I’m participating in the #planwithmechallenge hosted by Kara, Kim and Jessica. I’ve been posting little snapshots on my Instagram account, but many of the posts elicit a much longer answer than I care to type out on my phone. So, I figured why not blog it? My plan is to post a weekly summary here to go into some of the prompts in a little more depth.
DAY 1: INTRO
I’ve always like the idea of being one of those organized, planner people. The stationery section of the store, in general, always drew my attention, which is probably why I’ve accumulated a stash of empty journals and an embarrassing pile of unfinished ones, too. Despite all this, I never really quite found a planner or system that really worked for me-the elusive planner peace.
I’ve bought countless planners from Target, but I never felt like they had the right layout or enough room. Thinking I just hadn’t met the right planner, I began investigating online and quickly found the Erin Condren cult fan club. Those planners are colorful and cheery and all the YouTube videos made it seem like this one might be the one. So, I splurged…and did well with it for a while, but ran into the same problems I always had with pre-made planners-they just weren’t easily adaptable for what I wanted.
a little over a month and I’ve lost my mojo
With that in mind I began investigating downloadable/printable options, and boy, are there options. I don’t know how many I purchased and printed and inevitably tossed during that time (it was a lot!). At some point I saw Ryder Carroll’s video about his system that he called the Bullet Journal. I fell in love with the concept, but I didn’t really see it as being a planner system for me. I saw it as more of a note-taking solution and implemented it in my scripture study and eventually my academic studies when I went back to school last year. But the simplicity and flexibility of the system had been planted and slowly germinated in my mind while I tried other things.
Well, one other thing. DIYFish inserts, to be exact. Now, I really love these inserts and they worked well for me for a long time. Sheng Chen has created a multitude of printable sheets to use with different sizes and style of planners. I used the 8.5 x 5.5 size in a disc bound system (I can tell you more about this if you’re interested) which allowed me the ability to customize and create something that really worked for me…until it didn’t.
so pretty, maybe I’ll come back one day
What I was struggling with was archiving. You see, the inserts were just too bulky to carry around all at once. So I would carry only a month’s worth of pages at a time and switch out each month (a potential issue in and of itself-if I was slacking around the first of the month, I might not get the new pages put in and then I’d be completely thrown off). For a while I would just toss the pages each month, because I wasn’t really concerned with looking back at old to-do lists—the stuff I was writing down wasn’t really meaningful to me in the long-term. But, that started to change once I had my son. Suddenly there were things that I wanted to document and track and be able to review for years to come. Some of these things were sentimental (milestones and special moments with the boy) but some of them were practical, too (sleeping and eating habits, poop, etc). I found that the DIYFish inserts just didn’t work for me with these new needs.
So, in the last couple weeks I found myself returning to the Bullet Journal. I searched through Pinterest and Instagram, finding inspiration from fellow BuJo fanatics (I’ll list my favorites in a coming post). Suddenly it clicked for me. I could create a journal that would allow me to plan and improve my productivity AND archive special moments and habits (both mine and the boy’s) in a compact, attractive little book. I love that I don’t have to commit to any layouts-I can try it for a month or a week or a day and see if it works for me. If I feel like getting elaborate and fancy one week, I can easily pare it back to the simplest basics when things get crazy the next week.
DAY 2: MY JANUARY SET UP
I’ll try to limit the word count on this one and let the pictures speak for themselves…
Ok, I totally stole the monthly layout from Kara [no shame in my game] and gave it just a couple tweaks.
-At the bottom I wrote down one single intention for the month [to build a solid morning routine]
-Next to the PM column I added a place to keep track of which page each date was on, that way I could quickly find a certain day without cluttering up my index.
-I personally HATE ribbon bookmarks, so I cut those off and will be using these sticker tabs from Girl of All Work. The TODAY one is peeking up from the top and will get migrated throughout the planner. The monthly ones will, obviously stay with their month and may end up being stapled if the adhesive is not strong enough.
habit tracker and gratitudes
I limited my habits to track to only five and plan on adding (or not) as needed throughout the year. I also have my chore list. I assign a different room to each day of the week and use a dash for routine tasks and a check box for one-time things I’d like to accomplish this month. I’ll explain a bit more when I talk about planning strategy below.
Daily gratitudes is self explanatory, right? [even if gratitudes isn’t a real word]
end of gratitudes with my personal mission statement and forward planning
I was inspired again by Kara to do the mission statement-I only wish I’d put it somewhere that felt tied to the whole year and not the month of January [maybe the front cover].
I’ll discuss the forward planning a bit more below.
memories and sleep tracker for my son
I wanted to track some things related to my son [his name is August, which makes monthly trackers a little confusing]. Memories is pretty obvious, right? The sleep tracker is hopefully just for this month. He’ll be five months old on the 10th and is doing that whole sleep regression thing, so I felt like keeping track of his sleep would be helpful. I used to have an app to do this, but for some reason having it on paper seemed to make more sense. Probably because I can still see when I put him down but he didn’t sleep, which I couldn’t track very well with the app I was using.
Finally, the dailies can begin. Again, pretty self-explanatory I hope.
DAY 3: PLANNING STRATEGY
I find that I’m only successful with my planning, if I am in my planner every day. No matter what system or planner you have, it won’t actually do the work for you. In the past I’ve had more complicated systems that never really worked because they just didn’t make sense for what I needed. I used to try to color-code things, but my brain just doesn’t work that way-the colors end up being annoying to maintain and overwhelming to actually look at on my page. So here’s a brief [ha!] breakdown of what my strategy looks like.
WHERE: Main planning usually happens at night in my bed, but I make sure to keep my journal with me at all times so I can easily jot down any ideas as they come.
WHEN: As part of my evening routine I sit down and reflect on how that day went, then review what I have planned for the next day. In the morning I look over everything I sketched out the night before and keep my journal open to today’s page so that it stays present in my mind.
HOW: First I check in with my habit tracker then jot down my three daily gratitudes. Then I jump over to the memories page for my son and make a note of anything memorable from that day. I look over the current day’s spread one last time to see how I did on whatever tasks/goals I set out for myself.
Once that’s done, then it’s time to go into the next day. I look at my monthly page to see if there are any appointments for the day-usually there aren’t. Next I go to my weekly chore outline to remind myself which room is my focus for the day. I use a single box for the room and then bullet out individual tasks underneath. I have one or two recurring tasks for each room and then I add in any additional projects based on how much time I think I’ll have. If I have a busy day of appointments, then I won’t do any projects, just the recurring tasks.
I don’t use a weekly spread [at least not right now] so my routine stays pretty consistent until the end of the month. Then I’ll draw up my monthly calendar and fill in appointments and goals and set an intention for the month. I keep track of my appointments on my phone using the Sunrise calendar app. I find it’s easier for me to do appointments on my phone since I can do it with one hand if needed. Everything else-recurring household tasks, projects, etc.-is listed in my forward planning page. Some of those projects may end up being a collection on their own [for example my capsule wardrobe] but I like having the entire year on a single page for quick reference.
With my monthly calendar complete, I just have to draw up my habit tracker and weekly chore list along with my lists for memories/gratitude/whatever I feel like tracking that month. I use the monthly goal list to add projects to the weekly chore list. For example: I would like to finish my maternity album this month, so that went on my monthly goal list. Since I do all my crafting/scrapbooking in the guest room, I add that project to the day I have set aside for the guest room-Sunday [technically Sunday is for the nursery and the guest room]. When I plan out my itinerary for Sunday, I’ll have routine tasks-mainly laundry from the nursery-and if time allows I’ll plan some time to work on my maternity album.
WHY: I just wanted to finish up by talking a little bit about why I do what I do. I have a problem staying focused when I’m working on a task. If I’m grabbing laundry from the bedroom, I can easily get side-tracked by my cluttered vanity or the picture I want to hang in the living room. I created a system where every project has a place and every place has a day-a nice riff on a place for everything and everything in its place. If I have a project idea come to mind, I go to my journal and jot it down, knowing that I will work on it at some point, but I don’t have to drop everything to do it now.
I’m a planner because I NEED to be. If I don’t write down at least an idea or intention of what I’d like to do, I’ll get lost in unfinished tasks, distracted by all the new ideas I have. It also helps to remind me of all the things I actually do accomplish in a given day, week or month.
I hope you enjoyed this…let’s call it, thorough post on me and what I do as a planner. I don’t anticipate future posts being quite this long, but I can’t make any promises.