Monday, 2 May 2016

Bullet journalling update: A6 for day to day stuff

The A5 is very much a work in progress, as is the A6, but using the A6 has been an eye opener!

I'm using an A6 Clairefontaine 1951 school style notebook with grid pages, from Bureau Direct. The paper is great, the size is perfect and they are really cheap to buy!

[I'm not sure why I've written the date range on the front as I shall be throwing it away once it's finished...]

I started using it a couple of days before I went away on holiday and had a day per page for the days before I went away. I used them to jot down everything that needed doing before we went away. I used a simple dot to denote a task to be done, which got crossed through once completed. A  dash indicated a piece of information (but wasn't really getting used). An arrow through a dot meant it was rescheduled.

I didn't leave space for the index. I only remembered about that after I'd started filling things in from page 1 of the notebook. My index is now at the back (which, in fairness, is where most are in books...). Also at the back is a page for 'waiting on' which notes not just parcels/orders I'm waiting to be delivered, but also email replies etc that I'm waiting for. In essence, anything I'm waiting for! Dots indicate still waiting; crossed through indicates arrived.

Another page at the back is for books - books I want to buy/borrow from the library. I managed to be marginally more artistic with this header and draw a banner rather than just a squiggly line. Again, dot next to a title means not yet bought/borrowed; cross means bought/borrowed. There's also a page for noting down blog post ideas, one of things to look up and one for general notes.

The real work is being done at the front though. After the days leading up to the holiday, there are single pages per day for the days of the holiday. I didn't want to take my journal away with me but I wanted to be able to fill it in when I came back, so each day while we were away, I noted what the weather was like (hey, I'm British. We just do that kind of thing...), what we'd done each day, anything else notable, something I was grateful for and something I was proud of. The notes helped me to write up my journal when I got back.

I was also aware, even before I went away, that I needed to remind myself about stuff for when I came back and I knew that I wanted to see if I could find a better system for day to day planning than the hateful ABP2 (which I have abandoned...). I decided I would use a double spread for each day and note things that needed to be done that day on the RHS page and use the LHS for time-boxing. I drew out the little flags and put each date in for each day (I'm seriously NOT very artistic!) and wrote the times of the day down the LHS, leaving some space at the top in case I needed to note things like birthdays etc. The right hand edge of the timed side is to note down anything else important - what my hubby is doing for example and whether the car is with him, or a timed delivery slot. In the picture below, this is what it looks like after things have been allocated, but before I do my day-planning.

The RHS is a combination of brain dump and tasks migrating from the monthly list in the A5. I realise I might be better off with it all in one thing, but A5 is too big for sitting open on my desk and carrying around with me and A6 is too small for the monthly lists, so a combination it is. Since I do a weekly review (and monthly), I can tick things off each week as they get done, during the review session. After I've done the review, I draw out the flags for the dates for the following week, add in the times and then allocate tasks.

My morning routine is to clear my head into the RHS list and review the day before, transferring anything over to the new day that needs doing (or just crossing it out if it's never going to happen!). I've not really done this yet, but the intention for forthcoming weeks is to put tasks relating to goals in colour (coded to the life-area) and brain-dump tasks in black biro/pencil to distinguish between them. The goal-related tasks will get allocated in the weekly review.

Once I have my list, I time-box my day out on the LHS. If anything occurs to me during the day, it gets added to the notebook in the appropriate place. In the picture below, you can see the list of things on the RHS (some of which got re-scheduled, some of which got done) and the time-boxing on the LHS. The pencil is covering up a phone number I jotted down; the crossed out set of numbers was another reminder for something.

An example of what it looks like at the end of a day!

Advantages and Disadvantages so far...

I actually use it. I could have done everything I've just outlined in the ABP2, but I didn't because the line spacing was too tiny and I hated it.
I feel like I'm getting more done and am more organised (but that may be novelty value...).
The system is really simple - any notebook and pen could be used and you can invent your own coding for task/meeting/email etc.

I still need my diary. Which means that I now have three things on the go - my diary (in my TN which is also my wallet), the monthly goals (in the A5 - see the last post) and this day to day list. I don't have many appointments, but I do have some. I could have a monthly list in the A6 (in the bullet journal way) and add appointments to it, but I don't have that in there yet and I do like to see an overview of my week. I could draw up a weekly view in an A5 and combine the yearly, quarterly, monthly and weekly plans into one place, but the size is too big. I could draw up weekly views in the A6 but that would take up too many pages. I could draw up weekly views in another A6 and put both that A6 and this day planner into the Fauxdori I made myself and go back to a wallet and A6 TN... and then I would forget one or the other when I left the house probably.
I could also easily stick with what I'm doing and just accept that things are a bit scattered while I work out what's for the best!

I've not quite cracked it yet... no doubt more soon!

How are others using a bullet journal? More conventionally (all in one book) or more scattered (or scatty?) like this?

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Bullet journalling update: A5 for long-term goals

Just before I went away on holiday, I was experimenting with two bullet journalling things:
  1. long-term planning in an A5 Leuchtturm
  2. day to day planning in an A6 Clairefontaine grid book
I took both of them away with me; the long-term planning to get filled in (since I thought the perfect time to stand back and think about long-term goals was when I was relaxed) and the A6 day to day, to note things about the holiday so that I could write my journal up when I came back (to save me taking it away with me). I'll show you what happened with the long-term planning version here and save the A6 for another post.

Long-term planning:
A while back, I won a turquoise A5 Leuchtturm notebook, a turquoise pen-holder and a pencil as a set from Bureau Direct, and this was the set I chose to use.
The first thing I did was to set up the first few pages for goals relating to my life-areas. I wanted to make the pages of the book a little bit prettier but I'm not very artistic, so I used pennant washi for headers and wrote the life-area on top of it. I put year plans on the LHS and quarterly plans on the RHS; one double spread for each life-area. I shall be referring back to these pages over the year. The only one not too personal to show you, is the house/garden one.

I then drew up a list of things to get done in the remainder of April, again using the pennant washi for the title of the page. The contents are too personal to share, but here's a picture of the washi!

I try to do monthly reviews, so the RHS will be for reviewing how the end of April went (and may continue over the next pages too). I used more washi, but some small hearts rather than the pennant, and labelled it 'review'

The list of stuff to be done is partly drawn from the life-area lists and also just a dump of things in my head that I think I should be doing, following my bullet-journalling system of a dot for a task (crossed through when accomplished). A dot converted to an arrow will mean the task has been carried forward and rewritten on the next month's list, but I'm showing you the set up before I do my monthly review.

This isn't 'pure' bullet journalling (if there even is such a thing), but my way of trying to keep track of the bigger picture. It's a list of goals and is essentially the 'goals to projects to next actions' of my planning system, relocated to a book. By breaking things down into life areas, I'm hoping it will help me to balance everything a bit better (and not just focus on writing, writing and a bit more writing...). I will (since I bought the pens...) use different coloured Staedtler Triplus fineliners for the different life areas, to give me a visual breakdown of the balance (but I only took a pencil away with me! May will be more colour-coded than April was...).

A more 'traditional' use of bullet journalling with a combination of tasks, notes, waiting on etc. is going on in the A6! More on that in the next post.

It's still a work in progress but has surely got to be better than no real system at all (which is how 2016 has been so far!). In time, I may move all of what's currently in the A5 and what's in the A6 into one book, but the A6 is working too well for me at the moment (in an 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' kind of way!).

What do people think? Hints and tips from anyone? Is anyone using a bullet journalling type system to deal with long-term plans? Let me know in the comments?