As anyone who knows me will tell you, especially my husband, I have a real passion for stationery. Put me in Staples or Paperchase for an hour and I am in my happy space.
I have a huge array of notebooks and to be honest, most of them I bought because they were pretty, not because I thought they would be practical or because I needed a notebook. However, as the pile of unused or partially used notebooks started to take over our home, I knew I had to find a solution. I needed a system to allow me to use my notebooks efficiently.
I stumbled upon the Bullet Journal. Now if you haven’t seen this yet, check it out.
However, I knew that although I liked the idea, it did actually seem like a lot of work. I also didn’t like the “future planning” aspect of the original Bullet Journal. So I played about and eventually, after many notebooks being trialled and found lacking, I think I may have come across the
perfect best solution for me.
I am sharing a few tips here because I know so many of us struggle to keep on top of things and get organised. If just one of the tips works for you, I will be a happy lady. It is my mission at the moment to become happier by generosity and one of the tips I am trying is to share something which may be of use to others so here we go.
Essentials for my notebook:
- Page marker
- Elastic wrap around
- Must have a spine and not a spiral ring binder.
This has made life so much easier. I have started my index at the back of the notebook (rather than the front as suggested by the original Bullet Journal). This is purely due to not knowing how many pages to leave for the index at the front of the book. I am numbering the uneven pages as I move through the book and then adding a quick reference to the content in the index. Just today, I have referred to this index on three occasions, saving me time and effort when looking for something.
I have a page per month. Monday to Friday have a line each and weekends share a line. I draw a line down the centre of the page to split am/pm and although I really struggled with this as an idea initially, I found that actually it works perfectly for me.
Writing a lovely long list of absolutely everything I can think of that I need to do. This can be phone calls, emails, projects, blog posts, birthday cards, presents, food to buy, tea bags to purchase – just about anything. Writing everything in one place really has helped me to stop worrying about forgetting something. I find doing this on an evening is a great way to switch off.
Weekly To Do:
From the brain dump, I write myself a list of items which need doing. I then add in extra to do’s as they arise (such as phone calls to make) and then I highlight each item as I cross it off. Highlighting appeals to my visual nature. Crossing out looks messy and I have a personal issue with ticking boxes (living in the Special Needs Minefield, we have to tick far too many boxes so I refuse to do it elsewhere).
I also have a post it note stuck on the page where I write shopping items I need.
How often do you forget to chase things up? I know I often send an email which needs a response before I can do anything else on a project, and then I forget. Sending the email was on my to do list, chasing it up wasn’t. So I have a “waiting for” section where I add a note of anything I am waiting for and also a note of when I sent the email/made the call.
I have a double page spread for each upcoming month. This is not a diary. It is where I write things I know are happening that month. So, for example, over at Bringing Us Together, we are organising a conference for January; we have a project plan for this which includes various blog posts so I have added each blog post to the relevant month as a reminder. I am also trialling adding birthdays to this the month before they are due, in the hope that I can get organised and buy cards in advance rather than realising the day before!
When the month arrives, I can glance quickly and know what items I need to add to my to do list for the week. Believe me, this is saving me so much time and effort.
I write general notes as and when I need to. I don’t have a section of the book for this, the notes just go on the next blank page. Again, they get a note in the index so I can find them easily when I need to refer to them. So, if I watch a webinar, have a phone chat, read a useful blog with tips I like, etc; these all just go as notes in my book.
I have list upon list in here. Plugins to try, people to reconnect with, books I’ve been recommended, ideas for blog posts and meals we enjoy as a family (so useful for menu planning).
I have a few pages all based on goals. I write the goal down and break it down into small steps. Every month I revisit these and see what I can do to help me work towards the goal.
How’s it going so far?
Well I have to say I am liking it. I like the idea of just using the next blank page instead of worrying about which section/page/notebook I should be writing in.
I may not always achieve all my “to do” items but I find I am able to prioritise better. It also helps me to feel less flustered. Earlier this year I was really struggling with all the things I was doing. Like many of us, I was thinking about what needed doing but getting too stressed at the amount that needed doing to actually do any of them. Also, I think things always seem worse until we write them down. Having thoughts whizzing around in your head with all the things you are trying not to forget can be a real challenge so actually having those things written down somewhere helps to clear that.
My first brain dump was over four sides long and believe me, I almost cried. However, I spent a whole day clearing up lots of little jobs and within a week I was down to 1-1.5 sides. Much better.
Having one book for my diary, to do lists, notes and goals is working really well for me. Not having to keep finding a scrap of paper or deciding which notebook I scribbled a random thought or message in has really helped. It’s also given me the drive to get more organised domestically. Small steps, I assure you, but finding time for things like menu planning. This has helped us to save money every week and also my kids love sitting down every week and deciding what we will be having. I get less “oh I don’t like that” or “I wanted …..” and this is also helping me with my own healthy eating challenge.
How do you stay organised?
We all live such busy lives now, I am sure most people have one or two tips on how they stay organised. What works for you? Let us know. I will be updating you as I progress with this new method, along with my goals to get healthy, be mindful and my big goal of being happier so don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss out. Also pop over to my Facebook page where I share tips from other people who are either a) much more organised than me, b) much healthier than me, c) much more mindful than me or d) all of the above.
14 thoughts on “Me, My Notebook and I”
Oooh thank you for the ideas. I tried the bullet journal for a while and it was great but lost my way with it a bit. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed of late but this has inspired me to get back on it!
I’m so happy you feel inspired, let me know how you get on x
Love the bullet journal. Thanks for the post. Very detailed!
I haven’t come across this idea before, but it looks great. I just got my new diary for 2016 today and I might try to use this alongside that. Although I find that I’m really good with stuff like this for a while and then it all goes to pot! I’ll keep my fingers crossed xx
Good luck with this, am sure you will find it helpful in some way.
How is the brain dumping going? I hope it is helping you in a small way. And don’t stress if you let it go for a while, you will be able to pick it back up easily when it’s just in one notebook. Keep me updated
I also have a weakness for stationery shops (and also hardware stores but that’s a different thing altogether!) My sister gave me a gorgeous note book for Christmas and it makes me feel so professional when I write in it! The paper is really good quality, the cover feels lovely (sort of fake leather) and there’s a place to write the date at the top of each page. It makes me think it might be worth just paying a bit extra in future to get good quality notebooks of hey get used well and last long (and make me feel good about working). OR maybe I’ll just ask for one every Christmas! Your brain dump makes a lot of sense, we carry so many lists in our heads they become overwhelming at times. #TheMMLinky
I love a quality notebook. I have a drawer full of notebooks but I have found myself getting more choosy about the ones I actually use now. If the lines are wide spaced, they stay on the shelf. I need 31 lines on a page – my kids all walk away from me in shops as I start counting them! I think I may need some help! I want to hear more about the hardware store!
Ooh, Debs, you’re so good! I love stationery as much as you, but I’m absolutely rubbish about being organised! I don’t think I’d have time for BuJo, though I love the idea of it, but I like your system and might be able to do something similar to work for me. Thanks for the ideas! #TheMMLinky
I am rubbish at being organised. I try loads of ways to make it easier and some of the ideas I have mentioned definitely work for me. Let me know how you get on.xx
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