Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Keeping Organized

I am a complete and utter scatter brain, but I have a lot of responsibility and stuff to do in my professional and personal life. Organization is the only way I stay on top of things and am at all functional.

A few weeks ago, the #readadv chat was on how we stay organized. People were pretty interested in each other's systems and wanted more in-depth info than Twitter really allows. Kelly kicked off some posts here for people to share their systems.

People seemed especially interested in Bullet Journaling, which is my personal system. Here's how I do it. (Followed by why it works for me, and how I organize my reading and blogging, too.)

When I was working and in grad school, I swore by the BusyBodyBook planner, but they no longer make them. I loved the columns for different aspects of my life (work/school/blog/LIFE) and I tried a few other things since then, but nothing that I loved as much. I started doing Bullet Journaling this spring and LOVE IT.

So, if you are unfamiliar with the concept of Bullet Journaling, read all about it here or watch this video.

One of the things I love about this system is that it's very flexible. It's incredibly easy to modify it to fit your needs. I don't like how he does calendars, because I need the visual of a typical calendar, so I printed some out and taped them in:

Also, I need to do a certain amount of pre-planning, so I do a few months at a time, and then have another list for events further out. The calendar print-outs are a free download from the Organised Housewife. I like that they have the to-do list on the side of monthly things. I also have a "master to-do" list for things I'm thinking about (like winter holiday presents I want to make, or very long-range projects that are still percolating, or little things that don't have a definite timeline like scheduling a fall dentist appointment.)

I also use a modified version of this key:

(I found it on Pinterest and it doesn't link to anywhere. Does anyone know who created this key? It's GENIUS and I'd love to give full credit.) The big thing I modify is, much like a c and e in the box for "call"/"email" I have a t for "text" and an r for "review" I especially love the half-filled box for things I worked on, but didn't finish. I do break projects into smaller steps, and do that in my journal, but it some steps just take a really long time. I also use the half-shaded box for things I need feedback on, like I needed to talk to someone, but they weren't in, so I just left them a voice mail. The half box lets me know that I may need to follow-up and try again later, but I don't need to worry about it for awhile.

Here's my page from yesterday:

You'll see some other things I modify on my daily pages. I the bottom I have section called "5 things" where I try to write down 5 good things about the day, every day. This is really helpful in combating some of my own personal negativity. I also track my water intake.

For all of this, I use extra-large Moleskine Cahier with gridded paper The extra-large gives me enough room each day, and the gridded paper just lends it self really well to all my to-do squares. I like the cahier because it has a soft cover, which makes it easier to decorate. I embroidered my current one:

To mark important pages, such as the master list, and the current daily page, I use large colored paperclips, as they're easy to move around and won't rip off in my purse:

I change pen colors every day, so I know if notes were made on the same day, or later. My currently into the Le Pen, because it's a slim line felt-tip that won't leak through a thin Moleskine page and comes in good colors. I also like the Sharpie Fine Point Pen for similar reasons (but it's harder to wash off when you accidentally draw on yourself. Not that I ever do that. Nope. Not me.)

So, this system works for me because it combines everything into one place that I can easily move around with me. My meeting notes are next to my schedule and easy to find again to follow up on. I can easily write down hilarious things my daughter said and other things that happened in a day. I can add in pages for projects or brainstorming that are easily accessible. I like that one days I'm not doing anything, I don't have to make a page--I don't have random blank pages or "wasted" space.I like that I can change it whenever I need or want to. The table of contents at the beginning is so basic, but it works SO WELL. I know some people don't like having to number the pages, but I just do it every time I make a new page--no big deal. I really like the key system because it's neater than crossing something off while still having the same level of satisfaction. It also works really well with the GTD system of time-management (I don't do full GTD, but I do parts of it, including just doing tasks that are under 2 minutes, and breaking down projects into steps and only worrying about the one in front of you.)

I also do Inbox 0 at work. It keeps me from missing important messages and quickly shows me what needs to be done. I don't do this at home.

I also have an entire Pinterest board for this subject, full of ideas and things for planners and organizing (including awesome sticky notes and notebooks).

Now, how do I track my reading and reviewing? Like I mentioned above, I modified the key so there's a symbol for call, email, text, and review. I try to review library books before they're due back and am pretty good about it. I try to review books I own shortly after reading, with less success. I tend not to schedule my reviews or review to a date unless I'm reviewing for someone else (RT Book Reviews and School Library Journal have deadlines, for instance) or a blog tour. Deadlines go on the calendar and get exclamation points on the daily list.

I keep track of my reading in a notebook. I have them dating back to spring of 2006 and printed lists going back to 2003, but wish I had kept track of stuff previous to that! Here's what my notebook looks like:

It's pretty simple. Month, title, author. A check mark once it's been reviewed on the blog, or the review has been linked to on the blog.

To do more in-depth review tracking, I use a Google spreadsheet that I update every few months.

Month and year help me cross-reference with the paper book. You'll see I'm full of typos and shorthand for titles--as long as I know what book I'm referring to, I'm good. Then there's the column I can mark if a review has been written. I have a giant Google doc for reviews. I then edit/update/polish when I paste them into Blogger to preschedule/post. Then I have a notes field, where I can write when things are prescheduled for (if it's further out than the next week or two--I use this a lot with ARCs as I tend to post reviews on pub date or only a day or two before), if it's a review that's posting elsewhere, if it's a committee book so reviews need to be held, or modified, or just not done (depends on the committee regulations/policies), if I have notes on it but no review, etc etc etc. It's pretty basic, but it does what I need it to do. Once a review is posted, I delete that line, so the sheet ONLY tracks outstanding reviews.

So, that's how I do it. I'd be happy to answer any questions!

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Regina Renee said...

Do you use your bullet journal with evernote? I just started using the bullet journal and I am considering an evernote moleskine for the new year.

Jennie said...

I don't use Evernote a lot, especially for day-to-day stuff (mostly because I'm bouncing between several computers over the course of the day). But I've seen the Evernote Moleskine-- it's a lot like the extra-large gridded cahier, except it's a dotted grid instead of solid line. I've heard good things about how they work together.