It’s a new year and you know what that means, right? It’s time to face the eternal struggle of finding just the right planner/journal/schedule keeper.

I feel as if I’ve tried them all. Expensive ones, compact purse ones, electronic ones. All of them drove me crazy pretty much straight out of the gate. Even the ones that are meant for creative people. Why am I so picky? Well, let’s take a closer look.

* I only want ONE journal to keep track of. Not one for personal, one for work and one for Smudged Design Studio. If it’s meant to keep me sane and organized, keeping more than one is not going to get the job done.

* I can go for days without having anything of importance to schedule. So planners that have yearly, monthly, weekly AND daily layouts? Ugh. Gives me a headache just thinking about it. Not to mention how heavy a planner like that is. Essentially I know I’ll be lugging around a bunch of blank pages.

* I don’t feel like I have exceptionally large handwriting. But there never seems to be enough space in pre-printed planners. I always appear to be channeling my inner King Kong when I try to keep track of things during busy periods.

* I want blank space. BLANK SPACE. For project ideas, sketching, just because I like an empty page. Most planners don’t come with that.

So what’s a chick to do? Well, Bullet Journaling has been on my radar for a while. But when I visit the time warp of Pinterest, I find myself looking at beautifully drawn original works of art that people create. And it feels overwhelming. So I decided it wasn’t for me and continued to try to find a mass produced planner to fit the bill.

And I’ve failed miserably.

This year I decided to re-visit the idea of BuJo (short for Bullet Journaling). I bought this book, Dot Journaling, to read about the concept and get some simpler ideas of how to lay the journal out. You certainly don’t *need* to buy this book as there are tons of information on the web but I wanted a resource that blocked out the complicated and stripped it down to it’s basics.

I do have to say, there is a line in Dot Journaling that really struck a chord for me. To paraphrase, it says that organization is a form of self care. It reduces stress, makes you feel less frantic. Promotes happiness. I like that idea. I like applying the label of self care to keeping things organized and it’s going to be a theme for me this year. You’ll see more about it in future blog posts.

If you don’t know what BuJo is, the simple explanation is that it’s a planner/journal system that you create the pages for. The more I thought about it, the more I decided it was a good idea.

I already had a journal started to keep track of tasks for my new book (the second writing deadline approaches!). In keeping with the concept that I only want to have to keep track of one journal for everything in my life, I decided to start my first BuJo in the pages following the book task sheets.

It’s definitely nothing fancy.

The key to BuJo is the Index. Just like in a book, it’s a place to list the page numbers and what you have on them. The beauty of it – aside from it’s logic – is that if I decide I want to write a short story in the middle of my schedule pages, I can totally do that. And I’ll know exactly where it is because it will be listed on the index page.

I mentioned on facebook that I was going to try BuJo this year and there were a few requests to see how I’m setting mine up. Here are a few.

First up is the Index page. I actually allowed four pages for this. This is something I plan to use all year long for a lot of stuff so I want to allow my King Kong writing to roam free. On the last index page I also included the Legend for the symbols I’m using in my journal. Might feel overwhelming to have to keep track of symbols but once again, I kept it super simple.

Next up is an overview of the entire year – month and date. I like being able to refer to that.

After that are my pages for January. I sat down and really thought about what was important to me to keep track of. Here’s what I came up with:

* Gratitude page. I want to keep track of all the good in my life.

* Habit tracking page. This is a big thing in BuJo and one that I was a little opposed to at first because it felt like extra work. But there are some habits I’d like to develop so I’ve listed them. I’m keeping track of: fitbit fireworks (means I got my step goal in for the day), no junk spending, sort the mail, unplug from technology at 9pm, clutter clean, no junk food.

I saw some habit tracking pages online that are really hard core. Like thirty habits. I wanted to start out with a short list and all of these feel quite doable on a daily basis.

* Task lists and schedule. This one was tricky for me. Many BuJo resources recommend yearly, monthly, weekly and daily page spreads. Gives me hives just thinking about it because that’s one of the things I detest in all the other planners I’ve had in the past.

I decided to do a combo weekly/daily spread.

The left side has a mini month/date calendar with a box drawn around the week. To the side of that is a priorities for the week box so I can keep those foremost.

Below all that is a big empty space for each day I need a task or event list. Some days will not have anything I need to track so this appeals to me. I’m wondering if it’s still not enough space but I need to use it for a while to know for sure.

On the right side of the spread is a space for things that are happening in the near future that I have to work on slowly or just be aware of so I don’t forget.

Below that is a “on my mind…” section. One of the aspects I like about BuJo is that it also acts as a diary. So that’s what this portion of the page will be for me.

And lastly the weird looking arc drawn on the bottom of the page? That’s play space. For doodling or sketching or whatever else I feel like doing there.

I’ve committed to this layout for all of January. I expect that it will evolve over time and that flexibility? That’s what I’ve been missing in other planners. Another aspect that truly excites me is that I’ll SEE everything that I do in one place. For some weird reason I never feel like I do that much but this journal will serve as documentation for all that I’ve done during the year. I find that incredibly appealing.

I do have other pages aside from these – blogging, carter, vacation day tracking, 2018 goals. But they are just titles at the tops of pages and nothing thrilling to look at.

It’s been nearly a week that I’ve been using it and I’ve already changed one thing on the weekly/daily spread. Where it says “upcoming items to keep track of” on the right side? I’ve changed that to “general to-do tasks” because let’s face it, some days I feel more like tackling stuff then others. So scheduling stuff on days and then being too tired to finish them created chaos.

I have to admit that I’m already longing for something more artistic. But I’ll finish out January with this set up and see how much time I want to invest in adding art to it. If I do it’ll be minimalist art BuJo…is that a thing? I’ll keep you posted as it progresses and if you want to post a link below to show how you’ve organized your’s, I’d love to see it!