, and reminders – have saved my neck dozens of times from potentially embarrassing memory lapses. But the drawback was that I found it difficult to do forward planning. It was much easier to get the bigger picture, a sort of bird’s eye view of the coming week/s or month/s when everything is laid out in writing. With purely automatic calendars, I felt like everything just came to me like a speeding train and I am forced to respond by doing or dodging. Not the best strategy if one wants to accomplish things.
I have also dabbled in some GTD few years back in my pre-private practice days. I found it too complicated that I spent more tme organizing my system than actually organizing my life. It was completely abandoned.
The holidays left me time to scout for planner and productivity ideas, and scout I DID! I stumbled upon a lot of great things such as this brilliant write up by Lisa of Organize 365 about the important difference between one’s calendar and planner. Such simple yet wise information. To quote her, “Calendars hold information. Planners hold action and accountability”. Life-changing, if you ask me. =p
And then I stumbled on the idea of rapid logging called Bullet Journal. I know, I am so late in the game but am just so grateful for “discovering” the system so beautifully explained here. And I borrowed some ideas from this beautiful, beautiful video on Adapted Bullet Journal by Miriam Twinklewit.
I just looove her video! Leather cover, her voice, toddler, cat, and all.❤
So, here’s what I’ve finally decided to use:
These are my daily tools: My cheapo pencil case filled with different colored pens and markers, my A5 journal, and my handy planner.
The small 2015 planner on the right was something I bought on a whim late last year from National Bookstore. It measures 5 x 7 inches and is very handy it fits into the smallest purse that I’ve been using lately since I’ve had problems with my hips and back. It has a one-week layout on the left side, which I find is perfect for my week-in-a-glance. The right side is blank, a generous amount of space provided for note-taking.
I split the left side further into two columns because I tend to write and read vertical-wise (if that makes sense) and end up not using a lot of space on the right side on pages that are too wide. I use the leftmost column for appointments and events, time-dependent stuff such as a lecture, my church service, clinic, kids’ dentist appointment… things that are nailed fixed. I put an empty circle in front of each of these events and color them in when they are done.
I also write important tasks, or the MITs (most important things, in productivity linggo) that had to be accomplished on that specific day. The rightmost column I use mostly for bits of notes and information — one-liner entries for things that happened that day, eg:
- Bought our new Epson L355 printer for (insert amount) — (which by the way hubby and I are crazy about. Such an intelligent and practical piece of equipment, with wifi and remote printing and scanning… hoohah!)
- Attended first Friday Mass with the whole family
- Bad migraine today, ugh
You get the idea. Just random bits of information that I can always get back to for reference, just in case.
Now, the blank space on the right serves as my “ubiquitous capture tool” (another GTD/productivity buzzword). I write down everything that comes into mind. If the task is time-sensitive, I write it on the blank page on the specific week where I most need to see it. I draw tickboxes before each task, and write a date (for a deadline), or an asterisk (for very important task), as needed. I also attach a post-it when I feel like I need to schedule my day hour-by-hour. This, I do in particular for long, packed, busy days so that I do not feel overwhelmed. It gives me a semblance of “control” over my schedule.
My planner has no backpocket. I stuck some flags and post-its for future use. And I clipped a few pieces of blank paper held by a paper clip. Here, I have a sort of running grocery list so that when I have a few hours to spare, I can just grab the list off of my planner and would no longer need to check on my phone for reference as I push the grocery cart.
That’s it for my planner. Now, let me tell you about this beautiful journal, the so-called “SBC Dream Journal” from Seattles’ Best Coffee. Oh boy, I had to drag my whole family and sort of “harrass” them into ordering things just so I can complete my stickers and have this. “I told you, you have to choose from the 4 yuletide drinks!”. Hahaha. They have been very supportive of their wife/mom’s planner obsession. Love them.
A gazillion calories later, I got my very own. It is size A5 and came with a lot of freebies — a mousepad; CD of several laid-back, cafe-type songs; coffee cup-shaped paper clips; stick-ons; stickers; free or discounted drink coupons for the month; and, free wifi coupons, 24 hours total! But the thing I love the most about this journal is that it is in a ring binder form, the refillable kind.
I love that it has the potential to be refilled and used for years to come. I also like that I can move pages around if I want to and not feel paralyzed about making mistakes and not be able to rearrange stuff as needed (I feel this kind of “notebook paralysis” when I use bound notebooks.
It has a month-per-page foldable spread which I forgot to take a photo of. Once again, I split each page into two columns and wrote down ideas and collections of tasks that are not time-sensitive but which I feel are too precious to just store in my brain, only to be forgotten forever. I have a monthly general task list.
And I have written page numbers on the bottom corner, and inserted a sort of index to make things easier to find.
So, as you can see up there, I have lists… a collection of all sorts of ideas and to-dos that have titles such as #Paper files — how I intend to organize and file my paper clutter one step at a time, or “Home organization ideas — move yarns to one place, or organize bookshelf in master bedroom, etc. #hobbies to explore — succulents, hand-quilting, maybe… things that I do not have the time for right now, but maybe in the near-future, who knows?
I also printed out this year-in-a page sheet from this wonderful site called phILOFAXY. They have wonderful diary inserts in pdf form for diaries of all sizes and they are all for free! Do check it out. I use mine to track daily habits such as flossing the kids (and myself), vitamins/iron supplement, walking, prayer and scripture time, etc.
Finally, I have been gifted this pretty, personalized desk-calendar by my thoughtful sister-in-law. I am planning to use this for my daily MITs and am still trying to decide whether I should need to limit myself to 3 MITs per day (measly?) or 5 (too ambitious?). Will see about that.
So there. This has been quite a long post. I think the key to making this system a success is to take time every night to update my list, and to carefully plan each day as it comes. To have the discipline to move tasks from my monthly task list and actually schedule them in into my daily planner. I want to plan one day at a time so as not to overwhelm myself. 2015 is looking up! Good luck to me and to all our dreams and goals and lofty plans for 2015!
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)