Tag Archives: Bullet Journal

Avoiding the Scheduling Extremes :: BuJo Setup Mini Series

May 2016 165

Confession: I’m just a woman who learns from all my many (daily) planning failures; I’m really not a scheduling guru.

Also, I’m pretty normal when it comes to busy seasons of life – I fall into the lazy mode of letting things coast. Have you been lured into the “schedule-break” temptation too? The bait goes something like this:

“Living moment by moment isn’t so bad! Things are getting done, taking a break from writing out a ‘week at a glance’ isn’t a big deal, and I’ll remember that appointment – no need to write it down.”

After giving into these thoughts for weeks (or even months!), I wake up one day way too stressed for the level of activities in my life and way too overwhelmed by the amount of list-items swirling around in my head.

The pendulum has swung and I’ve gone from one extreme to the other – hyper-scheduling to under-scheduling.

When I swing too many times, I go a little bit nuts and start to think in extremes:

“I’ll never be able to manage our calendar.”

“I will always fall behind on laundry.”

“I never remember to take our library resources back on time.”

“I’m always running late for our appointments.”

And this is when I have to admit to myself (and others) that I need a Bullet Journal intervention. I need to stop avoiding the work, stop neglecting the truth – that organization is best in small daily doses, and stop over taxing my brain by trying to just remember it all. Just by spending 15 minutes per day, I can completely order my life and trade my crazy for calm.

Have you tried using a Bullet Journal? Do you use it for your calendar too? If so, do you copy your schedule in multiple places? Does that help? Why or why not?

I want this series to be super practical, and that means addressing potential setbacks before you even begin. The swinging back and forth between the scheduling extremes is common. Don’t feel bad about doing this in the past. Now I want to give you some ideas to think about. I call these questions The Big Jump. (Soon I’ll focus on the baby steps.)

I need to set aside an hour to have a JDM – Journal Defining Moment. This is when I decide what the scope of my BuJo (Bullet Journal) will be. I answer these questions:

  • Will my BuJo be my calendar too?
  • Do I need to write out the months in advance or just each week?
  • What other planners and/or organizers am I currently using? Are they working?
  • Am I going to include journaling space too?
  • What categories of my life will go into this BuJo? Homeschooling? Personal Growth? Family Activity Calendar? Business Goals? Etc.
  • Do I feel creative and what tools do I want to try to use? Am I satisfied with this BuJo being plain?
  • Is it important to me to be economic or visually appealing* with my entries?
  • What “Mom Bag” will I use to carry it in and will I commit to taking it everywhere? (This may seem like an unnecessary question but I will address why it’s a big jump question later on.)

* I say visually appealing not creative because even though I can create some pretty pages sometimes, my right hand tends to shake and I can’t guarantee pretty handwriting all the time. I like to use markers and larger point pens because when I write too small, the strain hurts my hand too much. SO. I will never be the person who can boast of being a closet hand-letter-er. But I do like to make my pages visually pleasing to me. Meaning: Spacious, colorful, and clearly readable. I tried being super efficient with my pages for a while – cramming more than one day or more than one list onto a single page and that made me crazy. You, however, may feel more productive setting yours up this way. You do you.

Can you think of other questions that would be important for your personality to think through before you take a big jump into a new BuJo? List it out and face it before you start! This will set you up for personal success. Many times I look at other Pinterest-worthy BuJos and think “Oh…in a perfect world, I would just copy their set-up!” But they don’t have 4 kids, or work 3 jobs, or their spouse works from home and their home set up is catastrophically different than mine!

Hear me: To successfully set up YOUR BuJo, you have to do it for YOU. Copying mine or even the expert BuJos online will only set you up to quit a quarter of the way through it.

And I bet you know what that means.

You will feel like a failure, let your scheduling slide, and wind up stressed and overwhelmed a-g-a-i-n.

And one more tip before you start the next step: don’t take the Big Jump until the timing is right for you. How do you know if the timing is right?

Easy:

  • If you are reading this post and thinking: Wow, that’s really great for her. It sounds like she’s really thought this through. I may give that a try sometime. THIS IS NOT THE TIME FOR YOU.
  • But if you are reading this post and thinking: She’s reading my mind. I need to start this process yesterday! I’m ready to do this for ME. THIS IS DEFINITELY THE RIGHT TIME FOR YOU.

Ready for more? The mini series will continue! Did you miss the first post in this series? Click here. Want to see what tools I use? I wrote about them here. 

Back to School Supplies for Homeschool Moms

Nothing says back to school like a package of Crayola crayons for 25 cents.

But I didn’t buy those. (Maybe you don’t need to either.)

I already went back to school shopping for my kids’ supplies and I bought one measly package of pencils. Because, as it turns out, that’s all we really need.

As a homeschool mom, I get to design our back to school supply list. And boy am I glad I do.

I don’t have to buy washable markers, glue sticks, and a hundred #2s. I don’t have to buy anything we don’t need or won’t use. Sure, I’ve learned the hard way that we don’t use crayons (last year’s box of crayons – bought during “Back to School” – is still unopened).

I can wait for the crazy Amazon deals on Prismacolor and stock up in October because that’s when we will need them.

Also, we don’t have to worry about buying uniforms, Under Armor (or whatever other brand is currently “the coolest”), 2 pair of new shoes, lunch boxes, backpacks, or whatever else is now “last years” and therefore insufficient for this fall.

I can buy clothes when we need them, cater to our tastes, and use last year’s (or even many years ago) because it still works!

All of this not buying leaves a lot of room for the things that really matter to me.

Here’s what I bought for my back to school supplies:

A nice journal – for my Bullet Journal.

Sharpie pens – for writing everything because I don’t like to use ballpoints or gel. (I prefer blue ink simply because I think blue looks happier than black.)

Prismacolor Markers (Just $5.95 right now! Check the price before you click; subject to change.) – for writing titles and creating other little designs in my BuJo.

Great coffee – for the beauty of it! I love coffee, and I simply adore drinking coffee from a pour over like this one.

A Happy Life Planner – for my calendar and school planner. (More about why I’m using a Bullet Journal and a Planner in my BuJo Series!)

A book that is just for me. I know this season will get busier than I will be able to handle. It will be easy to fly through my days checking boxes and showing up for appointments. But I don’t want to lose touch with my inner self through this season. So, I make sure to pick a title that deeply speaks to me me – not mommy me, wife me, or educator me. I want to make sure that I leave room in my days for at least 10 minutes to pour inspiration into my heart and soul or none of this whole “back to school” thing will be very fulfilling. (This book is also in addition to my daily Bible reading! I simply can’t emphasize the importance of being spiritually healthy!) **See my 2017 list of books here.**

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Savvy Minerals – for the perfect mixture of self-care and dignity! I am more prone to be productive when I feel put together for the day. I just recently switched to Young Living’s makeup line because they are chemical free! It’s seriously the best makeup on the market – for you and your daughters! Watch this super short video to learn more about Savvy Minerals. Your health may thank you for the switch. Sign up or browse Young Living’s website now.

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Products to help me feel as comfortable as possible during “that time of the month” – for goodness’ sake!!! After four kids, I have ample reasons for needing support for this time. Watch my video to learn more about what I’m using!

The whole line of KidScents Oils – for my peace of mind and my kids’ comfort and health!

So what’s your Back to School plan?! Whatever you need, want, buy — don’t forget to take care of YOU. Because a healthy mom will be a better homeschooling mom than one who neglects her own care.

Cheers to the new homeschool year!

 

Whose planner is it anyway? (BuJo Series Intro)

BuJo Setup Series Intro

The Bullet Journal (affectionately nicknamed BuJo) is a powerful tool, and you’ve probably either tried it or have heard enough about it that you’re curious to find out what it is.

There’s no shortage of Pins or posts on the topic to help you on your way. This post will probably rank 200,000 on a Google search.

That’s okay.

This isn’t a “How To,” or a “List of Supplies.” I won’t be telling you how to design your spreads. (Although those posts are coming for those who are interested.)

Before I begin this BuJo Setup Mini Series, I want to put a question out to you – Whose journal is it anyway?

I’m creating the perfect setup for me. This is the 4th journal I’ve started using the main BuJo ideas. I’ve changed each journal with use. I like following some of the “rules” and not others. (I don’t think I ever want to migrate a list again.)

The point I’m trying to make here, is that this is my journal. I’ve made the adjustments I’m going to detail in this series because they better served me. But I’m not saying that this series will be pointless to the greater world.

What I want you to remember from now through the end of the series is that your BuJo will only serve you if you take the time to process what tips and tools will help you make it yours.

Sounds silly to take the time to write this out, but I’m writing from personal failure. I have put my BuJo on a shelf for weeks because I thought I wasn’t using it “correctly” only to realize that I was trying to use someone else’s journal (of course, I do not mean literally).

And can I just pick on the idea of “failure” for a second?

Good. Thanks.

Who says it’s a failure if I try to use washi tape and it looks silly? What if I use a different pen and my handwriting looks wobbly? Or if I title a spread and see that it’s off center?

These and so many other mishaps happen to me. I’m not a natural born scrapbook visionary. I don’t see blank journal space as an opportunity to showcase my vision for a beautiful layout of colors, stickers, etc.

But I do like to look at beautiful things! I try little ways to make my journal more visually pleasing.

So, from the beginning of my journal creation, I set my standard at “plain with purpose” and I own the fact that I’m not going to secretly wish for a vivid, colorful, impressive display of book art. This journal is going to serve me by being my brain on paper, and if I can keep my standard in the right place then I will be so much more likely to just grab it and write as often as I need to. This, to me, is BuJo success.

Are you ready to dig in?

My goal is to inspire you to think, not copy. I want you to design a BuJo that will call to you. One that will be so easy to write in that you wonder how you ever lived without your brain on paper. It may be decked out in all the Hobby Lobby glam, or it might be a college ruled spiral notebook and pencil. Whatever it is, I want it to be yours. The more you write in it, the more valuable it will be to you.

Let’s get started!

Watch my videos on YouTube for more thoughts and tips!

Read all my previous posts on the Bullet Journal:

A “Busy” Mom’s Guide to Weekly Homeschool Planning

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Let me tell you about my “busy.”

It’s 11am. And even though I’ve been up since 7am, I haven’t eaten yet.

I haven’t started teaching the lessons for today yet either. I know I need to start preparing lunch instead of lessons at this point, because if I don’t eat-something-now I may just collapse.

I make a quick sandwich and begin eating.

The 3-year-old sees it and begins whining for food too (I’m never allowed to eat anything without one of the children thinking that they should be given what I have) and the baby works herself from a fuss to a full cry.

Our schedule spiraled out of control all because I was daring enough to take a shower this morning.

All of this chaos keeps me busy. Constantly fighting to keep just a step ahead of the next task, mess, or meal.

This is the type of busy that causes 24-hours to fly by and feel like nothing has been accomplished, and it is often to blame for not planning or setting goals. This is the busy that most often keeps me from my priorities: “inside busy.”

“Outside busy” can be just as troublesome; it is the plague on our culture to book our calendars with good things that take us out of the house.

So, how can I get homeschool planning accomplished if I can’t even make time to eat breakfast?

Homeschool planning guides say something like:

Set an appointment with yourself and ask your spouse to take care of the kids in order for you to focus on planning for the next week.

I tried this.

But it was discouraging because it basically never worked. The “inside busy” always distracted me, derailed my schedule, and discouraged me that I would never have a moment to restfully plan ahead.

And even though my husband is my greatest support, our “outside busy” keeps us from being able to find a concrete time that I can count on to get this task done.

Last year I floundered with our plans. We didn’t have curricula that was highly structured so I could get away with not charting our week or our days. Each day could be planned on the fly. (But I did record everything we did in our Bullet Journals.)

But not so this year. We have dedicated ourselves to a more disciplined path, and with that path comes a higher standard of planning ahead.

So, how do I manage to plan when I have to compete with inside and outside busy?

First, write!

I write down anything I can whenever I can, and it helps me get a little bit done here and there. This was hard at first because I despised having to leave the task unfinished. At first, I also struggled to pick up where I left off. But over time this became normal and helped me understand our rhythms even more accurately which leads me to the second tip for planning.

I'm writing a little bit while snuggling the newborn. It's possible; be creative!

I’m writing a little bit while snuggling the newborn. It’s possible; be creative!

Second, refuse to be distracted by bad planning.

  • Planning is not just arbitrarily writing activities and times in my calendar and then crossing my fingers that it will work.
  • Planning is not writing the same schedule over and over every week without actually using it.
  • Planning is not best accomplished the day of or spontaneously.
  • Planning is not pushing on to the next lesson. Neglecting the child’s understanding of the subject and moving on to more and more lessons without allowing time for the child to master the subject is not good planning.

Third, focus on taking baby steps toward the goal.

Like I said in the first point, writing what I can when I can is a baby step toward the overall goal of writing a weekly homeschool plan.

Start planning earlier than your deadline. I need to have all my plans laid out by Sunday evening in order to start the new week on Monday. I used to wait until Sunday afternoon to plan, but after a busy morning at church and a full belly from Sunday lunch I tend to forget how important it is to be productive. So, I finally learned to start planning for the next week on Thursday. By that time in our current week, I have a good handle on what we’ve done and what we won’t be able to do. I am able to see clearly what pace we are currently working at and adjust for the next week – either faster or slower.

Fourth, set a general plan for the month and keep an eye on it.

Before we start our 6-week term, I write out how many lessons we need to accomplish in each subject. I have already calculated an approximate number of lessons we need to work through for each term in order to finish each subject by the end of our school year. But I only write the lessons in the calendar one month at a time. (I explain this in detail in a video which I will publish soon!)

Fifth, know your week.

Remember this “homeschool stuff” isn’t just added on top of your life – homeschooling is a lifestyle. In order to best accomplish your goals for leading your child in the learning life, you need to know what demands on your time you are going to face for the week. Each week is a little bit different in every home. There are appointments, plans with friends, extra trips to the grocery store, etc. If you know in advance that any of these things are coming up, then they need to be accounted for in your lesson plan. 

Watch this video to see what I mean.

I use my Bullet Journal to chart my week. I write out each day of the week on the left hand side of the page, and then I list the events of that day along with what meal I plan to make for dinner.

These are the 2 major variables: where we need to go and what will be for dinner.

These two parts of my day account for the bulk of what consumes my time. If we have a doctor’s appointment for example, it isn’t just that time of day that we are “busy” but at least an hour beforehand in prep to leave the house. Also, we require a transition period once we get home. I have to be prepared for what I’m going to ask my children to do when we arrive back home. This has to be flexible and take into account their energy level, hunger, and time of day. It’s important that I don’t push them too hard nor neglect them because I failed to plan. (Let me know in the comments if this is confusing and I can explain more about how I plan for our transitions.)

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The same idea is true for dinner. Writing out that we will have pork barbecue sandwiches on Monday night requires more than just 30 minutes before 5:00pm to assemble. Every single dinner meal goes through a thorough “how long will this really take to make” process. There are days when I know I will have time in the morning to prep a crock pot meal and mornings when I won’t. I chart out our Outside the House appointments and then factor in how much time each meal requires. (Again, if it would be helpful to have this explained in more detail, I would be happy to share.)

Finally, always think a day ahead.

Because of the lessons in the evening and morning courses by Crystal Paine, I have been trained to plan ahead. I can’t tell you how life changing this little shift has been! Instead of packing the diaper bag on our way out the door, I pack the night before. Instead of writing the agenda the morning of, I write it the night before – this helps to double check our week’s plan one more time too. I take account of our daily timeline for the next day but this time with a lot more perspective. For example, on Monday evening I look at the Week Plan and see that I want to run a couple errands before the library for our “Tuesday Plan.” But Monday was a very tiring day. We had a busy Sunday and needed more rest Monday to recover which means that we didn’t finish our Monday household chores. So, I move my errands to the next opening in our schedule and try to lessen the amount of time out of the house because I know 2 things: #1 we won’t have the energy to run around town, and #2 if we don’t make time for our chores then our home gets out of balance.

The bottom line is that planning requires consistent, daily management. If you will do the daily work of thinking through your responsibilities, then the weekly spread will come together quickly and practically.

Practice makes permanent! Keep planning and it will become a habit regardless of how busy you are.

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