Wednesday, May 6, 2015

the creative process: organization and how i bullet journal

What I've realized in all of the writing and doing and working on creatively is there is nothing like a good organization system. I have eight journals (no joke) with random notes throughout them here and there.

Last week I mentioned that I've been using the bullet journaling system and ya'll asked for more details. Good news is this has been so fruitful for my creative process so I'm dying to share!

I am using this journal from Moleskine. I'm a Moleskine fan and don't know that I'll buy any other journal ever. Except the ones with really cute quotes on them. The things that I love about Moleskine journals are this:
  • The journals lay flat. I am usually repelled by journals that are not spiral bound because the crease and writability. BUT, Moleskine journals -in the soft cover form that I prefer- lay flat, completely, unimpededly flat. 
  • The ribbon is a love. It reminds me of my bible and that's a fond feeling. 
  • I adore the band that stretches around the cover. It keeps things in tight and keeps the pages from getting all bent up and crushed. It also helps to hold in the notecards that I've been taking notes on so I won't lose them. 
  • There's a pocket in the back. I put things in it. And then I forget they're there are get excited when I find them again. 
Before you buy a Moleskine, please note:
The LARGE size is what I have... It's easily fit into a purse or crossbody. It is the EXTRA LARGE that is regular 8.5" by 11" paper. Moleskine's also come in hard and soft cover. I have only purchased the soft, but have heard other bullet journalers swear by the hard. I know that Target and Staples sell Moleskine products if Amazon ain't your thing.

I don't think you can go wrong as long as you honor your preferences (which is the POINT of bullet journaling). 

I started the month using the system that the bullet journaling website mentioned. I decided using their system for a month would allow for me to decide what works for me and what doesn't... I am sure this is a post that could be repeated in another few months with new ideas and advice.

I put together a key (which now seems sort of unimportant because it's so self explanatory) and a table of contents. You will have to get into the habit of writing page numbers at the top of each page... Something that could be tricky, but I've found that I use the table of contents more than I expected so the page numbers have value.
I leave a page for the lessons I learn in the month at the beginning so that I can write things down as I learned them... As I've come to realize: I only wrote out two of my lessons into my lessons I learned blog post. The others have entire posts that I want to write with them. So they'll now be added to my blog post ideas page (or just highlighted to later grab my attention... Jury is still out on that notation). 
This is how the typical spreads of the bullet journal look. I write down the day and tasks I want to conquer before I fall asleep at night... I draw an empty box that I only check off when I complete my task. Most days all of the tasks are finished, but when they're not, I draw an arrow indicating it'll be moved to the next day. (You can see this on the third point on April 23rd.)

I am highly motivated by the check boxes. Highly motivated. And when I get to work I set my journal open on my desk and tackle what's in there (and in my email inbox). Sometimes I really don't want to do something -i.e. change a doctor's appointment-, but then the fact that I can check it off motivates me. If that's similar to your soul, this system is for you. 

Stars indicate things that make me inspired, happy, reflective. They're fun to see as I flip through the pages and I've toyed with the idea of highlighting the stars just so they catch my attention. I don't do them often, but enough to want them to stick out from all the other daily conversation.

Something I learned from Emily Freeman's blog is to always write who said the quote and where you saw it. As you might notice on the right hand page I've starred a quote from Kelly Corrigan's memoir Glitter and Glue that appeared on page 142.

I do wish that I'd been able to get rid of my date planner. But I haven't discovered a way to make the future month plans available to document without feeling like I'm boxing in the current month. So, I invented an important dates page where I can write in the dates that I need to remember for future months. This seems totally workable because I'd be writing down all the dates in that area at a time, but I'll need to check back in with this.

This has pushed me to be more focused on the tasks at hand instead of what's to come. I think that's the point of bullet journaling, to work on what's here and now instead of what's tomorrow or next month's. I look at time as all mine when, in fact, the only moment I've got is now. And so, that's a win.
I know that some people use $ to write down what they need to buy... I'd do the same, but I do all my shopping at Super Target. That means that I get groceries and everything that we need for the house or otherwise at one time, so there aren't any straggler things I have to specifically seek out at other stores. This is convenient, but makes the $ sign completely useless in my system. 

I didn't mind the way the April month was written in a single page (see the second picture above). But I enjoy the way a calendar looks. So I did May like this: 
This has made the month feel a little more simple to look at and interact with. I just counted down the lines already printed on the pages of my Moleskine and then used a ruler to mark where the vertical lines needed to be. Yep, made it official and used a ruler. 

Overall, I totally recommend the bullet journal method. I love that it's not a specific journal you have to buy, but a system that can be tailored to whatever you'd like. I know some people use smaller journals or others larger and so no one looks like the choosy Goldilocks type. 

More than the flexbility of the journal: I'm getting things done. Not in the hustle, hustle, hustle way, but in a way that feels really productive even when there are only two points to a given day. Using a list daily takes away the wonder of writing down 320,392 things for me to and knock out. Instead, I'm prioritizing and using time wisely. 

Any questions? Leave them in the comments 
or shoot me a tweet or email! 

35 comments:

  1. You and I are so alike in that check boxes motivate us. Sometimes I'll draw them on my to-do lists because it creates THAT much more motivation. It really is a significant difference for me. This is so interesting to read about it. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. So I pretty much have been doing this and didn't know there was a name for it! I don't know if I could give up my planner though for the same reasons you said. Also, teach me to write like you. I love your handwriting!

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  3. I love this! I've been wondering what bullet journaling is. I'll have to try it! My current day planner works, but it isn't great because there isn't much space. I'll have to retire it before I start juggling grad school (plus work plus my writing work) this fall, so this might provide me a good alternative to my current planner until then!

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  4. i love this. lately, if i can get to my date planner once a month to plan everything out, i feel pretty proud. i would love to get a little more organized and try some new things like this. so fun!

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  5. High Fives for Bullet Journalling! I love that each day I have a set amount of boxes to check off instead of one giant week long to do list that seems overwhelming. I've more or less got rid of my day planner but I'm slightly stuck on keeping track of the things that happen months in advance. I haven't quite figured out how to incorporate a year at a glance into the system. This is only month two though so I'm sure I'll figure it out as I go along.

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  6. I've been toying with the idea of turning one of my Moleskin's into a bullet journal (I love them so) - I think I def. will now! Can I ask what kind of pen you use? I think I want one!

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  7. I really have to THANK YOU for not only sharing your input on this bullet journaling, but for opening up your life to your readers. Your tasks, no matter how small or important, are now for all the world to see, along with your grocery list and events and so on and so forth. Baring your soul once again, and I truly applaud you. As for the bullet journaling, I'm obsessed. I've been struggling with living in the moment and failing my to-do lists that only remain in my mind day after day, and this really is an amazing solution to life in the moment. I agree, I'm not sure how I could get by without a future look at plans that come up (like my brother's wedding in a few months), but this is such an amazing idea. Thank you for sharing you likes and dislikes and what has worked for you! I love the May overview much better than April's. Kudos to you for being all fancy with a ruler! ;)

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  8. Okay, you have convinced me. I definitely want to do this!

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  9. YES AMBER YES. After I saw you mention bullet journaling in an earlier post, I checked it out for myself and it's literally changing the way I get things done. I've even started bullet journaling my prayer journals, with different symbols for different kinds of prayers (thanks, praise, forgiveness, request, prayer for someone else, etc. and I can check them off if I see the Lord having answered them) I've only been doing this for a few days now but I really like it so. This is awesome.

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  10. Like I said, this looks so cool and I want to try it but I'm a little overwhelmed (I know you can be overwhelmed and underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?). But man, the check list is a mighty motivator.

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  11. Your handwriting is so cute! I think I missed this whole "cute handwriting" classes in grade school... oops! Thanks for letting us take a fun look into your journaling process.

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  12. Now I'm off to research this.. because I'm VERY interested! Thank you!

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  13. Ummmmm so this is wonder filled and I'm actually lusting in an organizer type of way. I am on this. Also heck to the yes with check marks and boxes.

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  14. Girl there's something so comforting about it... But I've also learned that too many boxes to check overwhelms and discourages me so it's a balance! :)

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  15. Girl that's been the HARDEST part for me... I feel like I should be able to ditch my planner, but I don't know how to go about it. WAH, WAH, WAH. For now, I'll stick with it and see if there's some way to incorporate my planner. I've entertained the idea of putting the calendars all together in a little grouping of pages at the front... But then I feel like I'm defeating my own purpose. So, we shall see.


    And, THANK YOU. :)

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  16. Girl, that was my biggest problem: all the notes in all the places. This has made the whole process of thinking and creating and idea making easier because I know I have somewhere to put everything that's sort of, a hint of organized. I realize that I've still got some learning to do as far as the best means of organization for me, but time will offer that.

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  17. See I won one of those fancy day planners that everyone raves about... And I hated it. I felt constricted and sort of unimportant because it's not within my will to put divvy out my day into hour slots of time... I'm just not THAT important, busy or organized. So this helped... It allowed for more creativity and space in approaching each day!

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  18. YES this is what I love too! :) I also realize that I've struggled with all the timeslots and hour lines that are so popular in planners now... I only use a monthly planner and don't really need much more break down than that on a consistent basis, sooooo that's why bullet journaling worked PERFECTLY for me.

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  19. I use the G2 pilot in black fine point. There's a super fine point that's too fine for me and the medium point that feels sort of sloppy and GIANT. My only gripe is that I hold my pen funny (I'm right handed) and somehow manage to drag my pinky through the ink on occasion. This makes a mess -mostly on my hand- and can sometimes smear the ink a little bit. Oh well. :)

    Also, bullet journal (the official group) recommends this other journal that REALLY fascinates me. http://www.amazon.com/Leuchtturm-Large-Hardcover-Lined-Pink/dp/B00513MBTY/ref=pd_sim_op_3?ie=UTF8&refRID=08ZR0KC4PVHFZJD7AAF0

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  20. Oh girl, you are welcome! :) I hadn't really thought much of it... I guess because my every day bits and pieces aren't very fancy inner workings but just SO commonplace to everyone else's days! :)


    I do believe Bullet Journaling has helped with being more invested in the moment I have NOW. Something I'm not particularly good at. :)

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  21. Let me come to Texas and tutor you.

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  22. DO IT.


    But then once you do it come back and tell me how much you loved it because you're going to love it. I promise you will.

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  23. Ok so truth: I NEVER even thought about prayer journaling this way. But now I want to. Actually I want to bible study this way. Like SO BAD. But I'm in the middle of a journal right now but as SOON as I finish I know what I'm doing.

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  24. Truth: I wanted to major in art and be an artist that made pretty things and WASN'T starving. :) Sooooo, I spent years drawing and doodling and being around really pretty things and I think it sort of sunk into my hands. I always say that I cheated because I spent a lot of time working with pen and paper.... Which not everyone did! :)

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  25. DO IT. Girl, the stuff is awesome and the journals come in like 20394812937 adorable colors that make me want to buy them all immediately even though I can really only use one at a time.

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  26. Girl, this will be SO helpful with the writing process. I wish I'd known about it earlier so I didn't have 2039 journals piled next to my desk for sifting through and trying to understand!

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  27. I have such a soft spot for journals. Something about a book full of blank pages waiting to be filled makes my heart so happy! I go for leather journals unless it was a gift from someone. Sometimes it's moleskin, sometimes just leather. The one I have right now is leather, lays open beautifully, and has this leather strap I can wrap around and tie it all in and the pages are wonderful. For NaNoWriMo I tend to go to Target and find small journals I can stick in my purse easily and try to purchase it in late September/early October so I can get all of my brainstorming done and have it with me at all times for whenever I need to jot down ideas.

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  28. I mean, WOW. I had no idea there was a legit method for my mental madness!!! ;) I typically keep my life to-dos and my creative to-dos separate, but this looks like it wants you to combine them? I think I've always separated them because when I need a creative break, I'll shift over to my life to-dos and it feels like an actual break. BUT- I've also been finding it difficult to get everything on both lists done and maybe that's why. HMMM!

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  29. I do have that same hoardic horror of journals. Cheers!

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  30. Not only does my OCD self LOVE this but I also color-coded mine :)

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  31. Love this process! I've been doing something similar since I've started my blog and now a business as well, but I had no idea it was actually a thing! Definitely going to utilize this, thanks for sharing!

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  32. oh that would be the worst! i would really want to love something i won, so i would be so frustrated when it didn't fit my style!


    this might be weird, but have you gotten rid of that planner yet? i have never wanted to commit to one at full price, but i have wanted to try one out...if you haven't gotten rid of it, would you email me if you would be interested in me purchasing it from you as a demo?

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  33. Thank you for this post and idea - I started my bullet journal today!! I am looking forward to getting rid of all my pieces of note paper everywhere!

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