Saturday, 21 September 2013

Bullet journal tribute

It has now been two weeks and I still love using a notebook as my life organiser. In fact I love it more and more as time goes by. I even love that it has squared paper (before reading about the bullet journal I had never really thought I would like writing on it. I thought it was just for maths and in fact I had bought this when I started a maths course, then decided it was too good to use). It houses appointments, to do lists, actions, reminders and any thoughts I want to get out of my head or commit to a better memory than my own.

As much as I love the look of a Filofax, when using it as my organiser I spent more time trying to make it look a certain way than actually using it to organise. It was packed with post its, coloured paper and huge amounts of lists. I had worked out colour coding so that it would be easier to see at a glance what was going on. I thought it worked really well.

Little did I know that it actually only worked ok.

If someone needed information I could probably provide it. It would be somewhere under ‘information’. If I wanted to write notes I would turn to ‘notes’ and there would be some blank pages. If I wanted to write down an appointment I could write it in the diary.

See, I told you it worked ok.

However, since using a notebook I have spent much less time ‘planning’ and more time actually doing. If I need to write an appointment it goes in the monthly sections at the beginning. Everything else is just listed under the day I am on. It is simply listed. I don’t have to think which section it should go in or if I have to start a new list. I don’t spare a thought for the colour I am writing in (everything is in black). Once I have written it I don’t wonder if I should move it to a different section or rewrite it because it is a bit messy. There are no thoughts of ‘actually if I wrote that again on coloured paper it would be easier to find' (only if you remember that you wrote that bit of information on that particular colour).

I can’t say that the bullet journal ‘purists’ would approve of my method and I can’t say it would work for anyone else but it sure seems to be working for me.

A monthly spread is enough for me as I don’t have many appointments. I have 3 sticky tabs in this notebook and the monthly spread has one of them. I tried to do without any but found I wanted to use those 3 pages daily so I conceded. It is my system after all and I shall do with it what I wish!

Above is October’s layout which is the same as the one I used for September. I have drawn out November and December on the following pages but have left some lines in pencil in case I want to adapt things later. The yellow stickers are the only stickers I use. They are to show my daughter’s athletics as she sometimes has practice and/or competitions several times a week. I am taxi for her so have put them in my appointment spaces but the stickers leave room for any additional appointments I might have. The layout is quite simple and self-explanatory. The box on the right at the bottom I used for meal planning in September. It worked well so I will do this again.  

Following the monthly spreads I have one page for forward planning. I just list any appointment I have for 2014.

After that I have a page for my master to do list and a page for 'waiting for' (This has my second sticky tab).

Then it gets straight into the daily lists. I only use check boxes and bullet points. Check boxes for to dos and bullet points for everything else.


When I have completed a page I review it. I decide if any of the information needs to be transferred anywhere else (somewhere else such as my filing system or shopping list, not somewhere else in the notebook) or if it needs to be referenced in the index.

 I also make sure the to dos are marked in some way. A completed ‘to do’ will already have a tick.

If, on review, a ‘to do’ is no longer valid it gets crossed out.

If, on review, I decide I still want to do it but it isn’t something I need to do now, I ‘downgrade’ it to the monthly or master to do list. (Equally things on the monthly or master to do lists can be upgraded to the monthly or daily list with an up arrow).

If there is anything left I assess why it hasn’t been done. If it can be done quickly I do it then (somehow I find it more motivating to complete a small task if it is to ‘complete’ a page). If it is a bigger task it is probably something I just don’t want to do. This has only happened once so far and I briefly swayed between booking it as an appointment and rewriting it with a ! next to the check box. I decided on the latter and it worked as it nagged me every time I looked at the page.

This method of addressing to dos is much more successful than when I used a Filofax as I wrote a to do list on a post it and just transferred it from week to week.

At the back I have a chart for my weekly and seasonal tasks. My final sticky tab is here.

Finally, I have an index at the back so I can locate any information I may want to return to.  I assumed that some letters would be used more than others so had a guess at which ones and allocated space accordingly (quite a bit for S, not much for Q etc.).

Now I know that all this could be done in a Filofax. But I just wouldn't. For me I think, as far as planning goes,  'Filofax versus notebook' is like 'thinking versus doing'. 

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

A Blank Slate

Last week I spent a couple of hours preparing a post about what I was going to do to save my planning system. In this post I had claimed that until the end of the year I would be using a personal Filofax (never worked for me, highly doubt it ever will). My reasoning was that it was portable, should I get that elusive PT job and it would look good. For some reason I put off posting it. Towards the end of the week I realised why I had put it off.

I love the idea of a stuffed Filofax. The sight of a Filofax with bits of paper sticking out makes me go all funny. However, there is no point in me gathering together enough inserts to pack one of my binders full to bursting if I don’t really know what I want.

I realised that the idea of the Filofax was better than the reality at the moment.  What I really needed was to start from scratch and let my days dictate what system I used rather than try to make my days fit around the inserts I had.

Then I thought of the post on philofaxy about bullet journaling. I watched the video and decided that I would have a go at something similar. Once I had made the decision it seemed obvious what I should do. I wrote a list of information and everyday stuff I liked to carry around. Everything that wouldn't go in a notebook I put in the pocket Chameleon. It kind of ended up like my pocket Malden but without diary, notepaper and vast amounts of lists.  

Next, I rifled through my significant pile of ‘notebooks that are too good to use’ and found the exact notebook I wanted. I had briefly considered filling a binder with notepaper and using that but knowing me I would faff about with dividers and moving pages around, rewriting and taking pages out. I like the idea that it will be a record of what works and what doesn’t work. It will be a record of formats I have tried and how they evolve. About an hour later I had prepared myself to settle in the notebook for the rest of the year. It was quite an eye opener to see that given a blank slate I designed a format completely different to the one I had been using previously.

I have only been using this system for a few days but I reckon that even if it doesn’t become my permanent system it will definitely show me what I want from a planner.

My next post will be a closer look at the details of this current system. 

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The best laid plans...

My intention was to prepare a few blog posts before I went on holiday. As it happened I ran short of time and I thought it best to prioritise packing and the suchlike.

The holiday was great. It was the first time we had been to Portugal. If anyone is interested the weather is brilliant, hot but with a cool Atlantic breeze. Some beaches are packed but there are some small areas which are just idyllic. However we missed our puppy SO much. Judging by the greeting we got when we got home he missed us too!

Our next holiday will have to be dog friendly.