Yesterday it occurred to me that no one knows about my notebook life. I guess my husband kind of knows but not fully*. It’s not like some deep dark secret or anything. I have a notebook. There, I said it!
*Never mind. I asked him. He knows. :)
Our personal organizational methods are one of those things that go on behind-the-scenes unnoticed. But I’m a curious and kind of nosey person who appreciates when other people share the more mundane aspects of life. “How you do one thing is how you do everything,” right? Besides, adulting is hard, so if someone has a suggestion for simplifying the chaos then I’d like to know. (Matt D’Avella’s YouTube channel comes to mind. It’s a favorite.)
Let’s nerd out then, shall we?
This is my current notebook system:
3. MORNING PAGES:
How to do morning pages: write three pages every morning. That’s it. You can write about whatever you want as long as you fill 3 pages. It’s a daily diary/meditation of sorts. I have a solid love-hate relationship with it, which is: I hate it enough that I only manage to participate about 60% of a given week (on average), and I love it enough to confidently preach it’s benefits. A post for another day, perhaps.
Julia Cameron is the brains behind this ritual. She wrote a book about it, and a workbook. Most of my favorite authors/artists/influencers (creatives and business folk alike) do morning pages. 10/10 would recommend.
This for visual journaling, for fun, for experimentation, and a place where I will for forever be working on drawing people and hands.
1. BULLET JOURNAL/PLANNER
The main focus of today’s post.
I outlined the general bullet journal concepts the other day. (<—if you’re new to bullet journaling then this is where you should start). I use mine much like a generic planner for managing tasks, tracking habits, “collections”, and misc. day to day things.
It’s also worth mentioning that (as you can guess) I heavily favor analog systems over digital ones. I know about TeuxDeux and all the other time blocking app gadgets, but they’re not for me. I want to hear the scratch of my fountain pen. I like having a physical volume.
So without further ado, let’s dive in.
INDEX & FUTURE LOG
The index is the selling point, for me. It’s one thing to write things down, and to have a designated place for those notes, but it’s another to be able to find that information easily.
This is one of the cornerstones of minimalism. A place for everything, and everything in its place.
MONTHLY LOG SAMPLE, LEFT SIDE
This is a mostly fictional sample:
I’ve found that one line a day for the monthly log is sufficient. This is just the skeleton, the bare bones of what tasks/events are important for that day. This is not a place for details. Details go on the adjacent page [monthly log sample, right side] or in the daily log.
At the end of the month I migrate any unfinished tasks to the next month’s spread, and I also number the pages. I tend to shuffle the pages around a lot during the month so number them and add them to the index at the end of that month.
MONTHLY LOG SAMPLE, RIGHT SIDE
MONTHLY LOG, ADDITIONAL
At the end of the month when I’m numbering that month’s pages, I write all the important phone numbers, addresses, and similar details that I find on the back of my task page. That way I can reference one page to get the info I need. It also means I don’t have to number several different pages in the index. This might give you a better idea…
Here’s an example of the goals/intentions page from January (excluding personal/work goals):
I add to this frequently throughout the month.
This is an average daily log entry. I use this space to brain dump all the things I want to get done in a day, then I time block the tasks in my Google Cal. I also use this space to record notes, what I ate/watched/listened to that day, what the weather was like, or when I woke up/fell asleep.
When I look back on past entries, my favorite things to read are what I call “thought crumbs.” Those tiny and random observations, insights, and thoughts that I chose to document. “Mom leaves for trip.” “Julia Cameron [the creator of Morning Pages] was married to Martin Scorsese…” “Got side tracked.”
You’ll find a more thorough symbol key in this post but here’s an overview.
(As you can see, I’ve used different symbols in the past but switched back to this:
— unfinished task
+ finished task
!— important/urgent task
— no longer a priority/relevant
> moved task to the next day
< moved task to monthly log
º note, insight, observation, something that happened
Some of the other content you might find in my bullet journal: A paddleboarding log, sketch journal page, notes from that day I was eating pistachios and got curious about why/how they split open, book notes. That sort of thing…
THAT’S THE JIST!
None of the information I record is very insightful or significant on its own. The sum is greater than the parts. The more I log, the better it gets. The better it gets, the more I want to log, and so forth.
It might seem like a lot of work but at most it’s 10 minutes out of my day. The time saved from having all my notes and lists in one place far outweighs the time spent. This system has been a game changer. It makes my entire life easier, more organized, and more intentional.
Thanks for touring and here’s to hoping that alI the personal details got redacted. Wouldn’t want to accidentally give out Beyonce’s personal cell phone number.
Go start a bullet journal!