I LOVE planners!
As a homeschooling mom with 4 young children, planners are a life saver. Literally. Between the appointments, activities schedule and to do list, there is so much going on any given day. Without some way to track it all, I can easily get lost. It is so difficult staying organized.
But here’s the problem. Planners are generic. Planners are created to satisfy the masses. They are either extremely detailed or so basic even the months aren’t labeled. But no matter the type, they are static. Unchangeable.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love the features you can find on some planners. And I love the ease and practicality of having something all ready for me to just fill out. (I’m one of those Lego builders that always have to follow the directions.) But let’s face it. Life is not so cut and dried.
For years, I would look forward to buying the new planner in December only to be frustrated with it by February. Or when living on a school year schedule, I would buy the planner in August in excitement only to see all of its flaws by November. The final straw was when I moved to France and had to start using a planner (or agenda) here. It’s not that they were of lesser quality. On the contrary, I found some great family agendas that had some wonderful features.
But I’m an American. I’m still more comfortable making notations in English than French. I like being able to see my content in English at a glance. And I still needed something to help me in staying organized.
Buying a planner in English didn’t solve these problems. I was living in France, after all. The beauty of the French planner was having the calendar set up in the manner of the French. I needed a combination of the two. French content written in English. Aside from creating my own planner, I just did not see that happening.
Bullet Journaling to the Rescue
And then I came across this book, Brainbook: Bullet Journaling Your Way to a More Organized Life by Kalyn Brooke. This was a game changer. I finally found a system that could work for my own unique life. Using this method, I could have a planner set up like the French agendas but written in English. AND I could add personal content.
No more sticky notes or papers pinned to my bulletin board. No more planners bought and only half-filled (or less) at the end of the year. I had everything I had always wanted in an organizer. And the beauty was that I did not even need to be artistic or a professional designer!
The planner could be as simple or as complex as I wanted. If I started a month with a simple layout but decided I wanted to change half-way through? Done. As simple as that. Every page was a new beginning. And so crucial to staying organized.
I’ve been using a bullet journal (or bujo as it is known in the community) for about a year now and I love it as much now as I did the first time I opened up my simple store-bought notebook and tried it out. I’ve even changed the layout about 5 times! I haven’t found the perfect fit for my life but what is fantastic is that I don’t even need to. Life changes constantly, especially in a family with small children. And so can the bullet journal.
Plus it was so easy to start! Brainbook did such a fantastic job of explaining the whys and hows. I finished reading it in one sitting and by the end was ready to start my own bujo. This shocked me because I am usually a perfectionist and need things to be just right before starting anything. But Kalyn did such a great job explaining all the positive aspects that I had no fear of starting my first one in just a simple school notebook. I did use a pencil for the first 3 months though. You can’t cure perfectionism completely, after all.
Modern Commonplace Book
But the bujo is more than just a tool for organization; it is also a record of what my life was like at any given moment. They are worth keeping because I’ve put my life into those pages. Not just what appointments I had but collections of things my kids said and what books I read among other things.
And this reminds me of what is often referred to as the commonplace book in Charlotte Mason circles. We use this book as a journal of thoughts, quotes or other gatherings of words. It can be as simple or as fancy as you choose. And this concept has been around for a long time. It’s been used by such people as Thomas Jefferson and Charlotte Mason herself.
To me, the bujo is our modern version of this. Not only can we write the quotes and thoughts that delight us in these journals but we can keep track of our increasingly busy lives right alongside without missing a beat.
Can your store bought planner do this?
Other Productivity Tools
However, if you know that bullet journals are not for you, there are other ways to be productive and help you in staying organized. In my posts, Get Organized – Paper Planners and Get Organized – Digital Planning I outline a few of the other ways you can keep track of all the things in your life. Whether or on paper or on your smartphone, there is something for everyone.
If you are still searching, there is a great kit available to help you find your groove. And it can be found from my favorite company Ultimate Bundles. They have a Productivity Bundle that offers classes on increasing your productivity. Or you can have your pick of any number of planning systems. From downloadable and printable calendars to templates for programs like Trello. You can find it all.
The most important thing in staying organized as a busy mom is finding your tool and using it.