Tag Archives: planner

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. 

Day 14 – How I set up my Bullet Journal. #Back2School in #31Days

July 2015 Recap 2

If you're looking for my Bullet Journal: Quick Start Guide - click here.

There’s a huge difference between:

Reality #1: Going to bed and feeling like your brain spills all over the pillow with ideas not yet realized, plans not yet formalized, and appointments not yet attended (and the fear of being late – or worse, forgetting appointments altogether).

And:

Reality #2: Going to bed with the feeling that everything is as organized and planned as it can be. The feeling that life is in a good rhythm and routine. Records are kept and memories made.

The first reality was me for a very long time – and if I don’t write, it becomes my reality again quickly.

The second reality is possible – I’ve actually felt this way for myself on my own – without having to buy anything with money back guarantees.

How is this possible?

Bullet journaling.

In yesterday’s post I wrote about the fact that this method has worked for me over every other method I’ve tried.

Why?

Because it is simple to use, even though it may seem complicated to learn.

The reason I felt a bit overwhelmed when starting to learn about the Bullet Journal was due to learning from someone’s unique style of the Bullet Journal.

Let me explain.

For instance, I don’t use the “bullets” as described on the official website because when I first read about it and watched the fast video it didn’t feel like something I would use.

My friend who first introduced me to the Bullet Journal also told me about her dash/plus system and that’s what I’ve used because it makes sense. (I’ll explain dashplus below.)

So before I get ahead of myself anymore, let’s talk about how to set up a Bullet Journal.

Setting up my Bullet Journal:

Index

Every page in the journal needs to be numbered. That’s why this journal is recommended on the official Bullet Journal website (I also recommend using the Dotted versus the Squared because it’s the best of everything and not overstimulating visually.)

I wasn’t able to get my Leuchtturm1917 Dotted journal in the mail by the time I wanted to start planning (it did come a whole week earlier than the first possible date expected though). In the meantime, I settled for a blank, no lines or grids Moleskine and numbered the pages by hand in advance to boost my index usage.

Numbering your own pages may sound complicated, but when taken a day at a time, it really isn’t a chore to write a simple “1” at the bottom right hand corner of the page. Or better yet, trust me that this journal is worth it – it already has numbered pages. Watch this video to see it for yourself.

Every page also gets a title. Nothing complicated just simple like – the date, the month or goals for the week of:. Here’s another opportunity for you to make your Bullet Journal unique.

Again, unique doesn’t mean complex. The secret to making the Bullet Journal easier is: just start writing.

Save the front few pages of whatever journal you’re using and designate them as an Index. This is where everything gets filed. Writing the page numbers and the titles in one place helps to reference days, ideas, plans, etc. for later. Nothing gets lost, no loose paper, and no need to track down 4 separate notebooks.

It’s a beautiful system. Like I said, I had almost been doing the system for a while when my friend introduced me to the official guide. Since then I’ve filled in 2 more journals using this system and I’m hooked.

After the Index: Start your future and current month logs.

The next few pages will generally be for lots of reference – I don’t start into daily pages (see below) right away. I’ll start with a Future Log like described on the Bullet Journal site – creating a 6 month spread across 2 pages. Leaving room for at least 4 lines per month to write major events per line which references roughly one week.

The current month then is written in “bullet” form (see video below) by simply writing the number and first letter of the day of the week down the left hand side of the page. The key to a good Monthly Log is summary. This journal is for you – write the least amount of words possible in order for it to stick in your memory and still make sense for referring to later.

Rapid Logging

I didn’t follow the guidelines of rapid logging and the index at first in my journals. I just liked the idea of using my journal for everything and added my planning pages and month spreads into what I was already doing.

And it worked.

Until I needed to reference an idea I had and I didn’t know how to find it quickly.

The rapid logging for daily spreads and the index is truly an important piece to the system because it encourages use of the index and it gets the words out in a more efficient way. The ability to do something important quickly is valuable. Rapid logging will increase your productivity and the worth of your journaling process. Productivity produces the feeling of success which will keep you logging daily – making this system the most beneficial one compared to systems that are set up by someone else to their unique style.

Journaling

This is where the freedom of the Bullet Journal system is best displayed. You can write whatever you want. The only “rule” to follow is to index the page(s) for reference later. How many times have I taken notes on a lecture or podcast that I want to remember later only to flip through a notebook and come up empty? So write whatever you want, but use the system for your sanity later.

Daily lists and thoughts go in Bullet Journal. When I first started using the Bullet Journal system I was writing in a large, blank, sketch notebook and I could fill the page with 4 different categories of thoughts. Lists, schedules, plans, etc. which was nice for seeing how everything interacted in my mind, but it was difficult to use the index.

I like the smaller journal I’m using now better because it creates better boundaries.

One way this system saves me from planner failure is that I’m not supposed to write ahead. Daily pages just mean what I need to write down in a single day. It’s tempting – especially when I’m feeling efficient – to go ahead and plan out the next 4-7 days in a schedule grid to see how every event needs to play out. This doesn’t work, and it will only complicate things.

Flags, tabs, and other helpful tools

I’m using washi tape color-coding for easy access to necessary information: organizing lesson plans, goals, monthly spreads, and blog spreads.

I also have Post-It tabs for additional easy access to: months, homeschool spreads, and blog spreads.

These Staedtler pens are my favorite. You’ll see in my pictures and videos that I have the colorful 10 pack of 0.3 mm felt tips, but I do not color-code with pens. I use multiple colors to see new things. So for instance, if I write in my daily spread originally in green (just because I felt like green) then later in the day if I’m adding to the spread I’ll use a different color to see the changes. The reason I don’t color-code entries for categories, events, or kids is so that in case I’m without my pens I can add whatever content I need to write freely without feeling like I’m “breaking my rules.”

Creating a key for my bullets

I also use part of the dashplus system. Where I write a dash “ – “ for a task and when it is completed I turn it into a plus “ + “ and if I need to carry the task forward to the next day the dash is turned into an arrow “ -> “ and that’s it.

“It may seem like a lot of effort to have to rewrite items over and over, but that’s intentional. This process makes you pause and consider each item. If an entry isn’t even worth the effort to rewrite it, then it’s probably not that important. Get rid of it.” – Migration: BulletJournal.com

I’ve added the asterisk to the system to signify something important. And I’m considering adding letters too (see the link to Emily Freeman’s post for an example, below).

While learning the Bullet Journal system, following the original videos, reading posts like mine, or watching videos of Bullet Journals is important to gain an understanding of what you need to do – I believe it’s more important to just start writing.

Remember: this is not complicated, just unique.

There are 2 items that don’t get written into my Bullet Journal:

  1. Major events and appointments go into my Google calendar. My husband and I share calendars and invite one another to events that require the other’s attention. This skeleton calendar helps me stay on track for planning my daily things which of course go into the Bullet Journal.
  2. A sample week is written on our chalkboard – semipermanently. I’ve included: anchors and commitments, extracurricular activities, daily/weekly subjects, chores, and anything repeating. Because anything too redundant is too much work.

Can a Bullet Journal be used as a home school planner? I intend to find out.

In the next posts on Bullet Journaling, I’ll show you how I’m setting up my Home School spreads and how I’m taking notebooking for kids to the Bullet Journal level.

More Bullet Journal Info:

This is Day 14 in the #31Days to #Back2School series; check out Day 1 and the Index by clicking here.

My favorite eCourse is going on sale again soon! Check it out now for more information: Click here for details.

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Intentional Summer: December is coming.

What a dooms day, Debbie-downer title. Right?

I don’t mean to rain snow on anyone’s summer parade, but being helpful is what I do – encouraging change and growth. So, as I write the winter portion of the seasonal planner I’m working on (mentioned here, your continued patience in the publishing of said resource is appreciated) I want to share some of the thoughts with you now – while you can still use them.

As a parent, sometimes December takes me off guard.

Usually, I have established a big “Back to School” ideal. We prioritize, plan, prepare, and purchase everything we need to set up a learning environment that suites our needs.

Kids thrive with a balance of healthy change and routinesLife feels like it could go on like this forever. We have had our fill of summer and September has brought a fresh change.

Fall arrives, the plan goes into motion and I coast. It feels right for a few weeks, but then the texts, emails, church bulletins, and family engagements start filling up the calendar.

October has slowed our pace and by November my kids are sick of the routine, they are in great need of physical exercise, and I am in need of tasting some good fruit from all my effort.

December isn’t a time for tasting fresh fruit (at least not in Michigan and not in the symbolic way either), but winter’s atmosphere can still be sweet.

I have to intentionally create an anchor atmosphere for every season, or my mindset will be carried with the wind.

Two things I need for my intentionality to continue to thrive (and for my sanity):

  1. Planning ahead
  2. Preserving
Photo credit: words added

Photo credit: words added

Planning ahead: the rebel in me doesn’t like to see “Back to School” displays in July, but that is when stores start to promote it. Sure, they are motivated by profit, but the reminder is free.

Procrastination hurts intention every-single-time. Don’t be a fool for the lie again – that you can do the work later. This is the lie that says that July is too soon for planning to change the routine. Planning ahead does require work, but a little bit of it today will go a long way when it comes time for the routine to change.

Taking time to consider the winter months today will smooth the transition. You will have already done some of the work which builds momentum.

Planning ahead allows for a different perspective. Sometimes it feels impossible to change a season’s atmosphere. So it’s important to learn from the past seasons and begin to apply the changes you’d like to see.

To do this: look at a calendar for the whole year – and next to each of the winter months, jot a single word that usually summarizes your feelings in that month. Then write one word that summarizes the deeper purpose you commit to prioritize.

For example, my December would look like this:

Feeling: Overwhelmed
Purpose: Family Time

Now, when those months start to approach begin to plan your weeks holding the second word close.

If it’s “family time” then start crossing out blocks of time that will be reserved for family – making those urgent requests for more of your time an easy “no, I already have plans.”

Or if it is, “rest” then you can start listing activities that help you relax and start penciling them into your weeks. Also, begin to take note of things that make you feel overwhelmed – try to eliminate those activities during this month by taking the time to plan to accomplish some of the important tasks now. (Like ordering Christmas cards.)

Trust me, even if you’re thinking – I have small kids, so they would be written on my list of things that are overwhelming and I can’t cross them off my list. I know it’s hard to manage self-care and child-care. But habit training is possible, and you can teach your children to be calm. It is possible for them to honor your need for rest.

Photo credit: words added

Photo credit: words added

Preservation: just as canning fruits means I can enjoy them year round, so living well in every season preserves my spirit.

A misconception of planning ahead is that one is always looking forward and not fully enjoying the present. Not if you can balance it with preservation.

The amount of time it takes to be intentional pails in comparison to the amount of time I’ve wasted on living week-to-week. What I’ve gained from discipline and follow through is a full well of memories that I can draw from when I’m feeling drained.

Preservation is another means of self-control.

If I want to have blueberry smoothies in December, then I can’t gorge on the berries that I pick in July. I have to weigh the joy these berries will give me in December as heavier than the fleeting pleasure of eating one more handful now.

Preservation is also a way of respect. I honor the choices I make today and live fully within them. Not looking back in regret, nor forward in fantasy. I measure my days, make the most of them, and save them as proof of fruit from a life lived with much sowing.

Respect has a way of balancing by setting limits.

Write a letter to your winter-self from your summer-self. No, I’m not into predicting the future – that isn’t the purpose for this. Set aside a list of things you accomplished with the time you were given in the summer. Be honest about the trials you endured – great and small. Give credit to the lessons you faced that are unique to this time of year. Preserve a little bit of the feeling of the summer months to compare and contrast the atmospheres.

Then when winter comes, make a second list of things that anchor you to this season.

No season is “perfect,” but every season has purpose. With these suggestions, I hope you can see what atmosphere you are able to create within each month and enjoy the benefits of living with satisfaction in every season.

Some resources for further reading:

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