April was the first complete month in my new bullet journal!
I'm happy to report that I feel really comfortable with journaling and planning at this point.
While I've planned in some way for years, I was late to the bullet journal bandwagon - I started in January and went back and forth between different journals and methods since then to find a system that works for me, for working from home, for being a freelancer...
As you can read in my previous posts, I use two journals.
- Plan with me in my new bullet journal and Korean stationery haul
- Experimenting with Weekly & Daily Layouts in my Bullet Journal
- Plan With Me March - Task Lists & Blog Goals
- Two Journals: Dual Planner Setup of a Freelance Illustrator
The basic principle is the same: Yearly plans, trackers, goals, monthly goals, weekly goals and small to do lists... I just keep my year-long plans and long-term creative goals, as well as lists like social media counters and blog stats in a separate, much thinner journal.
Weekly and daily logs, small to-do lists and trackers have their place in the 'real' journal, as you will. Reasons for this? The short answer:
- I don't have to be afraid to loose my long-term logs and plans if I take my bullet journal with me - I can just leave the 'more precious' long-term planner at home.
- I don't need to turn pages a lot. Sounds like a tiny inconvenience, but I just like to open my monthly goals spread in one journal and apply the information there to my weekly spread in the second journal without scrambling back and forth.
- I need to be flexible since I work as a freelance illustrator, so having a long-term creative goals journal that's kind of written in stone combined with a more flexible short-term planner where I don't mind overthrowing entire days' tasks makes life easier.
April was extremely hectic! Especially in the spread above for the 10th to the 16th, I had to cut down on my to-do lists for my own creative business and just focused on freelance deadlines. We had family visiting, so all the remaining work time I spent taking care of my two little nephews, cooking Korean meals for everyone, cleaning, and cooking again...
I'm normally pretty strict with myself when it comes to work. I don't push off important tasks and have no problem with long hours - I love drawing and anything connected to it!
So when family visits and I suddenly spend time going to restaurants or just, in general, doing stuff that isn't work-related, I feel so lazy. Looking back at the week now, I can see that I still got all the most important things done, but in my memory, I was a mess.
Staying in Control of Work when Life gets in the Way
Don't get me wrong, I love hanging out, cooking and eating delicious food and baby-sitting... but not when I know that work is waiting and deadlines are approaching.
To stay on top of my to-do lists, I took the time each morning after I'd cooked breakfast, everyone had eaten and gone off to do sight-seeing and all the dishes were made... to just sit down, have a cup of coffee and write down my tasks for the day.
I did what every self-employed artist does: Not sleeping a whole lot.
Usually, I try to go to bed before 1 am and get up before 8 am. But since Korean cuisine does take its time (rice cooker notwithstanding), I got up every morning around 6 am instead. Combine that with going to bed later so that I could catch up on neglected work and you've got one useless zombie. Really, at the end of the week, my brain mixed up Korean, English, French and German like a smoothie blender.
Having a journal with my to-do lists saved me so much thinking haha...
Habit Tracker for Self-Care & Productivity
To recover from my zombie state, I gave myself a habit tracker full of nice self-care options to fill out! Taking my vitamins, doing a little something extra for skincare, exercise...
I felt so much better by mid-week!
Habit trackers are perfect not only for 'useful' tasks and habits, but for being nice to yourself, too.
Breaking Down Tasks on my To-Do List
Tasks that take long are so discouraging!
A lot of my illustrations take hours, so when I have several images I'm working on, that can mean an entire day of work without actually crossing off a task from my to-do list.
To feel less overwhelmed by large tasks, I break them down into smaller ones. You can see an example below; I had four images to work on at once. So for each overall task (like cleaning up the line drawings) I drew four additional task boxes.
Having a small task to cross off makes me feel so much more productive!
Another habit tracker for the last week of April - I like how this one turned out!
Adding notes on which supplements I took, or what I studied, makes the habit tracker feel more flexible while still showing me on which days I stuck with my tasks.
Good Vibes & Productivity
Spring is incredibly beautiful here on Jeju Island, I was in an outdoorsy mood and wanted my bullet journal to reflect that.
I replaced some task boxes with flowers - a dot for a task, and petals added once it's completed.
A couple of plant doodles and bonsai tree stickers completed the otherwise simple layout.
The better organised my bullet journal is, the more productive I am.
The few minutes I need to write down my tasks and add a bit of decoration are great to increase my focus and see new opportunities.
I want to make my weekly and daily layouts prettier, but stay functional and simple. Finding a balance and experimenting is the fun part!
Do you use your bullet journal when life gets overwhelming? How do you break down tasks? I'm always on the lookout for new layouts!
The month has just begun, so if you're like me and need a habit tracker to get a bit of self-care into an otherwise busy schedule, I've got a 'Starry Sky' themed Habit Tracker printable in my freebie section. I'll be filling out my own version all through-out May and hope to create a pretty star pattern.