My new 2020 Purpose Planner

You may recall that I had started using a bullet journal a while ago, but I found that having to create everything from scratch — while incredibly freeing and super creative! — was keeping me from actually using it. It became more an art project and less a planning-and-organization tool. But I loved many things about my bullet journal: the ability to keep various lists, logs, and trackers; the lovely thick pages and soft cover; and even the dot grid! (I was sure I wouldn’t like the lack of straight lines when I started using it, but soon fell in love with being imperfect.)

Thus began the Great Planner Hunt once again. I think I looked at every planner available on Amazon or pinned on Pinterest while trying to find one that really clicked for me.

I’ve got a good feeling about the one I decided on, after some trial and error.  It’s the Purpose Planner from Roterunner, the Teal Soft Cover, to be specific.  (To be even more specific, this is not a sponsored post. I just really like this planner.)

Why do I like it? Let me count the ways.

  1. It’s pretty!  It has nice thick pages and two ribbon bookmarks and an elastic to keep it closed.
  2. The planner starts with a Roles & Goals six-month planning section. I overlooked it at first, but I spent part of January 1st filling it out and it really helped me focus on what I want this year to be.

  3. It has monthly calendars and weekly spreads built right in. As a failed bullet journaler, this is BIG.

  4. The monthly pages include a Goals & Actions section and a guided Monthly Reflection.

  5. The weekly spread includes a habit tracker, sleep tracker, and fitness tracker, as well as all sorts of other cool sections.

  6. After every weekly section, there is a two-page dot-grid blank layout, and there are another 38 blank dot-grid pages in the back. I can still have all the bullet journal-style layouts I want!

  7. But how will I keep track of what I do with those blank pages? Well, the pages are numbered, and there is a blank Index in the front. I’m good to go.

You can go to the website to learn more, but here’s a little look at the different sections:

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Is it a perfect planner? No. It is spendy, for a planner that only covers six months at a time. The monthly calendars start with Monday (which I love, because I like to see Saturday and Sunday together, but it takes some getting used to), and in order to fit as much as they show in the sample photos, you’d need a very fine-tip pen and the ability to write in Eyestrain-o-Vision. But I’m still psyched.  I’ll check back and let you know how it goes!

xo – Lori

Bullet journal / GTD hybrid weekly

I’m still plugging away with my bullet journal, but I have recently added a two-page spread to plan my week.

I’ve taken what I’m learning from the STEP program at – a fantastic method of teaching David Allen’s Getting Things Done system – and incorporated it into my bullet journaling. See the six little sections across the middle of the page spread? Well, the far left one is my “Brain Dump” for random thoughts and ideas, but the others represent contexts for tasks: To Discuss, To Call, Computer, Home, and Errands.

Listing my tasks this way serves two purposes for me:

  1. I know how to plan for my time at each locale. For example, if I am leaving the house, I can look at the Errands list and see if there are any errands I can take care of while I’m out.
  2. By breaking my weekly To Do list into five little lists, I am much less overwhelmed by what I need to accomplish.  This is huge for me, as “overwhelm” is a major contributor to my procrastination habits. I get so freaked out by the sheer mass of a task that I pretty much flee from it. This helps.

I’ll post later and show you a filled-in version of my weekly spread, so you can see it in action. I’ll also explain the points chart and sleep tracker, too. In the meantime, a quick tidbit from my life:

Q was watching me create this spread yesterday, and he was agitated by the way the colored pens (Zebra Mildliners, which are amazing) made the black ink run if I didn’t give it enough time to dry before coloring right over it. I told him not to worry about it; he was like, “But it is smearing the ink!” Little did he know that I was now embracing imperfection. (Okay, maybe I am just kind of “putting my arm around the shoulder of imperfection.” Having to squeeze in the missing “V” in the Hamilton quote did give me some heart palpitations.)

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.