There are soooo many ways to use a journal / planner to map out your days. Seriously. So many.
We’ve heard them all, we’ve tried them all. Some work well and others, not so much. What I’ve realized is that obviously everything is not going to work for everyone – and that probably explains why there are so many different ways to do this.
Eventually, you have to try a bunch of different methods in order to find one that works for you. Typically though, I 100% bet it’s going to be a hybrid of some sort.
My method is definitely a hybrid.
Combine the 5-minute journal, with a to-do list, with a habit tracker, with a Google calendar, and a pomodoro-ish timer, and presto change-o, you’ve got my organization method!
Here’s the breakdown:
I bought an un-dated, lined notebook.
Any will do. I decided on un-dated because I can start using it any time throughout the year and I don’t feel like I waste pages if I miss a day (and it’s ok to miss a day!). If you are a Lady Boss Loot subscriber, the notebook in the October box works perfectly.
Some people like to plan on paper, some prefer digital. I do both. I found myself teetering back and forth between the two, so I decided to stick with both. Anything that is a recurring task goes in my Google calendar, along with anything that is an appointment with a time attached to it.
I tried planning every single space of my Google calendar (adding all tasks daily), but in the end, that method didn’t work for me. I would never stick to my exact blocks and then I’d feel unaccomplished at the end of the day.
Every night, I wind down in bed and grab my notebook. I answer the questions for the current day, then I set it up for the following day. This is what my planner looks like daily:
The left side is based on the Five Minute Journal. No, you don’t have to go buy the actual journal to do this – the days are the same (with the exception of an inspirational quote and a quick challenge).
The concept is simple:
- Express your gratitude – 3 things you are grateful for today. This could be one big thing if you want – don’t over think it.
- What would make today great – 3 things that would make the day awesome if they were to get done (or if they happened).
- Write an affirmation – This can be a new one daily or one you are currently focusing on (I do the second).
- 3 things that made today great – Did you accomplish your 3 things? If not, what else was great today?
- How could you have made the day better – How could you have accomplished more or what would you do differently?
I also include a bit of a habit tracker and this changes every so often, but it typically includes water, exercise, and/or some sort of measure of my Core 7.
The right side is my to-do list for the day. I found that I’m more productive when I split it into AM and PM rather than throwing one long list on there. I check my Google calendar for anything that has an appointment (with a time), and the all day section (which are usually the recurring items), and I write those under either AM or PM.
There’s something about writing things down vs. just reading them, that helps me remember and solidify what I need to do. Once I have those hard appointments down, I write any random tasks that I want to get done – like giving the dog a bath, going to the grocery store, etc. In the above example, you’ll notice I have “call dad”. No I don’t have to remind myself to call my parents, but it happened to be his birthday so I wanted to make sure that got done. 🙂
Lastly, I usually have at least 1 focus goal I am working on, so I’ll add 1 or 2 things from my goal list that will help me achieve that goal. I’ll also add a 1, 2, and 3 next to the most important things, and everything else is just icing on the cake. While doing the most important tasks, I’ll do those during focused 1-hour time blocks of 50 minutes of work and a 12-minute break.
If you’re looking for a pomodoro-style timer, I use the Google Chrome extension Strict Workflow. You can adjust the timer settings and add websites that can be blocked during your work time.
As I complete the tasks, I cross them off. At the end of the day, if I didn’t do something, I cross it off and put an arrow next to it. That means I’m moving it to tomorrow’s list (bullet journal style). Note: If I move a task too many times – more than 3 – I drop it completely. Either it wasn’t important or I didn’t really want to do it anyway.
That’s basically it! So far, it’s working for me and I’m sure there will be some more tweaking as the weeks go on and I see what works and what doesn’t.
So tell me, what’s your favorite style of planning? Would this work for you?