It’s a running joke at my house – the number of planners I’ve gone through trying to find a system that works for me. I’ve tried just about everything you can imagine – Erin Condren, The Happy Planner (by Me and My Big Ideas), and many others that you can find at just about every office store or book store. There are elements about each that I love – the pretty covers, the bright and happy colors. Aesthetically, these planners are everything I’m looking for. Functionally, however, not so much. My issues are various, including not enough space to write down both appointments and to-do’s and, well, just about everything else I wish I could write down and keep track of all in one place. I was finding my planners were bulking up due to inserts and papers tucked away and clipped here and there. And still I was overlooking important tasks or forgetting about appointments. Just. Not. What. I. Was. Needing.
For a while now, I’ve kept my calendar 100% digitally, so I can share with my husband to keep him in the loop. Plus, the reminders are a huge thing for me, as I have a tendency to get lost in what I’m doing and lose all track of time and space! The only real downfall for the digital calendar (I use outlook) is the lack of being able to track to-do items. Enter another ap to try to digitally track tasks and due dates. It was getting cumbersome, and kind of annoying with all the digital reminders going off on my phone all the time.
And so, I began yet another search for a system that would work for me. I still want and need to use my digital calendars (plural, as I have one for me, one for each of the kids, one for school, one for work, and one for Lucas). There are several reasons, that I won’t go into, why I cannot eliminate the digital calendar. And I don’t want to. I like it. It works. So really, I’m needing to find something that helps me keep track of tasks, thoughts, notes, goals, progress, etc.
Then an online friend clued me in to the world of Bullet Journaling. I didn’t even know this was a thing! Curious, I went to bulletjournal.com to learn more about it. This, naturally, led to scouring youtube for ideas and examples. After much thought, I decided to jump onboard the Bullet Journal bandwagon! However, having JUST purchased a new Happy Planner by MAMBI, I didn’t want to waste the resource (the prettiness, as well as the money spent). So, I salvaged what I could, and gutted the rest. I kept a few of the divider tabs, and I kept the Budget pages I had purchased. And then I started from scratch. I ordered a few blank grid/note pages made by MAMBI specifically for their planners. I also decided that part of the fun for me would be to use some of my digital supplies to create certain pages I’ll need. The rest, will be good old fashioned pen to paper, day to day.
Let me show you what I’ve got so far!
My first 3 pages are where my INDEX will be. I labeled the top of the 1st page accordingly, and began indexing my pages – content and page #s.
Here’s a zoom-in on what I’ve indexed so far…
The next few pages, then, are my Future Planning pages – places to jot down things to come in the months ahead. I made these in Photoshop Elements and printed them off.
Now to jump right into January planning! I made a month overview spread (also in PSE, using digital supplies downloaded from The Lilypad).
On the left, I put together a month-at-a-glance agenda, divided into Morning, Afternoon, Evening to keep it a bit cleaner and easier to see. You’ll see at the bottom of the page, I’ve added a basic amount of color coding. I didn’t want to get overboard with it. Too much creates confusion and complication for me.
The right side of the spread is a place for me to write down my monthly goals or things I want/need to do. I also added a cute little snowman doodle and inspirational phrase (both by Little Butterfly Wings @ The Lilypad).
My next page jumps right into my daily notes. For simplicity, I stuck with the recommended icons used by the official Bullet Journal system – a dot indicates a task, a dash indicates a note… so far those are the only 2 things I’ve needed to add. Once the task is complete, I X through it. If you want more info on how the notations are intended to work, the video on bulletjournal.com is really helpful and clear.
So here’s a look at my first weekly entries…
As you can see, I only got 3 days on the 1st page. For me, this system is intended to run on a continuum. I don’t feel the need to have it all neat and tidily fit with even spaces on a two-page spread. If I did, a generic planner from the store would do the trick for me. I actually quite like the freedom to add and insert and doodle. I like that not every day is the same size, because not every day demands the same. This is part of what makes this system so appealing to me!
I decided that each day I want to focus on taking note of one thing throughout the day that encourages or inspires me, and then jot it down. That’s what the notes are off to the side of the days of the week. On Saturday, I heard a verse on the radio that hit home for me. When I got home, I looked it up, and jotted it down. On Sunday, it was a quote by Jonathan Edwards that was given in church. The doodle at the bottom is something I saw on facebook that I liked… (I imagine myself in a long hallway full of closed doors, just waiting to see which one opens. I like the reminder.)
The next page has a few things… at the top, I have added a habit tracker for things I want to try to remember to do each day. I’ll shade them in as they are accomplished. And then below that, I’ve started a prayer list for the week. When I come across a friend on facebook asking for prayer, or someone in my life who needs lifted up, I jot it down to so I can keep them in front of me.
Last thing to share for today… my meal planner section… I had purchased the household collection of pages from MAMBI. I really like the budget pages. They also included housework pages (who are we kidding… those are out the window!) and meal planner pages. The meal planner pages would probably work wonderfully as-is for a lot of people. There was space for each day of the week, as well as a page for a grocery list, divided by category. However, I have commitment issues when it comes to meal planning, and no matter how hard I try, I cannot seem to write down 7 meals and then actually prepare and eat those same 7 meals. I do better to have a larger list that shows meals we have available. Then, I can choose what I’m in the mood for on any given day. Again, using supplies from The Lilypad, I threw together a page template that I can print each week, or as needed, to better fit my style of planning.
Since we’re only a handful of days into the year, I don’t have tons and tons of pages to show you. But you get the gist. I’ll continue like this – daily lists, prayer lists, habit tracker, and anything else that inspires me. I know it won’t be a book of perfection, but I am hoping that it will be a book that helps to facilitate changes in organization and prioritization. Hope you’re feeling inspired to find a system that works for you to get organized and live an intentional life!