I’m not a natural planner (helllloooo, INFP), but I’ve learned (the hard way, always the hard way) that things go so much better when I take the time to wrangle things into some semblance of order around here—my stuff, my calendar, my brain.
In the words of the ever-wise A. A. Milne, “Organization is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it’s not all mixed up.” My natural tendency is definitely towards all mixed up, but these are the 3 tools I’m consciously using to stop myself from getting jumbled. (As often.)
On a daily basis, this is the tool that keeps me from running around like a chicken with her head cut off. (Or, more aptly, like a mom who only has a few hours to work before she needs to get her kids from carpool, and the rush to cram All The Things into a too-small window is making her frantic.)
On a typical Monday morning, my journal functions as a glorified to-do list. It’s not glamorous. But in the longer-term, I use it to capture or file a good 85% of the swirling thoughts that would otherwise distract me from the task at hand. David Allen of Getting Things Done fame has one core tenet that underlies his whole system, and it is this: capture your stuff. This is how I do it.
This is a tool I’ve come to love in the past year: it’s a slick notebook, with a faint graph print and square pages, that I use to capture notes, thoughts, and ideas. (The square pages are especially good for mind maps; that photo above is a mind map of this bullet journal post.) There’s something about the smooth shiny pages that makes my pen go a little faster, which makes it perfect for brainstorming.
I use this to take notes from meetings, conferences, and phone calls, and to brainstorm book lists and travel plans, and when I put on my literary matchmaker hat for the podcast. It never has to be pretty, and most pages get tossed after I’ve used them, but it’s an invaluable part of my process—it helps me capture and plan and think.
When I’m done with my scribbling, I put the post important ideas in my bullet journal. It’s not unusual for me to condense 250 hastily taken notes into two key takeaways.
• My calendar.
I use my calendar in conjunction with my paper tools to keep everything running around here. Or maybe I should say “calendars,” because we use two. I rely on Google Calendar to track all my where-I-need-to-be-when plans, and a paper family calendar so the kids can check in and see what’s going on with our schedules. (We put events on that paper calendar on a need-to-know basis, if you get what I’m saying. Sometimes I don’t want my kids to know four months out that they have vaccinations on the horizon to fret about, for example.)
Right now, these are the three tools I couldn’t live without. I’m continuing to learn more about organization—lately two highly organized friends have taught me a few tricks that I’m starting to incorporate into my routine, and I’ll tell you about those when I get the hang of them a little better.
I would LOVE to hear about your favorite organizing resources and your best tips and tricks in comments!