Journals, Calendars and Planners, Oh My!

It seems like a good time of the year to talk about how we keep track of all we have to do in our busy lives.  I am a paper/pencil gal at heart.  As a librarian, I love books, actual books.  I am fascinated with bindings, fonts and paper.  So, my love for journals is just an extension of my paper passion.  Mr. Man finds my journal collection odd.  I don’t know why he thinks collecting empty books is….wrong.

With all that being said, I am happy to use technology tools that help make life easier.  Mr. Man, my 17-year-old and I are all linked by the same Google calendar.  What a lifesaver.  The teen’s work schedule, Mr. Man’s evening meetings, little guy’s sports’ practices and my book club meetings are all in one place for all of us to see. We are all iPhone users but I like the look and layout of the Google tool.  The “Schedule” view is, dare I say, fun.

From my early days as a teacher, a plan book has always been essential, but its format has morphed. Years ago I carried a pocket calendar, a large professional plan book and had a family calendar (loved the bestselling Sandra Boynton Mom Calendar with stickers!) on my fridge.

Multiple calendars worked as well as you would imagine.  I never had the right calendar in front of me at the right time.  Also, I need more than a calendar.  I still need a life “plan book”.  I still crave those little squares and a month at a glance.  I need a place for long-range planning, list making and goal setting.  I also need something that is inspiring.

I’ve tried so many commercial planners.  I tried the Nourished Planner last year. It has a  meal planning/foodie focus.  I’ve tried the faith focused Catholic Planner, inspiring for sure. A dear friend turned me on to the Day Designer (beautiful and ideal for all my needs).  All of them worked well for their intended purpose, as long as I used them faithfully at the start of my day and reflected with them at the end.  In other words I needed to establish a habit.  In order to do that I personally needed something a little more….creative.

That’s when I discovered the Bullet Journal.  It bills itself as “The analog system for the digital age”. Ryder Carroll explains how he developed the system to cope with his own ADHD. It is a dynamic system that evolves as you determine your needs. Carroll hopes the system will “declutter your mind, cultivate your curiosity and help you to remain focused.”I definitely think he’s on to something.

You can see the basic premise and actually get started with 4 minute video here on the BuJo Website.  That’s what I did and I was sold.  If you would like to dive a little deeper check out Ryder Carroll’s Tedx Talk here (I did that too).

Next, I discovered the Bullet Journal (or BuJo) community.  Thousands of folks just like you and me (OK so much more creative than me) sharing their journaling/list-making/habit tracking/goal setting hearts out!  Google Bullet Journal Images and you will be blown away with the creative efforts of people putting their own spin on the basic premise.

You can keep it as simple or as creative as you like, but the components and the system are intentionally streamlined. I purchased a Moleskin dotted/grid journal. Over the Christmas holiday I sat down with a cup of tea, my favorite pens and pencils (I love pens and pencils too) and set up the basic components that I use. It was  quick and felt good to do.  Oh and I got these stencils for teen daughter as she uses the system as well.  Totally unnecessary but fun!

So, if you are searching for a new “system” or just curious, take a look.  It really can make a daily chore, a little more joyful.

Before I go though, I want to share a little bit about the other journals/calendars in my life. First, there is the Shutterfly calendar that my sister does for the family each year.  Here it is hanging next to my desk (with the adorable bag/laptop case that daughter got me for Christmas). She fills it with photos of the kids and the year’s adventures.  She does it for the grandmothers too, and makes each one unique to the receiver.  It is my favorite gift to open because I can’t wait to see what photos she included.  I’ve kept each and have a series of family scrapbooks, that I didn’t have to make.  What a treasure.

Another important calendar/planner I have is my Christmas planner.  I picked this up at a craft show a couple of years ago and love how it helps me keep Holiday plans straight.  It is just a composition book inside but decorated beautifully on the outside.  It has 4 categories:

  • Cards- I keep track of where I ordered my cards from and how many I ordered.
  • Gifts-In “Gifts” I make a list of each friend and family member and note what I purchased or made for them.    I budget for all parts of the holiday and this keeps me on track.
  • Recipes-In “Recipes” I like to note what special recipes I made for celebrations or baked goods I made to gift.
  • Traditions-In the traditions section I note who visited that year, which mass we attended, and what The Elf was up to.  It’s funny how you think you will remember that kind of thing at the time it’s happening, but for me, not so much.
This adorable photo of my babies was taken by my friend and photographer Kristin @ksphoto on FB . She’s journaled our family through the years through her beautiful photography.

The last are my “button journals”.  I always wanted to have a shelf full of personal journals (actually fill all those empty ones I’ve collected) but every time I started it seemed  I just couldn’t find my voice.  Then one day (after my second child was born) I read about a woman who journaled to her children.  So, I purchased a journal for each and started keeping a traditional diaries for them .  I say traditional because I write about the day, what’s going on in the world or something special I want them to remember or experience through my eyes.  Don’t be super impressed as I only do this once a month, sometimes once every couple of months.  It has accumulated into something of a snapshot journal that I look forward to sharing with my children when the time is right.  My daughter turns 18 soon and asked if she gets her “button journal” then.  I am not sure….I might have some catching up to do.

Do you journal?  How do you keep track of events?  What planner do you use?  I would love to hear about your journal journey.



PS-Just wanted you all to know that I am not affiliated with any of the specific products (I do use and like ’em) on the blog, but I am an affiliate link with Amazon.