Moving things over from my old blog, there are a few posts that I just couldn’t leave behind. This is one that goes in great depth about my old planner system (I’m trying something new at the moment and- if it lasts- I’ll share it with you all soon) and I thought it was just too helpful to not have it here.
First published on: Apr 24, 2016
I’m about to go in-depth about how I stay on track of all my upcoming tasks and projects, combining a bullet journal system with a DIY planner and daily schedule! Plus some digital task-tracking too! Phew! From day-to-day stuff to once-a-year stuff… From blogging, to working-out, YouTubing, going-out, tracking finances and everything in between.
Too many words to read? Check out this video where I go through everything in this blog post!
P.S. The 2016 planner printables are no longer available.
Now, let’s break down my planning and organisation system…
I’m quite sure you all know what a bullet journal is but if not here’s a link to the video that explains it all (and will definitely get you into bullet-journalling if you’re not already). But basically this book acts as a sort of hub of everything where I unload all my thoughts, ideas, tasks, goals; any information that’s in my head that I need to remember. I’ve found that the best way for me to stay organised and feel like I have things under control is to write every single thing down straight away so I’m not desperately trying to cling onto a million thoughts at once. It also helps to then to have all those thoughts broken down and set out in a way that’s easy to review.
This is one book that holds all your lists; to-do’s, shopping, books to read, etc. and can also be shaped to act as more of a planner with monthly and weekly spreads.
So taking a look at mine in more detail…
I start out with a sort of ‘future log’ which acts as a year at a glance and this is where I write down things like birthdays, goals and deadlines; any plans that I have coming up that I definitely need to remember but aren’t relevant right now.
Then it’s narrowed down into a monthly calendar where I write in any of those things from the future log as well as things like lunch dates or nights out that I have coming up. I also set goals for the month and make sure to refer back to this page basically every night while I’m planning my next day to make sure that a) I’m on track with everything that’s coming up and b) I’m doing something every day that’s bringing me closer to my goals.
Then we get onto the weekly spreads. I’ve always been a fan of the week-on-two-pages planner layout because I think it helps to keep things in perspective, what you’ve done and what you need to do in relation to the other days of the rest of the week. Having your whole week altogether helps to keep a balance I think so certain days aren’t really busy and other days really uneventful.
This is what my weeks used to look like with a vertical layout. But I have now switched that up a bit.
Now, my weekly layout has a dashboard that features the daily routine things that I do on a certain day specifically every week. So for example, every Thursday I always aim to wash all my clothes, deep-clean my bathroom, do some exercise and spend some time pinning useful images on pinterest (this weekly dashboard is a great way for me to make sure I’m posting to specific social media platforms a certain number of times each week, or it would be if I could actually commit to it).
I also have a section for general things that are coming up in the week, a daily habit tracker- so things that I want to be doing every single day like taking my vitamins and drinking enough water- a section where I can reflect on what I’m grateful for which I usually fill in at the end of the week and a little bit at the bottom where I can note down anything that’s coming up next week maybe or something I didn’t get done this week or a birthday that I want to stay aware of.
Then a typical week looks something like this, broken down into days. And this is where I’m using the traditional bullet journal method; so each day just plays out in a running to-do list which I would write out either the night before or the morning-of and add to throughout the day whenever I need to. I also sometimes would write a sort of diary of things that happened that I thought were worth remembering.
And that’s basically it for day-to-day organisation in my bullet journal but I also used this as I said for things like, books to read, my shopping wish-list, any random things that I wanted to note down and to track my finances and savings.
Now this system worked great for me for about a year, and only recently did I start looking into trying something new. I loved all the yearly, monthly and even weekly spreads but I wanted to break down my days even more; basically by the hour. As as someone that works from home for half of the week, I realised I really needed the sort of structure that I had at school with my study planner and my timetable. It’s really easy to write out a to-do list but not really think about the time you need to set aside for things or what order you should be doing things in, and next thing you know you’ve prioritised watching Prison Break for 5 hours over actually doing the things you need to do.
So I wanted to keep all the same features of my bullet journal but incorporate a schedule. I considered using the two systems alongside each other, so keeping my bullet journal and having a schedule planner alongside it, but I couldn’t find a daily planner that suited me (the Day Designer and Happy Planner were strong contenders but being a perfectionist and a cheapskate they just weren’t quite the one).
That’s when I decided I would make my own planner just by putting together some simple printables on word and using the cover of an old sketchbook that I cut down to size and the wire-binding to loop them into. And I painted what was supposed to be a marble design on the front with a gold monogram of my logo. And since I was making my own planner, I thought there was no point in having my bullet journal too as I could basically recreate all the different spreads I had in there as print-out’s from my new planner.
So the only thing different in this one is that I have taken away the weekly dashboard and instead have a page at the beginning of the month that tells me all the things I should be doing on certain days, plus a general schedule of how each day should be structured. This bit makes a lot more sense if you watch the video of my planner system where I show how I plan a typical day.
But to explain it a bit here, what I do is; first, I check the month to see if anything is coming up that I’ve forgotten about, then I look at the usual stuff I should be doing on a Wednesday, then on the daily page I write out a list of all the things I want to get done that day and then, using my general schedule page for reference, I map out how I want my day to look by the hour.
I also add my daily habits, and at the end of the day, I will note down anything worth noting down like just a short snippet of the interesting stuff that happened that day (I do keep a journal where I can go a little more in depth), and also a daily note of what I’m grateful for.
And this might seem a bit overly complicated compared to my last system but I’ve found that I like mapping out my day from scratch the night before or the morning of each day because- even though my plans don’t differ much day to day and week to week, and I could get away with the same weekly schedule just repeated- this makes each task seem fresher and more organic, less like I’m going through the motions which I can quickly get bored of.
BUT, an easier alternative to making a planner from scratch would be to use any old, plain daily planner and just map out each page in a way that suits you.
Back to my home-made planner, I also have a ‘Work’ section where I keep any plans and information relating to my blog, shop and social media. I have all my finances written out, and a schedule of videos and blog posts coming up in the next 2 months, passwords and contacts, stuff like that.
And in both sections of my planner I have a ‘Brain Dump’ section where I can note down anything that just pops into my head that I need to get down on paper but don’t necessarily have a place for.
Lastly, I thought I’d make a quick mention of this…
Check it out here. I used to use his app in conjunction with my other planners; so all the routine stuff and schedules and information that I had written down was also stored digitally and I’d get notifications for each and every task throughout each day. But I found that I really didn’t pay attention to this app when it was telling me what I was supposed to be doing. (Like I said, I like my plans to feel fresh and organic even if they’re not so having just the same generated alerts day in day out wasn’t working for me.) But I do still use this app as a back-up to remind me to do things that come up every few months like backing up my computer, or once a year like birthdays, because you can set several alerts to go off a few days or hours in advance so things never creep up on you out of nowhere.
And that’s it! Hopefully there are at least some bits and bobs in this that you can take and shape and use for yourself. Trust me, there’s no better feeling than feeling like you’ve got everything under control.
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