I know it’s been awhile but I had a very serious case of my-lungs-do-not-work-because-so-many-things compounded by my asthma, which left me relatively incapacitated for a few months.
I’m up and around now and my energy level is coming back slowly but the accumulation of things needing to be done over the past month has hit the roof, broken through, and seems to be pooling in my hallway. Apparently, things don’t tend to get done unless you do them. Who knew?
All in all, I’ve learned a lot these past few years when trials like this come. I’ve learned the need to rest and be gentle with myself while recovering. I think it helps with the healing not to be so stressed out that I’m not well, that I can’t get well.
So, now I am faced with a month’s worth of catching up on all the things I let slide while gasping and coughing and generally trying to get oxygen to my braincells. I’ve got to focus on my children’s schooling because yeah, they need to learn things, and I’m kind of responsible for that, what with the homeschooling and all. Finances and taxes need to be filed, just a mental reminder to get on that. Menu planning and grocery shopping, because I abhor cooking and otherwise my kids eat seaweed, rice, and yogurt for dinner- true story. I’m in the middle of my second Whole 30 and that requires a ton of planning, and tracking, and shopping lists that consist of me filling my cart and then handing our whole paycheck to the checker. I also have writing deadlines and goals I’m trying to accomplish (did you hear I signed with an agent?!? This is really happening, you guys!)
It’s easy to get overwhelmed because there is just so much going on in my brain, it’s constantly pushing things out to make room for other things and my memory is not what it used to be.
I have a tremendous need to jot. I need to list and bullet point and cross off. You can’t tell me that crossing off isn’t one of the best feelings there is. As a confessed flibbertigibbet, I have stacks of half filled out planners, old apps, and scribbled on notes to prove it.
I recently asked on my Facebook page about how people organize themselves. It was fun to see how people keep on top of thing, and I was surprised that most people use a combination of things both digital and analog.
I’ve had several organized writer friends recommend bullet journaling as a way to mind dump and keep random thoughts together and I immediately believed it was too fussy to be something I would stick with. But the bullet journal promised that it is entirely customizable. It can be as artsy or as simple as you like. Mine is decidedly both depending on how many children are asking for snacks, how much sleep I’ve had, and how much laundry is taunting me.
How I Organize My Life
In college I would rewrite all of my notes as a method for studying. I color coded all of my anatomy and physiology terms, wrote chemistry formulas with doodles around them, and outlined my papers with bullet points and flourishes. I found this method helped me not only to remember but to visualize the tasks, terms, and test questions. Can you believe I was a science nerd? Me neither. But there’s real science behind writing by hand.
“One of the most effective ways to study and retain new information is to rewrite your notes by hand. That’s because putting ink to paper stimulates a part of the brain called the Reticular Activating System, or the RAS. According to Lifehacker, “The RAS acts as a filter for everything your brain needs to process, giving more importance to the stuff that you’re actively focusing on that moment — something that the physical act of writing brings to the forefront.” – 4 Benefits of Handwriting
There is a link from handwriting to memory process, creativity, and mood regulation. Basically, it’s good to pull out a pen and paper now and again. So I decided to give bullet journaling a try and within a week I was hooked. Ok, you say, but you are a flibbertigibbet and they’re not known for sticking to systems no matter how good their intentions are. True, but it’s been almost a year now and I’m still going strong.
I use a Google calendar to sync all of my appointments and reminders on the spot. I have separate color coded calendars for
*Various editorial calendars from places I contribute like Grace Table and (in)courage
I use Voxer My Notes feature to send myself long rambling ideas, sentences, and blog post ideas as they come to me. The fun part is listening to the ones I voxed myself right before bedtime that I was sure were brilliant, only to wonder what the heck I was talking about a few days later but, overall it works really well, sleepy nighttime rants notwithstanding.
Each week I draw a weekly calendar in my bullet journal and transfer over the things from my calendar. It might seem redundant to have two calendars but having the weekly spread with everything listed helps me visualize my week and prepare myself. If I know I have a bunch of deadlines coming up, my meal planning will be super simple. If homeschooling or doctors appointments will have us out of the house, I know not to invite people over or try to tackle big projects. I also do a four month future log to jot down upcoming things and the month they’re in so I get an overall view of what’s ahead. And because handwriting helps with memory, I’m more likely to show up where I need to be, when I need to be. Also, my grocery list and errands I need to do are always on me.
I also personalize my bullet journal which is the feature I love most. I have a tracker which tracks my diet, moods, habits, and personal care. I have a monthly log where I write in what happened that day. Micro-journaling helps remind me what I was doing and keeps a timeline for me that comes in handy later when I’m writing. I have a running book list for myself and my kids. I have a list of home projects I want to do and another one for blog ideas, quotes I like, random thoughts, voxer notes, prayer lists, and food logs.
There are some pages I’ve tried which have failed horribly, like this Housekeeping Tracker. I swear I clean my house more than this pitifully filled in chart. But the great thing about a bullet journal is you just learn what works or doesn’t and move on. It’s perfect for me because it doesn’t have to be perfect to work.
Some weeks I go all out with wash tape, art, special lettering, and color, and others I do the most basic bullet points and nothing else. This depends on how much time, energy, and motivation I have.
I’ve been trying to focus on slowing myself down and focusing on the most important things, especially when my energy is low and though it might seem counter productive to spend time decorating a journal when there are to-do items to cross off, I find that tapping into a creative side of me helps motivate me to actually flip open the journal and get things done.
Most weeks I find it relaxing to doodle and cathartic to see all my tasks, goals, and lists in one place. On those weeks I love my Illustrated Faith Kits from Dayspring which include stickers, washi tape, a stamp set, bookmarks and a devotional, all in a cute pouch I later use for my growing pen collection. I’m pretty sure office supplies are my love language.
Each month, Dayspring releases a new one and I’ve loved incorporating them into my journal. It makes it look a lot fancier with minimal effort. A few quick flourishes and it looks pretty all week and motivates me to return to it to write things down. Also, the Craving Connection Kit comes with succulent washi tape! I have a thing for succulents, I can’t help myself. It’s the only type of plant I’ve never killed.
Maybe you’ve held off on bullet journaling because it seems too overwhelming or maybe you don’t consider yourself artistic and don’t think you can have a pretty journal you enjoy. Don’t let that stop you. There are so many creative yet simple ways to make it work for you and take it from this flibbertigibbet, if I can do it and stick with it, anyone can.
For those of you who do bullet journal, what pages do you use? What are your favorite ways to track and organize your journal? Do you decorate your journal or are you a minimalist? Tell me everything.
Here are some links to products I use and recommend. These are affiliate links, so you know the drill, if you purchase through my links below, I get a few cents in my pocket that help support this website.