3 kinds of lists for your bullet journal

Do you know what I’m really excited about these days? It’s how bullet journalling has made it cool and trendy to write things down ๐Ÿ™‚

When you write things down, it frees your mind for more big picture thinking and you don’t have to worry too much about the details because theyโ€™re written down so theyโ€™re not disappearing anywhere.

Here are 3 types of lists you could use to help manage your time effectively. You can make the lists in your bullet journal or download them from my website.

Master to-do list

1. Master list
This is a place for a “brain dump”, a place for ideas you might want to pursue in the future or possible projects you need to tackle.

You can work off one master list for months, like I do with my business or blogging ideas.

I also have a master list of things to do in the house. I write up a new list every year and I work on that list the entire year.

To-do list

2. To-do list
This list can be monthly, weekly or daily. I post a weekend to-do list to Instagram every weekend.

The difference between this list and the master list is that this one has a time deadline attached to it.

I have a monthly to-do list, which is really my monthly goals list. I keep this one with broad goals like go to the gym 8 โ€“ 12 times, a weekly to-do list with about 3-5 business tasks to get done and then my daily to-do list which spreads out those 5 tasks so that I have only 1 or so to do daily.

Sometimes 1 task is very big and takes a couple of days so Iโ€™ll leave a couple of smaller ones to do all on one day.

I want to caution you to only put a maximum of 6 items on your daily to-do list so you don’t become overwhelmed!

My checklist to live my best life

3. Checklist
This is a place with a list of items which you check/ tick off.

This list is ideal for anything you need to do regularly, like the order in which you do your photo backups, a list of weekly business tasks, travel checklist, shopping list, etc.

My favourite checklist used to be my โ€œnewsletterโ€ checklist which walked me through a process of ensuring I repurposed every bit of the content I create. These days, the one above is my favourite checklist ๐Ÿ™‚

Once you start using the correct list for the task at hand, you’ll be flying!

You can download a variety of lists in the free pack on my website.

Do you prefer to print out your lists or to write them into your bullet journal?

My new bullet journal – a grid notebook

I’m on my third bullet journal for the year, my sixth overall.

For this year, I’ve had a lined one, a dot grid one and then I was undecided between another lined one (a pretty purple one) or a grid notebook.

I decided to go with the grid notebook because I wanted to try all the versions of notebook (last year I used lined paper for two of them and then a blank notebook) paper so I could see what worked best…for me.

And the verdict?

I’m loving this grid notebook.

  1. It’s a Fabriano A5 grid notebook – made in Italy. South Africans, I bought it at Exclusives for R23. Yes, you read that correctly. They come in gorgeous, bright colours for such a great price.
  2. They had a spiral bound version about twice the thickness (and double the price – I think R48?), but since this one is travelling in my handbag on a daily basis, I didn’t want the spirals to get messed up, and I definitely want to finish using it by the end of December.
  3. I’m using my Staedtler triplus fineliners and the only Schneider Topliner I own because the paper is a nice firm 80g/sm that can hold these fineliners.
  4. I think a combination of the pen plus the grid makes my handwriting look neater.
  5. Also, I love making little blocks of exactly one grid next to my to-do list items.

There is possibly only one thing that could be better, and that is to have a non-scuffable cover. I’ve wrapped it in plastic to protect it.

What shouldย you consider in a bullet journal?

size – I love an A5 size, but I’ve seen people use smaller and bigger notebooks

thickness – I like to change mine all the time so I love the 80-page notebooks because they last about 3 months. If you want one for the entire year, go bigger

paper – choose your paper depending on the size of your handwriting, and whether you naturally write in a straight line or not. Is that even an issue for you? It is for me? (I have since discovered I’m not a fan of light dot grid notebooks; I may be convinced if there are ones with a darker dot that I can try)

pens – on the more Kraft-type paper (the slightly brown paper), a gel pen works beautifully because it “sinks” into the paper. On a whiter type of paper, like this one, I find the staedter fineliners work beautifully. Of course you can use any pen on any paper (there are no rules!) but I know that I prefer a certain look to my handwriting with a certain pen on a certain paper ๐Ÿ™‚

Tell me how you decided on your bullet journal

PS If you’re South African, pick up one next time you’re at Exclusives and let me know which colour you chose ๐Ÿ™‚

How my whole planning system fits together

This year I have three diaries/ notebooks going. I know what you’re thinking and I agree, three is probably too many but I’ll explain the intricacies below.

Shining Planner

Moleskine weekly diary planner

Bullet journal

  1. Shining Planner

I use the shining planner to review the month that’s just passed, and to set goals for the month ahead. It has a really thorough review and intention-based process. I use one of the pages not as it’s intended because I just do a list of all my goals for the month on that page.

I also love these prompts at the start of every week:

  • this week I want to receive…
  • I want to give myself the gift of…
  • I want to feel …
  • I am grateful for …

And your top 3 prioritiesย  – personal and work – for the week.

For the rest of the week, I put in anything that has a scheduled time but that’s it.

—>>> Goals for the month, setting intentions for the week and top 3 work and personal for the week. These top 3’s are usually taken from my goals for the month, or something urgent that’s come up, like a geyser thing we had a few weeks ago.

This planner stays on my desk at home because it’s too bulky to carry around with me.

2. Moleskine weekly diary planner

This is my preferred diary format – a weekly horizontal down the left and on the right, lined paper for my lists.

(do you know how few diaries have a horizontal weekly layout? I’ve seen only 3 – this one, my beloved Legami and another spotted on the fly – I should do an instastory from Exclusive Books!)

I write those same scheduled things from the Shining Planner down the left side of this diary (standard things I would write out for the month, like Tues 6pm Barre, 7pm Spanish). If the nanny’s off work, I would note that down here, or if I’m working from home, I also note that down here. In other words, all appointments with others or with myself (upholder!)

The right side is for my personal and blog goals. Beth and I chat every Thursday night and set goals for the week ahead. So on a Thursday night of one week (say, 5 October) I write things down on the next week’s page (week starting Monday 9th October). Meanwhile, I still complete (mostly!) the current list for the rest of this week. If this is confusing, sorry about that. It makes complete sense to me because I’m just “pausing” the current week for 30 minutes to think about next week, without actually starting next week until it arrives. Make sense?

I usually put no more than 4 – 5 personal and 3 blog goals for the week ahead. These are all from my monthly goals. Sometimes they’re carried forward from previous weeks – it’s all okay.

If other things crop up, I can easily add it to either of the lists (I leave space) without feeling overwhelmed. Other non-goal things I add are usually appointment-making things.

3. Bullet journal

The only real planning that goes on here is my weekend to-do list and the daily to-do list I write when I work from home. That’s really it.

If you read this post, you’ll see I mention the goals review and goal-setting here too. This is just for a quick brainstorm, key points, etc. to jog my memory.

My weekend lists are my favourite things ever – I like a combination of out and about (I’m an extrovert), productivity (either in the house or on computer) and true relaxing (reading/ photos, etc).

The items on my weekend list are sometimes carried over from the Moleskine (finish a book, or finish editing photos, for instance) but are mostly new things. I never put house stuff on my weekly list because I work full-time and the only time I get to potter and organise is on the weekend, unless it’s to do a quick 10-minute organising project.

Then the whole thing repeats every week, and at the end of the month, on Goals Night, I do my monthly review and goal-setting.

And that’s it!

All that said, I’m already excited for next year because I decided I’m not ordering the shining planner so I’ll only have my diary (it’s looking like a Moleskine for now) and my bullet journal.

Has this helped anyone? Please let me know.

How does your planning system fit together?

Bullet journal 101 – most useful pages

If you haven’t seen the last post on bullet journal, have a read here to find out all the pages I use for planning.

Today, we’re going to discuss three of the most useful pages for me:

When I last
This is a page I picked up from browsing the #bulletjournal hashtag on Instagram. I took a screenshot immediately and kept it on my phone for a few months before trying it.

Basically, itโ€™s to remind you of things you need to keep track of, but that donโ€™t happen daily, weekly or even monthly.
I track when I colour my hair (I should do that monthly, but I do it when I canโ€™t stand it anymore) and when I have my Brazilian Blowwaves done. I also started tracking Connorโ€™s haircuts.

Any ideas you have for this page? Or ideas for me to use this page more?

This is not my reading goals page but just my monthly reading list ๐Ÿ™‚

Reading goals

This is one of my favourite pages in my bullet journal.

I wrote out these goals at the start of the year when I thought of how I wanted my reading life to look this year.
Iโ€™m happy with the amount of reading I do but I wanted to get intentional about a few other things โ€“ books to re-read, how many Audible books, etc.

So I look at my list at the end of each month and I see how Iโ€™m doing. And then, of course, I make adjustments for the month ahead.

If youโ€™re a reader, I highly recommend a reading goals list.

What were/ are some of your reading goals for this year?

Favourite author lists and the books I already have

This page started as an action from my reading goals page. And then I accidentally bought a physical copy of a book I have on my Kindle, and the page morphed into one where I tick off the books I own, and I highlight them once Iโ€™ve read them.

Iโ€™ve now trained myself to not buy books until Iโ€™ve checked my pages just in case I own a copy.

Itโ€™s so useful. If you have a bad memory for books that kind-of sound the same, make yourself a list of your favourite authors and the books you need to read from your physical or virtual bookshelves.

How do you keep track of the books you need to read from your favourite authors? Goodreads? Page in your bullet journal? Notes in your phone?

Which are some of your most useful pages in your bullet journal?

Bullet journal 101 – planning pages

Thanks again if you took the bullet journal survey. If you still want to weigh in, go right ahead – I have one more post planned besides this one, but if there are more questions left on the survey link, there might be a third post this month.

If you’ve never done a bullet journal and you want to try….but you feel intimidated by the fancy ones you see on Instagram (clearly not mine!), I’d say if you do nothing else but a few standard pages, your life will feel at least ten times more organised.

Take some time and think through your needs

  1. Do you think in terms of daily or weekly planning?
  2. Do you prefer to get things done during the week or on the weekend?

If you’re like me and you think of getting your stuff done over the course of a week, then you’ll do weekly planning. I actually still recommend this option to most people because it takes off the pressure from achieving something every day. I personally don’t mind if I have a day or two of slothfullness because I know I have 7 days to get things done; not only 1.

However, if you like to get a few things done daily, and you won’t beat yourself up about a few days of non-achievement here and there, then by all means, do a daily to-do list.

To sum up, these are the pages I suggest you pick from for your basic bullet journalling.

1. Monthly review of the month that’s just passed

Use my standard 4 questions – what went well? what didn’t go well? what have I learned? what can I let go of? Of course, you may add more if you want but we’re keeping it simple

2. Goals for the month

Keep it simple to 10 or so items. I think in categories so I have socials, family, fun, health, house.

3. Life admin list

This is a master to-do list and has all those things you currently need to take care of – hair appointments, car stuff, electrician, and so on. You could incorporate this into your goals for the month if you won’t get overwhelmed. I like them separate so I don’t feel drained when I look at my goals list.

4. My weekend to-do list

This is still my favourite list.

I make one every Friday evening and as I’ve written before, it has to have 3 categories. Please click that link so you can see a real person’s to-do list. It is not Pinterest perfect because it is a tool to get things done.

Fun fact – way back when (Dion and I have been married 22 years and we’re both strong J’s, and upholders, so we love planning), D and I used to make a little list every Friday evening on the back of a used envelope. I think I was too poor to buy cute (unnecessary) stationery back then.

5. Daily to-do list (my work from home list)

I cut out on my commute (a whole two glorious hours) when I work from home so I can either get more work done which is the case most of the time and especially the last 3 – 4 months, but at other times, I keep a list of things to do around the house during my breaks. I usually have about 6 tasks that are all super quick things to get done. Either that or I get some errands done.

If I don’t have a list, I find that it’s easy to simply scroll instagram instead of being productive.

6. Weekly list

I make my weekly list (because I do weekly planning) in my Moleskine planner. You can see the specific style of diary I prefer to use in the pictures on this post.

Beth and I chat every Thursday evening so that’s when I do my weekly planning for the week running Thursday to Wednesday.

I attach no schedule to these things at all unless they’re time-based activities, like my weekly flamenco dance class or book club.

Basically, I glance at the list every two days or so and do them when they suit how busy my day is, or not.

In case you’re thinking this is very “loose” of me, that is true, but over the years, I’ve more or less settled into a loose rhythm, like Mondays is my main writing night, Tuesday is dance class and reading when I get home, Wed could be photos or podcast club, Thurs is Beth/ coaching/ starting on a small thing on my weekly list (to build momentum),ย  Friday and Sat are reading nights again (that’s how I read so much) and Sunday afternoons are blogging, planning, reading ๐Ÿ™‚

For your own planning purposes, which of the pages mentioned above would suit your lifestyle?

What I learned in July

This has been a full month of birthdays, holidays, and catching up at work.

It’s been fun to start and play with a new bullet journal

I’m using dot grid this time and it’s fun! Like blank, but more structured. My 3rd bullet journal last year was blank so this is the third type I’m trying out.

Speaking of bullet journals, are you signed up to my list? My newsletter’s going out later today and there’s a fun bullet journal survey in there.

If you’re on instagram and you use a bullet journal, please take a pic and tag me @organisingqueen so I can come see yours.

You can go to the beach and relax even without beach weather

Like last year, we mostly had cold, wintry weather at the beach. Last year, we spent 10 days there and had 2 proper beach days, while this year, we spent 7 days and had 1.5 beach days.

We watched Wimbledon, read books, played games, went for walks (11 in the 7 days!) and had fun connecting as a family. Of course we also had no internet ๐Ÿ™‚

We need to rethink the party situation

My twins are very different – I have an extrovert and an introvert. They wanted different types of parties this year and it was so interesting watching this all unfold, knowing that one of the parties would not have suited me at all, but was “perfect” for her.

That said, I felt “on” the whole weekend and was knackered at the end. I told myself it’s just once a year, which it is, but I’m wondering how to still have the separate parties but make it easier on the family (mostly me!) all round. I’m considering having them on two different weekends, but we’ll see. I took only 1 picture of the first party so maybe having a friend or parent around to help? Dion wasn’t allowed as it was a girls only party!!!

Any suggestions would be very welcome!

And one last fun thing, dipping bowls make great change bowls or ring holders ๐Ÿ™‚

What did you learn during July?

My new bullet journal – #2 for 2017

I used my first bullet journal for 2017 (and my 4th overall) for the first 6 months of the year, and when the time came to replace it, I had a couple of choices:

  • use a thicker notebook for another 6 months, or
  • use thinner notebooks so I could try out a couple of different styles

I asked for your feedback here and you weighed in ๐Ÿ™‚

Ultimately, I decided to try out a dot grid notebook since I have used blank and lined paper before. So I went with the one at the bottom of this stack.

So how am I feeling about my bullet journal choice, 3 weeks in?

  1. It’s a smaller notebook, so I feel sometimes like I’m cramming things onto a to-do list
  2. I’m still getting used to the dots (they’re quite light) and to be honest, it feels like I’m writing on blank paper most of the time ๐Ÿ™‚
  3. I feel zero perfectionism about writing in this notebook. I’m not sure if that’s because there are another two waiting for me or because it’s a smaller page with rougher paper so it feels like it lends itself more toward scribbles.
  4. I love the rougher paper because it “soaks up” my gel pens. Yum!
  5. I’ve had to cover my notebook with plastic because I don’t want stains or moisture on the cardstock cover.
  6. I’ve migrated nothing but I did reprint my friendship spreadsheet and I took photos of my reading pages ๐Ÿ™‚

What type of paper do you most enjoy in a notebook? Lined, dot grid, grid or blank paper?

Did you start a new bullet journal at the start of the year? Are you still using the same one?

PS I used 3 bullet journals over the course of last year, but I only started in March 2016.

My moleskine happiness

At the beginning of the year I told you all about how my actual favourite planner wasn’t available in our bookstore, and how I was using the shining planner instead.

That is all still true.

I’m also using a hybrid bullet journal/ planner system for this year.

What I may have not mentioned on the blog but my Instagram friends have definitely seen in my weekly planning posts is that I bought myself a Moleskine weekly notebook diary.

A local bookstore had a sale during February and had all their 18-month 2016/ 2017 diaries on special.

When I saw a nice purple one, I grabbed it and have been happily using it ever since.

So what do I now use for my weekly planning process?

  1. Shining planner
  2. iPhone
  3. Moleskine
  4. Bullet journal
  5. Delicious gel pens

(this seems like a lot but it only takes me 5 – 7 minutes after I uncomplicated my life again)

The Moleskine is thin enough that I can easily carry it around with me, together with my bullet journal, and it makes me so very happy to have all of my life visible and in one place ๐Ÿ™‚

The point of this post (and today’s life and organising lessons) is to say this:

You can change your mind. If you thought something might work for you and it’s not doing its job quite like you envisioned, feel free to change it.

There are no gold stars for sticking with something that’s clearly not working.

Also, if there’s a tool that will make your life easier and you can afford to get it, do so! I’m talking about a planning tool here but I remember DesignMom once saying they had 5 hairbrushes in her girls’ room to make getting dressed easier.

In the comments do let me know if you’re doing something that’s no longer working for you.

Is there a place in your life that could work better if you bought something to augment your system?

PS next year (or later this year, I should say) I’m not faffing around – the minute the diaries appear in the shops, I’m looking around for the Legami and I’ll just hand over my card ๐Ÿ™‚

Yip – I’m doing a bullet journal/ diary hybrid

I wrote a few weeks ago about my goals diary planner for this year. If you didn’t read that post, or just want to refresh your memory, you can find it here ๐Ÿ™‚

And if you want to get your own copy, you can get it here.

Thanks to the comments and just common sense when I thought about it clearly, I’m going to do a hybrid this year.

This is my bullet journal

So how do I use each of them?

Let’s talk about the goals diary planner first. I use it for:

  • monthly planning of events
  • setting intentions and goals for the month ahead (I finally did January’s goals as a breakdown of my annual goals last week ๐Ÿ™‚ Remember there are no rules for this stuff. You create your own rules)
  • weekly planning of the main things
  • weekly intentions: there are prompts for how you want to feel, what you’re grateful for, what you want to receive and what you’re giving yourself that week ๐Ÿ™‚
  • monthly goals review (what I do on Goals Night. You can join me this year.)

And then, this is how I use my bullet journal.

Remember I don’t go super fancy because my aim in using one is getting stuff done ๐Ÿ™‚ Here are my previous bullet journal posts.

  • I use it for my weekend to-do lists. This seems to be very popular on Instagram. Either that, or people are curious ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Weekly accountability
  • Running list of things to buy
  • Friendship spreadsheet
  • Good ideas list (this is the stuff I get from the podcasts :))
  • Books read to me by the kids (they’re as motivated as I am by lists!)
  • Goals for 2017 (copied and pasted in)

Logistically

The goals diary planner lives on my desk at home.

The bullet journal moves around with me. I only don’t take it to the gym with me because I don’t want any accidents happening with my water bottle, my gel pens and my bullet journal.

So tell me, what are you doing this year as far as planning is concerned? Diary/ planner? Bullet journal? Hybrid?

PS I actually asked the people at Exclusive Books if they ordered Legami diaries this year – they didn’t ๐Ÿ™

What’s making me happier this week? 5

Guys, remember how I said before that my bullet journal was too pretty for scribbling?

IMG_8674

It was all about the cute factor!

Well, I’ve got over that mindset challenge and I now scribble, make budgeting notes, highlight, use different colour pens on the same page, etc. I half-fill pages, I cross off things and I actually (gasp!) use my notebook.

And the fact that I have all the information with me in this little bullet journal makes me a lot happier.

Bullet Journal-008ย  Bullet Journal-006

Who else is bullet journalling?

Have you relaxed your standards, or were you realistic about the cute factor from the start? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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