Why I Stopped Bullet Journaling. Planner Fail and How to Fix It.

The Bullet Journal, a planner system invented by Ryder Caroll, has been one of the most popular planning systems on the internet since the Filofax. I’ve been using planners for at least a decade, through my years of being a student in high school and then university and working full-times jobs throughout.

My Planner Journey

I started off my planner journey by buying a cheap, undated, Martha Stewart notebook from Target and making it eseentialy into a bullet journal, but before Ryder Carol actually created the concept of bullet journalling.

I took my notebook around with me everywhere and basically turned it into a DIY planner. Some pages would have lists on them or general notes and some were strictly planner pages with to do lists and my work and class schedules. I used crayola markers as highlighters to spruce it up.

One day while shopping at Winners I lucked out and found a Malden Filofax and this is where my planner journey truly kicked off. The binder was stunning, it had beautiful and bendable black leather, that only improved with age. The Malden was my sidekick, I carried it everywhere I went and it housed everything.

Black Personal Sized Malden Filofax

I used my Filofax throughout my victory lap in high school and at several jobs. But eventually, the small amount of writing space and the annoying binder rings drove me to buy a bigger A5 sized Fusion filofax. This one i loved as well, with more writing spcae and room to decorate i was able to use it for more. But eventually, the bulkiness of this binder sarting becoming a nuissance and I stopped using it as my daily planner.

I will still use this binder, I’ve put a lot of my language learning matierals in it.

Black A5 Fusion Filofax

After the Fusion, I purchased the Nude Original Filofax. Again, another great binder, but I couldn’t use it for long, for the same reasons as before, writing space and the binder rings. It was around this time that the Bullet Journal was starting to become popular and I was going into my first year of university and was on the hunt for something simple and effective.

So I went to Target and bought a plain black, lined Moleskine and started my first Bullet Journal. And it was amazing, it was the best planning system I had ever used because it was built by me for me. I used the bullet journalling style as an inspiration but made it my own completely. For my daily spreads, I printed out Chronodex Diagrams and glued them into my planner, I would put labels around the Chronodex in the top half and on the bottom half, I had my “Bullet Journal List” including, appointments/events, to-dos, notes, reminders, etc. It was fantastic and now that I am thinking about it, I might have to go back to it if my current solution doesn’t work out.

Black Hardcover Moleskine

I stayed with the Bullet Journal for years and enjoyed it very much. Sometimes I miss it, but I also want to keep trying new things. I did fall out it bullet journaling in my last notebook. For quite a few reasons, but namely, because I was trying to use it for both work and my personal life and it wasn’t working for me anymore.

I bought an iPad Pro and figured I may as well try out digital planning. But I knew I didn’t want to do a free hand planner digitally, so I went through Etsy and picked the planner that looked the most versatile, the most filled with features, and had a minimalist aesthetic (shoutout to forLittleLion on Etsy). I used the digital planner for a few months and moderately enjoyed it. But I was using it for both work and my personal life again, and it truly wasn’t working for me. I was also running into issues with wanting to use my planner’s work notes as documentation but couldn’t because I have personal notes written on the same page.

Today, I use the Clever Fox Planner Pro. I have only been using it for about two to three weeks, but so far I am loving. Stay tuned if you want to know why I love it, a full review is coming soon. I have an entirely different solution for work, and so far, I think this is going to work for me for a while. Stay tuned for a post about that work solution. The only thing I see as maybe changing in the future is my personal planner, because it may get boring for me.What is the solution to planner fail? I think the solution to planner fail, really depends on the problem itself, so the answer will definitely not be the same for every person. For me, the issue was that after I got the job I have now, I was struggling to mesh my working life and my personal life into one planner. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make it work.

Yellow Clever Fox Planner Pro

If you followed the progression of my planner story, then it should be obvious as to what the first step is, it is to diagnose your issue. Really take the time to reflect on your planning goals, needs, and wants and think about the ways in which your current system supports that and the ways it does not. This will help you narrow down your options and determine what you need to make things work for you.

Once you diagnose the problem. Start working on the solution.

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As always, thanks for reading folks and all the best on your journey to planner peace!


3 Keys to Studying as a Working Professional

In my first post, I mentioned that I am not completely settled in my career. I am happy where I am, but there are places where I can improve. And, as it turns out, I have found a way to improve that will open up opportunities for me in the future. So, I’m working on doing that. I am taking a certificate course.

The thought of doing coursework while working a full-time job can sometimes feel overwhelming. But, I did it for years, and just signed myself up to do it again. So, it is definitely possible. Below are my three keys for working a full-time, professional job, and completing a course or degree at the same time.

  1. Find time wherever you can. I have been dedicating my mornings to working on the blog. This is the productive – get something done – step of my morning routine. For more information on that check out my last post. I plan my course around my partner’s schedule, if he is working an evening shift I work on my course as much as possible, so when he’s off earlier I can spend more quality time with him.
  2. Make your course as accessible and flexible as possible. If you can do certain aspects of your course on your phone while commuting or taking your lunch break, do it. Read course related materials on the go. When I was a full-time student in school (and working a full-time job), I would read my school materials from my phone and dictate my notes to the Evernote app, this was especially good for English Literature courses. I maybe looked a little crazy, walking around the world talking to myself, but this was truly a fast way to work. Then when I got home, my reading was done, I just had to organize my notes and get started on my assignments and quizzes or studying. Make notes in a smaller notebook, it will be easier for you to take around. At the moment, the course I am taking is 100% online. It’s also 100% web-based which makes doing work on the go a little bit more challenging. That said, the course has a few recommended readings, that are usually articles in PDF form, so when those come around, they are downloaded to my drive and read on the go.
  3. Otherwise, this all boils down to time management. The first step, for me, is to find out how much time it takes to make progress in your course. For example, my course is broken down into lessons. Each lesson consists of several modules, which are just lengthy information dumps. Then, you have five assignments and one quiz. I know that each module takes between 5-20 minutes to get through depending on how long it is. I also know that each assignment takes between one or two hours, give or take. Once I have that information, I sit down with my planner, the course outline and I jot down my goals for the week. Taking into account my own schedule, work tasks, personal tasks, and my partner’s schedule, so I can maximize my time with him as well. Plan your time out well, and stick to that plan. Use techniques like calendar blocking to manage your time or pomodoro. Use strategies like the Eisenhower Matrix to prioritize what needs to be done now. Do what matters most and is the quickest to do first. Do what matters most and is the longest to do next. Do your work-work first and your studying later, but make sure you find time for it.

These are my three keys to studying while working full-time position, I hope they help you with working out how to better manage taking a course while working. Sometimes, it can be really discouraging and it can feel like you don’t have enough time in a day or week to get things done. When this happens, it’s a good idea to step back and reflect on what is truly important and focus your time and energy on that.

There are a lot of strategies and tools out there that can help you maximize your time and productivity. Phone apps, philosophies, planners, and much more!

Stay tuned if you want to see more about managing your time and increasing productivity and the tools that can help you do that. I have posts planned on planners (no pun intented), Getting Things Done, Eisenhower’s matrix, Pomodoro technique, and more!

Thanks for reading folks! As Disney once said, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing”. So, go start doing!