Ever since my college days, I have kept myself organized with a day planner/calendar/to-do list/note-taking system . . . of one sort -- or another.
Really, it's the only way I've kept myself on top of things -- and sane.
At first (back in college and pre-computer, for example), analog systems were the ONLY way to keep life in order. I developed a system for myself . . . color coding, stickers, post-it note lists. It worked for me.
Over the years, I tried various systems, always looking for the one that would suit all my needs. Perfectly.
I tried them all. Ultimately, I settled on the Planner Pad -- and I used it for a decade or more -- with a couple of breaks to try online systems -- Palm Pilot, Outlook (back when I worked in an office), Google Calendar, and the iPhone/iMac Apple calendar system.
Turns out, I just prefer analog systems. I like keeping my calendar in pencil. I like writing lists -- and crossing things off. I like being able save lists and reminders and notes in an actual calendar -- with an actual paper clip. I like post-it notes. I like highlighting. I like being able to jot things down on the fly.
The biggest problem? Finding an analog planner system that could work for me right out of the box! (Because, really. It didn't exist.)
I had my preferred calendar system, sure. But it was a bastardized mess of paper-clipped sub-calendars for meal planning, project planning, blog posting, habit-tracking, lists of books-to-read/movies-to-watch/orders-I'd-placed, holiday plans, billable hours, travel plans, garden journal, goals and intentions. Interesting, sure. But not completely functional.
A couple of years ago, I heard about the Bullet Journal system -- and I knew right away it was for me. You start with a blank notebook -- and make up your own system. Completely flexible. Never boxed in by a pre-existing calendar or format. Plenty of room for notes and multiple lists and don't-forget-this-or-that.
I was sold!
I tried it last year.
I couldn't make it work.
Turns out, I was trying too hard to make it "look nice." (Because there are blogs and Pinterest boards and Facebook groups and #hastags with these incredible, artful bullet journals out there.) I gave up -- and returned to my bastardized Planner Pad system.
This year, though, I decided to give the Bullet Journal a try once again. (Because, really. Perfect for me!)
I got a plain, old Moleskine notebook, some monthly sticker tabs, and . . . just started with January.
I gave up on trying to make it artful. (I have art journals for that.)
I gave up on trying to make it perfect. (I can change things on the fly if it doesn't quite work.)
I gave up on trying to make it color-coordinated. (And I bought some Wite-Out.)
And, y'know? It's working for me!
I developed a monthly calendar that looks like no monthly calendar I've ever seen!
I came up with a daily/weekly "spread" that allows me to plan each day just the way I need to work.
I've developed a montly habit-tracker that works perfectly for me.
I can track my billable hours and my volunteer hours . . . in the same space I plan my blog posts and menu plans. I can create lists -- or paste in post-it notes -- or tape in lists I cut out.
I track what's happening in my garden with simple, old-school monthly calendars taped right in to the pages.
And it works!
If you've been thinking of giving the Bullet Journal system a try -- I'm here to encourage you. (Because it really is pretty cool.) If you want to make it "perfect" -- you'll be able to find plenty of resources to help you do that. But I'm here to encourage you to . . . just let it fly!
Now that I'm in Month 4 of my Bullet Journal experience . . . I can tell you it's the best organizing system I've ever tried!
(And, pretty much, I've tried them all!)