My 2021 notebook arrived today. Planner, some might call it, although mine is neither one nor the other.
It’s formatted for bullet journaling, something I tried but couldn’t stick to. But most of it is just blank pages, and every week, on Sunday or Monday, I turn the page and start a new entry: Week of December 21. The top half of the page gets a Work subhead, the bottom half Personal. I write down all the tasks and projects I know I have coming due that week. Newsletter, edit XXXX, various stories with deadlines approaching. Personal is for errands, bills to pay, etc., and always gets a line for Workouts, which I tally with hash marks. (Several years into my more dedicated fitness regimen, it’s now essential for my mental health, so I make note of every one. Don’t hate me because I have muscle tone.)
As I get these things done, I scratch them off. The scratch-off is the most important part of this habit. Have I ever written down something I’ve already completed but didn’t put on the to-do list, then immediately scratched it off? Do you even have to ask?
The facing page is for auxiliary notes on the main page — stuff that goes along with the tasks, but isn’t a task itself — phone numbers, email addresses, down-the-road stuff. I put the newsletter budget there.
All of this is the front half. The back half of the book is for random notes — a meeting, a training, something someone said that I wanted to remember: The Dodge Charger is the official I-don’t-give-a-fuckmobile of Detroit, for instance.
Over the years, I’ve tried a million different ways to organize my life. The aforementioned bullet journaling, writing everything down in iCal. (On March 31, 2014 I rode my bike nine miles and did a yoga class.) Not much of it stuck. But this is the third year I’ve bought the Standard Issue Notebook No. 3, and it seems to work. It’s the uncapping of the pen, writing everything down, that makes it different.
I hate the word “journaling.” It’s writing. A novelist doesn’t do noveling. Why complicate matters unnecessarily?
Finally, this: There is only one thing more satisfying than a blank notebook for the year ahead, and that’s the scribbled-in, marked-up one for the year just past.
What’s your organization strategy? Any tips for the group?
Here we are, already at midweek. I’m trying to assuage my guilt over this upcoming trip by registering with TSA PreCheck, which I’m hoping will keep us out of the ridiculous jam-ups at airport security. Also, it’s a hopeful gesture that I’ll be a more frequent traveler in the news five years, and I’ll use it often enough to justify the $85 charge. Tomorrow I go in to be fingerprinted. A small price to leave my shoes on in the security line.
A little bit of bloggage, then? Sure. Here is 2020 in Associated Press pictures, most of which are great. No paywall, just enjoyment.
Happy Wednesday, all.