A surprising number of those of us who live our lives online prefer to get organised on paper – at least if my blogroll is anything to go by.
It actually makes a lot of sense, when you think about it: the act of committing a to-do list to paper helps you to visualise what’s ahead, and there’s nothing more satisfying than physically crossing off a completed task.
An added bonus of my decision to go (a little bit) freelance is that, in developing systems to keep me accountable for my extra day, I’m beginning to find uses for all the gorgeous notebooks and planners I can’t seem to stop myself from buying. I still have a drawer full of the blasted things, and suspect I’ll get to the end of my working life before I get to the bottom of it, but at least this way it feels a little less like wasted money.
I’ve also just been introduced to the massive range of stationery available at discount bookseller The Works, which is not helping to curb my notebook shopping addiction any. While I’ve known for a long time that The Works’ product range goes beyond just books (I’m a big fan of their storage cases, for example: they’re a cute way of keeping my piles of hair accessories semi-organised) it’s never occurred to me as a place to shop for stationery. It’s not a mistake I’m likely to make again, now that I know they sell lovely notebooks and desk planners for just a couple of quid!
In the meantime, here’s a quick rundown of the paper-based systems I use to organise my life – give me a shout if any of them sound familiar!
So it turns out that I use six notebooks and pads to keep myself organised: desk pad, longhand journal, bullet journal, freelance organiser, desk planner and agenda. Some of these kind of duplicate with each other and with iCal on my iPhone, which isn’t the most efficient, but all of them help me to get my task lists straight in my head and to see what I’m supposed to be doing at-a-glance.
I like to spend a wee bit of time before I go to bed on a Sunday night getting organised and planning my week, copying out my appointments from iCal (where they tend to get added on-the-go) to my agenda. That ban.do agenda that every blogger and their dog seems to have is actually the bane of my existence: I ordered it directly from the ban.do website and paid over the odds in postage for it, then got hit by an additional twenty quid customs bill. At this point, I’m really only using it because it cost so much money. My iCal and neglected desk planner (by Veronica Dearly) serve the same functions, and if I miss having one too much next year I’ll just buy a gorgeous £3 academic diary from The Works.
I’ve written a little about my bullet journal before and I daresay I will again – this customisable organisation system is all the rage among bloggers for its versatility and the potential it gives you to really get creative. Mine is more of an organisational tool, habit tracker, record keeper and “brain dump” space than anything that’s going to win me any art awards, but it’s something that I find incredibly useful. I haven’t been too well again over the past week or so, so I’m back into my old habit of falling into bed rather than taking five minutes to clear my head using my bullet journal at the end of each day, and I’m really missing it.
I always have a few longhand notebooks/journals on the go, particularly when I’m travelling. They’re what I use for lengthier, diary-style writing and their contents often end up as some of my favourite pieces on this blog. I haven’t sat down and really written in a while, actually: I need to rectify that.
My freelance organiser is my newest bit of kit and it’s possibly my favourite. It’s one of the Ohh Deer for Urban Outfitters daily journals, and it was in the sale (plus I got another 20% knocked off because the last few pages were bent, score!). Although it’s labeled “daily”, I use it to plan only my freelance Mondays so it will last me for ages. My Tuesday-Fridays in the office tend to be pretty similar, so don’t require clever systems to keep me accountable and on-task.
The day-to-page layout allows you to set an objective for the day and there are spaces for to-do lists and ongoing projects as well as a timetable along the side. I can use this to keep track of any calls or meetings I have, or even – once I’m into more of a routine – fully break down how I’ll be spending each working hour of the day. For now, I have a big rolling to-do list that I am updating week-to-week, and setting myself one achievable goal for each Monday I’m working for myself.
This is a collaborative post, but all views are my own and unbiased.