At the end of 2018, I had a last-minute idea to use an A5 notebook as a weekly to-do book. The notebook was just a random bit of stationery, but it seemed that I could do something with it.
Before using the notebook, I kept an ongoing to-do list on a sheet of A4 paper. I would write everything down that needed to get done whether it had to be done that day, that week, or in three months. When the page filled up, I would transfer unfinished tasks to a new page so that I could start all over again.
This was a great way to keep track of the various tasks I needed to do, but it was also a bit frustrating. That’s because I never managed to finish everything that was written down on the page! There was just too much to do, and so many things were “future” things so I couldn’t do them then, even if I wanted to.
And so, my 2019 book was broken down by weeks with a two-page spread. On the left, I was able to write little notes to myself, and it eventually evolved to track blog posts to write (although I’ve not been that good about it this year!) and to track things like my weight and measurements, sleep patterns, runs, and steps – and to write a short reflection of the week.
On the right, I keep a list of tasks for that week. So, if something needed to be done in week 28, it was written down on the two-page spread for week 28. Very early on, I realised that anything more than a page worth of tasks was simply too much. That meant that I could only list as many tasks for a week as would fit on a single page. In the end, it meant that I have become better able to manage my (personal life) workloads each week.
When I realised how useful the book was becoming, and how much more organised it was making me, I decided that I would continue with the system for 2020. My vision for the new book changed over a few months of searching for the “perfect” new notebook, but I think I’ve found something that will work quite well for the new year – and maybe even for the long-term. (With a few tweaks here-and-there as my needs and habits change.)
The new system is three books that fit into a leather cover. It’s called a “travel journal” and will allow me to swap out smaller A5 jotter books as needed.
The first book is for monthly planning, habit tracking, and various lists. In the front of the book, I will write down my primary goal for the year. Then I will have a couple of pages to list out the objectives required to meet that goal along with other pertinent lists. There will also be a two-page spread on the centre for a weekly menu (using sticky notes to swap out days) and space for a shopping list. I have also left space at the end for future planning, and accomplishment tracking.
The second book will be swapped out halfway through the year. It is my weekly to-do book and will hold the first half of 2020’s weekly to-dos and weekly planning plus worksheets for my AM and PM routines that I am working on. Like this year’s book, each week will have a two-page spread. One page for notes and tracking various things, and one page for to-dos.
The third book is my personal journal. I have been working on keeping a daily journal to create a record of how I spend my time, but also to write a bit about my feelings and emotions. I’ve been journaling regularly since August and I’ve found it to be quite cathartic. So I think that the idea of including my journal in with my “life planning” book will be a good thing.
Over the next few weeks, I will work to prepare each book with the required “templates” for the various things I want to track – including visualisations for the number of miles I run and steps I take, as well as my weight and body measurements over the year. It’s a bit strange working to organise 2020 before 2019 is over. And in some ways, I feel like I’m rushing one out in favour of the other. I guess I just need to feel the excitement of a fresh start. However, I don’t want to get too obsessed with next year before this one is done, so I will only allow myself a small amount of time to prepare – most of which will wait until the end of December.
And yes, I do admit that I am a little over-the-top with some of my obsessive record-keeping and data logging. But I have learned over the years that it’s a great way to keep me honest with myself and to keep me on track with my personal goals and ambitions. I feel that this gives me something to focus on, and it keeps me from wondering what I will do one day or one week from the next.
So, whilst I don’t want to rush through 2019 without care and concern, I am looking forward to a wonderful 2020!