Getting ready for a new year, and, like most, I take stock of what this year brought. Most of those details I'll save for another day (overall, it was a kind of yucky year around here). But I did make a change in 2015 that I'm really excited about and has affected just about every aspect of the way I put my life together: I became an avid Bullet Journaler.
I juggle parenting stuff, a full time faculty job with leadership and administrative responsibilities, and write novels and do school visits. So I frequently feel as though I'm running in a million directions and no one is getting enough of my time. Also, over the past couple of years, stuff was starting to slip through the cracks. I'd miss a deadline for setting the spring schedule at work, or forget to give my kid money for something at school, or scramble to find childcare for a meeting that got left off the calendar...you get the picture. Something had to change.
Enter the bullet journal.
I read about Bullet Journaling on Kate Messner's blog. Here's that entry. As a chronic list maker, and someone who likes setting goals, the idea appealed to me. So I checked out the Bullet Journal website, too.
Basically, bullet journaling is an organizational tool--you keep your daily to-do lists, ideas, meeting notes, calendar, etc, all in one notebook that uses a page-number and index. This way, you can easily find what you need and track longer term project progress as well as day-to-day stuff.
I picked up a pair of Moleskine notebooks in January. Each one is about 90 pages, and I figured that if the system didn't work for me, I could use them for other things. Conveniently, they ended up holding 6 months worth of material apiece. They're a little bit well-loved now...
Each month, I list the dates and enter big stuff that's going on (I keep an ical synced with my husband for all the day-to-day stuff). Here's November. This lets me see at a glance if weeks are getting crowded--which allows me to cut back so I don't get crazy. I also list my big projects for the month, so I can work on them steadily. Sometimes I don't finish a project, so it gets carried over to the next month's list (when I was working on novel revisions I listed "Finish revision" for about four months in a row, until it was actually completed!).
I keep daily to do lists, as well. If something doesn't get finished one day, I move it to the next (or later in the week). I keep track of workouts, set time to write, and make sure the family stuff gets done.
Mixed in are other lists. I'm working on a new book, and so I made a process list of steps that I wanted to take as I draft.
All of it stays organized via the index--and this was the revolutionary "OMG WHY HAVE I NEVER THOUGHT OF THIS" piece of this tool. Using numbered pages, it's easy to flip to specific lists or ideas.
Once I started using it, I immediately noticed that my productivity increased. It was easy to see what I had to do and when I had to do it, I kept track of things better (I have lists for to-do's at my day job, writing stuff, and general "brain dump" lists so I don't forget things). I have a page where I record books I want to read, one for gift ideas (ever think, "so-and-so would LOVE that"...and their birthday is 6 months away? Stick it in the bullet journal!). I stick stamps, receipts, and loose papers in a pocket in the front. I belong to a Bullet Journal Junkies facebook group, where people share their ideas and spreads (and wow, there are some beautifully designed books in that group!). My book is super utilitarian and kind of messy, but I love it that way. It keeps me focused and organized regardless as to how pretty it is. I haven't forgotten to send in anything for the kids' school, have made all of my meetings, and even got that pesky faculty schedule done EARLY. Wahoo!
For 2016, since I'm totally invested in the system, I upgraded my notebook. My new BuJo is a purple Leuchtturm 1917 (essentially a fancy German notebook with dots instead of lines, pre-numbered pages and a built in index, and thick glorious paper). It's my preciousssss. I've already set up pages for my resolutions and goals, got my list of home repairs that we want to tackle, books to read, and am going to set up January's pages today with a cup of tea. Here's to blank books and new beginnings!