It has been a while since I posted and a lot has changed in my life over the past 3 1/2 months. Specifically, I decided to make a career change. Teaching is a wonderful profession, but I just was not cut out for it. I would rather volunteer with children, than teach them and maintain my love for them as well as my sanity.
Instead of teaching I am now working in the glorious legal field as a paralegal in a firm specifically working with worker’s compensation claims. And I love it. And I am good at it. And I am happier than I have been in a long time.
As a teacher I regularly used my bullet journal at work. I took notes about my students, listed ideas for lessons and activities, reflected about my career, and took notes form professional development classes and meetings. I used my personal journal for all of this and I truly believe in a one notebook system and keeping EVERYTHING together because my work was my life. There was never a moment I wasn’t working.
Now that I have switched careers, while I love my job and I truly do enjoy it, I do not bring my work home with me, and a lot of the stuff I work on is not stuff that I can show anybody because of privacy laws. I was feeling sad leaving behind my bullet journal, when I realized that the success I had encountered in using the bullet journal in my personal life could help me achieve my career goals also. So, I started a minimalist bullet journal that I keep at work and it has been doing wonders for my job. It helps me to be highly efficient and keep track of tasks, even ones that are long-term tasks. I may do a post soon about my work journal (blurring out any personal information of course) and how I utilize it to be the best I can be at my job.
Now that work is not my life I have time for other interests and I have been trying to find a way to make those things a priority in my life. I want to start using my bullet journal to keep track of personal interest projects and keep me motivated and active rather than just coming home from work and cleaning, eating and watching TV.
I think I have decided that I am going to stick strictly to my Moleskines (please do not try to tell me there are better notebooks, I know there are, but I still prefer Moleskine – blog post to come) and a cahier in an A5 travelers notebook. I want to keep year long collections such as the future log, body log, books to read, wish list, etc. in the cahier all year and then all my monthlies, weeklies, and dailies can go in a regular Moleskine. In that yearly cahier I can put my projects that I am working on. I’m thinking things like my photography projects, crochet, drawing/painting, blog post ideas, writing ideas, etc. I’m really excited about marrying my love for bullet journaling and travelers notebooks to make one uber planner/journal/happy space.
If you have ever tried something like that or use a travelers notebook for bullet journaling, please let me know. I’m really interested to hear how it works for you and maybe steal some ideas 😉
Bullet journaling has been very successful for me in many ways. One is keeps me on track with my tasks and helps me organize my time for the best efficiency. Also, it allows me to reflect on my life and create and achieve goals.
Every month I set up my journal so that I can have maximum success that month. I start with a cover page for the month that I fill out throughout the month, adding photos, doodles, and notes of the most memorable moments of the month. These pages are important to me when I am feeling down to reminisce about good times and accomplishments I have had.
This is how the monthly cover pages start out before they get filled in.
This is what a monthly cover page looks like once it has been filled in with photos, mementos and doodles.
After that I do my monthly layout. I use the original list format that Ryder Carroll uses in his introduction video, except I highlight the weekends so that I can easily find my weeks. Using my Future Log and Birthday Log, I fill in important dates and holidays for the month. On the following page I am trying out this template from Sublime Reflection. It goes through making goals as opposed to just writing down a list of tasks. I found that I really wasn’t looking at my monthly task list or using it at all, so instead I will be using the space for creating goals. Every month you decide on the goals you will focus on this month and next month as well as coming up with some 90 day goals and 3 top priority goals for the month.
After my monthly goals I used this free habit tracker from My Dandelion Dreams. I use it to track things that have to be done on a daily basis so that they do not clutter up my daily spreads and also to make sure that I am doing something to achieve the goals that I have set for myself that month. For example, this month I added “No Spend” and “Study/Class” to make sure that I remember to reach my goals for saving money and studying to get As in my classes this month.
The next part of my monthly set up is something I decided to stick to this year. They are journaling prompts for each month of the year that I respond to each day. In my monthly sections I write down all of the prompts so that I don’t have to reference my Pinterest page and also to remind me to do them. I respond to the prompts in my actual dailies. I get my prompts from the blog Cup of Delight.
The last page in my monthly set up is my Grade Level Planning Notes. This is where I write down what we talk about for the month to reference back to at faculty meetings and for planning purposes.
Using these monthly pages, I will be able to reach the goals that I have set for myself this month. Plus, they’re pretty to look at 😉
Every time I think I have found it, I lose it just as quickly. Last you heard about my planner I was madly in love and head over heels for my Travelers Notebook system. Well a few months into using it I found a group of people who utilized a method called Bullet Journaling in their Travelers Notebook. Well I just had to know all there was to know because the pictures they were posting… There are no words! It was literally the most beautiful writing and decorating and planning I had ever seen.
So I checked out where it originated from on a man name Ryder Carroll who has a blog that gives you a step by step guide on how to start your own bullet journal. It is the most minimalistic and simplistic thing I had ever seen. And then I saw how members of the bullet journal community had customized their journals to their own personal preferences and I was blown away by the sheer adaptability of Carroll’s system.
Fueled by inspiration from sources like Tiny Ray of Sunshine and Boho Berry, I decided to give bullet journaling a try in my Travelers Notebook and it was just the system I had been looking for with one tiny, itty bitty flaw. Inserts for Travelers Notebooks are made with about 60-80 pages because the whole point of the travelers notebook is to have all of your notebooks in one cover and it is less bulky to carry six 60 page notebooks than six 240 page notebooks. Well, the purpose of the bullet journal system is to have one notebook to rule them all! Fantastic, right. The premise is that you can have all of your notes, plans, and ideas in one notebook and just organize it using an indexing system. Sounds crazy, but it actually works.
After debating on whether I should just merge the two systems (as many people have done) or stick to just bullet journaling I decided to give JUST bullet journaling a try. I bought an Orchid Dot Grid Moleskine and got straight to it and it just felt so natural that when it ran out of pages I decided that I would go get another Moleskine (squared, this time for budget purposes). As much as I loved my Travelers Notebook, my Moleskine just felt more right to me.
Now here comes the dilemma with bullet journaling (I told you, I’m really starting to think there is no planner peace). After living with bullet journaling, and having quite a bit of success with it, for almost six months, I came to the end of the school year (I’m an elementary school teacher) and realized that if I used my bullet journal for work purposes as I had been wanting to do, I would run into the problem that I would constantly be rewriting certain collections out whenever I had to start a new journal because student information would have to all be transferred!
I immediately thought to myself, “This never would have happened if I had stuck with the travelers notebook system!” And then I had an idea. What if I bought a custom Travelers Notebook that fit a5 notebooks (8×5 inches) and had a slimmer Moleskine cahier with all of the work collections that I was dreading having to transfer from bujo (bullet journal) to bujo and placed it in a Travelers Notebook with my day to day BuJo? Well I looked into whether or not all of those collections would fit in one and they totally do!
So starting next August I will be using this beautiful hand painted Travelers Notebook that I bought from MamaCakesMakings with one cahier and a regular sized Moleskine notebook.
Hopefully this will bring me planner peace, but seeing as how I have felt this way before about a planner system, I am doubtful that there will ever be complete peace. Luckily, the Travelers Notebook and Bullet Journal systems are so flexible that I will most likely find a way to solve the problems that arise.
They say “home is where the heart is” and I guess that is true to a certain degree, but what if your heart has many levels and cannot stick to one particular “home.” When people ask me where my home is, I have difficulty responding. Is it my hometown where I grew up and have most of my memories; where most of my family that I love still lives? Or is it the town I currently live in, that I have loved almost as far back as I can remember, where I made a conscious decision to move and call home? Then again is your home where your license says your address is, where you have most of your stuff, or where you spend the most time? Or is the place where you plan on living and want to call home your real home?
I could very easily call six different places my home using these categorizations.
On the one hand I have Miami, FL. My hometown. All of my childhood and young adulthood friends still live there. Most of my memories take place there. And sometimes when I dream, the dreams still take place in Miami ( I guess I haven’t been living in my new home long enough). When I am talking to people, sometimes I still refer to Miami as home like, “Back home, we….” or “I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it back home for Christmas.”
But now I live in Greenville, SC. Greenville is a place I visited often as a kid and I have always loved this town like no other. Moving to Greenville was a conscious choice because I WANTED this to be my home. Not because of where I ended up being born or where my parents moved me to, or because a job forced me to relocate. I chose Greenville. I love Greenville.
And here where I live in Greenville, people always ask where I live, but technically I live in two places. Half of my stuff at my aunts where I go once or twice a week for family time and to pick up my mail and the other half of my stuff at my boyfriends house where I sleep and eat and do most of my work. And now we are building a new house which I already feel is my home because I know it will have all of my stuff in it and I am helping to make decisions about design because I will be living there presumably for quite a while. I can already imagine my own space and how things will be in my kitchen. In my own first home.
And of course there is where I spend most of time. That would be my classroom. I could probably live in my classroom if I had to. I love it that much. And I spend enough time there that it must seem that I do live there sometimes. Now I know why kids always assume that their teachers live at the school and are so shocked when they find out differently.
So I don’t know that you can say home is one place necessarily. I think home is a mix of all the different places that have special places in your heart.
I have always loved writing. I started writing when I was really young. My first grade teacher even gave me a certificate at the end of the year that said “Most Likely to be a Writer.” I remember getting my first diary in first grade. Santa brought it wrapped in festive paper. It was a pink Tweetybird book with pink pages and a lock and key. I fell in love with writing down every single minutiae thought that popped into my head.
I have kept every diary I have had (this is about two notebooks a year) since the first grade. I have always found it interesting to look back on what my younger self used to think and see how I have grown as a person. Around sixth grade I decided I wanted to be an actress and that someday people would want to know my every thought so I should make sure they were recorded. Around tenth grade I found writings of my family members and thought it was so interesting to take a peek into their heads and see what they were really thinking.
You never really know someone till you read some of the things they write they think no one will ever see.
I decided that I should keep my recording going, not because one day I would be famous and my every thought would be published, but because then a niece or nephew or a future child of mine would one day find them and really get to know me and feel the way I did when I came across those journals: like I wasn’t quite so alone, like somebody understood me.
I started blogging in high school because I thought it would be interesting to see what happened when I put my ideas and pictures out into the world. You never know what kind of reaction you will get. Also, it didn’t feel like exposing myself because there is a certain amount of anonymity when you face the world through a computer screen. Later on in college I started blogging about the things that interested me.
Now, I am writing this blog because I want to share my planning experiences and how planning helps me be better person on a daily basis. It is one of my obsessions and one of the way I control my obsessions is by writing about them.
So now I journal privately to work out the things in my life that I cannot understand, to ramble about the things I’m pretty sure no one else wants to hear about but I just have to tell to someone, to record what has happened in my life good or bad, and I blog publicly to share about my crazy obsession with anyone that it will help and anyone who shares the obsession.
I write because I can and because it keeps me sane and happy, but I also write because I hope it will let people understand who I am.
Urban dictionary defines plannerd as “an urban planner – student or professional – who is heavily involved in all things planning.”
I would go even further to say that a plannerd is a person who is heavily addicted to planning, planner supplies, and the general idea that planning will help you have more well-rounded and fulfilling life.
I am a plannerd and proud. I have been obsessed with planning since high school when they would give you those tiny agendas with the sections for book logs and monthly and weekly goals. I realized for the first time that if you planned certain things in your life and physically wrote them down, you held yourself more accountable for it and we’re more likely to do them. I also realized how satisfying it was to scratch an event or item off a to do list because you had completed it.
That’s where the obsession began. It slowly grew into a slightly OCD behavior where I wanted things color coded based on what part of my life it belonged in: school, work, or personal and then I wanted to plan my meals and plan my days by the hour or even half hours. The older I got, the more complicated my life became and the more I felt the need to plan in order to get my life in control.
And now here I am: a twenty-something year old in her first big girl job as a third grade teacher, moved to a brand new town, in a relationship, and building a house. It only gets more complicated than that if I try to add having a kid in there and, based on what I see in my planner, that’s just not a possibility right now. My planner keeps my mind at ease and helps me organize the thoughts of everything I have going on in my brain so that I can make it through the day without running around in circles crying and pulling my hair out.
A friend recently asked how I have time as a new teacher to go out and meet new people, spend time with the boyfriend, eat right and the answer is: because I plan all of it. I don’t mean I’m a maniac who freaks out when something unexpected comes up (I surprisingly enough love spontaneity and adventure) but I plan all of the must do things for work and survival so that I can physically see chunks of time I have available for doing fun, crazy things with my new friends and boyfriend. I try and make sure that all my work stuff is done so that my weekends and nights are freed up for personal time. This would be totally impossible without my planner.
Now before I go on, there is something you must know. Planning brings me much joy, but there has always been a struggle for me to find The Perfect Planner. In the planner community, we like to call this struggle the search for planner peace.
I have used student weekly planners of varying sizes. I have used mom planners meant for planning multiple schedules. I have used horizontal weekly planners and vertical weekly calendars. I have used electronic planners and paper planners. My search for the perfect planner seemed endless.
I finally came across ring bound planners. I bought a day timer in desk size and tried a bunch of different layouts and found that my favorite was either the day on one page (do1p) or the day on two pages (do2p) while also utilizing a monthly calendar and a sticky note that I moved each day with weekly plans and goals. This worked well for a while but I realized that now I was carrying around this big binder and my own personal journal (I am also a chronic journaler – I have kept one on me at all times since first grade). I tried to merge the two together, but I write so much that the rings would not hold the amount of journaling I did.
I played with different types of ring bound planners and eventually even tried just making my own using an old binder. Then I discovered the Arc discbound notebook system from Staples. It is absolutely fantabulous! The papers are punched so that they fit around this ring and are easy to rip out and put back in. You can customize it with whatever type of paper you want, dividers, you name it! I got this fancy, hot, pink leather cover and it was gorgeous. But once again I realized that it was just too fat and chunky to be hauling around everywhere (regardless of her beauty).
After my disappointment with the Arc planner, I started creating my own planner in a composition notebook and journaling on the same pages that I did my planning. I actually really liked it, but drawing out a schedule table every day was very time consuming. This is when I started scouring the Internet. I viewed what felt like hundreds of videos on Filofaxes, and ring bound planners, Erin Condren (which really is one of the most gorgeous planners I’ve ever seen, but did not afford me the capability of journaling where I planned), etc.
Finally, I came across a video of something called a Midori Travelers Notebook. It was so simple: just a plain leather cover with holes punched in it to thread through elastic bands that held notebooks (like the moleskines you buy at Barnes and Noble) and then an elastic that wrapped around it to keep it held shut. So simple, but so genius. The Japanese company had developed a system that allowed you to customize how many notebooks you needed, the types of notebooks you wanted to use, and allowed you to switch the notebooks out easily and quickly as needed!
Now the original Midori brand notebook system was outrageously priced especially because it had to ship from Japan. However, after further research, I found a similar notebook utilizing the same design on Amazon. I quickly bought that and found several people on Etsy that created notebook inserts for this system. I chose a planner style I liked, bought a few lined notebooks for journaling a notes and presto I had The Perfect System. One I could easily change without spending over $50 as I had been doing.
I finally found planner peace.
How I Use the Travelers Notebook System
I have set my notebook up in a variety of ways and had as many as five notebooks in there. I have seen online people that custom make covers that will hold crazy amounts of notebooks. And there are people who may need to use as many as eight notebooks at a time. I have found however that if you are using the original sized notebook and not a custom-made one that three to four notebooks works best so that the notebooks are not all hanging outside of the cover.
Currently I have three notebooks in my travelers notebook. The first one is my planner. It is a printable planner from an Etsy seller DIYFish. It has the capability of planning the month, weeks, and days of each month. If I have any future planning I need to do I add it to. Sticky note on the back cover of the notebook. I don’t even staple these notebooks and they stay together well enough that I don’t have to worry about the pages falling out. One of the great things about this planner system is the ability to plan weekly and daily. Usually you have to choose just one. This planner also gives me a space to plan a weeks worth of something with a list. I use this part of the planner for meal planning and my shopping list. I switch this notebook out every month.
My second notebook is a journal. I use it as a smash book/Project Life book to store mementos I like to keep (movie stubs, event tickets, airplane tickets, etc.), and photos I have take. This is in addition to my regular journaling. I also use it to doodle on. This is part of my creative outlet. This journal usually fills up in about a ,only but I only have to switch it when it’s full.
The third, and final notebook I have is my writing notebook. This is where I write down ideas for stories or poems or blog posts I want to write. This is the only Midori brand notebook that I bought because I really loved the thin paper for writing on. It is called the Midori Lightweight Paper notebook. You can purchase it here on Amazon.
Besides the notebooks that I plan, create, and write in, I also have a PVC zippered pouch and card holder. I have set up my notebook so that it not only function as as a planner and journal, but so that it is also my wallet. I now have three different things in my purse replaced by one system.
My goal with planning so much (some may call it over planning, I like to think of it as planning for anything) is so that I can make myself a more well-rounded person and have time to develop my more creative ideas through writing and art. With my travelers notebook system I am able to do that all in one place. Sometimes I will change my setup so that my journal is separate or I will add a sketchbook if I need to, but generally this is my all in one solution.
I am not saying the the travelers notebook system works for everyone. I think that everyone needs to go on their own personal journey for planner peace and find their perfect system. However, this does happen to be my current perfect system.
This blog will not be all about travelers notebooks. It will be about how I utilize my planner, journal, and creative notebooks to better my life and the ways that you too can have a well-rounded life involving planning and good old-fashioned writing.