Bujo or bust!

imagebujo = bullet journal

I have no idea how I stumbled onto the concept of the bullet journal. Something, somewhere, caught my eye. (If it was you, I am forever grateful.) I Googled it. I watched Ryder Carroll’s video. I was fascinated. I, the girl who can never seem to use any planning system consistently – even one of my own design – began to see the possibilities.

A bullet journal is simply a notebook that is used as an all-in-one planning system. You use it as both your calendar and your to-do list, but you also use it to keep track of every little thing you might have jotted on post-it notes, scratch paper or napkins in the past. The beauty of the system? Its complete flexibility.

Tired of the layout? Change it tomorrow or next week or next month. Skip a day or two or twelve? Just continue on – no wasted pages! Wish you had a  [insert awesome planner/tracker feature here]? Simply add one in. A bullet journal can be as simple or as fancy as you want, because YOU are the one designing it.

I raced out in the 100-degree heat of Palm Desert to track down a notebook. I found a gorgeous soft-covered Moleskine in “Underwater Blue” with dot-grid pages and a set of pigma colored pens, and I was good to go. But first, I set one guideline for myself: “No rules, no ruler.” I am as perfectionistic as they come, and I knew that if I started to get hung up on straight lines, I’d be in big trouble.

Of course, by the third page, I needed another guideline: “Embrace imperfection.” Mistakes are a guarantee in life, especially when you combine permanent ink with a bound notebook. I’m just acknowledging them, tweaking if I can, and moving on.

Bullet Journal, Day One
Bullet Journal, Day One.  (I decided right away that I hated writing with the colored pens. I wrote over the brown, but scribbled out the green; this looked even worse, so I turned it into a doodle. Hence guideline #2!)

This sounds a lot easier than it is in practice. The lack of straight lines does bug me, but I’m powering through. If I decide I want a graph-paper ruled one next time, I’ll get one, but this one is it for now. When you make a mistake that takes up two full pages (by designing an index you don’t like, for example), it’s hard to swallow, but – again – I can change it next time.

If you decide to start a bullet journal of your own, I must give one bit of advice: beware of Pinterest (or even Google images)! There are some incredible ideas out there, some gorgeous layouts, some seriously talented artists — and all this beautiful input can lead you into danger. You’ll either a) start feeling totally discouraged by the talent you see, or b) you’ll become enthralled by it, and spend all the time you should be using your own bullet journal to drool over other people’s. I did both, and it really slowed me down. I’m still navigating the fine line between working on my bullet journal and working from my bullet journal. I want to enjoy it, I want it to be beautiful, I want it to be a creative outlet, but – most of all – I want it to be a tool to help me have an enjoyable, beautiful, creative life.

Planner envy

It’s happening again.

I’d resisted buying a new planner this year. I have been working on creating a 5.5″ x 8″ version of last year’s planner so that it would be more portable. It’s already February, though, and I don’t have it ready to “go to print” yet. I’m still tweaking it. Darn perfectionism raised its ugly head. Again.

But then I ran into this beauty in Target today. So simple, yet so practical. Very classy looking. I really, really, really wanted it.

sugar paper signature planner

I bought it. Now I’ve been sitting here trying to decide if this is really the way I want to go. My heart says to stick with the one I’ve carefully created for myself (and to just hurry up and get it done). But the little voice in my mind is saying, “But this one is here! And done! And easy! And close to what you wanted! Keep it! Keeeep it!”

Argh. I’m not going to keep it. Why do I succumb in the first place?!

Stay the course, Lori. Stay the course.

fail to plan… plan to fail

Planner p 1

I missed an important commitment recently because I double-booked and then completely forgot to get someone to cover for me. That’s not cool. I was so embarrassed; I had to work up the courage just to apologize.

In an effort to get on top of my issues with time management, I recently took a class called Seeing Your Time. One of the principles we learned was to visually plan out your week, your month, and your day. To plan backwards, knowing where you want to be and walking through the steps it would take to get there.

Although I had suspected as much, this class really emphasized that I am a paper-and-pencil planner. Google calendar works really well for me as a database of appointments and events, but even though it sends me little reminders, that format still doesn’t seem to register the reality of my time. Unfortunately, I’ve tried various Day Planners over the years – of every single shape and size – and though they work well for a short time, I stop using them. This, obviously, defeats the whole purpose.

What now? Well, I have been working to construct a physical planner that suits my needs exactly. I figure that if I am the designer, I can make it as pretty as I like, give it the exact sections that I like, and – when something doesn’t work out, as is always the case – make the changes that I like.

My launching point was the Daily Progress Report designed by the author of a book called The 7-Minute Life (which I highly recommend). I found that I used certain sections and did not use others (which I admit is contrary to her whole philosophy, but I’m looking for what works for me). There were also a couple of additional things that I wished I could track with it.

I busted out my Microsoft Word skills and mocked up something that I have been working on (and working with) for the last week:

Daily Planner pdf

It’s pretty! It’s colorful! It has cool sections! It reminds me of tasks and appointments, but also of non-urgent things I want to be doing on a daily basis. I’ll break it down in another post, because there is just too much to explain, but click on the link above and take a closer look.

Planner p 2

I’ve broken out my Arc System punch and notebooks to set up this new planner.  I like these because they hold papers like a spiral notebook, but allow you to move pages and change them around.  (I need that flexibility or I just give up on a system as soon as the growing pains begin.) The one I am using is 8.5″ x 11″, because I need all the room I can get. A smaller one is easier to carry, but if it’s too cramped for me, I won’t use it, so I’m sticking with full-sized for now.

What about you? Do you use a paper planner? Have you ever tried to make your own? Are you electronic all the way? What works best for you?