At the start of any project, whether it’s a creative work, a major household reorganization, or setting up a new bullet journal, I create a magna carta. This is an idea adapted from No Plot? No Problem, the “bible” of National Novel Writing Month. You sit down with a piece of paper and make two lists. The first is all of the things you feel a good novel needs — what you enjoy reading, basically. The second is a list of the things that you don’t like and want to avoid in your own work. It’s really a brainstorming exercise, but it becomes a touchstone that you can refer back to as you’re writing your novel. It’s similar to some[…]

Keeping a journal is something that I’ve done for years. It started when I was in art school and always had a sketchbook with me. Inevitably, I started writing other notes in it because it was handy. That practice expanded into a commonplace book, where I wrote down ideas for stories that I wanted to write. When I entered the corporate world, I graduated to a Franklin Covey planner, which my employer cheerfully paid for. Upon leaving that life, and unwilling to pay big bucks for a “system”, I started playing around with my own formats. That’s what ultimately led me to join the cult of the bullet journal. Now I write it down, get it done, and better manage[…]

Over the past several weeks I’ve been playing around with various journaling styles. My goal has been to manage my professional productivity, while making sure I don’t overlook my self-care needs. One best practice that has been effective on both counts has been to keep a daily list of accomplishments. My daily log page is split into two columns. The left-hand column is then split into three blocks of time: morning, afternoon, and evening. I don’t have many appointments, so there’s no need for an hourly breakdown. If I do have, say, a meeting at 11am, I write it in the morning block, highlighting it or just using a color gel pen so it stands out. The right-hand column is[…]

As a chronic workaholic, I tend to bite off more than I can chew. I grossly overestimate how much I can get done in a day, and how many projects I can juggle at a time. To make more time for work, I end up cutting out things like self-care and household chores. Then I work myself until the point of exhaustion, get sick, and have to take time to recover. Once I’m better, the cycle resumes. Another of my many bad habits is deferring seemingly large tasks until I have time. I know that time will not miraculously appear once day, and that I’ll have to schedule these things. Yet when I see something as a large task that[…]

Today’s act of self-care has been to start a bullet journal. I’m not migrating to a new book, but just moving forward in my existing journal. One of the strengths of the bullet journal format is that you can start where and when you are. It’s flexible, so you can try things, add things, and adapt spreads and trackers as you better understand your needs. Last month I put everything that wasn’t essential to earning a living or taking care of myself on hold. I’ve organized those few vital things so that I’m only looking at what I need to on any given day. Everything gets documented, nothing gets forgotten, but I’m not overwhelmed. The bullet journal allows me to[…]