3 Tools I Use to Organize My Life
I’ve tried A LOT of different systems for organizing and scheduling my life over the years and I FINALLY feel like I’ve hit upon the winning combination of 3 awesome tools to help me effectively organize my life.
This is an in depth guide to how I use these 3 tools and why they work so well together! And there’s something AWESOME at the end so make sure to check it out!
*This post may contain affiliate links which means that if you make a purchase, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. *
Analog, Digital or a Combo?
First off, I want you to think about your preferred method of planning, scheduling, and organizing. Are you hard core analog?
I’m a little bit of a luddite and for years I scorned going digital but at the same time would get excited to try a new app or digital tool. Not to mention paper clutter makes me want to burn everything and start over so there’s a bit of a siren call for digital.
Maybe you are all about going paperless and embracing digital solutions. It can be super helpful if you can access/use it across different devices which we’ll talk about later on.
Or maybe like me, you ended up preferring a combination of digital and paper. After swinging back and forth, this is where I’ve landed but it’s taken me a while to figure out what that looked like and how to KEEP IT SIMPLE!
Keeping it simple and streamlined
One of the hardest parts can be figuring out which systems will work best for YOU and not be overly complicated and redundant. There are soo many options out there and you need to find what works best for you.
Not your friend, neighbor, or popular blogger.
So it’s always a bit of trial and error, but knowing your own tendencies and preferences will really help!
Let’s dive into my 3 favorite tools!
I will cover each tool separately and then I’ll summarize how I use them all together.
Tool #1: A Bullet Journal
Reasons I Love It
-I can use it however I want and it can be whatever I need it to be and can change on a dime. No wasting pages with things I don’t need or want. If one week I have a lot going on and want to have a weekly overview, I can and the next week maybe it’s light so I forgo it and just use daily entries. I can tweak it to serve me and I love it.
-It’s a place to take notes, brainstorm, jot down ideas, and keep everything together in one spot. No more scraps of paper, sticky notes, and wondering where I wrote down the address for such and such, or the info from my doctor appointment. I LOVE keeping paper (especially loose paper!) to an absolute minimum.
-The act of writing out habits, goals, to do’s and crossing them out helps me remember, be reminded in creating a daily habit, and to be more motivated.
-As Kendra at The Lazy Genius Collective says in her bullet journal post, what makes it so special is not just that you are using it like a planner and for lists and notes, but using it as a log to remember your life. Your husband brings you flowers, your 3 year old said the cutest/funniest thing, or you spent a lovely day making memories with your family, and you can easily jot it down.
-I use the last pages in the journal if I have some left over (which I always do) for reflections and initial planning for the next year. It’s really nice to again keep it all in one place and be able to review that year and have space to work through what I want for the next year.
-I’ve been bullet journaling for 4 years now and I have all of those as a log of my life I can look back through and see snapshot of where I was, what was going on, and those reflection pages to give me an overview of those years.
-I just like pen and paper. And there are studies showing that your brain works differently and more creatively when writing on paper versus going digital. So I always do my brainstorming on paper first.
-You can keep it super simple. Yes, let’s acknowledge right now that there are some CRA-ZY elaborate and super artsy bullet journals and templates out there, but here’s the thing guys. Unless you are super artistic and that makes you happy, DO NOT think that it’s something you have to do too. Here’s an example of my minimalist bullet journal.
I OF COURSE like using different colors, but I don’t do anything fancy. I don’t have time for fancy. Do it in a way that’s sustainable for you.
-I personally use my bullet journal for my monthly calendar, weekly focus and tasks, daily to do’s errands, logging special life things, and taking notes while at the doctor or a meeting, etc..
Bullet Journal Favs
My favorite journal: Leuchtturm 1917 dotted journal (I’m totally sold and won’t use anything else. I used the lined version for my first three and this go around I’m trying the dotted which I really like as well)
My favorite writing pens: Pilot V5 Extra Fine
My favorite colored pens: Staedtler Pens
Tool #2: Google Calendar
Reasons I love it
-I NEED reminders or I will forget my head. Blame it on ADD or Mommy brain or just having a “squirrel” mentality, but if I don’t have something popping up to remind me, it’s not gonna happen. My husband can say, “Honey, can you mail a check to so and so?” Less than 30 seconds later I will have completely forgotten unless I have written it down. But even if I write it down, unless I’m reminded to check wherever I wrote it down at, I will forget it exists. For real. This is my life. So being able to set a reminder (most of the time several!) is a literal lifesaver for me!
-You can share your calendar with your husband. I’m still trying to get mine to actually look at it lol, but it can be super helpful for most people to be able to pull up and see what your spouse’s schedule is when you are trying to set up an appointment, etc…
-You an add recurring things and reminders (schedule maintenance, pay bills, cancel subscriptions, send cards, update bio, etc….) I get my list of bulk trash dates for the year from our city and I just pop them on with reminders several days beforehand (so I know to start putting things out). Or our HOA payment that is quarterly instead of every month, I set it to automatically recur. I can set a reminder to cancel a subscription that I’m trying out so I don’t get charged. Being able to automate a lot of these schedules and reminders is SOOO key for me.
-You can view it on all your devices. Computer, tablet, phone, etc… you can pull it up pretty much wherever you are. So convenient!
-You can have it email reminders for events, appointments, etc...
Tool #3: Trello
Trello is AWESOME and the KEY to all the rest of it. This in combination with the other two is changing my life!
Reasons I love it
-It’s visual and highly customizable
-Being able to easily drag and drop cards from one list to another makes it so easy for workflows, etc…
-You can add due dates, checklists, calendars, etc…
-It keeps everything else in one place that you don’t want to use your bullet journal or Google Calendar for AND it syncs across all devices so you can access it on your computer, tablet, or phone. AWESOME!!
Examples of possible boards:
-Homemaking Binder (Providers & contact info, Holiday/Traditions info, Seasonal ideas, Family info, Kids ideas, Meal ideas, cleaning routines, birthdays/anniversarys, gift ideas, etc…)
-Financial board (Bills with checklist for if paid, Snapshot, checklist for maintaining, Budget and actual, financial goals, debt payoff checklist, etc…)
-Weekly Routine Tasks (Cleaning checklists, Paper checklist, general dailies, Monthly and seasonal lists)
-Book list, Kids Library List
-Master Project list (By room, each card can be project with checklists, attach pics for inspiration, links to info/products/tutorials, etc…
-Shopping list (list by store with general stock checklist, etc…)
-Homeschool list (Goals, Resources, Subjects, Schedule, etc…)
-Business boards for workflow
Now for how I use them together to organize my life!
Here is kind of a loose workflow I follow:
-Look at yearly goals/priorities/intentions
-Decide on priorities for the next 3 months
-Write out goals and actions related to these
-Check Google Calendar and add any events I need.
-Add any recurring reminders needed into Google Calendar
-Look at my seasonality calendar in Trello, then add/schedule ideas from that.
-Check on our clothing needs for the next season and add that to my list in Trello
-Decide on any home changes whether decor or projects that I want to do. Home projects will be added to my Trello board and have a checklist created for it.
-Make my Monthly calendar in my bullet journal
-Check the future log for appointments/events in my bullet journal and Google Calendar and add to my bullet journal monthly spread
-Create a loose meal plan for the month. I print out a calendar and fill it in and keep with my Meal Plan book from Kendra at The Lazy Genius Collective (Her meal planning is going to be available from Feb 24-March ? so check it out! She’s my meal planning guru!)
-Check my Quarterly goal list and add what I want to my monthly list
-Pick a focus for each week (Another post coming soon about this!)
-Check the seasonality calendar for ideas of what we might want to do.
-Consult my birthday list in my bullet journal and my gift idea list in Trello to write cards and get gifts for the month.
-Check the calendar and fill in any events, etc…
-Pull out my monthly meal plan calendar and check the fridge/pantry/freezer to see if I need to make any adjustments to the meal plan and then write it out for the week along with a grocery list and prep list
-Check the Monthly goals/list and the weekly focus to add what I need to my Weekly tasks in my bullet journal
-Write down some ideas for homeschooling/at home learning (a simple activity, baking/cooking project, art something). I don’t schedule too much, just a few ideas to pull from as needed.
-Sit down in the evening with my bullet journal, check for any appointments or reminders in Google Calendar and pencil those in as necessary, pull up my Business board on Trello and see what things are due that I need to work on, check the Weekly Routine board for any home tasks.
-Pick the top 3 biz and the top 3 home tasks and write them in my bullet journal along with what I’m planning for dinner and any prep actions that need to be done. This is when I’ll pull meat out of the freezer if I need to, etc…
-In the morning, I’ll check my bullet journal and check things off as I do them. I’ll pull up the homemaking board on Trello and open up the card for what I’m working on, whether it’s laundry, cleaning bathrooms, going through all the bills and paperwork, and check things off on the card as I go.
-If I’m working on a project, I’ll pull it up in Trello and again, check off as I go. If I find a link, photo, etc… that I want to keep for inspiration or to refer back to I might attach it to the card.
-If I’m out at the library, I will pull up my Book and Kid’s book list on Trello and see if they have anything or on Friday’s, I’ll put in requests for something off our lists.
-When appointments come up, I usually write them first in my bullet journal because I generally have it out with me, but if I don’t, I’ll pop it straight into Google calendar.
-When there’s something I need to do, like cancel a service, or mail something but it’s more than a week out, I’ll usually go ahead and add it as an event or reminder in Google Calendar and have it send me a reminder. Usually more than one! Lol
So those are my 3 favorite tools to organize my life! More in depth posts on each of these tools will be coming soon. Sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss them!
It’s been so nice to find something that is working for me right now. And that is also a key thing to remember. Some things work for a season, but things change and you may need to tweak it again later.
Don’t be married to any one thing. Be free to change what’s not working and try something different. I hope this gave you some helpful ideas to figure out what might work for you!
P.S. If you need some great ideas and resources for organization and productivity, or would like to get started with Trello, the Ultimate Productivity Bundle is on sale now for 97% off!
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