How to Be More Organized

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“I always carry lots of stuff with me wherever I roam, always weighted down with books, with cassettes, with pens and paper, just in case I get the urge to sit down somewhere, and oh, I don’t know, read something or write my masterpiece.” -Elizabeth Wurtzel, author

The creative process and organization are closely aligned. While the word “organized” may make some people think of a grey, stifled office cubicle filled with dead-looking filing cabinets, you can be organized in such a way that promotes the creative process. The trick requires balancing the process with the end result. Essentially, you need to use organization as a tool to aid creativity without stifling your energy.

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If you’re wondering how to be more organized then, these easy tips can guide some big changes.

Types of Disorganization

Understanding the cause of your disorganization can help you avoid future challenges. According to Forbes magazine, several types of disorganization pervade our spaces.

  • Clutter
  • Personal Administration
  • Time Management
  • Never Reaching Goals

Which one of these sounds the most like you?

In general, clutter overwhelms most people. The sheer volume of stuff requires time and energy to maintain. That makes organization much harder. So, during this process, you’ll likely find yourself learning how to let things go.

How to Be More Organized

Organization start by setting up simple rules. These little mantras can guide you through the daily decisions. You’ll learn how to be more organized with time and that will aid your creative process.

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1. Give Up on Your Dreams

Cut out the “someday” projects and focus on the things that you can do now. This points your energy toward your real passions.

A certain kind of clutter comes from “someday” projects. You may have a list of hobbies you’d like to start. Or you bought supplies for a big idea. These dreams come with manuals, tools and supplies that fill up your space.

They often bog down your ability to actually get things done. Your to-do list becomes so long. It paralyzes you. You’ll find yourself avoiding organization because you have so many half-finished things on your mind.

Questions to Ask

  • When did I first decide to do this?
  • Why do I want to do this?
  • How do I feel when I think about doing this?
  • How much time have I already put in?
  • What would I lose if I quit?

Based on those answers, you might find that you’re not really interested anymore. If that’s the case, you should think about directing your energy toward something that aligns with your current passions.

So, give up on your “dreams.” If you really wanted to do them, you would have started by now. Get rid of the stuff related to the projects that you keep putting off.

And you can always come back to them if your find a passion again.

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2. Stay Ugly

Don’t wait until you have a perfect studio with a beautiful planner and impeccable shelving. Make a system that works now. Make it pretty later.

Most people hate the daily task list. It’s just not sexy. Bullet journals, cute planners and kitschy calendars can help motivate us. But sometimes, you just need an ugly, ugly list and a ugly, ugly space.

Ugly List

Write your tasks down somewhere you’ll really use them. Don’t let the process of making a perfect list keep you from making a list at all. Each list should have certain elements to keep you on track.

  • Project Name
  • Due Date
  • Category or Label

This simple notation can really help you get organized, especially over the long term.

Ugly Space

Most of us crave a beautifully organized office space.  But, that can keep you from actually getting things done. Instead of waiting to buy perfect office supplies, organization bins or furniture, you must get organized now.

Find ways to use the things you have or can afford right now, even if they aren’t super pretty. Your reward for keeping things organized will be to get nice storage later.

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3. Kick Your Butt

Set up your own simple rules. Gurus, books and bloggers can make things complicated. Make your own system and stick to it.

Motivational gurus propose a million different methods to stay productive. Instead of applying a pre-packaged philosophy, kick your own butt.

You’re reading this list for a reason. You want a change. So, make a list of rules that work for your life and stick to them. Some of mine are below.

  1. Do It Now: If it takes 5 minutes or less to complete, do it now. Sorting mail, taking out trash or filing papers all fall into this category.
  2. Ask First, Buy Second: Before buying anything, check to see if anyone is willing to loan or give you an item. The less things you have to organize, the more organized you’ll be.
  3. One at a Time: I only tackle one project at a time. That means supplies and tools don’t pile up in work spaces. Once a project is complete then, I can move on to the next thing.

By creating my own list of rules, it’s easier to hold myself accountable. They match the way I want to live and keep me in check.

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4. Procrastinate with Purpose

Organize the easy stuff first. Then, you can get a friend to help you sort out the most challenging organizational issues.

Do you try to eat the frog first? This philosophy works for many people because it encourages them to do the worst, hardest thing at the beginning of the day. However, for organization, it’s important to start small.

Otherwise, your entire organization process can be held up by an organization conundrum. If you identify a huge problem area, leave that for last. To tackle it, you may need to get some help. 

Organize These First

  • Files and Paper: If you don’t have one, get a file box and put hanging folders in it. Make very general categories and put your papers in there now. You can get more complex with subcategories and dates later.
  • Supplies: Group like items together and put them into some form of usable storage.
  • Tools: Gather all your tools by the type of project. Put each in a labelled bin.

Anything that is left is probably a little too complicated to easily box up. You can address those after the basic, easy things have a home.

To keep your  momentum, procrastinate with purpose. Take care of all the obvious organization issues. Throw away the trash. Label the file folders. Sort the tools and supplies. Leave the perplexing issues for later when you have the time and energy to solve the problem fully.

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5. Be Generous

Embrace the positive energy that comes from focusing on others. Give things away. Work on projects that help someone else.

Being organized and a giving spirit are actually aligned. Consider everything in terms of what you have to give.

This can be literal, such as passing along unused supplies. Or it can be figurative, making the most of your time in a way that allows to help others.

Focus on…

  • things that will move you forward. Disorganization can be a symptom that you are clinging to something from your past. You may be able to move on if you give away the things that hold you back.
  • the energy of your space. Your creative process is supported by good emotions. Think about what you can do to make the world better. Then, use that feeling to improve your process.
  • whatever brings you joy. Helping others feels good. Make room for this by freeing up your time and energy, starting with an organized space.

As you begin to declutter your home, make generosity a part of your mantra. You’ll find a new energy invades your space and motivates you to stay organized.

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6. Stop Using Your Brain

Write things down. It frees up your brain. Then, you can actually get things down without wasting time and energy.

This excellent lifehack, encourages you to write things down. Instead of remembering everything, make notes and reference them often. You can do it using an app, bulletin board lists or a trendy bullet journal.

Kaya Ismail at Shopify lists several reasons why you should write things down.

  • It helps you think bigger. He explains, “There’s nothing quite like writing down a startup idea in the middle of a blank page and then branching out with a flurry of ideas.”
  • You’ll learn more. Several studies with students have confirmed that writing aids learning and memory.
  • It frees up mental space. Instead of putting energy into remembering, you can focus on doing.

Instead of putting so much strain on your brain, make your lists do the work. Organized people don’t keep everything in their head. They write it down to preserve mental energy.

Stay in Touch

I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for organization. Send me pictures or tell me stories about your space. What are your favorite organization ideas?

Also, don’t forget to share this post if it helped you.

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15 Minutes to Tame: 15 Areas You Can Organize in 15 Minutes

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When I got my first apartment, I quickly became aware that homes take work to maintain. Each item takes up space and I wanted as much space as possible to be peaceful and creative. But the process of decluttering can be time consuming, especially when you try to tackle an entire room. One trick is to break up each room into several smaller tasks, cleaning each slowly.

This works well for two situations. First, some people don’t have large chunks of time available to declutter their whole space. So, they may be inclined to put off any home organization because the timeline is impractical. Second, some people have a strong attachment to their stuff. In fact, many struggle to dispose of trash and useless items. In either case, these little tasks can help you organize spaces that often collect clutter.

15 Things You Can Organize in 15 Minutes

I kept this list simple to encourage quick tasks. If you do one of these each day, you will have a much more organized home in about two weeks.

Living Room

  • One Shelf of Books: While it is difficult to deal with an entire bookshelf, or book collection, one shelf is less intimidating. Pick one and pull everything off. Dust the shelf and the books. Look through the pile to see if there is anything stored between the books that doesn’t belong. Often, little papers get stuck between volumes. Check each book to make sure they all belong to you, making a plan to return borrowed publications to the rightful owner. If you’re feeling brave, pull out anything you want to discard or donate. Put the remaining books back on the shelf.
  • Magazine Bin: Whether you have a bin, basket or box, almost everyone collects magazines over time. Pull them out and count how many you have stored. Then, separate them into three piles. First, make a pile of magazines you still need to read. Second, make a pile of magazines you plan to store, clip or reuse. Third, make a pile of magazines that you need to discard. Leave the first pile in the bin to read later. Move the second pile to a workspace where you can tackle the bigger organization task. Recycle the third pile. If you’re feeling ambitious, cancel all your subscriptions for the year. Don’t renew them until you’ve dealt with all of the magazines you currently own.
  • Coffee Table Top: Most people collect clutter on top of their coffee table. Take a quick moment to clear off anything that doesn’t belong and return them to the rightful place. Dust the top and arrange the remaining items nicely.

Kitchen

  • Silverware Drawer: Silverware drawers can collect random items. Empty it onto a towel and wipe out the drawer. Then, add back in the forks, spoons and knives into the appropriate places. You’ll find that you are left with odd utensils (and maybe some junk). Discard the junk. Return odd utensils to the appropriate place or relegate them to a donation bin.
  • Mug Shelf: Mug shelves get out of control quickly, with so many cute designs and Instagrammable moments. However, a home can only use so many mugs before the dishwasher overflows. Pull all of your mugs out and wipe down the shelf or hooks. Count the number of mugs and compare that to the number of people in your household. Really, you only need one mug per person per day. Pick one mug for each person (or let them select their favorite). Return only those mugs to the shelf. Move the others to long term storage, for special occasions and guests. Also, you can replace one of the mugs if it breaks. If you are feeling ambitious, consider donating or selling some of the mugs to cut down on your clutter.
  • Fridge Condiments: Most people have at least one shelf of their fridge covered in condiments. Lay a towel on your counter top and remove all of the condiments from your fridge. Wipe down the shelf. Review the condiments, removing anything empty, expired or spoiled. Wipe down the remaining condiments and return them to the fridge. If you are feeling ambitious, make a list of the meals you can make to use up obscure sauces before they expire. Also, make a plan to limit your purchases in the future to avoid duplicate items (like five different mustards).

Office

  • Pencil Holder: Surprisingly, pencil holders attract random objects. Dump yours out and wipe down the inside. Test each pen, pencil and marker to make sure it works. Discard any that are used up or dried out. Return the writing utensils to the pencil holder. Discard any trash and return other objects to their appropriate place.
  • Bulletin Board: The brilliance of bulletin boards comes from their ability to change. Keep yours fresh by removing all of the items and placing them on a flat surface. Dust the board and remove any broken pins. File any papers, receipts or mail that you need to keep long term. Discard any reminders that are past the date. Pack away mementos in a memory box or scrapbook. This should leave you with some fresh space to curate new ideas.
  • Loose Cables and Cords: Most desks are cluttered with cables and cords. Check yours and remove any that don’t belong. Return those to their appropriate devices or discard any that don’t match your tech. Label the remaining cords and attach them to the correct items.

Bedroom

  • Sock Drawer: Maintaining this monster will make your morning so much easier. Dump out all of your docks onto a clear surface. Wipe the drawer. Match each of your socks and return them in pairs to the drawer. For the socks without mates, make a small pile and set aside. Check them as you do your laundry. Discard or reuse any mismatched socks.
  • Scarf Collection: One downfall of this trend? Scarfs can quickly overwhelm your closet. Collect all of your scarves for the season in one place. Make sure they are all clean and lint-free. Remove any that are damaged or don’t match your taste. These can be donated or recycled. Put them back in one designated spot, like an organizer or hanger. If you’re feeling ambitious, make a goal to limit your collection to a certain number. Only buy or accept a new scarf if you are willing to get rid of one.
  • Shoe Rack: Shoe racks can become magnets for clutter. Empty yours and wipe it down. Check each pair of shoes, wiping them down as you return to the rack. Remove any worn out or uncomfortable shoes. Also, collect other items and return to their rightful place. Take it to the next level by vowing to limit your shoes to the number of spaces on your rack. Don’t buy any new shoes until you wittle down your pairs. Then, you can only buy a pair when you are ready to remove one.

Bathroom

  • Medicine Storage: Whether you keep your medicines in a drawer, box or cabinet, collect them all on a flat surface. Check each item for an expiration date. Set aside any old or expired prescriptions to dispose of properly. Return the remaining medicines to their rightful place. You may also need to make a list of missing items and replace them at a later date.
  • Everyday Makeup: Although decluttering all of your beauty products may take a while, most people have a bag or bin with the items they use every day. Place these on a towel. Remove anything expired. For anything you don’t regularly use, move it with your other long-term storage or discard. Wipe the rest of the items and return to their regular location.
  • Tub Products: With all those shelves and racks, tubs collect clutter quickly. Lay down a towel and place all of your tub products on top. Discard empty bottles and old bath accessories. Check for duplicate items. While some households may prefer a separate soap or shampoo per person, no one needs multiples out at the same time. Store the extras and don’t buy more until you use those up. Return the necessary products to the bath.
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Once you have cleaned all of these spaces, you’ll have a more organized home. In fact, the process may inspire you to continue your the organization process in other areas of your home. If you’re thinking about it, I would recommend 100 Tips to Declutter your Home. Read it for tips and ideas to clean out your place.

Do you have any other ideas? Leave your tips in the comments.

 

60 Tips to Declutter Your Office

This world is but a canvas to our imagination. Henry David Thoreau

Some people tell me that creativity and clutter must go hand-in-hand. I refuse to believe it. I agree that little inspirational bits accumulate around imaginative people. I disagree that we need to surround ourselves with disorganization. In fact, I find that I do my best work, creative and functional, in a clutter-free space. And I say this as someone who has boxes with broken costume jewelry, a collection of ostrich feathers, and a plethora of paints. It’s the curation and usefulness of these items that facilitates the creative process.

I do my best creative work in a clutter-free space.

Offices become hotspots for clutter because they attract paper, supplies, and castoffs. The space naturally collects everything for “later.” Think of: those bills that you paid but, need to file lay in a stack on the floor. That broken teacup, waiting for superglue, rests on top of a cabinet. Layers of mail and coupons, that you proactively moved from the kitchen counter, now litter baskets and bins. And despite all this collecting, you keep bringing in duplicate items because you can’t find the right tools when you need them.

This is the goal of office decluttering: A useable workspace that promotes productivity. Below are the steps I take for an office cleanout.

Like Items and Labeling

The first phase creates a huge (temporary) mess. In fact, it often involves my whole house. With time, items creep into the wrong spaces and must be sorted. So, the process starts by pulling together like items and labeling their storage space.

  1. Grab a basket and put a piece of masking tape on it. Label it “Office”.
  2. For a week, take on each room slowly, opening every storage space. In each space, grab everything that constitutes an office supply and put it in a basket.
  3. As you fill the basket, start taking note of duplicate items.
  4. Once you review the whole home, put the items out in a large, uncluttered work space. Group like items together.
  5. Make a list of any missing tools, refills or supplies.
  6. Toss or recycle any broken items.
  7. Looking at what is left, consider the duplicate items. Some items, like scissors, may be needed in more than one area of the house. However, you may find one stapler on a desk is plenty for a household.
  8. After reviewing the duplicate items, pick the best ones to keep and label them for the space where they will reside. For the scissors example, one set of scissors will be labelled “kitchen” and one labelled “office.”
  9. Next, put the items back in their appropriate rooms. You should have significantly less items than before.
  10. Finally, create a shopping list for the storage bins and missing supplies you’ll need. Label these inconspicuously, such as on the bottom, to ensure they end up staying in the correct space.

Once you complete these steps, you’re ready to start planning your space.

Define Work Zones

To best maintain your organized items, define work zones throughout your home. While some people have distinct office areas for each family member, others make do with multi-purpose zones.

  1. Start by considering what kind of “office” work you do. Make a list of tasks such as filing, checking emails, sorting mail, schoolwork, take-home projects or paying bills.
  2. Think about where you like to do this work. Do you prefer to sit at a desk? Do you like to spread out on the living room couch? Define when and where you will do your “office” related tasks.
  3. Make a plan for how you will keep the necessary tools and supplies organized and in reach. For example, if you like to do your filing at the kitchen table, your folders should be in several small boxes or a rolling cabinet. Then, you can bring it with you when you add new papers. Conversely, if you prefer to answer working emails sitting at a clear desk, make sure you have a space set up.
  4. List any storage that may need to change. You may require a new cabinet, caddy, or bin.
  5. Sketch how you plan to use the space to help you visualize the process. Even if you aren’t artistic, you can cobble together a collage. This helps you plan better.
  6. Start shopping or making the appropriate pieces to store your supplies.
  7. As you bring in each piece, be careful to keep the receipts. You may find that you will return some of the items if you find a better product.
  8. As you put together your work zones, label the items that “live” there. This helps ensure that you don’t buy duplicates again in the future.
  9. Discuss the new situation with other household members. They should be aware that items need to be returned to the appropriate spaces.
  10. Monitor how you use each space over the coming weeks. You may find some adjustment is needed to suit your natural rhythms.

Then, you can start making it pretty!

Hide or Display

The decision to hide or display office supplies is a highly personal one. Some people prefer to stow away items in something opaque. Others like to display neat, organized tools and supplies. For each preference, there are so many ideas to customize your office storage.

Hide

Below are some ideas to hide you office supplies.

  1. Cube Shelves with bins
  2. Files in a Trunk
  3. Pegboard Box
  4. Over-the-door baskets
  5. Drawer Dividers
  6. Storage Box
  7. Printer Pull-out Cabinet
  8. Tech Drawer
  9. Storage Bench
  10. Extendable Desk

Display

Below are some ideas to display your office supplies.

  1. Floating Shelves
  2. Colorful Corkboards
  3. Hanging Folders
  4. Glass Apothecary Jars
  5. Industrial Printer Cart
  6. Wire and Clips Display
  7. IKEA’s Fintorp System
  8. Peg Boards
  9. Book Rack
  10. Industrial Shelving

Depending on your preferences, you’ll gravitate toward a “hide” or “display” style of organizing. Take note of this as you plan your space and make sure you keep things tidy.

Plan your Projects

Now that you’ve completed the first level of organizing, it’s time to start ticking projects off your long list. The purpose is simple: cleaning out old supplies and tools. Over the long term, this will free up your mind to focus on the projects that you truly wish to complete. Often, I find I have the weight of potential projects keeping me from productivity.

Use These Up

  1. Notepads or Journals
  2. Specialty tools
  3. Fittings, fasteners or connecting pieces
  4. Pens, markers or writing tools that may dry out
  5. Anything with scents that may expire
  6. Paints or inks that could dry up
  7. Kits for hobbies or crafts
  8. Patterns or instructions
  9. Seasonal or holiday supplies
  10. Supplies with trendy colors or patterns

Donate These

  1. Leftover paint or glue
  2. Fabric scraps
  3. Lace, Rickrack or trimmings
  4. Glitter
  5. Paper scraps
  6. Stickers
  7. Buttons
  8. Beads
  9. Yarn or String
  10. Wood or wooden pieces

Once you have used up these supplies, create a project list to use anything leftover. You should only keep supplies that you plan to actually use. Work through these like they are a priority. Soon, you’ll find your self and your space will feel lighter.

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Tips to Declutter Your Office

Now that you have organized your office, you’re ready to get to work. I’d love to see your work spaces, whether they are a separate room or a movable setup.

Send me links in the comments!

 

 

New You, No Clutter: How to be Clutter Free in 2018

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2141dda7ae54aed465caedbeaa1b0f54According to every magazine, blog and instagram quote, each January, a new year promises a new you. We make resolutions, or anti-resolutions, with the goal of bettering ourselves and transforming our lives. One of the most fulfilling goals is that of having a peaceful organized home.

However, the path to a clutter free life challenges most of us. Typically, the process starts with an initial clean sweep. Then, a cycle of maintenance begins. Usually, a book or an article inspires the change.

Today is that day. This is the last article about clutter you’ll ever need to read.

Ask Yourself “Why?”

When I moved into my first apartment, I felt overwhelmed by the task of running a household. I had recently graduated from college, finished an internship and started my first job. The hours for work were very long. My time to myself was limited. When I considered how I wanted to spend my free time, I pictured myself reading, painting, writing or exploring. Instead, I was planning means, shuffling piles of laundry and trying to organize my stuff so that I could exist in my small space.

Then, I had enough. I started looking for information on living in small spaces. Since this was over ten years ago, I only found a few random articles from various sources. Notably, I found several blogs and articles from people living in similar situations; they lived in the city, worked long hours and made the most of their free time in a small space.

What was what I wanted!

I just wanted to make the most out of my time. I wanted to make space for the kind of life I loved to live. So, I had the answer.

Why aspire to be clutter free?

More of the life I loved.

Make This Your Only Goal

Whether you are planning for a new year or looking to make a change, organizing your life is a big goal. It’s more of a resolution than a task. Creating a clutter free life requires new habits and new focus. This will become your main “thing” for months. Most processes will take a year or more to really fix your clutter problem. Then, you’ll spend more months and years maintaining the system.

So, don’t pair it with another goal. Don’t try to learn a language. Don’t plan to lose 15 pounds. Don’t start a new hobby.

Instead, focus on being clutter free. That’s it.

Augment, not Overhaul, Your Life

The quote at the top of this post is from The Bell Jar by Silvia Plath. Most people, who haven’t read it, think it’s simply a mental health tome focused on the main character’s time in an institution. Instead, much of the book focuses on the events that led to the breakdown. In that story, Esther begins her journey as a successful student who wins an internship at a prestigious magazine. She aspires to be a writer. She wants to live life fully. Several small and large traumas impact her mentally causing a suicide attempt and subsequent therapy.

Throughout this fiction novel, Plath focuses on extremes. “If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I’m neurotic as hell. I’ll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days,” proclaims Esther.

Similarly, resolutions and goals fail because of an “all or nothing” attitude. We’re hard on ourselves. We develop strict rules. We make impossibly long task lists.

And then, the plans fall short.

If you aspire to live in a clutter free space, think of it as a way to augment your life. It won’t fix “everything.” Organization can’t promise to solve every problem. It just makes some room. It just lessens your “stuff” over time.

So, as you add a process for cleaning out your home, remember that it’s not an overhaul. Decluttering slowly nips away at your stuff. Decluttering changes your life but it doesn’t CHANGE your life.

Develop Easy Rules

Pick whatever system you like to clean out your space. Just make sure the rules are easy. In fact, make them even easier to match your life.  Lower the standard to whatever you can reasonably do.

Some of my favorite methods:

Just remember that this process will probably start with a month of heavy work. Then, you’ll repeat that cycle for about a year. This allows you to form new habits. Going forward, the new mindset will shape your daily routines. What goes into your home and what comes out of your home will change as you live in a clutter free space.

Clutter Free in 2018

instagramfollowersAs a goal, a clutter free home remains a worthy choice. It took me nearly three years to get to a point where my home only contained useful and loved items. And it’s still a daily process.

You’ll find that clutter creeps into your life unexpectedly, often from other well-meaning people.

For example, my friends and family sometimes offer me their clutter as they organize. They know I am fairly decisive in determining whether something is of use to me. So, they try to give me things in hopes that I’ll either accept it or dispose of it for them.  Sometimes I have the time to work through that process for them and sometimes, I just have to say “no”.

I’ve learned that saying “no” to stuff means saying “yes” to the life I want. Remember? It’s that life filled with painting, writing and exploring.

Here’s to your clutter-free plan!

What are your tips and tricks to keep your home free of clutter? Let me know in the comments!

Bite the Bullet Journal

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02439b4ff84fe4382299a19196750e59Creativity and organization collide beautifully in a daily journal routine. In our detached and digitized world, the feel of a beloved book brings a stir of sensations. The cover feels warm. The pages sound soft. The dust smells like new markers. As most people relentlessly busy-brag about how out-of-control their lives have become, we can break the cycle with little, leather-bound books.

Behold- the bullet journal.

What is a bullet journal?

Bullet journals bring together the best parts of tracking your life and recording thoughts with none of the restrictions. Typically, the pages are completely blank, although some have light grids to help with designing the pages. Most people use them for daily organization on the bulk of the pages and save special pages for large goals or thoughts. What started as a big idea (from the actual Bullet Journal brand) has turned into a nostalgic revolution for intentional living.

The idea of keeping a journal is not new. However, many people struggle to keep up with a daily journal because of the commitment to logging everything in longhand, paragraph form. By contrast, bullet journals mix daily reflection with lists. Think of it as a to-do list on which you can reflect over time. Everything is shorthand and simple. The typical page includes:

  • Topics
  • Page Numbers
  • Short Sentences
  • Bullets

The best part? You don’t have to be artsy or creative to enjoy this process. The official Bullet Journal team has created a template to help people get started. However, this post reflects on my personal journey in productivity and note-keeping.

 

 

 

 

 

My Journal Process

As a young person, people would always gift me empty journals. They knew I liked to write and sketch (…holding books in my hands so that I could smell them). However, these journals would pile up in my bedroom as I really could never fill them out. I would try to start a traditional diary and flame out. Then, in high school, I had an epiphany. I often collected paper snippings that inspired me. They weren’t something for a scrapbook. Instead they were usually quotes, blocks of text or images cut from magazines, calendars or homework assignments. They would wear and tear as I moved them from my bulletin board to a desk drawer then a file box. At the same time, I was dedicated to my daily planner to keep me productive and organized. By college, I started meshing the two, using the gifted journals. Each page contained:

  • The date
  • A to-do list for the day
  • Dates and times for events
  • Hand written copies of quotes or facts that I found during that day
  • Doodles

The result? I developed a daily routine for planning my day at the outset and reviewing my progress in the evening. I quickly used up those empty journals, going through several each year. With time, special pages were added with long term goals or collections on a similar topic. For example, I usually put a list of new years resolutions at the very back and check my progress monthly. Also, the back fills up with brainstorms for blog posts, craft projects or big ideas.

When bullet journals surged into popularity, I had no idea what they were. However, people kept asking me where I got my bullet journal. Most of my friends, coworkers and family members link me to these little, analog list-filled books, knowing that they have been a core part of my life for about 15 years. I can see why they are becoming a popular way to inspire productivity – they’re a natural fit and add a welcome contrast our busy, digital world.

 

Logging for Productivity

There are several ways that keeping a daily journal inspires productivity. First, it helps you identify your tasks and goals. Each morning, as you review your list, starts with a plan. Each evening, you enjoy the satisfaction of noting your progress. Second, it reminds you to prioritize. Sometimes, our expectations can get out of alignment with reality. There are some tasks that never seem to get done because they aren’t really important. This exercise encourages you to question each item and consider whether it is worth your time. If you find yourself copying a task from day to day for several weeks, it probably don’t belong on your list at all. Third, the process allows you to appreciate your progress. As you track, you will see slow growth. Tracking both challenges you to improve while celebrating your success. Over the months and years, you’ll find that your productivity spikes simply by setting aside time to focus on intentional living.

 

 

Popular Page Ideas

The freedom of a blank page can be adapted for both short and long term goals. If you’re looking for ideas to get started, Pinterest offers hundreds of ideas to style your pages. I’ve found that many people enjoy tracking similar themes, including:

  • Daily, Weekly or Monthly Spreads
  • Bucket Lists
  • Places to Travel
  • Mood Trackers
  • Books to Read
  • Birthdays and Anniversaries
  • Memories
  • Spending logs
  • Collected quotes
  • Things that make you happy
  • Meal or snack lists
  • Sleep logs

You can log anything that is important to you. So, everyone’s journal is different and personal. This is the key to their overwhelming popularity.

 

 

 

Bullet Journal Tips

Everyone should keep a journal in the way that works best for them. However, I have collected a few tips over time as I’ve explored this process.

  • If you like prettier pages, you can create design elements in pencil first. Then, trace them with a fine tip pen to make them permanent.
  • If your pages don’t have a grid, cut a piece of graph paper to the page size. Use a paperclip to secure the graph paper behind your page. This can be used as a guide when you work on the page. Then, just move it to the next page when you’re done.
  • Test your writing tools on a back page before you begin. You’ll want to make sure nothing will bleed through. Some pages are thick enough for paint. Others will bleed with a felt-tip pen.

Bite the Bullet Journal

Bite the Bullet JournalThe beauty of a bullet journal rests in customizing. If you are just starting, a short daily log can form the habit. As you make this a regular part of your routine, it will be come a loving, self-care moment as you reflect on the meaningful moments of your life. No matter how simple or complex your journal, you’ll find daily inspiration to be productive.

If you have any tips or ideas, I’d love to read them. Let me know in the comments.

*Note: I don’t use an “official” bullet journal or endorse a particular product.